PHRC plans special meeting to discuss HISA-related issues

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: March 3, 2023

The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission has announced that it will schedule a special meeting in mid-March to discuss matters related to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, which continues to say it will launch its Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program for Thoroughbred racing March 27.

HISA officials said they expect the Federal Trade Commission will approve the regulations by that date given a modification of the HISA law that was included in a federal omnibus spending bill that became law in late December.

The HISA Racetrack Safety Program is currently in place at Parx Racing and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, and also Presque Isle Downs & Casino, which begins its 2023 meet in March. The PHRC last year said it doesn’t have statutory authority to remit and collect the related fees, so the responsibility falls upon the racetracks and other parties to pay HISA assessments; they have been doing so since July 2022 when the Racetrack Safety Program launched.

Tom Chuckas, the PHRC Thoroughbred Bureau Director, at the commission’s Feb. 28 meeting said staff continues to be involved in discussions with HISA officials but not all issues have been resolved.

The PHRC, as part of its equine integrity and safety program, last year performed 1,088 out-of-competition tests—539 at Thoroughbred tracks and 549 at Standardbred tracks and training centers. Under the HISA law, its Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit will oversee medication policy and testing whenever the AMDC Program takes effect.