Nine states have adopted rules voiding the claims of horses that either suffered fatal injuries or were placed on the vet's list immediately after their claiming races, writes former Indiana Horse Racing Commission executive director Joe Gorajec in his latest InsideRacingRegs blog entitled “The Voided Claim Rule: Some Regulators Deserve Your Thanks.”
“The voided claim rule is a recent regulatory initiative that should become a standard practice in every state,” Gorajec writes. “It accomplishes what all individuals in the racing industry claim to promote: The safety and welfare of our equine athletes is our primary responsibility.”
The voided claim rule, which varies from state to state, was a recommendation of the first Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in 2006.
One of the first (if not the first) state to adopt a voided claim rule is California, which took five years to enact a regulation after it was first proposed there. Other states with a voided claim rule are Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, Gorajec writes.
“Nobody likes change in horse racing,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, the equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board in explaining why it took so long for California to adopt the rule. “A lot of people think the poker aspect of claiming is part and parcel of horse racing. Unfortunately, it's the horse that gets the brunt end of that.
“The real advantage (of the rule) is that you are not treating horses as commodities,” Arthur said. “You can't get rid of a problem by dropping it into a claiming race. You have to actually address the problem.”
Unfortunately, many states have yet to adopt the rule, which allows horsemen to shop around and look for states where they may be able to get a horse with physical infirmities claimed.
“Obviously, regulators still have much work to do,” writes Gorajec. “Do they even know how this rule would benefit their racehorses?”
He then answers his own question.
“Maybe, maybe not.”
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