HISA Questions and Answers

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Lisa Lazarus

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Last week, TDN launched a cheat sheet to help guide industry participants through the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) on July 1.

Since then, we have been fielding unanswered questions that industry participants have about the process to register, and about the new playing field come July 1, forwarding them to HISA for response.

Over the weekend, HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus addressed a common registration problem bedeviling the system, with HISA's text message verification codes often been misclassified by telecommunications providers as spam.

In short: While the technical glitch has been fixed, says Lazarus, “it will take more than a week for the fix to fully propagate through these vast systems. Therefore, we have suspended the account verification requirement and continue to secure the accounts using alternate methods.”

The first batch of reader questions TDN has received is posted below alongside HISA's responses. Some of the questions have been edited for brevity and clarity. If any submitted questions aren't answered here, we will endeavour to include them in the next batch.

HISA's formal website can be found here, and the online registration portal can be found here.

Question: The HISA registration process requests that trainers register all 'employees'; the riders my husband uses are independent contractors who ride for multiple trainers. Should he be registering them as 'employees' on the HISA website?

HISA: Trainers are not required to register their employees. However, trainers should ensure that their employees register with HISA. Independent contractors, such as some exercise riders, are responsible for registering with HISA. As the case with the trainer's employees, your husband is not responsible for registering them but should encourage them to do so.

Q: I have a state issued license as a race track management employee. Do I have to register for a HISA license?  If so, under what category?  What about the many licensed employees in non-management roles? There has been zero information communicated on this issue. This is not non-compliance, but a lack of messaging.

H: Racetrack employees are required to register with HISA if they have a state racing commission license and are directly involved in horseracing. However, racetrack employees or contractors who do not have access to restricted areas of a Racetrack (the stable area or paddock, for example) in the ordinary course of carrying out their duties are provided an exemption from registering. This means that if a racetrack employee's job does not regularly require them to access the stable area in the normal course of their work, they are not required to register.

A few examples may help illustrate the registration exemption rule: Racetrack superintendents are required to register because their ordinary job duties are carried out in the restricted areas of a Racetrack. A racetrack public relations employee that occasionally spends time in the barn area is not required to register because access to the restricted areas of the Racetrack is not a part of the ordinary course of their job duties. It is important to note that HISA registration does not affect barn and track access. State and racetrack rules will continue to control access.

Q: I have been working on getting horses registered on the HISA website and have found that I can't go back in and edit them once they're in. For example, I can't update their vaccination record to reflect that they're up to date. Furthermore, I have yet to find where I can add medical information, lay off time, and more, as required by HISA to be put in. I'd like to know if anyone who has solved this problem has gotten it sorted, as HISA has not gotten back to me about fixing this issue.

H: It's correct that this functionality is not yet available through the HISA Portal, but it will be soon. The HISA Portal's functionality continues to evolve, with new features being rolled out every two weeks.

This Friday, June 3 will see the introduction of the ability to update vaccine information along with Coggins and the Health certificate. There will also be a better horse location modification screen, and you will be able to edit the Owner ID.

On Friday, June 17, another round of features will roll out that will allow users to provide the additional information that HISA requires. Importantly, it should be noted that once you have registered yourself and your Covered Horses, you have satisfied your obligations to HISA for the July 1 start date.

Q: I was about to start the process of registering with HISA, however, a friend of mine tried to do so and got all the way to the end and there was no drop down menu for an “Ontario” license so he couldn't complete the application. Any thoughts? We are trying to register from Canada with an AGCO (Woodbine) license.

H: HISA has no jurisdiction in Canada or over Canadian license holders. If a Canadian licensee is planning to race in the U.S., they can register with HISA after securing a license from the racing commission in the state in which they plan to race.

Q: Why are breeders being asked to register? The definition of a covered horse as one that has had its first workout, is entered or nominated for its first race, means a large portion of breeders are not covered persons. By the time they reach that point, if the breeder still owns them, they would be registered (and licensed) as an owner anyway. I understand the language is in the original bill, but even though it's defined, nothing listed after would indicate a need for them to register.

   Furthermore, if they do, why are sales companies and consignors not required to register? Young horses preparing for sale receive vet care, surgery and medications up to the point of 2-year-old sales, but am I to understand those records aren't under the same oversight, and the individuals overseeing that sales prep are not either?

More confusingly, in the rules published by the safety commission in the Federal Review, the definition of a breeder has disappeared from the terms used section, so they don't even define what a breeder is. Can anyone clarify this?

H: Breeders are only required to register if they are required to be licensed by their state racing commission. As with any person, licensure by a state racing commission is the threshold requirement for registration with HISA. If a breeder is not required to be licensed by their state racing commission, then there is no requirement to register with HISA.

Q: During a lengthy conversation with the Jockeys' Guild, the HISA members were challenged with some language that had been changed from the original scope of the bill (Section 8400 in the published rules), namely, that HISA investigators could not only enter any property where covered horses were being cared for, but had access to any books, records and physical property of any other business owned by a covered person.

    In other words, if an owner is a doctor or lawyer, by virtue of owning a racehorse, a HISA investigator appears to have the right to search their offices and records without a warrant.

    According to representatives, that language did not fly with the FTC and was being changed, but it remains published and it would be a part of the agreement for anyone signing up with HISA.

    When will we see the corrected language on their right to enter property and will that be before July 1st?

H: It is important to note that the referenced language in the current Enforcement Rules was approved by the FTC. This is not surprising since the language of the rule tracked the statutory language which states that the Authority “shall develop uniform procedures and rules authorizing- (i) access to offices, racetrack facilities, other places of business, books, records, and personal property of covered persons that are used in the care, treatment, training, and racing of covered horses.”

It should also be noted that other states have statutes that are similarly broad (such as Kentucky). The FTC addressed the entire matter in some detail in the order approving the Enforcement rules, noting that the commenters' quarrel was as much with the HISA Act itself as with the HISA 8400(a) rules.

Nevertheless, to allay the concerns expressed, HISA has restricted the scope of 8400(1)(a) in the revised enforcement rules. The revised rules were shared with numerous constituent groups (including the Jockeys Guild) earlier this month and are available here:

HISA plans to submit the revised enforcement rules to the FTC in the near future.

Q: How did the FTC sign off on only one crop being approved for use? How does a single company having the only crop approved by HISA not violate antitrust laws?

H: No company was approved to manufacture the riding crop. Any person or company is free to manufacture a riding crop that is in compliance with the Safety Rules.

If industry participants have any more unanswered questions about the process, let us know at [email protected] and we will try our best to get those answers.

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