The Houston track steps back from announcement to resume simulcasting Feb. 3.
On the day Sam Houston Race Park intended to resume interstate simulcasting, the Houston racetrack took a step back and has put that plan on hold citing the need for a legal review of the “many complexities” surrounding recent court action and law amendments by Congress related to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.
“We have determined more time is needed to fully evaluate the many legal complexities surrounding recent court decisions and the HISA amendment enacted by Congress at the end of last year,” said a statement released by Sam Houston Feb. 3.
The decision to resume simulcasting followed a Jan. 31 ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that denied a request by HISA and the Federal Trade Commission to reverse a decision that the HISA is facially unconstitutional. The appellate court had Nov. 18 reversed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that had upheld the constitutionality of the HISA after it was challenged by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, multiple state HBPA affiliates, the State of Texas, and the Texas Horse Racing Commission. Since the initial Fifth Circuit ruling, Congress amended the language of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act to include “clarifying language” that shores up the FTC’s oversight of HISA.
On the back of Tuesday’s decision in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denying a motion by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) Authority for that court to vacate its recent opinion that the law is unconstitutional, the Texas Racing Commission (TXRC) has reopened the door for Texas tracks to beam their signals out-of-state, with Sam Houston set to begin this Friday.
Last year, the TXRC argued that it was statutorily barred from joining HISA, and because the enabling federal legislation gave the HISA Authority regulatory jurisdiction over the interstate simulcasting of races, the commission prohibited Texan tracks from exporting their signals.
The Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied a motion by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) Authority for that court to vacate its recent opinion that HISA is unconstitutional.
January 27, 2023 (Lexington, Ky.) – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published the resubmitted Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) rules to the Federal Register, initiating a 14-day public comment period. The FTC now has 60 days to approve or deny the proposed rules.
HISA’s draft ADMC rules were initially rejected by the FTC in late 2022 due to ongoing legal uncertainties. HISA has resubmitted the rules for consideration by the FTC following a bipartisan act of Congress which addressed the constitutional questions raised by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Now that the rules have been resubmitted and posted to the Federal Register, HISA anticipates that its ADMC Program will go into effect March 27, 2023, pending FTC approval. The resubmitted rules include a small number of minor revisions from the version submitted in August 2022. A clean version of the proposed rules is available on the Federal Register now and a red-lined version will be available on HISA’s website within the next 48 hours. In its December 2022 order, the FTC stated it would consider all previously posted comments on the Federal Register as well as any updated or new comments.
Upon implementation, the ADMC Program will be administered and enforced by the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU). The development of the ADMC rules included an initial public comment period, numerous open discussions and meetings with industry organizations and individuals, as well as the careful consideration of more than 200 comments submitted by racing participants and the general public.
Included in the rules package are the Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Protocol, the Prohibited List, Definitions, Arbitration Procedures, Equine Testing and Investigation Standards, and Equine Standards for Laboratories and Accreditation.
“The establishment of uniform, nationwide anti-doping rules in Thoroughbred racing will strongly enhance the safety and integrity of our sport and is a step many in our industry have long advocated for,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “The health and safety of horses is our paramount concern, and the consistent enforcement and efficient resolution of rule violations will transform how we protect our equine athletes. We deeply value the input we’ve received from racing participants throughout the development of these rules, and I encourage all participants to continue to share their thoughts with us moving forward.”
HISA’s ADMC Program will advance and modernize anti-doping practices across the sport with components including out-of-competition testing, uniform lab accreditation, a uniform results management process, a robust intelligence and investigations arm and consistent penalties.
As HIWU prepares for the ADMC Program’s launch, the organization will continue to publish and share educational material with industry stakeholders, available at hiwu.org, and will host meetings with groups of racing participants to further educate on the new rules and answer questions.
Five U.S. Senators joined five Congressmen yesterday strongly urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to disapprove the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) proposed Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program Rule that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (Authority) recently resubmitted. The bipartisan group of lawmakers stated the disapproval from the FTC was necessary to “avoid continued industry-wide confusion and potential inequitable enforcement.”
The FTC already had disapproved the medication control rule on December 12, 2022, until “the legal uncertainty regarding the Act’s constitutionality comes to be resolved,” the commission wrote.
The bicameral letter also strongly encouraged the FTC to clarify that the formerly approved racetrack safety rules are unenforceable at this time because HISA was declared unconstitutional by a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in November.
Signing the letter were Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Congressmen Lance Gooden (R-TX), Tom Cole (R- OK), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ).
“I applaud Senator Grassley, Representative Gooden and all their co-signers for asking the FTC to state the obvious: HISA is unconstitutional; therefore, its rules cannot be enforced,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “Furthermore, the corporation under HISA is still enforcing the racetrack safety rules, even though, as the Congressmen point out, everyone agrees they were submitted and approved in accordance with a law that was ruled unconstitutional.
“The sheer fact that an amendment was written to ‘fix’ HISA proves without a shadow of doubt that the supporters of HISA supported an unconstitutional bill. This obvious disregard for the law is needlessly causing even more confusion. The wise thing for the HISA corporation to do is to take a self-imposed pause and let the courts sort things out before rushing to impose its will on horsemen.”
On December 29, 2022, Congress passed a so-called “HISA fix” that tweaked the law by giving the FTC limited ability to modify Authority rules. As a result, the Authority resubmitted the medication control rules and issued a public statement saying they are hopeful and optimistic that they will be able to implement them around mid-March.
“This blatantly premature statement caused immense confusion throughout the horseracing industry, and does not take into account that the 5th Circuit’s opinion has not been overturned nor has the Court issued a new opinion,” said Dr. Doug Daniels, President and Chairman of the National HBPA. “The FTC cannot be forced into approving the ADMC based on assumptions made from HISA’s corporation.”
