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Maryland Racing Commission plans to improve oversight on pre-race medical treatments

A day after the lack of oversight at Maryland race tracks came to light in a hearing before the Maryland Racing Commission at Pimlico Race Course, the commission's executive director, Mike Hopkins, said steps are already being taken to improve the situation.

One of the biggest issues in the hearing that resulted in upholding the disqualification of the Rick Dutrow Jr.-trained King and Crusader from the Dec. 17 Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel Park was the disregard for a regulation mandating slips for each horse being treated before a race to be reviewed by the stewards or their representatives within an hour of each race.

Horses are not allowed to be treated by a veterinarian less than two hours before a race.

Chief veterinarian Dr. David Zipf said the regulation was no longer followed because "we don't have the manpower for the record-keeping and the [Maryland Jockey Club] wouldn't pay for it ..."

Zipf also said Hopkins had advised him to "do the best we can" given the situation.

On Tuesday, Hopkins said as soon as he heard of the problem after the Dec. 17 race, in which the Dutrow horse had received Lasix an hour before the Juvenile Championship, he began working on a new policy that has been in place since January.

"We have a procedure in place now that requires all treatment records to be turned in to the Receiving Barn vet two hours before each race," Hopkins said. "Then the vet calls the stewards and tells them what she has. Even if all the horses are OK, she calls and confirms. If she doesn't have a slip for a horse, the stewards then contact the trainer to find out where documentation is. If they don't receive the documentation an hour before the race, the horse is scratched."

There will also be a meeting Monday among representatives from the commission, Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen, the race tracks and veterinarians to review other track policies and procedures. Hopkins said that report probably will be presented to the Racing Commission at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday at Pimlico.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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