With the July 1 implementation date for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act rapidly approaching, there has been a feverish push to get tens of thousands of horsemen and horses registered in time as well as an education effort to get the industry's stakeholders up to speed on the Act's myriad rules and regulations. Tuesday, Lisa Lazarus, the CEO of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority–the governing body tasked with implementing HISA–joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland as the Green Group Guest of the Week to provide updates on the registration drive, the possibility of scratches of non-registered horses post-July 1, where HISA stands with its drug enforcement partnership and more.
“From my metrics, I feel like [registration] is going very well right now,” Lazarus said. “We have about 26,000 persons plus horses registered, and the trajectory of registrations is on a very steep incline. We're doing everything possible to answer questions and make sure people have the tools to get registered. We've heard some concerns from people that, if they register, they're giving up a lot of rights. They don't know what the drug and medication control program is going to look like. So we're going to be rolling out a feature that allows people to unregister very easily at any time, should they ultimately change their mind. But my view is that once we get going on July 1, everyone's going to realize that this program is actually supportive, that it's not going to be punitive.”
Asked about the drug enforcement section of the law, which is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, Lazarus said, “That's very close to getting up and running. In early May, we appointed the Center for Drug-Free Sport to be the enforcement agency, and they've created an entity called the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit, which essentially has five pillars: testing, lab accreditation, education, science and prosecutions/investigations. We're working on equipping all of these pillars to be ready to go Jan. 1. We have some top people and experts in their field involved, and this is important–the anti-doping and medication control rules are posted on our website now for public comment. So if anybody wants to have their say or wants to be heard on any particular issue, please make sure to comment before the end of the month.”
The conversation turned to the Texas Racing Commission, which has said it will stop the interstate importing and exporting of simulcast signals in order to avoid the umbrella of HISA's regulation.
“As you might have read, I went down to Texas to meet with the Texas Racing Commission and their executive director, Amy Cook, as did my general counsel, John Roach. We tried really hard to find a solution. Ultimately, Texas's view is that, given the way their racing commission's regulations are written and structured, they don't have the authority to allow another regulator to come in and regulate any portion of horse racing. Obviously, we believe that's not consistent with the federal law and what Congress ordered. In Texas right now, the only [Thoroughbred] track running is Lone Star and they only run until July 23. So it's really 22 days that's at issue, and I had really hoped we could reach a resolution, however we'll then have from the end of July to Jan. 1 to try to find a way forward with Texas.”
Elsewhere on the show, which is also sponsored by Coolmore, Lane's End, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, XBTV, West Point Thoroughbreds and Legacy Bloodstock, the writers reacted to an eventful week at Royal Ascot for American connections, lauded Santa Anita for its continued improvements in safety and previewed the career debut of the show's filly namesake. Click here to watch the show; click here for the audio-only version or find it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.