Day 1 of HISA: Scratches Hard to Find, Lone Star Handle Plummets

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Lone Star Park Horsephotos

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Any worries that the first day under which horses had to be registered with the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority in order to compete would create chaos were squelched early on in the day Saturday when a number of tracks reported that not a single horse had to be withdrawn from a race due to the new rules.

The TDN sent out survey questions to a number of racing officials Saturday to determine how many, if any, horses had to be scratched because either the horses or their owners or trainers had not been registered with HISA. The TDN heard back from eight tracks–Gulfstream, Laurel, Belmont, Churchill Downs, Evangeline Downs, Los Alamitos, Monmouth and Charles Town. All eight reported that not a single horse at their tracks had to be scratched because of HISA's regulations.

The numbers may have been a pleasant surprise for the HISA team, which had told the TDN earlier in the week that they were prepared for some scratches.

“Since such a registration process has never existed at the national level before, it's unclear how many people and horses are or will be participating in racing come July 1,” a spokesperson told the TDN. “It should be noted that the universe of people expected to register is limited to the 24 states conducting covered horse races under HISA's authority.”

As of Friday night, the last chance individuals had to register themselves and their horses so that they would be eligible to race on Saturday, there were 27,074 covered horses and 24,147 covered persons. Through mid-week, 30,846 different horses had competed in the U.S. this year, but that doesn't mean that some 3,846 horses were not registered. A good number of the 30,846 runners may have been hurt and/or retired at some point in the year, meaning there was no need to register them.

There were also no reports of jockeys who weren't registered and therefore could not ride.

The news wasn't nearly as good out of Texas. The Texas Racing Commission has not complied with the Horse Racing and Integrity Safety Act, arguing that under Texas law only the commission has the authority to oversee racing. That led the commission to rule that the signal from the state's tracks cannot be sent out of state and that advance deposit wagering companies could not take betting on Texas races.

Predictably, that led to a massive decline in handle Saturday at Lone Star Park on the first day that its races couldn't be sent out of state. Lone Star ran a 10-race card on Saturday, June 25 and handled $1,771,138 or $177,113 per race. There was an eight-race card on Saturday and total handle for the day was $215,107, for an average of $26,888 per race.

The Lone Star meet concludes July 24, so it's unlikely that the decreased handle will affect purses in the short term, but that could change if the HISA-Texas Racing Commission standoff persists.

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