NY OKs rule on flexibility in purse-to-claiming price ratio

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Dec. 10, 2018

The New York State Gaming Commission Dec. 10 agreed to modify a rule to allow for flexibility in purse-to-claiming price ratios but deferred action on another rule that would have revised the Multiple Medication Violation penalty system to comply with the latest national model rule.

The NYSGC had passed a rule that states the minimum price for which a horse may be entered in a claiming race can’t be less than 50% of the purse. The regulation stemmed from a detailed report in 2012 that addressed equine health and safety issues in the wake of a series of catastrophic breakdowns at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“At the time, the increase in claiming-race purses at Aqueduct had caused an increase in racing injuries and horse fatalities, as trainers more freely entered horses in the hope of a winning an unusually high purse for the class of horse,” according to a regulatory impact statement. The task force report addressed the issue but also identified other factors that could have played a role in the breakdowns.

After a discussion with racing stakeholders in early 2018, the NYSGC said it would pursue a rule modification to allow for racing associations to request a lower minimum price. “The commission shall not approve such a request unless such association has implemented increased measures to ensure close examination of the competitiveness, soundness and safety of each horse entered in such a race,” the revised rule states.

The MMV penalty system, part of the National Uniform Medication Program, assigns points for medication violations and has a tiered structure of penalties designed to discourage abuse of equine medication. The Association of Racing Commissioners International, through its model rules program, has updated the points system since it was initially passed.

“The proposed revisions will appropriately focus the MMV system on those who consistently violate serious medication and anti-doping rules and assist in developing national consistency in this regard,” commission attorney Edmund Burns said in a memo on the proposed rule.

The NYSGC opted to defer action on the revisions.

In other business, the commission approved for public comment proposed regarding safety helmets and vests as well as standards for backstretch workers.

The first rule would require any person mounted on a horse to wear a safety helmet and safety vest, and members of the starting gate crew would have to wear helmets. The rule would increase the maximum weight allowed for a safety vest from two pounds to four pounds.

The second proposed rule would provide standards for buildings and residential rooms in bar areas, as well as standards for wager, sanitation, garbage removal and pest control modeled after the New York Department of Health migrant farmworker housing regulations.