By T. D. Thornton
Against the backdrop of the 2021 GI Kentucky Derby drug positive investigation dragging past the nine-month mark and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) maintaining a conspicuous silence throughout the drawn-out process, KHRC chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz obliquely referred to the scandal for the first time at an open, public meeting Tuesday.
Although Rabinowitz did not specifically mention Medina Spirit's betamethasone overage or trainer Bob Baffert's long-delayed stewards' hearing that was finally conducted Feb. 14, that controversy was almost certainly the catalyst for the chairman stating that the KHRC is seeking to change administrative regulation 810 KAR 9:010, which deals with the KHRC's hearings, reviews and appeals process.
Rabinowitz said Feb. 15 that regulation “historically precludes the commission from making public statements prior to the issuance of stewards' rulings.”
After Tuesday's meeting, TDN confirmed with the KHRC's general counsel, Jennifer Wolsing, that Rabinowitz was referring to section 1 (4) of that regulation, which states: “Stewards' and judges' hearings shall be closed, and the stewards and judges shall make no public announcement concerning a matter under investigation until the conclusion of the hearing.” (Read the full regulation here).
Rabinowitz said, “This commission is committed to transparency, as well as the best interest of the horsemen, associations, and the racing industry as a whole. As a result, we've begun the process of making significant changes to 810 KAR 9:010 in order to ensure that this commission remains an industry leader in transparent government. It is of the utmost importance to this commission that we get this reg changed.”
Commissioner Bill Landes III was the only KHRC member to follow up on that statement with an opinion.
“Transparency and a more [public] process will allow us to become more effective commissioners in that we will be perceived [that] we care and know what the hell is going on–and that is not necessarily how we are perceived today. This is a breath of fresh air,” Landes said.
Those comments about possible future changes were preceded by a slate of actual KHRC regulation changes, all of which got voted in unanimously during Tuesday's meeting. Because they still need to go through a public notice and approval period at the state level, the following regulations are not expected to go into effect for another seven to nine months:
Allowing a horse to enter a race even when the horse is on the veterinarian's, stewards', or starter's list, provided the horse has a posted “off” date on or before the date of the
Workout requirements for layoff horses: The current regulation states that a horse that has not started in the past 45 days shall not be permitted to start unless it has at least one published workout within 20 days of entry. The new regulation adds requirements for horses that have not started in the past 90 days (two published workouts during the past 90 days, one within 20 days of entry) and for 180 days (three published workouts during the 180 days, one within 20).
Mutuel Couplings: The current regulation states that horses entered in the same race and owned by the same owner shall be joined as a mutuel entry. The revision allows for some flexibility by stating that horses owned by the same owner “may” be joined as a mutuel entry.
Also, the current coupling regulation states that horses having common ties through ownership shall not start in a purse race to the exclusion of a single entity. The proposed revision expands that requirement to include horses with common ties through ownership or training.
Another current regulation states that the racing secretary may uncouple entries having common ties through training to make two separate betting interests. The revision expands that rule include horses with common ties through training or ownership. A trainer entering two horses in a race will have to indicate a preference for one of the horses.
If a coupled horse commits a foul during a race, current regulations may be interpreted to “require” the stewards to include any horses coupled with an offending horse in the penalization. The revision deletes the reference to the coupled horse. Additionally, the revision clearly states that if a horse deliberately interferes in the order of finish for the benefit of another horse with common ties through ownership or training, then both horses may be penalized.
Claiming Regulations: A licensed owner must have made a start within the last 30 days at a Kentucky track in order to be eligible to claim a horse. An authorized agent may act on behalf of an owner who meets the above criteria in order to claim a horse. A “claiming license” will be issued to someone who does not currently own a horse but wants to claim one horse only. After that one claim, the claiming license is rescinded, and the above ownership rules apply.
Also, an owner may only claim one horse from a single race. A trainer may claim as many as two horses from a single race, but only if the horses are claimed for different owners. A claimed horse shall not race outside of Kentucky for 30 days from the date of the end of the meet during which the horse was claimed. That represents a change from the current regulation, which states that a horse can race outside of Kentucky after the close of entries for closing day of the meet.
A claimed horse shall not be sold or transferred within 60 days after the day it was claimed (except via another claiming race). This is a change from the current 30-day regulation.
After the race has been run, a claimed horse shall be delivered to the test barn (or detention barn) for post-race inspection When the horse passes KHRC veterinary inspection, it will be delivered to the successful claimant. The funds for the horse will be available when the horse passes inspection and is delivered to the successful claimant.