Lisa Lazarus, CEO of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority
As U.S. racing ticks closer to the first wave of implementing the new federal racing laws on July 1, Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority CEO Lisa Lazarus revealed a few more details about the coming transition in a session of the Association of Racing Commissioners International conference on April 11.
Lazarus said Monday she expects HISA will make an announcement about an agreement with an enforcement agency for the anti-doping and medication control component of the new regulations in the next month. She did not indicate what entities may be in talks with the authority and said no agreement had yet been finalized.
The hope is that the enforcement agency would take over drug testing in January 2023. Until then, states would continue to run their medication testing programs as they do currently.
“Essentially until HISA actually preempts a space with a rule, the states are in charge and will continue doing what they’ve been doing to date,” said Lazarus.
On July 1, the safety and welfare component of the new authority will officially take effect. Those regulations are two-pronged, according to HISA general counsel John Roach. There are the regulations impacting covered persons, like whip regulations, which will be in effect immediately. The safety accreditation of racetracks will ramp up in a slightly more gentle way.
Racetracks currently accredited with the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance will be grandfathered into the new system with an automatic three-year accreditation. Other tracks will be given one-year accreditation with the knowledge they may have a number of changes to make in order to adhere to all the requirements of accredited tracks. Roach said tracks may have up to several years to come up to the national standard, as long as they can show they are in the process of trying to implement the required practices. The authority chose to approach accreditation in this way because it didn’t want to start out its regulatory life with a sudden, punitive approach to the tracks that are not yet up to speed.
Among the safety and welfare reforms that will be coming under HISA: required continuing education for all covered persons (which will apply to owners, assistant trainers, grooms, outriders, and starters, among others); requirements surrounding veterinary oversight such as post-entry screening, pre-race inspection, post-race observation, etc; specific requirements for removal from the veterinarian’s list; voided claim regulations; surface management and maintenance requirements, and a new crop rule, among other things. The new crop rule will allow for no more than six hits during a race with no more than two hits in succession, all of which must be made without the rider raising their wrist above their helmet.
HISA plans to release continuing education information and videos to help jockeys and others prepare for the transition to the new regulations in July.
There are still questions the authority doesn’t have the answer to yet, as evidenced by queries from the audience. It’s still not totally clear if every member of microshare ownerships would be subject to certain requirements like continuing education, or if one representative would be tasked with that. It won’t yet be clear what the requirements will be for officially declaring a horse retired until the medication regulations are finalized, since that status governs whether the horse is subject to drug testing.
The ARCI convention continues April 12 with additional presentations on HISA and other regulatory topics.