Horse-racing constituents applauded the Senators and Congressmen for strongly expressing their concerns to the FTC.
Said Jon Moss, Executive Director for the Iowa HBPA: “We greatly appreciate Senator Grassley for continuing his support and leading the charge for horsemen and women in Iowa as well as throughout the country.”
Amy Cook, Executive Director for the Texas Racing Commission, praised Rep. Gooden, saying, “We appreciate Rep. Gooden recognizing the wide-ranging statutory conflict that exists in Texas. It is critical for all stakeholders to continue to send the message that regulatory certainty is paramount and therefore new federal rules should not be adopted while there is ongoing litigation related to HISA’s constitutionality.”
An attorney for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority this week asked a federal appeals court panel to set aside its ruling declaring the entity’s underlying legislation facially unconstitutional, citing a recent amendment to the law.
A letter signed by Pratik A. Shah Dec. 29 on behalf of HISA formally notified the three-judge panel “that on December 23 Congress passed, and on December 29 President Biden signed into law an amendment” that gives the Federal Trade Commission more power to regulate the Authority.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, had declared the legislation facially unconstitutional for failing to give the FTC adequate oversight over the Authority, a private entity created by the legislation.
As expected following passage from the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, President Joe Biden on Dec. 29 signed into law a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that among its many items contained legal clarifying language related to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority and the act that authorized it. Additionally, the bill, known as H.R. 2617, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023,” calls for consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2023, and provides emergency defense assistance to Ukraine.
HISA was created to implement national, uniform rules in Thoroughbred racing. The first of HISA’s two programs, the Racetrack Safety Program, had already gone into effect in July of this year. It was HISA’s second program, the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program, that was placed on hold. The ADMC program was originally slated to go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, but its implementation, even with the passage of H.R. 2617, remains delayed.
Within the last few hours, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the attached Amendment to strip references to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) from the 4,000-page omnibus spending bill being considered this week in Congress. In response, we are releasing the following call to action: National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association CEO Eric Hamelback released the following statement.
“I want to praise Senator Grassley for his bold move to protect horsemen in Iowa and throughout the U.S. An amendment to HISA should not have been written in the dark of night and has no place in the 4,000+-page spending bill. You cannot fix a constitutionally flawed law with one sentence. The Grassley Amendment will ensure that real, working horsemen are listened to on how to fix the law that regulates their industry. The Grassley Amendment is picking up steam, and I urge all horsemen to call and email their Senators right away to vote “Yes” for the Grassley amendment.”
We need everyone to post and share this information as soon as possible. We are working with the Kentucky HBPA to send a call-to-action email as well.
Please help spread this very important message as soon as possible and then contact your Senators to relay you want them to vote yes on the Grassley amendment.
The January 1, 2023, deadline to have all your required vaccines and tests recorded on the HISA portal is fast approaching. On this date, HISA will start enforcing this regulation, preventing your horse from racing if these vaccines and tests are A) not listed on the Horse’s Health records or B) not up to date, as required by HISA rule 2143.
The Required Tests and Vaccines:
Certificate of Veterinary Inspection
If a health certificate is submitted for a horse at a licensed racetrack facility or training center and is then transported directly to another licensed facility within the same state, another health certificate is not required to be provided. However, if the horse is transported from a licensed racetrack or training center to an unlicensed facility or farm between races or leaves the state between races, the health certificate must be presented.
Regulations for Each Test and Vaccine
HISA Rule 2143 establishes the requirements for each test and vaccine. In order to race, these requirements must be met. To ensure your horse can race, make sure your horse’s negative Coggins test and necessary vaccines are up to date, as required by HISA Rule 2143.
Why Does this Matter?
HISA is requiring that horses entering the grounds of a racetrack have updated vaccinations and tests to enhance the health and welfare of all horses on the grounds of a racetrack.
If you are unsure of how to enter these required health records into the HISA database via the online portal, HISA has produced several guides to help you. There are visual how-to guides as well as videos.
October 26, 2022 (Lexington, Ky.) – The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) has submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a technical document listing and categorizing 1,365 Prohibited Substances covered by HISA’s anti-doping and medication control (ADMC) rules and further dividing them into subcategories of Banned Substances and Controlled Medications. The document is now subject to final approval by the FTC ahead of the ADMC Program’s January 1, 2023 implementation date.
This technical document was developed by HISA’s ADMC Standing Committee and approved by the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU), which will administer the program. In a memorandum to racing participants, HISA ADMC Committee Chair Adolpho Birch summarized the contents of the document submitted, which underwent several modifications based on substantive feedback from racing participants and experts during a public comment period before submission to the FTC.
“The Prohibited Substances List is the result of extensive consultation with industry and subject matter experts and is informed by established research. Once approved by the FTC, it will serve as the backbone of HISA’s ADMC Program set to take effect in the New Year,” said Birch. “Through our collective efforts led by the ADMC Committee, we are proud to introduce U.S. Thoroughbred racing’s first-ever uniform Prohibited Substances list that will be applied on a national basis to advance integrity, transparency and accountability in the sport.”
“Effective anti-doping programs require clear guidance on prohibited substances, and we are pleased with the document that was submitted to the FTC,” said Ben Mosier, executive director of HIWU. “This list will play a key role in HIWU’s assignment to enforce HISA’s ADMC Program, and we are prepared to take on this critical responsibility on behalf of the Thoroughbred industry.”
In addition to listing and categorizing all prohibited substances covered by the ADMC Program, the document details detection times, screening limits and thresholds. The modified document submitted to the FTC is available on the HISA website.