National HBPA Update – August 2022

HBPA August 2022 – The month of August has been filled with industry activity and activism for the National HBPA and our 24 U.S. affiliates. With the summer racing season in full swing across the country, horsemen and horsewomen, now more than ever, are feeling the impact of the constantly evolving regulatory environment thrust upon us by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.

We have also continued discussions and planning for the 2022 Claiming Crown. The 24th renewal of the rich and prestigious Claiming Crown will be held on November 12, 2022, at Churchill Downs in Louisville KY. It will mark the first time the event has been held at a track in Kentucky. Eligibility Forms are now available. Visit the Claiming Crown web site for more information.  Please encourage all of your horsemen to submit an eligibility request.  This will greatly benefit the program and the National HBPA.

The first week of August the National HBPA hosted an Executive Committee meeting at Canterbury Park in Shakopee Minnesota. A big thanks to President Pete Mattson, the Board of Directors and the Minnesota HBPA members who hosted an evening of great racing Canterbury Park. The meeting agenda included reviews of National HBPA mid-year financials, affiliate updates, information on benevolence contributions in 2022, discussion of the upcoming affiliate dues survey and a review of the National HBPA Foundation and a discussion of supporting the American Horse Council’s Economic Impact Study. The remainder of the program was dedicated to discussions and status updates of the implementation and litigation against the Horseracing Integrity Safety Act (HISA). We were thankful HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus and HISA staff member Marc Guilfoil were able to join the meeting via Zoom.  They were able to listen and process many real, boots-on-the-ground issues horsemen are experiencing. As well as listen to questions still left unanswered after the first month of implementation.

Since the July 1, 2022, program implementation the National HBPA has heard a constant drumbeat from horsemen and horsewomen from literally across the country. Calls from Oregon, Washington combined with calls from Maryland and New York, mixed with all points in between.  Constituent voices play a critical role in the policy direction and implementation at the National HBPA and every state affiliate. We utilized a portion of the Executive Committee meeting to make sure your voices are heard. We used the time with Ms. Lazarus as an opportunity to directly address the troublesome HISA rollout and the proposed rules for HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program. Lazarus provided her assessment of the issues with registration and the shortcomings of the database entry and technology, by saying “I think we responded to those as quickly as possible. We had teams working around the clock and I say with some cautious optimism from a registration standpoint, I believe that the vast majority if not all universal problems have been fixed. Our IT team is working diligently to make the system better”.

Current HISA representative and Former Kentucky Horseracing Commission Executive Director Mark Guilfoil joined the conversation as well, addressing the outreach he is doing with jockeys. Of major concern which continues to be voiced by several organizations is the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Programs (ADMC) and how much variance there is in the proposed draft from the currently universally accepted ARCI Model Rules.

The ADMC rules which the National HBPA submitted comments, were developed by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit in consultation with the HISA ADMC Standing Committee before being presented to the HISA board for approval. Currently the industry has until August 26th to provide comments on the Prohibited Substance Technical Document.  National HBPA has been working diligently with Dr. Clara Fenger and members of NAARV to offer a joint response which will be submitted on Friday August 26th.  Once finalized from comments and approved, this technical document will also go to the Federal Trade Commission for final approval ahead of the program’s January 1, 2023 arbitrarily set implementation deadline. Any members who have reviewed the Prohibited Substance Technical Document please email comments and suggestions to as well as the FTC once they are submitted. The final version of the rules comprising the ADMC Program were submitted to the FTC on August 17, 2022, can be found in the links below.

  • 1000: General Provisions [View PDF]
  • 3000: Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Protocol [View PDF]
  • 4000: Prohibited List [View PDF]
  • 5000: Equine Testing and Investigations Standards [View PDF]
  • 6000: Equine Standards for Laboratories and Accreditation [View PDF]
  • 7000: Arbitration Procedures [View PDF]

Later in the month the HISA created Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit announced even more executives to the newly created committee they have put together.  For those interested, the full press release can be found here. Please take note that all 4 individuals do not appear by my interpretation to have any working knowledge of the horseracing industry nor experienced in equine testing. But rest assured if we have marathon runners out there being trained for an equine iron-man, we have that covered.

For those trying to get back up to speed, let me fill you in on the newly formed Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit: The Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) was established in in conjunction with Drug Free Sport International (DFSI) to administer the rules and enforcement mechanisms of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s (HISA) Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program. The ADMC Program, which will supposedly be effective January 1, 2023, will be charged with creating a centralized testing and results management process which will apply uniform penalties for violations across the U.S. The HIWU will oversee testing, educate stakeholders on the new program, accredit laboratories, investigate potential violations and prosecute any violations.

