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More money slated to crack down on doping in NM horse racing

By   /   January 14, 2013  /   No Comments

After a year in which New Mexico horse racing was the target of a slew of negative stories — including the deaths of quarter horses running in high-profile races and suspensions of trainers for doping — the proposed budgets from Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislative Finance Committee have called for increased spending for the New Mexico Racing Commission.

From NY Times: "A 2-year-old quarter horse named Teller All Gone broke a front leg in a race on Sept. 3 and was euthanized." Photo by Jakob Schiller for NY Times

From NY Times: “A 2-year-old quarter horse named Teller All Gone broke a front leg in a race on Sept. 3 and was euthanized.” Photo by Jakob Schiller for NY Times

The budget recommendation from Gov. Martinez calls for $750,000 more for an improved testing regimen to catch dopers at tracks across the state while the LFC recommended at an $362,400 for the upcoming fiscal year.

“I think the Racing Commission has sent a message we’re not going to tolerate cheaters,” Commission Chairman Rob Doughty told Capitol Report New Mexico on Monday (Jan. 14). “And the governor’s budget (recommendation) understands that.”

Doughty said the $750,000 amount suggested by the governor’s office should be sufficient for the Racing Commission to help clean up the sport.

“That $750,000 number is what we need,” Doughty said. “It will help us increase the number of horses tested and help us do out of competition testing” in which horses will be randomly selected away from the track to make sure they haven’t been injected with illegal drugs designed to help them run through injuries, thus leading to break downs.

The commission is also looking to increase the number of investigators from two to five or six and institute necropsies (autopsies performed on animals) for every horse that breaks down on the track and dies.

Doughty said he disappointed that the LFC recommendation for more funding was about half of the governor’s recommended number, “But maybe it’s just a starting figure for negotiations,” he said.

Sen. Mary Kay Papen (D-Las Cruces) has been advocating for more testing and oversight and has introduced two bills in the upcoming 60-day legislative session aimed at strengthening rules for the industry. She’s also a member of the LFC. So would she prefer $362,400 or $750,000?

“Let me say this,” Sen. Papen said Monday, “I would welcome more dollars.”

In 2012, the Racing Commission passed a number of rules changes to crack down on the drugging of horses while a number of explosive stories featuring New Mexico made national headlines — including a New York Times exposé that claimed the state had the worst record in the country when it came to injuries as well as the suspensions of a two high-profile trainers for allegedly doping horses with a powerful painkillling drug referred to as “frog juice.”

“New drugs are being developed and we’re having a hard time getting the capability to test for it,” Doughty said back in June after the commission passed tougher guidelines. “… We’re trying to stay one step ahead of what new secret drug is going to be developed.”

 

Update 1/16: Laura Bonar of Animal Protection of New Mexico sent this e-mail reacting to the increased funding recommendations from the governor and the LFC: “New Mexicans expect and deserve an end to the cruelty and abuse in horseracing. More investigators and more testing are a must, along with a commitment from all players to meaningful change.”

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Since 2010, Rob Nikolewski has covered New Mexico politics and investigated fraud, waste and abuse in government. He also writes an opinion column in the Sunday editions of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Rob joined New Mexico Watchdog after 20 years in television as a sports anchor and reporter. He anchored at MSNBC, New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Reno and Boise, winning three regional Emmy awards along the way. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, a master's in public administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio.

  • Michael Cusortelli

    This shows that our governor and legislators value the importance of the horse racing industry to the agriculture and tourism sectors of our state’s economy.

  • kim gillette

    I am happy this is happening, I hope they use monies for out of race testing..

  • Kim Bagnell

    ThankU Goverment of NewMexico for “Caring” .

    When the Criminals are caught, Prison time for Attempted Murder of The Horses. Loss of License in Every State and other Countries. Loss of OWNERSHIP of any Horse. Fines $…and Community Service.

    POWER TO THE HORSE !

  • kim gillette

    kim B , that sounds good but far getched for them to actually do…I would love to see out of race testing….go to the farms of horses that are about to race, draw blood and see who is doing it

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