August 4, 2023
As part of its continued commitment to protect Ontario racehorses and strengthen the integrity of racing, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) introduced changes to the Rules of Racing to promote the welfare of equine athletes on June 5, 2023.
After continued consultations with industry stakeholders, the AGCO has further paused implementation of TB 15.40.01 and SB 6.54.01 until January 1, 2024 to provide further clarity on the new requirements. Testing and enforcement related to horses requiring a workout or qualifier to come off the Veterinarian’s List as per rules TB 15.40.02 and SB 6.54.02 will continue. Effective immediately, these rules have also been updated to include new associated penalty provisions as follows:
Rules of Thoroughbred Racing
15.40.02 A horse requiring a workout to come off the Veterinarian’s List must not test positive for any corticosteroid, analgesic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, or local anaesthetic, including but not limited to, those substances that Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency has listed an Elimination Guideline.
a) A minimum $500 monetary penalty at the discretion of the Stewards and;
b) The horse shall have its workout removed and be placed back on the Veterinarian’s List with the same number of days and requirements it had for removal, prior to being eligible to come off the list.
Rules of Standardbred Racing
6.54.02 A horse requiring a qualifier to come off the Veterinarian’s List shall not test positive for any corticosteroid, analgesic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, or local anaesthetic, including but not limited to, those substances that Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency has listed an Elimination Guideline.
a) A minimum $500 monetary penalty at the discretion of the Judges and;
b) The horse shall be disqualified and be placed back on the Veterinarian’s List with the same number of days and requirements it had for removal, prior to being eligible to come off the list.
Additionally, in the interest of fairness and consistency between breeds, the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing (TB 12.32.01) will be revised to include the option for a claimant to return a horse, in the event that it is declared ineligible (such as testing positive after attempting to be removed from the Veterinarian’s List).
Note: This rule already exists in the Standardbred Rules of Racing (SB 15.20.01).
12.32.01 The Stewards shall rule a claim invalid, if:
1.At the option of the claimant, approved post-race testing procedures discloses that an improper medication or drug was found to be present in the sample of the claimed horse which is reported in the analysis report from the lab. Once the claim has been declared invalid by the Stewards the claimant must request within 72 hours that the horse be returned to the original owner;
2. At the option of the claimant, if the horse has been found ineligible to the event from which it was claimed;
3. The horse dies on the racetrack; or
4.The horse suffers an injury which requires euthanasia while on the racetrack as determined by either a Commission Veterinarian or an Official Veterinarian.
During this transition period, the AGCO will be providing communication to licensees detailing what to expect when this welfare initiative is expanded beyond the Veterinarian’s List. Before the rules are reinstated, additional guidance material will be made available on our website and shared directly with stakeholders to provide more clarity on the new rules and penalty structure.
Once the transition period ends, the medications and substance restrictions will apply to all horses participating in an Official Workout or in a Qualifying Race. Starting January 1, 2024, horses may be tested for any substance that is a corticosteroid, analgesic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, or local anesthetic including, but not limited to, substances that the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) has listed in the Elimination Guidelines.
In most cases, the AGCO receives the results of the test prior to a horse racing in a pari-mutuel start. In the rare case that it does not, the horse will be permitted to participate in the race.
If a positive test from a Veterinarian’s List sample is received after the running of the race, the horse will be considered retroactively ineligible to have started and therefore disqualified.
As noted, if the horse is claimed in that race, the claimant will have the option to either keep, or return, the horse.
Per our continued focus on equine welfare, implementation of this initiative ensures that only healthy, unmedicated horses are fit to qualify and work out. To date, there have been no horses coming off the Veterinarian’s List that have tested positive for restricted substances. The AGCO’s educational approach aims to continue this trend once the transition period ends.
The AGCO remains committed to monitoring the implementation of the changes to the Rules of Racing and will continue to consider feedback and observations from industry stakeholders, including horsepersons’ associations, licensed and official veterinarians, and racetrack management.