By Dan Ross
The Golden State is the first jurisdiction in the country to sign a voluntary agreement with the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) to continue performing a host of vital roles when the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act's (HISA) drug control program goes into effect Mar. 27, according to a statement Friday by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB).
In another first among the nation's racing jurisdictions, the CHRB also agrees to pay HISA's 2023 fee assessment. The total figure for the state is more than $6.7 million. However, after HISA's credits have been applied, the final amount that California owes HISA comes out to roughly $1.5 million, according to the voluntary agreement.
“The CHRB has been enforcing and complying with safety regulations that HISA introduced July 1, 2022. Under the new agreement, the CHRB will implement rules under the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program, which are scheduled to go into effect March 27, 2023,” the CHRB's Friday statement read.
Under the voluntary agreement–shared by CHRB executive director Scott Chaney with TDN–the CHRB agrees to continue performing certain tasks for the HISA Authority and for HIWU, including the collection of equine samples, and the testing of these samples at the University of California, Davis's Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Laboratory.
In turn, U.C. Davis's “Maddy Lab” also becomes the first laboratory to officially sign onto HIWU's drug testing program.
Because state racing commissions and their respective industries already pay for many of HIWU's anti-doping and medication control program components, HISA is offering credits as subsidies to its annual fees.
According to California's voluntary agreement, the commission's total “state testing credit” will be $4.7 million. This includes some $1.2 million for sample collection and $3.5 million for laboratory costs such as race-day testing, research, and the analysis of samples from other states.
California also receives an additional out-of-competition testing credit estimated to be around $450,000 annually.
“If the costs for out-of-competition testing outside of Race Day pursuant to this Paragraph exceed $450,000 at the end of 2023, the Commission will receive an additional credit for 2024 in the amount of the excess costs,” the voluntary agreement reads.
“The CHRB is proud of our work and record in safety and animal welfare, and therefore we want to have a role in shaping policy going forward,” said Chaney in the statement issued Friday. “We have partnered and supported the national effort from the beginning and appreciate the dedication of the Authority and HIWU.”
The CHRB's statement adds: “The CHRB and representatives of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, 1st Racing, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, and UC Davis have been advising HISA all along, promoting California's strict regulatory program, and partly for that reason the federal rules are similar to those in California, meaning participants in California horse racing will need to make fewer adjustments than some of their counterparts in other racing jurisdictions.”