Later in the month our work focused on support for H-2B visa reform. We continue to discuss the H-2B Returning Worker Exception Act, which would alleviate some of the capacity issues of the H-2B program and would be extremely helpful to small and seasonal businesses, like members of the National HBPA.  We continue to work with our team at the Ingram Group to provide feedback on the issue’s impact to the industry as well as any other industry-specific questions legislators may have.

The House Judiciary Committee majority has convened its first “listening session” with labor unions and the H-2B Coalition’s steering committee which allowed all sides an opportunity to outline priorities. The next step is the Coalition and the AFLCIO planned to meet twice during the month of August. Much of those discussions will revolve around identifying what the Members of Congress that are involved in the negotiations will agree to. The Coalition and AFLCIO will also need to come to an agreement on what Members of Congress need to be involved in the conversation. From our side, it will certainly include Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) who has been our champion on the bill to permanently include the returning worker exemption in the H-2B program. The Coalition stated that the goal of the House Judiciary Committee is to get some changes into a potential omnibus that would pass later this year. Our team wonders how realistic that is, though, especially if Republicans take back the House and Capitol Hill gets stuck in limbo between the Chambers and the Administration. We will keep tabs on these discussions.

The Ingram Group believes it is worthwhile for the HBPA to meet with Rep. Clay Higgins’ (R-LA) office about the exemption and broader H-2B reform. As we previously discussed, Rep. Higgins is vying to be Chair of the Homeland Security Committee next year if Republicans take back the House. It would be good to have his support even though that committee is not the authorizer on this particular subject. We would work to set up this meeting in early September, following Congress’ return from recess.

An update about the ongoing appeal process with our lawsuit against HISA. We now know from our team at the Liberty Justice Center who the judging panel will be for August 30th.  The judges are, Carolyn Dineen King, Stuart Kyle Duncan and Kurt D. Engelhardt We can say that the LJC team believes this set of judges provides us a solid chance, if not a slight edge with this trifecta.

While only August, we are getting ready for some end of the year duties as well. Affiliates that partake in the D&O coverage will soon be getting renewal packets and the Fire and Disaster policy will be updated as well.  We are also beginning to work with Chuck Krblich and his audit team to prepare needed documentation and reviews to complete the 2021 audit. Once completed the reports will be submitted to the Audit Committee to review and make a recommendation to the Executive Committee. We have also begun preparations for the 2023 NHBPA budget which are underway planning on presenting the budgets at the Executive Committee meeting in October. With that, we have spent some time the last two weeks preparing for the November Executive Committee meeting in Louisville.  Held this year in conjunction with the Claiming Crown for the first time, I hope to have excellent in person attendance.

As Peter and I get ready to leave Monday for the courthouse in New Orleans, I would like to leave you with something to think about. How significant has the transparency and communication been from the HISA leadership? Do any of you believe good leaders withhold information, misrepresent facts, make decisions in a vacuum, or worse – listen to special interests’ groups to make choices for us all?  I believe industry leaders must be as transparent as possible, and if they are not, I don’t believe them to be true leaders. Fear of the unknown is real. If those claiming to be leaders refuse to be transparent and open, should anyone be following them?

I have said this before, and it unfortunately continues to be true. Think about where we are as an industry and the path that we have been on because of HISA. What leadership groups have been “in charge” to force HISA onto the entire industry? Are you pleased and satisfied? Do you like the direction we are heading? Are there some in the industry who are, and have been, throwing up caution flags and pushing back? What groups are voicing concerns about the ongoing issues in the industry? Who is fighting for the industry and who is fighting for an agenda? We must look long and hard at those who “claim” themselves as the leaders in horse racing.  Aren’t they the same self-proclaimed leaders who brought us the problems we now have under HISA? We must remain focused as a group, continue to be horsemen helping horsemen, but also be leaders into the future of horse racing.

Read More at HBPA Website HERE

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Edward J. DeBartolo (at that time, the owner of Balmoral, Thistledown and Louisiana Downs) built Remington Park in Oklahoma City as a $100 million showcase for Thoroughbred racing. The inaugural race meet during the fall of 1988 was an opportunity for Oklahoma Thoroughbred horsemen to race in their home state and for horsemen from throughout the region to enjoy Oklahoma’s hospitality.

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