Meadowlands seeks permission to ban horses that test positive

by Bill Finley

The New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC) put off making a decision Wednesday on a petition submitted by the Meadowlands that would make any horse that tests positive for a prohibited medication ineligible to race for 90 days.

NJRC executive director Frank Zanzuccki announced at yesterday’s regularly scheduled commission meeting that a ruling would be deferred for 90 days because the commission needed more time to review some of the legalities involved.

Should the commission approve the Meadowlands petition, New Jersey will become the latest jurisdiction to place a temporary ban on horses who have had positive tests. Ontario already had such bans in place and Pennsylvania recently passed regulations mirroring the Ontario rules.

However, the proposed New Jersey ban would be stricter than those in Ontario and Pennsylvania, in that horses testing positive for any type of prohibited medication or having an excessive TCO2 level would be banned for 90 days. In Pennsylvania, TCO2 overages and Class III drug violations result in bans of 30 days.

Zanzuccki said that should the new rule be implemented, any horse testing positive in New Jersey will be banned from racing at both Freehold and the Meadowlands. In addition, horses testing positive in outside states could not compete at the New Jersey tracks.

Unlike in Pennsylvania, where the new regulations cover thoroughbreds and standardbreds, the New Jersey rules would be for harness horses only.

In an unrelated matter, the commission approved the Meadowlands’ request to alter its racing schedule in November. Cards scheduled for Nov. 17 and 24 will be eliminated and replaced by racing programs on Nov. 4 and 11. The latter two dates are Saturdays and became available when thoroughbred interests decided to scrap plans to race those days on the grass course at the Meadowlands.