Dan Ross

Weekly Stewards and Commissions Rulings, Apr. 19-25

Every week, the TDN publishes a roundup of key official rulings from the primary tracks within the four major racing jurisdictions of California, New York, Florida and Kentucky. Here's a primer on how each of these jurisdictions adjudicates different offenses, what they make public (or not) and where. California Track: Santa Anita Date: 04/20/2022 Licensee: Ed Moger, trainer Penalty: $500 fine Violation: Out of competition medication violation Explainer: Trainer Ed Moger, who worked the horse Squalotoro for removal from the Veterinarian's List on March 10, 2022, at Santa Anita Park,...

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From Dust to Dust: Do “Terrible” Racetrack Barns Exacerbate EIPH?

For all the satchels of research dollars and reams of ink devoted to exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), it remains a topic Swiss cheese riddled with unknowns. Which means that, as the sport continues to move away from Lasix as a crutch to manage the problem--especially when the federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) outlines a timeframe for a total race-day Lasix ban--various lines of inquiry beg pursuit. Given the sometimes rundown, poorly ventilated state of racetrack barns around the country, perhaps the most urgent one is this: How much...

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Letter to the Editor: Concerns About HISA

Dan Ross's article from Sunday, February 20 highlighting the many unanswered questions regarding provisions of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) should concern anyone who cares about American racing. For an entity which many are expecting to be vitally important to the future of the sport, it has left much to be desired in the way of its public communications. Just shy of four months from launch, the lack of answers to a major industry publication should concern anyone involved in, or subject to, the new organization. Transparency is...

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Blea's Vet License Remains Suspended, Per Judge

The veterinary license of California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director, Jeff Blea, remains suspended pending a full administrative hearing, according to a ruling by administrative law judge Nana Chin. In a 15-page document dated Friday, Jan. 28 but posted to the Veterinary Medical Board's website Wednesday, Chin wrote that despite Blea not currently practicing veterinary medicine, this still "does not ensure" public safety. "As long as Respondent's license to practice is active, he is free to return to the practice of veterinary medicine at any time. Permitting Respondent...

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Blea's Interim Suspension Hearing Plays Out

In the formal hearing Friday morning of the Veterinary Medical Board's petition for an interim suspension of California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director Jeff Blea's medical license, both sides laid out their arguments. In short, the deputy attorney general Elaine Yan representing the veterinary board took a procedural defense of the petition, arguing that the allegations against Blea amount to violations of standards of practice within the veterinary community as codified in the veterinary medicine practice act. "These guidelines emphasize the importance of examinations and diagnosis," said Yan,...

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Weekly Stewards and Commission Rulings: A Primer

Starting next week, the TDN will begin a weekly roundup of key official rulings from the primary tracks within the four major racing jurisdictions of California, New York, Florida and Kentucky. The task, however, of collecting these rulings has wrenched the curtain back on the fractured way in which the industry polices its own and then makes those rulings public--or not, as is often the case. The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) provides something of a gold standard, thanks to a centralized, easy-to-use database containing all stewards rulings from across...

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New SoCal MRI Study Aims to Bring Clarity to its Diagnostic Role

Seeking a full stop to the spate of high-profile fatalities in the race that stops Australia, Racing Victoria this year tightened the veterinary screws. The practical rollout of these efforts can hardly be described as an unadulterated success, however. One of these new measures was a precautionary CT scan of all runners in the days leading up to the G1 Melbourne Cup--a target that hit the skids when Racing Victoria's new $1.27-million CT unit suffered a malfunction with the Cup field only half scanned, leaving the rest to be X-rayed...

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HISA Draft Rules Augur Fundamental Changes For Industry

Draft rules for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) were unveiled Thursday morning, auguring fundamental shifts to the way the industry is policed, including a markedly more stringent approach to medication violation penalties. Far from concrete, these draft rules are subject to the red pen. Nevertheless, as currently written, they raise notable differences to the working status quo. Broadly, the draft rules take a binary approach to drug testing, breaking medications down into primary and secondary categories. A primary substance is one that is always prohibited, while a secondary...

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Q&A with USADA's Tygart and Muir

Draft rules for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) were unveiled Thursday morning, broad details of which can be read here. As expected, these draft rules aren't full and comprehensive, and are subject to revision. Nevertheless, as currently written, they signify a fundamental revision to the way the industry is policed, including a markedly more stringent approach to medication violations. To discuss these rules, the TDN sat down Wednesday afternoon with United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart and Dr. Tessa Muir, head of the agency's equine program....

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Q&A with USADA's Dr. Tessa Muir

Last month, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced that in Dr. Tessa Muir, it had plucked from foreign shores a new hire to head its equine program at a time when the agency plays an integral role in implementing the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), overhauling the industry's governing status quo. Before Muir joined the USADA staff roster, she had hopscotched her way up the industry ladder, from exercise rider to private veterinarian to head of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA)'s anti-doping program between 2013 and 2019. Her...

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What Will HISA Look Like?

We recently ran part one of our story on the challenges facing HISA. Today, we deal with lawsuits, adjudication, and more. This time next year, the machinery of horse racing in the U.S. may be almost a month into a radical system overhaul. But with scant few calendar pages between now and then, what do we know about how the cogs, wheels, and pulleys of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) will work together? To find out, the TDN reached out to Charles Scheeler, chair of the HISA board...

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Will HISA Be Ready in Time?

Part One of a Two-Part Series If the letter of the law is any reliable prognosticator, this time next year the United States horse racing industry will already be nearly a month into what promises to be a major realignment of the planets. With the official enactment of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) on the first of July, 2022, racing jurisdictions North and South, East and West will be bound by the same medication standards, safety rules, and enforcement mechanisms--a hallelujah for many who have long championed the...

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