Breeders' Cup to test early for blood-doping drugs

Updated: October 8, 2008, 4:37 PM ET
By Matt Hegarty | Daily Racing Form

The Breeders' Cup will randomly select approximately half of the horses that are pre-entered in the event's 14 races at Santa Anita Park in Southern California on Oct. 24-25 for out-of-competition drug tests designed to detect the use of powerful blood-doping drugs, officials of the organization have said.

The horses who will be subject to the out-of-competition tests will be randomly determined after the horses are pre-entered on Oct. 14. The pre-entry form includes language giving the Breeders' Cup the right to draw blood from a horse at any time up until the race to test for blood-doping drugs like erythropoetin and darbepoetin.

The Breeders' Cup first implemented an out-of-competition testing program last year for the event at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. No horses tested positive for blood-doping drugs last year, officials said.

Both erythropoetin and darbepoetin are typically administered weeks before a race to boost a horse's endurance, and both are rapidly removed from a horse's body, making the drugs difficult to detect in postrace tests. The drugs have rarely been implicated in Thoroughbred racing, although Standardbred racing has had several well-publicized incidents, most recently in Kentucky.

Dr. Rick Arthur, the equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board, said that the drug samples will be collected from horses around the world immediately after pre-entries are taken. The samples will be tested at the CHRB's laboratory at the University of California-Davis. Any horse testing positive will be ineligible to run in a Breeders' Cup race.