NYSGC passes rule mandating continuing education for trainers

Posted: Dec. 13, 2016

The New York State Gaming Commission Dec. 13 adopted a rule that makes continuing education for Thoroughbred trainers and assistant trainers mandatory. The rule calls for trainers and assistant trainers to complete at least four hours of continuing education each year.

During a public comment period that ended Oct. 31, the Association of Racing Commissioner International, The Jockey Club, and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association weighed in on the rule. The rule was on the agenda for the November meeting but action was postponed until the comments submitted by NYTHA could be reviewed.

According to a NYSGC staff memo, ARCI “strongly encourages” the gaming commission to adopt the rule and offered to help track continuing education credits through its database. The Jockey Club has developed free online courses for trainers and said it would track and notify regulators when a trainer completes a course.

NYTHA said it supports continuing education but said there a rule should include other participants such as owners, jockeys, and Standardbred trainers and drivers. The horsemen’s group also said the rule should include “a comprehensive list of approved courses,” and that it would be willing to identify topics and courses for inclusion on such a list.

NYSGC staff said there is a sufficient number of courses available, and that on-track presentations by Dr. Scott Palmer, the NYSGC Equine Medical Director, “would also be appropriate for satisfaction of the proposed continuing education requirement.”

“Creating a continuing education requirement for trainers will bring knowledge and evidence-based research to an audience that would otherwise generally not be exposed to it,” NYSGC Executive Director Robert Williams said at the meeting. “Continuing education for trainers should improve the quality of horsemanship at New York racetracks and enhance equine welfare.”

“Continuing education is a time-honored method for professionals to achieve both personal and professional development,” said Palmer, who noted that New York-licensed veterinarians must obtain 45 hours of continuing education every three years. “I have personally found it to be very valuable, as continuing education provides an opportunity for life-long learning in diverse areas of study, sharing innovative ideas, and networking with colleagues who face common occupational challenges. From a commercial standpoint, continuing education contributes to economic development of many New York industries.”

The staff memo noted NYTHA believes the gaming commission should review its protocol for granting licenses to new Thoroughbred and Standardbred trainers and assistant trainers and “raise the bar” on such standards, but staff said that issue is different and currently not before the commission.

During the Dec. 13 gaming commission meeting officials noted that in the future, a similar rule will be contemplated for Standardbred trainers.