State senator looks to crack down on NM horse racing cheats: “We don’t need to be known as a crooked horse racing state”
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Mary Kay Papen says she’s had enough with reports of race horse doping in New Mexico.
The state Senator who has served in the Roundhouse for 11 years says she plans to introduce a bill in the next legislative session calling for tougher penalties against trainers and owners who violate rules governing horse racing.
“We need to clean this up,” Papen (D-Las Cruces) told Capitol Report New Mexico. “We don’t need to be known as a crooked horse racing state. Horse racing is too important in this state.”
Last week, two quarter-horses racing in a qualifier for the All American Futurity had to be euthanized after breaking down — including the winner of the race, a 2-year-old named Jess A Zoomin, which had tested positive back in May for having a powerful painkilling drug in its system.
The two horses were trained by Jeffrey Heath Reed, who was still allowed to handle the horses because he was exercising his right to verify the state’s positive tests at a second laboratory.
Sen. Papen said she is still working on specifics of her bill but feels legislation is necessary:
The two euthanizations last Thursday mark the latest in a litany of negative stories about horse racing in the state.
New Mexico’s Racing Commission has passed a number of measures to weed out bad actors but in the case of fines, for example, current rules in New Mexico limit fines to $5,000 – well below the $50,000 fines that the Association of Racing Commissioners International can levy. In order to increase drug testing and/or stiffen penalties, the commission needs legislation to get signed into law and get funding from the Roundhouse.
Update: Here’s what Racing Commission director Vince Mares said when told of Papen’s planned legislation: “I think it’s a great idea. If the proposal is to enhance or make current rules tougher and prevent individuals from racing if they break the rules, I’m all for it.”
By the way, Papen’s daughter, Susana Vescovo, is on the racing commission’s medication committee.