The California Horse Racing Board conducted its regular meeting Thursday, October 25, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Chairman Chuck Winner presided. Vice Chair Madeline Auerbach and Commissioners Araceli Ruano and Alex Solis also were in attendance.
- Chairman Winner began the meeting with an announcement that Commissioner Jesse Choper has resigned from the Board citing personal matters after serving nearly 12 years as a commissioner. “The Board will miss him, and racing will miss his wisdom, thoughtfulness, stability, and wit,” said the chairman, who went on to express confidence that a new commissioner would be appointed in the near future. This leaves the Board with five members.
- The Board put over until November consideration of the Pacific Racing Association's license application for winter racing at Golden Gate Fields (GGF) largely because the application did not list any out-of-state signals for importation other than Hong Kong. This would force bettors in Northern California wishing to wager on any other out-of-state races do so through an Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) account. The Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) expressed concern this could result in a loss of as much as 50 percent of purses, so the TOC has not signed the horsemen's agreement required for race meets. GGF representative Scott Daruty assured everyone they have a plan to deal with purse levels “in the best interests of racing,” which he said will be presented to the Board after legal concerns are more fully addressed. In the meantime, he anticipated a continuation of the current practice of importing the usual out-of-state signals.
- Vice Chair Auerbach, who chairs the Medication, Safety and Welfare Committee, reported on the previous day's meeting at which a number of matters were discussed pertaining to the health and safety of horses and riders. It was repeatedly pointed out that the combined efforts of the CHRB, track management, owners, trainers, veterinarians and jockeys have led to a substantial reduction in equine fatalities from previous years. One large factor in this trend is the increased use of diagnostic imaging techniques, including MRI and Position Emission Tomography (PET scan), to better detect comparatively minor medical problems that could otherwise eventually lead to catastrophic injuries if not acted upon.
- At the Medication Committee's recommendation, the Board approved two regulatory amendments for 45-day public notice relative to equine safety. One amendment will totally prohibit the presence of clenbuterol in post-race samples. The other will require horses that have not raced for one year and 4-year-olds making their first start to perform satisfactorily in a workout or a standardbred qualifying race. Because the regulatory process can be lengthy, the Board acted to immediately prohibit the presence of clenbuterol in all post-race samples on an emergency basis. Dr. Rick Arthur, the Board's equine medical director, stressed that clenbuterol is not being banned. It can still be used for health reasons. However, it cannot be administered so close to a race that it can be detected in samples. He said the normal clearance time is three weeks to a month. This prohibition will go into effect November 15. A positive test from that date through November 30 will result in a warning. A positive test thereafter will result in a complaint. Anyone uncertain about whether previously administered clenbuterol could still be detected in a sample can have their horses pre-race tested, which the CHRB and Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory will offer free at least through the end of this year. The California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) expressed support for the clenbuterol change as proposed. An advisory more fully explaining the suspension and process has been posted on the CHRB website.
- The Board put over until its November 15 meeting consideration of the Los Angeles Turf Club's license application for a winter meet at Santa Anita Park, which also lacked a horsemen's agreement.
- The Board approved two license applications for Los Alamitos Race Course, one for a two-week thoroughbred meet this year (December 6 through December 16) and the other for the year-long quarter horse meet commencing December 26.
- Executive Director Baedeker reported on a gathering of CHRB investigators, safety stewards, license technicians and other CHRB personnel for two days in Sacramento. He said one focus of the meeting was for investigators and safety stewards to increase their presence and visibility in stable areas on a regular basis in order to further protect the integrity of racing, ensure the safety or horses and reassure racing participants in these regards.
- Executive Director Baedeker reported that wagering increased almost 6 percent at the Los Angeles County Fair meet at Los Alamitos and average daily handle was up nearly 18 percent at the most recent meet at Golden Gate Fields. Total wagering for all of California is up 7.5 percent this year.
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