Pandemic Plans for Track Re-Openings Absent From NYSGC Meeting

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Racing at Saratoga | Sarah Andrew

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The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) teleconference meeting Tuesday resulted in the adoption of four new Thoroughbred-related rules and the proposal of two others.

Even though it was the NYSGC’s first meeting since the COVID-19 crisis halted the state’s racing industry in March, the five commissioners who participated did not discuss the pandemic or any aspect of return-to-racing plans for New York tracks.

The only time the coronavirus got an oblique mention was during the reading into the record of a proposed emergency rule regarding changing qualifying race requirements for Standardbreds.

There was no reference to what might happen with the summer race meet at Saratoga, no talk about safety protocols for the abbreviated spring/summer meet at Belmont Park, and no mention of when Finger Lakes might be up and running.

The proceedings stuck strictly to a follow-the-moderator format, as none of the agenda items sparked even a word of commentary from the commissioners, who collectively cast verbatim voice votes in the affirmative for all 10 rulemaking motions.

Adopted as new Thoroughbred rules were items:

  • Allowing a claimant to void a claim of a Thoroughbred that is discovered after the race to have become lame or experienced epistaxis due to exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.
  • Allowing horses to race in New York with digital tattoos.
  • Allowing tracks to disclose multi-race wager will-pay and live-tickets information to the betting public that had previously been prohibited.
  • Amending regulations concerning intra-articular treatments in Thoroughbred racing to 1) restrict the time period for the use of corticosteroid joint injections to 14 days from the current restriction of seven days before a race; 2) restrict the time period for the intra-articular injection of any substance to a Thoroughbred to match the proposal of a 14-day restricted time period for a corticosteroid joint injection before a horse’s next race; and 3) to require that Thoroughbred trainers maintain and submit accurate records within 48 hours of the treatment.

Proposed as new rules and sent out for public comment were items that would:

  • Restrict the administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such that only one clinical dose may be administered during the week before the horse races. The proposal would limit the administration to the intravenous route, and adopt stricter thresholds for the two most commonly used NSAIDs, flunixin and phenylbutazone, as has been recommended by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and adopted as a model rule by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The proposal also reduces the list of NSAIDs that could be administered lawfully within one week before the horse races to only three by eliminating the NSAIDs that are not widely used and for which the appropriate lab threshold is unclear.
  • Allow a horse eligible for Lasix administrations to be removed from the Lasix list for the limited purpose of running in a race whose conditions forbid the administration of furosemide on race day. If Lasix-free races get carded later this year by NYRA as anticipated, the rule would permit the horse’s trainer to request reinstatement to the Lasix list after the race without having to re-apply for the Lasix list with the eligibility criteria (including demonstrating another bleeding episode) being re-established. Without the proposed rule amendment, the horse could not run in a no-race-day-Lasix race unless it left the Lasix list, and the horse would need to re-apply for the Lasix list after having raced without the drug.

At the conclusion of the rulemaking, commissioner Peter Moschetti, who was acting as moderator at the request of chairman Barry Sample, briefly brought up the topic of whip reform under the “old business” agenda item.

The NYSGC had not discussed possible changes to whipping rules since its December 2019 meeting, when staffers were “directed to discuss the proposed California crop use proposal with the NYRA jockey colony and with other leading regulatory jurisdictions and report back at a future commission meeting.”

Despite that directive, whip use did not get brought up the next time the NYSGC met in February for a meeting that lasted 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

Again on Tuesday, whip reform did not make the cut.

“Considering the length of today’s agenda [32 minutes] and the fact that crop use discussion continues among racing industry stakeholders, I think it would be best to defer the discussion to the next meeting,” Moschetti said. “I think we’re all looking forward to that discussion.”

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