(Photo: Jeff Landry, courtesy Louisiana Attorney General’s office)
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023) — Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry will be the keynote speaker at the National HBPA’s annual conference March 6-10 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, the horsemen’s organization announced.
The conference, which is hosted by the Louisiana HBPA, will be held in conjunction with the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Annual Meeting and Racing Integrity Conference. The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association represents about 30,000 thoroughbred owners and trainers. The ARCI is the umbrella organization which exists to assist in the coordination of the collective efforts of its members who are responsible for ensuring compliance with government laws and regulations designed to protect the general public and racing industry participants, including the equine and canine athletes.
Landry will deliver the conference’s keynote address on Tuesday March 7. As Louisiana’s attorney general, he has been at the forefront of states challenging the constitutionality of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (Authority) that the law established. In addition to constitutionality issues, Landry has expressed concern for the financial hardship that a largely duplicative bureaucracy will put on large portions of the horse-racing industry. Louisiana has four tracks that conduct horse racing.
“Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry embodies the positive vision with the inspiration and passion we seek in a keynote speaker,” said Eric Hamelback, the National HBPA’s CEO. “He has proven to be a strong advocate for horsemen and women who understands our labor-intensive industry with its substantial agribusiness, not only in Louisiana but throughout the country. He believes in a bright and better future for horse racing, and refuses to let us be trampled by special interests.”
“I am honored to be chosen the keynote speaker at the National HBPA Conference, and I look forward to visiting with so many who ply their trade in such a great industry,” said Landry, a decorated Army veteran. “I will continue fighting for them to prevent the federal government from taking over horse racing.”
The HBPA and ARCI will share panel discussions and presentations during their overlapping conferences while staging their business sessions separately. HISA will be the focus.
“Within horse racing right now, the obvious overarching topic is the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act,” said National HBPA President Dr. Doug Daniels, an equine veterinarian and racehorse owner/breeder. “Even as the challenges of its unlawfulness proceed and many in the industry fight back against the lack of transparency and overwhelming cost, we must understand portions of HISA are the law of the land everywhere but in the Fifth Circuit. Our goal in joining with Association of Racing Commissioners International at our conference is to provide a forum for frank discussions on where we are, where we’re headed, how we navigate an admittedly flawed law and process, and how everything should look after the court decisions are settled.”
One key panel could be called “what’s next?,” addressing alternative legislation to HISA and other options for a path forward for the industry. Panelists will include ARCI President Ed Martin and Amy Cook, the executive director of the Texas Racing Commission.
“A major part of the conference will be focused on laying out the issues with HISA and also how the industry can move forward,” Hamelback said. “We strongly believe there are more effective means that are constitutional. We also believe bringing the leadership of all stakeholders to the table will provide positive change that improves our industry without jeopardizing the financial health of smaller racetracks and racing stables.”
The meeting of the ARCI’s model rules committee will be open for both groups to attend. The ARCI model rules — developed with input from industry stake-holders while seeking scientific guidance and identifying best practices — are the blue print many racing commissions use for their state regulations.
Other joint sessions include a HISA litigation update, equine welfare with a focus on aftercare and scientific developments, fixed odds in horse racing and a trainers’ panel featuring Louisiana HBPA board members Bret Calhoun and Ron Faucheux and Kentucky HBPA board member Jason Barkley.
The HBPA programming will also include the annual Kent Stirling Memorial Medication Panel, which this year will delve into laboratories’ “limits of detection” and how it affects drug testing in horse racing.
The conclave kicks off with a reception on Monday March 6, followed by three days of panel discussions, presentations and meetings and an outing at the Fair Grounds for racing on Thursday March 9. The full HBPA board will meet Friday March 10 to close out the proceedings.
“The National HBPA Conference has become one of the most informative and newsworthy annual meetings on the racing calendar,” Hamelback said. “But it wouldn’t be possible without our corporate and conference sponsors. The Louisiana HBPA has gone out of its way to make the 2023 conference even more memorable.”