IMPAIRED ON HORSEBACK
With all the emphasis on prevention of drunk drivers, it seems amazing that those initiatives havenít zeroed in on Thoroughbred racing. A 1200 pound, out-of-control horse can cause as much damage as an out-of-control 650 pound motorcycle. But that did not stop the New York State Racing and Wagering Board from saddling the issue. At their August meeting the Board approved a new rule for Thoroughbred racing in New York that requires racetracks to test employees licensed by the Board for blood-alcohol content at .05 percent or higher (BAC). The proposed rule is necessary to ensure that jockeys, other licensees and racing officials are not intoxicated or alcohol-impaired while performing their duties, thereby making certain that horse racing is conducted safely and that the integrity of pari-mutuel racing is preserved.† The rule is similar to the Racing and Wagering Boardís harness racing rule, which has been in effect since at least 1974.
The rule requires all Thoroughbred Racetracks in New York to provide Breathalyzer equipment for use by stewards. Unlike the harness track rule it does not limit the location of the testing to the paddock. Licensed employees working morning workouts may be tested. The rule requires the tracks to make refusal to be tested a violation. It establishes exclusion and reporting requirements for positive test.
The final step to making this the rule permanent at all tracks is a review by the New York State Division Budget for fiscal implications. Once that hurdle is passed, the rule will go into force. In debating the proposed rule the Racing and Wagering Board focused on the safety of the employees and the horses under their care as a justification for the rule.
Many ThoroFanís are horse owners. Knowing that the people entrusted to train and care for their investments are not impaired when doing so, will be relief. When galloping a horse on a crowded track, the riders, jockeys or exercise rider needs to have perfect motor coordination and perfect reaction time. We all know alcohol can affect these necessary attributes. One mistake can injury many and hurt a horse.
Our cheers to the Board.