HISA Sends Turf Paradise Laundry List Of Alleged Violations, Gives Track A Deadline To Respond - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

HISA Sends Turf Paradise Laundry List Of Alleged Violations, Gives Track A Deadline To Respond

Turf Paradise racetrack in Phoenix, Ariz.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority has sent a formal notice of multiple suspected or actual rule violations to Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Ariz., outlining its belief the track failed to comply with multiple safety rules.

The notice, dated Jan. 11, cited Turf Paradise for non-compliance on Rules 2153 (racing facilities), 2154 (racetrack surface monitoring), 2168 (equine ambulance), 2262 (void claim), 2276 (horseshoes), 2282 (riding crop violations and penalties), and 8520 (non-payment).

The track was given one week to respond, but that deadline has since been extended.

“Turf Paradise attorney Brian Imbornoni has spoken with HISA attorney Bryan Beauman and has received an extension of time to file a reply,” said Turf Paradise general manager Vince Francia when asked for comment Jan. 17 about the notice or the track's next steps.

The notice was accompanied by daily stewards reports which identify George Estrada as the resident Authority steward.

From the start of the meet, the reports note there was no paddock farrier on hand to perform random inspection of shoes to monitor compliance with the national regulations. The reports also state that prior to the start of the meet, representatives from the track, the state, and the Jockeys' Guild walked the rail and identified spots that the inside dirt track rail that they thought could be hazardous. A photograph attached to the daily reports showed what appears to be broken or sharp metal edges on the flat horizontal surface on the top of the inside rail. The report notes that while track management promised to make repairs, those had not happened as of the last notation of rail issues several days into the meet, although the notations drop out of reports after Nov. 16.

Although Arizona has no state void claim rule, it appears Authority void claim rules were in force for the first part of the Turf Paradise meet, with two claims voided in November on horses who cooled out lame. Reports indicate that HISA was assigned a detention barn area where Authority veterinarians could assess claimed horses and determine whether they were sound before facilitating transfer of the horse to its new barn.

Then, on Dec. 1, reports indicate that “track and state personnel were told that Turf Paradise cancelled their agreement with HISA” and from this point forward, reports show there was no longer an Authority veterinarian in place at the detention barn to oversee claimed horses' soundness.

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No further explanation is given in the daily reports for the change, and the reports' author doesn't indicate who made the announcement to personnel or when. Days afterwards, signs appeared near the racing office reiterating the state rule language regarding claims, specifically that the title to a horse transfers once the horse becomes a starter and may not be voided.

After a catastrophic breakdown of a Quarter Horse on Dec. 15, the daily reports note the horse ambulance was “deemed partially inoperable,” was unable to back up to reach the downed animal, and was later replaced by a pick-up truck and trailer.

The replacement set-up was called into service Dec. 20.

“The ambulance was needed for the eighth race catastrophic injury, and performed adequately,” read that day's report. “There is concern of the effectiveness of the equine ambulance and whether it meets HISA's requirements.”

The original report on the Dec. 15 Quarter Horse injury also made note of ongoing track maintenance concerns, which have dominated discussion by horsemen at recent Arizona Racing Commission meetings after numerous race dates have been cancelled following rain.

“Additionally, the area in which the horse fell is an area that is believed to be an area the compromised harrow is being used to groom the track,” the Dec. 15 report noted.

Apart from enforcement issues noted in daily racing reports, the Authority states that Turf Paradise has not paid its 2022 bill for Authority costs. In June 2022, the Authority sent a letter to track owner Jerry Simms to inform him it would be sending two equal invoices of $154,611 in November and December to cover Turf Paradise's portion of costs for the Authority's operations in Arizona. According to the notice sent to Turf Paradise last week, those bills have remained unpaid.

Turf Paradise is being asked to respond to allegations of the various violations, provide results of any investigation into those violations, and outline a detailed explanation of a remedial plan the track will undertake to address those violations.

“If Turf Paradise fails to propose an acceptable remedial plan, the Authority will pursue appropriate enforcement action,” read the notice.

The notice makes reference to Rule 8300 disciplinary procedures and Rule 8200 sanctions, which state the authority may “prohibit a racetrack from conducting any Covered Horserace or impose any other sanction as a condition of participation in horseracing as deemed appropriate by the Authority in keeping with the seriousness of the violation and the facts of the case, and that is consistent with the safety, welfare, and integrity of Covered Horses, Covered Persons, and Covered Horseraces.”

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