New Mexico’s governor demands immediate action from horse racing regulators to combat performance-enhancing drug use at state tracks. Consultations with Kentucky, California, and New York for drug-free racing best practices are urged.
On Thursday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a letter to the New Mexico Racing Commission, highlighting seven recent horse deaths at Ruidoso Downs. The track is scheduled to host the Labor Day weekend’s richest quarter horse race, the All American Futurity.
The governor mentioned that they had taken additional steps to enhance the monitoring of the upcoming races at Ruidoso Downs. But it was still “a little too late.” She also suggested widespread performance-enhancing drug use had tainted the state’s extensive horse racing history.
Horse deaths persist at tracks nationwide due to setbacks in implementing the federal anti-doping and medication control program, marred by legal disputes and repeated delays. These rules were intended to unify varying state and track regulations.
A federal judge in New York recently sentenced the trainer of renowned racehorse Maximum Security to four years in prison for involvement in an international scheme to drug horses for enhanced racing performance. This case was part of a broader federal investigation into racehorse abuse through performance-enhancing drugs.
New Mexico’s horse racing industry faced doping allegations in 2012 following a New York Times investigation. Although expanded testing and regulations were introduced, competition from online wagering and rising costs hindered its revival for some owners and breeders.
The Racing Commission had initiated changes before receiving the governor’s demands. Ismael Trejo, the executive director, mentioned continuous testing and a special meeting scheduled to address the governor’s concerns.
Regulators are now examining blood cell counts and conducting vital organ tests for upcoming races at Ruidoso, with external veterinarians hired for pre-race inspections. Trejo acknowledged that previously, with only one contract veterinarian on staff, most horses that died or were euthanized had yet to be examined before racing.
In her letter, Lujan Grisham reported 642 racehorse euthanizations in New Mexico from 2014 to 2022, ranking sixth-highest nationally. She called for the commission to enforce Ruidoso Downs’ new standards at all tracks. Additionally, she advocated for comprehensive pre-race assessments, including blood tests and continuous monitoring of horses in their stalls and during training.
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