Horse Racing

Ferndale loses battle in CHRB race day of disagreement

Months of debate over whether Ferndale (Humboldt County Fair) should host a second race in two weeks in late August that won’t overlap with fellow Northern California, Golden Gate Fields (GGF), have ended. with defeat at the small country track .

In a 5-1 vote during the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) meeting on Thursday, the board decided that during the week of August 23 to August 29, Humboldt and the GGF would hold hold races at the same time.

Ferndale will run the first of two scheduled race weeks this year, from August 16 to August 22, no duplication.

In what is widely seen as a fight between David and Goliath, Ferndale supporters have advocated non-duplicating race dates as a financial lifeline for a small fairground race that plays a vital role in the economy. locality offers a unique appeal to new players to the sport.

GGF has had the likes of California Thoroughbred Owners (TOC) and California Thoroughbred Coaches (CTTs) who have argued in favor of the San Francisco facility’s position as an important economic driver for the entire state horse racing industry. .

Given how this same debate has become an annual one, CHRB vice-chairman Oscar Gonzalez — the only commissioner to vote in favor of Ferndale after a recent scouting trip to town — gave propose a compromise during the counting of votes to help defuse the ongoing uncertainty.

“What if we do a rotation where one year is overlapped in the second week and the other year is not duplicated,” Gonzalez said. “So basically, in 2023, we will allow two weeks of non-overlapping. 2024, we go back to the second week of duplication.”

However, that proposal did not attract any attention – at least for the moment.

ADW Money for HISA Payment 2023

CHRB voted to use in-state Advanced Deposit Wagers (ADWs) if not set aside for purses and commissions to cover California’s 2023 fee review for the Safeguards Act. and Horse Racing Integrity (HISA), amounting to approximately $1.6 million.

The initial assessment was said to be around $6.7 million for the year. But because California has agree to continue performing Many of the tasks inherent in the law’s drug control program—such as collecting and testing samples—HISA provided California with approximately $5.1 million in credits.

As it stands, HISA laws only apply to Thoroughbred Horses, not Quarter Horses. CHRB CEO Scott Chaney confirmed when asked that mixed races at the Los Alamitos Racecourse between Thoroughbred and Precious Horses would not be under HISA’s jurisdiction.

Severe weather policy

The agenda item arguably most prominent for the riders concerns the extreme weather policy the CHRB adopted a few years ago in the aftermath of the 2019 Santa Anita welfare crisis, when one series of serious incidents attributed to the exceptionally rainy winter, forcing the track to be regularly sealed.

In short, there’s still the notion that horses that run or race immediately after the track has not been sealed are at a higher risk of injury — a possible correlation currently being explored by researchers at UC Davis research.

Right now, once a sealed surface has been opened, current policy doesn’t allow 24 hour high-speed workouts, although allowing things up to galloping speed.

During this year’s winter storm that hit California, the CHRB’s severe weather policy severely disrupted coaches’ training and racing schedules.

“I think it’s fair to say that we’ve received an unusually large amount of rain this year, and so I think it’s strained the limits of extreme weather policy,” Chaney admits.

According to CHRB equine health director Jeff Blea, Thursday’s meeting provided an opportunity to discuss possible amendments to the policy, with the idea of ​​​​proposing more specific rule changes in the future. future.

Blea offered a split proposal, whereby for the first 24 hours after the racetrack was open, horses were only allowed to jog.

“The reason for that is that we feel the track is safe to practice, but we feel the safety issue is to reduce the number of concussion and bone remodeling events that will occur during the course of the race,” says Blea. galloping program to limit running,” says Blea.

According to Blea, for the next 24 hours of the 48-hour period following the opening of a sealed racecourse, horses may be allowed to gallop or gallop at the discretion of the race director, CTT representatives and the government. Blea.

“For the second 24 hours of a 48-hour period, we discussed just running,” says Blea. “But we have come to the conclusion that the decision will be made on the recommendation of the track director in conjunction with myself and the CTT to determine if on the second day after opening the seal we will allow whether or not we allow them to gallop or not. or maybe even a light breeze.

“The decision will depend on the amount of water accumulated in the previous rain, right?” CHRB president Greg Ferraro asked.

“That decision will depend on how much water happened during that event, when they can seal the track, what the track looks like when it opens, how deep they can cut it to make sure there is a safe and consistent basis for it, Blea replied.

Blea confirmed that this policy will apply to both the main track and the training track at Santa Anita. The proposed changes are training-related only, not likely to be modified to the extreme weather policy proposed at this time for the race.


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