California is once again at the forefront of medication reform.
Beginning in 2019, California started to align its medication policy with the standards of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, phasing out the race day use of furosemide (Lasix), a drug already widely banned on race day in racing countries outside North America. With the approval of the CHRB and the cooperation of major racetrack companies and most independent racing associations, the use of Lasix within 24 hours of racing will be banned in 2-year-old horses beginning in 2020. The ban will include stakes races for horses of all ages in 2021. Before 2020, the maximum dose of Lasix allowed on race day has been cut in half at the Stronach Group-owned tracks, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Park.
The use of corticosteroids for joint treatments and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for pain have also been strictly limited. Corticosteroids can no longer be given within 14 days of racing; anti-inflammatories cannot be used within 48 hours of racing or a workout.
In 2008, California was among the first states to ban anabolic steroids in racehorses, and California was also one of the first states to adopt the RMTC National Uniform Medication Program, which restricts the use of several medications and imposes limitations on the use of corticosteroids. California was also the first state to adopt a rule giving the CHRB authority to greatly restrict the overuse of the therapeutic medication clenbuterol at racetracks.
Racehorses are subject to extensive testing both in and out of competition. The Kenneth L Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory at UC Davis provides California racetracks with a comprehensive testing program that checks for more than 1,500 substances and regularly exceeds the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association “Super Test” criteria. As new information becomes available, new analytical tests are added to the post-race testing regimen. The laboratory has a world-renowned program in equine pharmacology research.