This week, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board published new testing procedures and penalties for thoroughbred and harness horses found to have elevated levels of TCO2. The Board revised the rules to “reflect current scientific developments and revise penalties to best deter violations.” The proposed rule is now subject to a public comment period for 45 days pursuant to the State Administrative Procedure Act (“SAPA”).
The regulations amend testing protocols and time frames associated with testing, penalize horse owners by requiring pre-race detention barn usage if their trainer violates the TCO2 prohibitions, and creates a 10-day window allowing an unknowing buyer of a detention barn confined horse to void a sale.
The Board articulated the need for the rule based on the need to “restrict the higher TCO2 threshold for horses that were administered race-day Lasix to the duration of its effect on TCO2.” When the level of TCO2 concentration is substantially higher than normal, it may be an indication the horse was alkalinized in order to improve performance.
TCO2 is the key component in what is known as “milkshaking.” Milkshaking occurs when TCO2 exceeds the allowable regulatory limit, usually in the vicinity of 37.0 mml/l. The pre-race introduction of sodium bicarbonate, calcium or other agent to a horse can cause a delay in the creation of lactic acid in the muscle fibers and thus fend off fatigue. Elevated levels of TCO2 is the byproduct, and to regulators the evidence, of this metabolic process.
California regulators recently penalized Doug O’Neill, the trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, with a 45-day suspension and $15,000 fine as a result of elevated TCO2 levels found in the system of a horse under his care.