Scott Chaney, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board
The California Horse Racing Board conducted a public meeting Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Cal Expo in Sacramento, which could be heard through the audio webcast 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, Thomas Hudnut, and Wendy Mitchell.
The Board addressed several issues pertaining to horse and jockey welfare, including the establishment of a concussion protocol for jockeys, as will be required under HISA (Horseracing Safety and Integrity Act/Authority) effective July 1, 2022. The CHRB will provide HISA officials with its suggested protocol. Once accepted, HISA will be responsible for enforcement (e.g. dictating if and when a jockey can resume riding).
The Board accepted recommendations from the Jockeys’ Guild pertaining to minimum and maximum weights. CHRB staff will develop proposed rules for Board consideration.
Vice Chair Gonzales, who chaired a meeting of the Jockey and Driver Welfare Committee the previous day, reported on a proposal that he presented designed to reward and incentivize jockeys in California by granting the rider of a male Grade 1 Stakes winner a single-season breeding right to that future stallion. The Board agreed to seek a legal opinion on whether this could be required of horse owners.
The Board discussed a proposed rule modification to align standardbred driving rules with current crop use regulations covering thoroughbreds and quarter horses.
Alan Balch, executive director of California Thoroughbred Trainers, reported the recommendations and conclusions of the task force for animal safety. Among those was a recommendation that within 48 hours of any equine fatality, in recognition of the significance and urgency of the occurrence, those with responsibility and oversight will convene to analyze the event and perhaps gather information to better understand the circumstances and possibly lead to reduced fatalities. This would be in addition to the required postmortem examination and later, extensive reviews already managed by the CHRB. Executive director Scott Chaney will report back to the Board on this matter.
The Board granted administrative authority to Executive Director Chaney to enter into a voluntary implementation agreement with HISA. Chaney indicated that California already meets or exceeds HISA safety and welfare requirements, so there will be little change after July 1, with the exception that under HISA, riders in thoroughbred races will be permitted to whip overhanded. HISA does not govern quarter-horse racing, so those riders will continue to be restricted to underhand use of the crop under CHRB rules.
The Board approved an agreement between the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the Los Angeles County Fair (LACF) meet at Los Alamitos regarding entry conditions and specified drug substances and medications. The Board then approved the LACF license for a meet that will operate during the day at Los Alamitos from June 24 through July 10. This day meet will run in concurrence with the night quarter-horse meet at Los Alamitos.
The Board approved an agreement between the Authority of Racing Fairs (CARF) and three horsemen’s groups regarding entry conditions and specified drug substances and medications at the fair meets overseen by CARF, beginning with the Alameda County Fair (ACF) meet in Pleasanton. The Board then approved the ACF license for a meet that will operate from June 17 through July 10.
In his report to the Board, Executive Director Chaney reported that year-do-date there have been 19 equine fatalities California compared with 42 in 2020, a significant decline reflecting the cooperative efforts of the CHRB, racetracks, owners and trainers, veterinarians, and jockeys. However, he noted that Santa Anita recently experienced three fatalities in a short period. The CHRB continues to work with Santa Anita on surrounding issues, including possible access by Santa Anita to veterinary medical records. “As I always say, there is more work to do, but the facts are clear,” said Chaney. “This reform is not only working but has been extremely effective. And we continue to examine ways and identify concepts for regulations that will continue this significant downward trend.”
Chaney also reported that from January through April, the Maddy Laboratory at University of California, Davis, reported 18 positives from specimens collected post-race, following workouts, and from out-of-competition horses, none of which were the most serious Class 1, 2, or 3. For context, California averages more than 30,000 starts per year and workouts many times that number.
The Board approved a matter pertaining to revenue distributions from Advance Deposit Wagering.
The Board renewed the license for OC Tavern in San Clemente to provide wagering as a mini-satellite.