Ruidoso Downs, which has been struggling to fight against horse doping problems, has announced new rules to prevent owners and trainers from doping horses they plan to enter in next year’s high-dollar races, including the $2.6 million All American Futurity that is billed as “the world’s richest quarter horse race.”

Track owner R.D. Hubbard said those who attempt to cheat are a “cancer to horse racing.” Hubbard added these new steps are part of our ongoing efforts for ensuring the safety and integrity of the sport and its participants.

The new anti-doping rules will be in place prior to the track’s 2015 racing season that will run May 22 through September 7 and will be applied to horses that compete in the All American Futurity, Ruidoso Futurity, Rainbow Futurity, All American Derby, Ruidoso Derby, and Rainbow Derby.

Under the new rules, all horses entered in those races are required to be on the grounds in the Ruidoso barn area 10 days before running in trials. Moreover, any horse not in compliance will be scratched from the trials and/or finals and all horses will be subject to random checks by the horse identifier and track security. The new rules also stipulate that surveillance cameras will be installed at the stable gates, test barn, and in the barns and stalls of all 20 qualifiers to the futurities and derbies. Furthermore, all horses that qualify for the finals of one of the futurities or derbies will be required to stay on the grounds through the running of the final under the new rules.

The new rules were developed with input from the American Quarter Horse Association and the New Mexico Racing Commission, Hubbard said. The track owner also remarked he must emphasize that we are not yet finished when it comes to compiling new track rules and went on to say that there will be additional steps that we are currently working on that will be announced in the weeks ahead.

 A few weeks back, the Racing Commission rushed to adopt medication standards and sanctions that were recommended by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) after the New York Times published a stinging exposé in 2012 that revealed lax regulation allowed unscrupulous New Mexico horse trainers to dope horses with near impunity.

Horse racing has been subjected to many doping scandals in the last few months. A few months back, a trainer at the Godolphin stables was found guilty of administering banned anabolic steroids to horses for improving their odds of winning races. Mahmood-al-Zarooni, the disgraced trainer, was given a stiff ban by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) but many incidents emerge after the verdict. A few weeks after this incident, a shipment including banned drugs that was meant for the Godolphin stables was seized by BHA officials.

There is no denying the fact that anti-doping laws regarding horse racing have been made stringent in the recent past, but they have yet to deter horse owners and trainers from indulging into horse racing as the lure of hefty prize money still allures them.

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