Beginning Wednesday, the anti-bleeding medication furosemide – commonly known as Salix or Lasix – will be the only therapeutic agent that can be administered on race days at Florida Thoroughbred tracks, including Tampa Bay Downs.
The new restrictions are a result of legislation signed earlier this month by Florida Gov. Rick Scott requiring the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to adopt rules governing therapeutic medications and testing procedures for horse racing.
Scott’s action, which followed unanimous passage of the reforms by the Florida House of Representatives and Senate, will bring the state’s racing industry in line with National Uniform Medication Program guidelines, which are adhered to by a majority of Thoroughbred racing states.
The regulations go into effect on the second day of Tampa Bay Downs’ third annual, two-day Summer Festival of Racing, which begins Tuesday.
The track’s Vice President-General Manager, Peter Berube, credited legislators and industry leaders for their efforts on behalf of the sport and its participants. Berube welcomes the opportunity for Tampa Bay Downs to take a leading role in Florida’s strengthened emphasis on Thoroughbred welfare and safety.
A key element of the regulations mandates an increase in the maximum fine for a medication violation from $5,000 to $10,000. The new rules also adopt the Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule, which establishes testing thresholds for 26 commonly used drugs.
The legislation also requires a state-designated, equine drug-testing laboratory to participate in the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and Association of Racing Commissioners International quality-assurance programs, further promoting uniformity with other states..
The bill, which requires regulators to have conforming rules in place by the end of 2015, was endorsed by all segments of the state’s racing industry, including Tampa Bay Downs; Gulfstream Park; the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association; the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association; the Florida Quarter Horse industry; and breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys and fans.