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At the races - Steroids outlawed in Maryland

September 28, 2008|By Larry Yanos

The Maryland State Racing Commission has approved a ban on anabolic steroids for race horses and - pending approval from state lawmakers - it will go into effect at the start of the Laurel Park meeting in January, 2009.

"We've been working on this issue for quite awhile, even before the controversy involving Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby," said Michael Hopkins, executive director of the commission. "We had some studies done on proper screening methods and other issues and I think we're ready to move on. This will be good for Maryland racing."

The issue of doping in horse racing saw increased public scrutiny this spring after Rick Dutrow Jr., the trainer of Big Brown, acknowledged using the anabolic steroid stanozolol on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner.

The restrictions adopted by the Maryland State Racing Commisson follow the recommendations of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium - a group that includes trainers, owners, jockeys, breeders and racetrack owners.

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According to a story by The Associated Press, the ban will cover four anabolic steroids, including stanozolol. Small amounts of the substances are permissible because veterinarians agree that the steroids do not affect a horse's performance below certain levels, said Hopkins. "These particular compounds have gone unchecked for a number of years. The control of them is very good for the industry."

Maryland is the latest to join the steroid ban parade. Neighboring states Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia started to ban the use of anabolic steroids this past spring, and Kentucky joined the lineup after that.

Hopkins said the state racing commission needs only approval from state lawmakers to put the new procedure into place this coming January.

Maryland Million

According to Mike Gathagan, Vice President-Communications for the Maryland Jockey Club, a total of 152 horses - the offspring of Maryland stallions - have been pre-entered in the 12 races which comprise the 2008 Maryland Million.

Maryland's Day at the Races will be presented at Laurel Park on Saturday. First post is 12:15 p.m.

A field of eight could compete in the $300,000 Maryland Million Classic, including defending champion Evil Storm, multiple stakes winner Five Steps and Cuba, who finished third in the $500,000 Mass Cap last weekend.

Bowie-based Off The Glass looks to become the fifth three-time winner of a Maryland Million race - joining Docent, Countus In, Mz. Zill Bear and Safely Kept. The son of Press Card has won the $50,000 Maryland Million Starter Handicap in back-to-back years. A victory would boost the 9-year-old's career earnings to more than $400,000.

Other defending champions pre-entered are Maddy's Heart ($200,000 Maryland Million Ladies), Akronism ($150,000 Maryland Million Distaff), Grand Champion ($150,000 Maryland Million Sprint) and Swear To It ($50,000 Maryland Million Distaff Starter Handicap).

The six other races on the card are the $200,000 Maryland Million Turf, the $150,000 Maryland Million Oaks, the $150,000 Maryland Million Nursery, the $100,000 Maryland Million Lassie, the $100,000 Maryland Million Turf Sprint and the $30,000 Maryland Million Sprint Starter Handicap.

Larry Yanos is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His horse racing column appears each Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at larryy@herald-mail.com.

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