Dr. William Farmer is a busy veterinarian these days. He's made the walk from Keeneland's race track to the test barn more times than he can count over the last few weeks.
"You have to have a license to be on the backside of a racetrack," Farmer said. It's official business only on the backside of Keeneland's track. Everything runs the same way, every day. It must. Your betting dollars are at stake.
"Part of our scope is to protect the horse, the other part is to protect the betting public, to make sure that when they wager and they're looking at the program they're picking a horse that horse is going to run true to form to the best of their ability," Farmer said.
But according to Farmer, illegal drugs used to help horses run faster tend to be more of an issue for smaller race tracks, not established tracks like the ones found in Kentucky. "We are not seeing a problem here in Kentucky, no."
But Farmer said they are dealing with supplements in Kentucky. "What we're finding is there are a lot of these drugs out there. What we're not sure of currently is their therapeutic value." Farmer explains the only medication that can be in a horses system come race day in Kentucky is Lasix-- a diuretic. "We're always trying to stay one step ahead of these different drugs that are being used and we're trying to develop tests to identify them. Are these drugs really a threat or are they more of a popularity drug that doesn't really effect them?"
Farmer and his team test for more than 1500 different drugs. The tests are done about 30 minutes after the horses cool down and re-hydrate.
They take urine and blood samples across town to a lab considered one of only two racing and medication testing consortiums in the country. Preliminary results are available within three days.