Pennsylvania Commission ratifies letter sent to Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority

Harrisburg, PA — The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission Tuesday (June 28) ratified a letter that was sent to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority explaining how it plans to comply with the HISA Racetrack Safety Program in the absence of signed agreements with the authority.

The program takes effect for Thoroughbred racing only July 1. PHRC staff has had multiple meetings with HISA officials and in late May tabled action on a “voluntary agreement” with HISA in light of ongoing operational, legal and personnel issues.

PHRC Thoroughbred Bureau Director Tom Chuckas said the commission is attempting to balance HISA requirements with what is in the best interests of Pennsylvania racing. He said HISA’s initial reaction to the letter was positive, but there had been no further discussion as of the June 28 commission meeting.

“It’s a fluid situation,” Chuckas said. “The letter explains that we attempted to meet the requirements and maintain control (as a racing commission). We will make our best efforts to do this (and) maintain racing, the integrity of racing, and the racing commission’s mandate.”

Chuckas also said the PHRC believes there will be a “series of modifications and changes” to HISA regulations going forward. The proposed rules for the HISA Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, are currently in a public comment period, and changes already have been made to some Racetrack Safety Program rules.

In other business, Scott Lishia, director of racing at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, said the track is planning special evenings of Friday racing this summer to honor driver Dave Palone, who recently won his 20,000th race, and trainer Ron Burke, who will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame July 3. Lishia also said The Meadows plans a ceremony during which the paddock will be named in honor of Palone.

The PHRC also said it would take under consideration comments from trainer Neal Ehrhart regarding Pennsylvania Standardbred regulations for horses that go off the race-day therapeutic medication Lasix. He said horses have to qualify and be scoped after a trainer declares they will race without Lasix — and sometimes veterinarians aren’t available to do so — while in other states trainers need only sign an off-Lasix form. Ehrhart asked PHRC members to consider simplifying and streamlining the process.

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