West Virginia Racing Commission

West Virginia Trims Dates For '24, Exact Schedules Hinge On Outcome of HISA Legality

Both Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Park got approval Wednesday from the West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) to reduce live racing dates in 2024 compared to recent seasons. The Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) chapters at both tracks supported the diminished schedules based on available purse funds and projected horse populations. Right now the placeholders are 158 dates for Charles Town and 121 for Mountaineer. But the exact number of programs will ultimately be contingent on the outcome of several overlapping federal lawsuits that have to do with the...

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Mountaineer Steward Defends $100 Fine for Jockey Who Whipped Horse in Face

The chief state steward at Mountaineer Park, Jim O'Brien, on Friday defended his board's seemingly light $100 penalization of jockey Jose A. Leon after other licensees who were on horseback during training hours at the West Virginia track Sept. 10 testified that the 24-year-old rider dismounted from an unruly horse and struck it across the face with his whip. "He was wrong, but I guess he let his anger get the best of him, and he hit the horse in the face," O'Brien told TDN. O'Brien added that he and...

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Mountaineer Jockey Fined $100 for Striking Horse in Face

Jockey Jose A. Leon has been fined $100 for hitting a horse in the face during training hours at Mountaineer Park. According to a Mountaineer stewards' ruling, "Mr. Leon was caught striking a horse across the face on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, during morning exercising." The ruling didn't specify whether Leon struck the horse with his whip or his hand. Joe Moore, the executive director of the West Virginia Racing Commission, wrote in an email that he did not have any details about the incident beyond what the Mountaineer stewards...

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Judge Halts Anti-HISA Suit in Louisiana Pending Outcome of HBPA Case in U.S. Appeals Court

A federal judge has stayed a 14-month-old lawsuit initiated by the states of Louisiana and West Virginia that is trying to wipe out the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) via alleged constitutional violations, ordering the case to be "administratively terminated" until the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals makes a ruling in a separate suit in which the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) is also alleging HISA is unconstitutional. However, U.S. District Court (Western District of Louisiana) Chief Judge Terry Doughty wrote in his Sept. 14 ruling...

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Losing Side in Sixth Circuit HISA Appeal Wants Rehearing

Six weeks after the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), the losing plaintiffs/appellants in a case led by the states of Oklahoma, West Virginia and Louisiana have petitioned for a rarely granted "en banc" procedure that asks for a rehearing before all 28 of that court's judges instead of just the panel of three that issued the Mar. 3 decision. "A panel of this Court [held] that the [HISA] Authority's ability to issue federal regulations...

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Charles Town Requests 15 Fewer Dates in '23

Charles Town Races on Tuesday was approved for a reduction of 15 dates for 2023 compared to its 2022 allotment, with the understanding that the 164-program schedule could be revisited mid-year to include additional dates if finances warrant extra racing. The awarding of race dates in West Virginia is a somewhat confusing several-step process bound by a state statute that requires Charles Town to apply for 220 programs every year. The state's other Thoroughbred track, Mountaineer Park, is required to apply for 210 dates. But what has ended up happening...

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Mountaineer To Race Six Fewer Days in 2023

Mountaineer Park was granted approval on Monday by the West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) to race 124 dates in 2023, a six-program reduction from the 130 that the track is scheduled to race this year during its April-through-December meet. Speaking about the loss of race dates, WVRC executive director Joe Moore said, "I'm told that is as a result of the Horse Racing Integrity Authority (HISA) and Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) assessments recently received by the commission and the racetracks for calendar year 2023." Mountaineer executives were offered...

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Who Bears Compliance Responsibility if WV Can't Hire HIWU Vets?

Facing a dire shortage of veterinarians at the state's two Thoroughbred tracks and under deadline pressure to decide whether to enter into a voluntary implementation agreement with the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) prior to that entity's Jan. 1 start date, the West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) on Monday pressed a representative of HIWU for clarity on who, exactly, will bear responsibility if the minimum required number of equine drug testing employees can't be hired within the next six weeks. It took some polite but persistent questioning by commissioner...

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HISA Visits Mountaineer During Chronic Vet Shortage at Track

A representative of the Horse Racing Integrity Act's (HISA) Racetrack Safety Team has been on the grounds at Mountaineer Park in West Virginia this past week--at a time when the track is experiencing an ongoing chronic shortage of attending, association and regulatory veterinarians, according to observers. According to Jami Poole, president of the Mountaineer Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association (MHBPA), there is often no veterinarian on the facility's grounds during training hours. "I'm not pleased about the vet situation here in the morning time," said Poole, who estimated that training...

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New Lawsuit Aims to Halt HISA On Eve of Implementation

The states of Louisiana and West Virginia are at the forefront of a new federal lawsuit filed late Wednesday that seeks to block the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) from going into effect when the clock strikes midnight on Friday. The defendants, who consist of the HISA Authority, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and board members and overseers of both entities, have allegedly violated the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, plus the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which governs the process by which federal agencies...

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West Virginia in Limbo Over HISA

The West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) on Tuesday opted to take no action either way on whether to collect and remit fees on behalf of the new Authority created by the federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA). States are facing a May 1 deadline to declare "in or out" middleman status pertaining to the safety portion of the HISA program that will go into effect July 1. This first phase-in of oversight does not include HISA's drug testing and medication control programs, which aren't expected to be up and...

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Mountaineer Adds Eight Dates in December

Mountaineer Park will expand its 2021 racing season by eight dates, tacking on Dec. 5-8 and 12-15 to its existing calendar. "We had five cancelled days due to lack of entries. But honestly, we wanted to finish out [with] a full [racing] week," said Jim Colvin, Mountaineer's manager of racing operations. "So we applied for eight racing days, which would give us a total of 133 for this year instead of 130." Approval was granted during Tuesday's monthly West Virginia Racing Commission meeting.

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