Gural, USTA organize committee to explore HISA recommendations

Columbus, OH — Spurred on by Jeff Gural, owner of the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, and facilitated by the United States Trotting Association, a group of key stakeholders representing various parts of the industry and holding diverse viewpoints will meet in the coming weeks to examine the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act and harness racing’s potential role within it. The HISA passed Congress last month as part of an omnibus spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020.

Jeff Gural and the USTA have formed a committee to explore recommendations for amendments to the new Horse Racing Integrity & Safety Act that will be beneficial to harness racing. USTA/Ken Weingartner photo.

The Act authorizes the creation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority that will oversee anti-doping/medication control and racetrack safety programs for Thoroughbred racing. An opt-in provision allows other breeds to be included. HISA has been controversial within harness racing, with support coming from the Gural-owned tracks and the Hambletonian Society, and opposition put forth by the USTA and numerous horsemen’s organizations. The committee aims to bring these competing interests to the table in an effort to find common ground and to help clarify harness racing’s needs as they apply to the federal legislation.

“I think the two things we all agree on is that the current system is not working and the federal legislation needs to be modified for it to work with Standardbreds,” said Gural. “I look forward to working with the committee and hope to pass any amendments that our industry can support.”

USTA President Russell Williams expressed his support.

“Jeff is presenting this as the opportunity to including everything that harness racing needs in the new statute,” Williams said. “I hope to be able to report just such a package to the USTA Board of Directors for approval when the work of this committee is done.”

The group is comprised of:

John Campbell – President, Hambletonian Society
Andrew Cohen – Senior editor, The Marshall Project, harness racing writer and owner
Steven Dey, DVM – Heritage Hill Farm
Joe Faraldo – Chairman of the Board, USTA; President, Standardbred Owners Association of New York
Renee Mancino – Executive Director, Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association
Paul Nolan, DVM – retired veterinarian
Andy Roberts, DVM – USTA director
Jason Settlemoir – COO/GM – New Meadowlands Racetrack; VP-Racing, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs
David Siegel – past President, TrackMaster – USTA director
Mike Tanner – EVP/CEO, USTA

The as-of-yet unnamed committee is expected to convene virtually for the first time within the next two weeks.

Back to Top

Share via