MTHA Toy Drive: A Huge Success!

The annual Christmas Toy Drive for the benefit of children of backstretch workers was a huge success thanks to the many donations received from members of the Maryland racing community.

The event, held Saturday, Dec. 17, in the Laurel Park Track Kitchen before racing began, attracted about 60 children and members of their families who requested that they receive toys. The Paz family decorated the kitchen and offered cookies and hot chocolate. Santa Claus handed out the presents to the children.

Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association staff said the 2022 edition of the event was perhaps the best ever. The MTHA would like to thank everyone who contributed toys, or funds to purchase toys, for making it a success once again.

HISA test, vaccine information deadline approaching

Though the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s Anti-Doping and Medication Program has been delayed, its current Racetrack Safety Program remains in effect in Maryland. The Maryland Jockey Club has issued a reminder related to tests and vaccinations.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, all horses and ponies must have a Coggins test within 365 days. In addition, all horses and ponies must have within the previous 365 days been vaccinated for rabies, tetanus, western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE), eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) and West Nile virus. All horses and ponies must also have been vaccinated within the prior 180 days for equine herpesvirus (EHV) and equine influenza virus (EIV).
HISA in November said that Jan. 1, 2023, is the deadline for horsemen to have all required vaccines and tests recorded on the HISA online portal for all covered horses. HISA will begin enforcing the regulation at that time.

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FTC order delays launch of HISA Anti-Doping and Medication Control program

The Federal Trade Commission on Dec. 12 rejected "without prejudice" the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's proposed Anti-Doping and Medication Control rules, which means they will not go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

The text of the Federal Trade Commission decision is as follows:

The Federal Trade Commission has issued an Order disapproving the Anti-Doping and Medication Control proposed rule submitted by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to its enforcement rule after a public comment period. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which recognized the Authority, includes a requirement that its rules must be submitted for approval to the FTC.

The Commission's Order explains that its disapproval arises from the legal uncertainty arising from a recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which declared the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act unconstitutional. Because the next steps in the litigation could render the proposed rule unenforceable in the states that make up the circuit and in those that are plaintiffs in litigation, approving the proposed rule would be inconsistent with the Act's foundational principle that horseracing rules be uniform across the nation. Accordingly, the Commission did not reach the merits of the proposed rule, which the Authority may re-submit if the legal uncertainty is resolved.

Statement issued by HISA regarding the FTC's decision:

"HISA appreciates the Federal Trade Commission's decision to deny HISA's draft Anti-Doping and Medication Control rules without prejudice as we actively seek to resolve current legal uncertainties. HISA is eager to launch Thoroughbred racing's first and long-awaited national, uniform ADMC program and stands ready to do so. We will re-submit the draft ADMC rules to the FTC for their review as soon as these legal uncertainties are resolved, and once approved, we will implement the program through the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit. In the meantime, HIWU will continue to work toward the implementation of a uniform, independent anti-doping and medication control program that is administered consistently and fairly across the United States."

Statement from Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit Executive Director Ben Mosier:

"As the designated independent enforcement agency of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's Anti-Doping and Medication Control program, the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit has spent the past seven months preparing for the Program's implementation on January 1, 2023, and stood ready to enforce this national, uniform program on that date pending approval from the Federal Trade Commission. Following today's decision by the FTC to deny HISA's draft ADMC rules without prejudice due to current legal uncertainties, HIWU will continue its education and outreach efforts to all stakeholders in the Thoroughbred industry. As HISA re-submits the draft ADMC rules for the FTC's approval, HIWU will use any additional time before implementation as an opportunity to ensure the industry is even more prepared for an efficient rollout of this Program, which will promote fair competition in the sport of Thoroughbred racing and the safety and welfare of our human and equine athletes."

The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association will keep its membership informed of ongoing developments.

Beyond The Wire Tops 600 Horses, Makes Adjustments

Beyond The Wire, Maryland’s Thoroughbred aftercare program that was launched in May 2017, recently topped the 600 mark for the number of horses that have gone through the program. The number of horses successfully placed from 2018-2021 has run from 106 to 125 each of those years, with 2022 expected to reach a similar number.

The Beyond The Wire Board of Directors met Nov. 30 to discuss the status and goals of the program, as well as finances, to ensure it remains successful and sustainable in the coming years as an important and safe re-homing option for retired racehorses. The program continues to stress that the more sound a horse is when it is retired, the better chance the horse has to move on to a second career as a riding horse or sport horse.

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Horsemen’s Health System Update On Operational Protocols

The Horsemen’s Health System, funded by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club, has been a major success since its launch more than six years ago. The MedStar Health doctors who are on site at Maryland Thoroughbred tracks on all live racing days have provided an invaluable service for the jockey colony, backstretch workers, trainers and racetrack employees—and even saved lives through proactive measures.

The Horsemen’s Health System physicians specialize in sports medicine but several also have family practices under MedStar Health. Their contributions to the Maryland racing industry are just part of their overall schedules. The MTHA sincerely thanks Drs. Kelly Ryan, Jason Pothast, Joseph Brodine and Christian Glaser, as well as others who have manned the racetrack medical offices over the years, for providing such an important service.

In order to maximize the services provided by the Horsemen’s Health Systems, it’s necessary that protocol be followed. The medical office at Laurel Park also serves as the horsemen’s office for those doing business during live racing, unlike a regular medical office.

MedStar Health has a contract with the MTHA and MJC. When the doctors arrive each day, their first priority is to visit the jockeys’ room before the live racing program begins. Many of them also like, when possible, to be outside watching races in case there is an incident on the track.

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HISA Remains In Effect Pending Further Court Action

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Nov. 18 overruled a District Court and ruled that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is unconstitutional on the grounds that it delegates “unsupervised government power to a private entity.”

The lawsuit challenging HISA’s constitutionality was filed in 2021 by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, multiple HBPA affiliates, the state of Texas, and the Texas Racing Commission. The Fifth Circuit is one of 12 federal court circuits and its ruling is only applicable to the states of Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. A parallel appeal of another District Court ruling that HISA was constitutional is now before the Sixth Circuit.

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