CHRB: Preparations Continue For HISA Implementation; Minimum Jockey Weight To Be Raised - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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CHRB: Preparations Continue For HISA Implementation; Minimum Jockey Weight To Be Raised

The California Horse Racing Board conducted a public meeting in Pleasanton at the Alameda County Fairgrounds on Thursday, June 16, 2022. The public participated in person and also listened to the meeting through an audio link on the CHRB website. Chairman Gregory Ferraro chaired the meeting, joined by Vice Chair Oscar Gonzales and Commissioners Dennis Alfieri, Damascus Castellanos, Brenda Washington Davis, and Thomas Hudnut.

The audio of this entire Board meeting is available on the CHRB Website (www.chrb.ca.gov) under the Webcast link. In brief:

The Board continued setting the stage for the July 1 arrival of federal oversight of horse racing, first by authorizing staff to institute a concussion protocol to comply with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and the voluntary implementation agreement. Executive Director Scott Chaney reported that baseline concussion assessments of all jockeys in California are in the process of being conducted by Dr. David Seftel, the track physician at Golden Gate Fields, who is a concussion expert.

The Board next authorized stakeholders to redirect $1,451,256 of their own revenue from Advance Deposit Wagering to fund California's proportional share of the HISA budget.

In his report to the Board, Chaney summarized other steps being taken in preparation for the changeover.

“As the Board is well aware, the HISA Authority's safety regulations go into effect on July 1,” said Chaney. “Over the past few months and particularly in the last few weeks, the CHRB, the Authority, and stakeholder groups have worked hard to create a smooth transition. The CHRB has created a HISA tab on our website. We have sent three direct communications to licensees and stakeholders highlighting the differences between California rules and the Authority rules. Another is planned next week. I have participated on calls with HISA leadership, one arranged by Del Mar, another one by the CTT (California Thoroughbred Trainers), to work through stakeholder concerns and questions. Del Mar and Los Alamitos have indicated they have established computer terminals to help licensees register with the Authority.

“Additionally,” Chaney continued, “the CHRB, with the leadership of Chief Steward Darrel McHargue and Chief Official Veterinarian Dr. Tim Grande, held meetings with California stewards and regulatory veterinarians to discuss changes under HISA, as both groups will be burdened with enforcing many of the new regulations. Overall, I believe that California is well positioned for the July 1 effective date, but undoubtedly there will be some growing pains associated with the new federal oversight. I encourage licensees with questions to reach out to your stakeholder group representatives, to utilize the HISA tab on our website, and to ask questions through the CHRB's public inquiries email box.”

The Board approved the license for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC) to operate a race meet that will operate from July 22 through September 11, one week beyond the usual Labor Day conclusion. Josh Rubinstein, DMTC's president and chief operating officer, reported that purses for the meet will be the highest ever, not just for Del Mar but for the entire state. He also reported that attendance will be limited on opening day for the comfort of attendees. He said general admission tickets already are close to being sold out. Vice President of Racing David Jerkens reported that stables previously not present at Del Mar have shown interest, some that were first exposed to the location during the 2021 Breeders' Cup. He also expressed optimism that the Ship and Win program will continue to being new horses to Del Mar from out of state, many of them purchased by local owners expressly for the purpose of running at Del Mar.

In conjunction with the license approval, the Board approved an agreement between DMTC and the Thoroughbred Owners of California regarding entry conditions for the meet.

The Board approved two safety measures, one for riders and the other for horses. The commissioners approved for public notice a regulatory amendment to raise the minimum weight carried by Thoroughbreds by two pounds, from 112 to 114, reflecting concerns that some jockeys are endangering their own health by trying to make the lower weight. The Board also approved for notice a separate proposal reducing by two pounds the maximum overweight a horse can carry, from seven pounds to five.

The Board approved the license application for the California Exposition and State Fair to conduct a fair meet in Sacramento at Cal Expo that will operate from July 15 through July 31. This is the first fair meet at Cal Expo since 2019. Cal Expo has been playing an emergency role for the last two years, serving as a vaccination center during the pandemic and providing other emergency support. In the meantime, the fair has made $18 million worth of improvements to the facility.

The Board approved for public notice proposed regulatory changes to bring the use of the riding crop used in harness racing in line with its restrictions for other breeds. The change would limit harness drivers from using the crop more than twice in succession and no more than six times during a race.

The Board approved two items pertaining to industry support for CHRB operations.

Public comments made during the meeting can be accessed through the meeting audio archive on the CHRB website.

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