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McBrayer Blogs

HISA Is Out of the Starting Gate – What Horseracing Professionals Need to Know

A new era of horseracing began on July 1 as the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 went into effect. The first ever national regulation of the sport, this new federal law brings changes for everyone involved in horseracing, so it’s important to know what your obligations are in order to maintain compliance.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 was passed amidst a series of controversies for the sport, across multiple jurisdictions.  The Act aims to prevent future safety and integrity violations by establishing uniform national standards that will be implemented through a two-part plan.

The first part of that plan created by the Act is the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, or HISA, which went into effect on July 1. All “covered persons” and “covered horses” are required to be registered with the Authority. A covered person under HISA is an individual who is licensed by a state racing commission and either has “involvement with Thoroughbred covered horses” or has “access to restricted areas of a racetrack in the ordinary course of their work.” This includes trainers, owners, breeders, jockeys, jockeys’ agents, racetracks, veterinarians, and more. Covered persons are responsible for registering themselves and their affiliated covered horses. HISA registration is a one-time process and comes at no cost to the registrant. The deadline for current covered persons to register was July 1, so if you have not yet done so, it is important to take that first step towards HISA compliance.

HISA rules cover a variety of safety concerns for both riders and horses. HISA requires jockeys to provide a certification of fitness to race that is no more than twelve months old; they are required as well to keep a medical information card in their safety vest when riding. Jockeys and exercise riders must also complete two hours of HISA-accepted continuing safety education before each race meet in which they participate. HISA also establishes new national rules and standards for riding crop type and usage, safety vests and helmets, shoeing, and more. Shoeing and riding crop rules will be enforced beginning August 1; other rules are already in effect.

The second Horseracing Safety and Integrity Act program, the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program, will be effective January 1, 2023. This phase of will feature new rules and procedures for drug use and testing and will establish uniform penalties for violations of anti-doping rules.

To learn more about HISA and its attendant rules and to create a plan for maintaining compliance with these new standards, contact McBrayer today.

Vince Gabbert is Of Counsel with McBrayer in the Lexington office. His practice focuses on equine law, including equine litigation and equine transactions, and gaming law, including horse racing law. Mr. Gabbert can be reached at (859) 551-3692, or via email at vgabbert@mcbrayerfirm.com.

Services may be performed by others.

This article does not constitute legal advice.


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