The California Horse Racing Board conducted a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at Cal Expo in Sacramento. Chairman Gregory Ferraro chaired the meeting, joined by vice chair Oscar Gonzales and commissioners Damascus Castellanos and Brenda Washington Davis.
The audio of this entire Board meeting is available on the CHRB Website (www.chrb.ca.gov) under the Webcast link. In brief:
- Various speakers addressed the current situation with the Horseracing Safety and Integrity Act/Authority (HISA), given a recent court decision that HISA is unconstitutional. The matter being in legal limbo has caused confusion in some racing jurisdictions, but deputy executive director Cynthia Alameda, consistent with the CHRB advisory issued Nov. 18, said that is not the case in California. “Unless and until a federal court makes a further decision on the case, the CHRB will continue to honor its agreement with HISA and enforce all federal rules,” she said. “The CHRB will continue to negotiate with HISA and its enforcement entity, Drug Free Sports International, on agreements for the upcoming 2023 calendar year, focusing on our shared principle of promoting safety in horse racing.”The CHRB has been enforcing federal safety rules since their introduction on July 1, 2022, and will begin enforcing federal rules on medication and drug testing when they become effective, which is anticipated to be Jan. 1, 2023. CHRB general counsel Amanda Brown pointed out that unless HISA successfully maneuvers to reverse or delay the court decision, it will go into effect on Jan. 10, so the CHRB will be operating under federal rules for at least 10 days.
Dr. Jeff Blea, equine medical director, reported that even if the enforcement program reverts back to California rules after Jan. 10, the effect will be minimal in California because “HISA’s safety program and medication rules are not that far different from where California is.” Dr. Blea said that when he attended a recent national conference, he was approached by other veterinarians with numerous questions about how the CHRB regulates medication and drug testing. He said they asked how they could make their programs safer and better in the same way as California.
As they did back in May to align California with federal rules governing safety in horse racing, the commissioners voted unanimously to enter into a voluntary agreement, this time to enforce HISA rules on medication and drug testing with an anticipated start date of Jan. 1.
- Dr. Blea also reported on a pilot program currently under way at Los Alamitos Race Course to find a way to proactively identify any problems in the lumbar regions of approximately 20 horses involved in the program. “The issue is lumbar fractures in Quarter Horses,” he explained. The program uses ultrasound combined with physical examinations in an attempt to identify lesions that could lead to catastrophic injuries, He said Dr. Edward Allred, the owner of Los Alamitos, has paid for this program so far, but there will be a need for new funding sources going forward.
- The Board approved an emergency amendment to Rule 1867, Prohibited Veterinary Practices, by clarifying that the use or possession of compounded medications is not a violation of Rule 1867 if done in the approved manner. Clarifying the regulation provides guidance to licensees and prevents misinterpretation by other regulatory agencies.
- The Board renewed licenses for six companies to continue providing account wagering platforms in California (ADW). TVG, Twinspires, NYRAbets, Lien Games, Watchandwager.com, and Game Play Network (GPN) all received two-year licenses with the warning that their renewals in 2024 will require each of them except GPN to have in place procedures for customers to identify alternate selections in the event of scratches in wagers involving four or more legs (Pick ‘n’). GPN does not offer any wagering of that type. The license for Xpressbet will be considered in December. Xpressbet is the one ADW company that already allows for alternate selections.
- The Board approved various agreements between Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, and Los Alamitos with their horsemen’s organizations authorizing racing secretaries to establish conditions on races pertaining to medications and procedures.
- The Board approved the license for Los Alamitos Race Course to conduct a Thoroughbred race meet that will operate from Dec. 9-18. This daytime meet will run concurrently with the night Quarter Horse meet.
- The Board also approved the license for the Quarter Horse meet at Los Alamitos that will operate from Dec. 31, 2022, through Dec. 17, 2023.
- The Board approved the license for Pacific Racing Association to conduct a Thoroughbred race meet at Golden Gate Fields that will operate from Dec. 26, 2022, through June 11.
- The Board approved the license for Los Angeles Turf Club to conduct a Thoroughbred race meet at Santa Anita Park that will operate from Dec. 26, 2022, through June 18. The license application was amended to allow for a non-racing day on Dec. 27 and a racing day on Jan. 2. Santa Anita will not race from April 10 through April 21, providing a break for horses and licensees in accordance with CHRB policy.
- Representatives of the newly formed California Horse Power Coalition reported on the Coalition’s mission to preserve and protect California’s equestrian culture by bringing together equine industry leaders, workers, families and fans of the sport to illustrate its significant benefits. The Coalition may approach the CHRB at some time to request assistance in this effort, as well as bring potential policy recommendations to the board for consideration.
- The Board approved distributions by four race-day charity organizations to named beneficiaries, specifically $14,249 by the Pacific Racing Association to nine beneficiaries, $82,134 by the Los Angeles Turf Club to 10 beneficiaries, $4,584 by the Los Alamitos Racing Association to four beneficiaries, and $5,083 by the Los Alamitos Quarter Horse Association to four beneficiaries.
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