PA work group examining issues in racing holds first meeting

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: June 26, 2019

A work group made up of stakeholders in the Pennsylvania racing and breeding industry who will examine various issues and concerns, both statewide and nationally, held its first meeting June 20.

The work group was formed at the May meeting of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission after an April discussion about racehorse safety, medication, and public perception in the wake of a series of catastrophic injuries at Santa Anita Park in California.

Pennsylvania commission, stakeholders discuss medication, public perception

PHRC Thoroughbred Racing Bureau Director Tom Chuckas at the commission’s June 25 meeting said the group “laid out general rules” on how it will operate and noted it will serve in an advisory capacity to the racing commission, which governs Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing in the state.

“It’s an action group,” Chuckas said. “Any recommendations would be made to the (PHRC). The working group has no authority to implement anything.”

The group is led by three PHRC members: Dr. Corrine Sweeney, Russell Jones Jr. and Dr. John Egloff. Representatives of horsemen’s organizations; breeders’ organizations; racetracks; the veterinary community, both regulatory and private; and the betting public participate in the meetings, which will be held monthly, Chuckas said.

Chuckas also provided an update on out-of-competition testing in Pennsylvania since the commission’s last meeting. There were 124 tests, 72 Thoroughbred and 52 Standardbred. For the three Thoroughbred tracks, there were 28 samples taken at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, 23 at Presque Isle Downs & Casino and 21 at Parx Racing.

Equine drug testing in the state is conducted at the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory at the New Bolton Center.

The PHRC June 25 also approved a motion directing staff to prepare language that would allow for same-owner entries in the same race to be uncoupled for wagering purposes. The request to change the current rule was made by Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Todd Mostoller, who addressed the issue of a declining foal crop and field size as well as neighboring states in which tracks allow for uncoupled entries.

(Penn National photo by Tom LaMarra)