Horse Racing

Lazarus calls for unity as HISA continues to roll out

As the heated debate unfolded after July 1’s implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s safety rules, chief executive Lisa Lazarus noted that, for her, the story was encouraging. The norm behind that fuss is the acceptance of the initiative in general.

Lazarus made that point in a spirited call for unity behind HISA while speaking August 14 in Saratoga Springs, NY, at the Jockey Club Roundtable on Issues related to racing. In addition to kicking off racing safety monitoring this year, HISA will begin monitoring anti-doping efforts, drug testing and labs starting January 1.

“When people come to me and they say to me, ‘I don’t like your shoemaking rule’ or ‘I don’t like your cut rule’, to me it means they are supporting HISA because they’re engaging with us on what’s best for the show; how we can be the best version of ourselves,” Lazarus said. “That important principle – that we need a unified national body to regulate safety and integrity – is a principle that should be and must be accepted by our industry.”

That said, Lazarus also acknowledges that actual opposition to HISA’s implementation continues, with four lawsuits being the most visible form of that resistance. Lazarus said that HISA spent $1.8 million defending itself in court and reminded everyone that the industry will eventually pay that bill.

“Unfortunately, we’ve spent a lot of time and resources in the industry defending HISA against lawsuits,” Lazarus said, adding that there was no challenge to HISA’s constitutionality. succeeded, while at the same time recognizing the merits of the legislators who created it. “As you know, HISA is funded by the industry. So these lawsuits end up being paid by the industry and, ironically, in part due to the entities suing us. This is really the case. is a shameful thing.

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“This is the amount of dollars in their industry that could be spent on positive reforms to make racing safer. It’s disappointing that there’s so much you can do as an industry through. Unity, as I said, is one of the core guiding principles that I am passionate about.”

In his closing remarks, the president of the Jockey Club, Stuart Janney III, reviewed several court cases and noted that the constitutionality of HISA continues to be recognized. He said that even a decision by a Louisiana federal district court would see HISA voluntarily adjust to meet legal standards on issues such as the definition of a covered horse and other issues. search and seizure rules, which also acknowledge the constitutionality of HISA.

“The Louisiana federal district court acknowledged that enforcement of the Agency’s rules cannot be stopped,” Janney said.

As HISA moves forward, Lazarus emphasizes that safety and anti-doping rules will continue to evolve. She said she values ​​collaboration and that the organization is open to dialogue with any group that approaches in good faith. Furthermore, Lazarus noted that HISA will soon set up several advisory groups – including a horseman group – to increase stakeholder engagement on important issues.

“Our sport is unique and we will approach future developments and evaluate the rules with a spirit of humility and appreciate the rich experience and expertise of our members. industry,” Lazarus said.

As HISA works on those collaborative efforts, it’s clear that its supporters have grown weary of the ongoing litigation. Janney defined the HISA opponents who filed the lawsuit as “politically charged states, rogue horsemen, and surprise, surprise, Jockeys’ Guild,” Janney said.

That group of knights referred to was the National Knights Protection and Mercy Association, the largest group in the country. At the conference in the spring, HBPA National Executive Director Eric Hamelback said his organization has concerns about the legitimacy of HISA. The outcry from the Jockeys Guild was largely fueled by their concerns about the rules of equestrian farming, both in terms of their use and the equipment itself.

Janney outlined a number of benefits for riders under HISA.

“Each track will have a medical director to oversee the health and safety of the jockey,” says Janney, calling HISA a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to benefit riders on issues. safe.

High stakes related to safety and anti-doping surveillance were raised earlier in Sunday’s Roundtable when Jockey Club president and COO, Jim Gagliano, interviewed retired FBI agent John Penza , who participated in a horse racing investigation. resulted in the 2020 indictments of more than two dozen people. Many of those indicted — including the famous former coach Jorge Navarro — have been convicted.

Penza is currently the director of international investigations for 5 Stones, an investigative firm hired in 2016 by The Jockey Club to examine the sport. Its work also played a role in the indictments.

“When you have individuals with shoes that have the words ‘Juice Man’ written on them—individuals who don’t mind putting (those shoes) in their cages—something goes wrong,” Penza said of Navarro. “Do I think that behavior will continue? Absolutely not.”

Penza says the introduction of the HISA that oversees the sport at the national level is why he believes change will take place. He said the Agency would be well positioned to investigate any concerns or complaints about potential fraud.

Tom Rooney, president and chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said HISA offers the best chance of assuring the public that racing is about protecting horses and running a clean sport. .

“If horse racing is to continue to be a success in the years to come, the public needs to be assured that things like track safety — based in part on NTRA’s Alliance for Race Safety and Integrity — are unified standards. on anti-doping and drugs, and a high degree of integrity is our highest priority.

“HISA is working hard to do all of this and more. It’s important that we give Lisa Lazarus and her team a chance to succeed because her success means the success of the entire team. Thoroughbred racing and perpetuating it for future generations.”

In his presentation of Jockey Club activities, Carl Hamilton, president of the Jockey Club Information Systems, noted that it has developed EquiTAPS software, which helps to meet new requirements for information systems. Keep track of veterinary treatments for horses easier. He also noted that Equibase provided data to HISA to help it shape its rules.

In a recorded message, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, noted that HISA ensures the future of motorsport “will be bright for many years to come.” Realizing the enormous economic impact on his state and others, Schumer said it was important that the industry be healthy and strong.

Lazarus has called for a time and favor as HISA puts everything in place, but she points to increased handling at key meetings and recent high sales as proof that HISA is bringing new optimism to the race. She concludes by saying that although she is not a bettor, she is putting her money in HISA. The audience reacted with standing ovation.

Janney concluded his remarks with a final endorsement: “Everyone, it’s time to get together on HISA; that’s good for sports. HISA is legit and HISA is here to stay.”

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