CHRB Allocates 2021 Race Dates For Southern California, First Six Months Of Northern California Season

The California Horse Racing Board conducted a meeting by teleconference on Thursday, October 22. The public participated by dialing into the teleconference and/or listening through the audio webcast link on the CHRB website. Chairman Gregory Ferraro chaired the meeting, joined by Vice Chairman Oscar Gonzales and Commissioners Dennis Alfieri, Damascus Castellanos, Brenda Washington Davis, Wendy Mitchell, and Alex Solis.

The audio of this entire Board meeting is available on the CHRB Website (www.chrb.ca.gov) under the Webcast link. In brief:

  • The Board allocated 2021 racing dates for Southern California thoroughbreds (and one fair meet), harness racing, and quarter horse racing, The Board also allocated dates for Northern California thoroughbred racing for the first six months of the year. Due to uncertainties created by COVID-19, the Board delayed consideration of dates for the latter half of 2021 for Northern California thoroughbred meets and fairs. At this time, all meets are expected to run without the public in attendance, but that also could change depending on circumstances. Allocated dates include dates for simulcasting without racing. The actual dates a meet will offer racing will be approved when the meet’s license application is considered. As allocated:
  • The Southern California thoroughbred racing circuit will begin December 23, 2020, at Santa Anita, through June 22, 2021, then proceed to Los Alamitos (day racing, June 23 through July 6), and then to Del Mar (July 7 through September 7). The Los Angeles County Fair meet will run daytime at Los Alamitos from September 8 through September 28. The thoroughbred circuit will continue at Santa Anita (September 29 through November 2), Del Mar (November 3 through November 30), Los Alamitos (day racing, December 1 through December 14), and then back to Santa Anita for simulcasting only from December 15 through December 21.
  • Golden Gate Fields received allocated dates for thoroughbred racing from December 23, 2020, through June 15, 2021.
  • Los Alamitos received allocated dates for quarter horse racing from December 23, 2020, through December 21, 2021. Commissioner Mitchell made a point to advise Los Alamitos management that the CHRB will be looking for further improvement in quarter horse safety relative to the racing dates. This message was echoed by others during discussions of daytime thoroughbred and fair allocations given to Los Alamitos.
  • Watch & Wager received allocated harness racing dates at Cal Expo from December 23, 2020, through May 11, followed by a second meet from October 27 through December 21.
  • The Board approved the license application for the Los Angeles County Fair to run a race meet at Los Alamitos operating from December 4 through December 20. This day meet will run concurrently with night quarter horse racing at Los Alamitos. In conjunction with this license, the Board approved an agreement between the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the racing secretary at Los Alamitos regarding entry conditions limiting specific drug substances for entered horses.
  • The Board approved two regulatory amendments to limit the practice of some owners and trainers conditioning their horses at non-CHRB locations and then shipping them to operating meets shortly before their races into the care of trainers who have not been involved in the care of those horses, a practice known as program training. In addition to expressly forbidding program training, the Board voted to require all horses to be within a CHRB-licensed facility and in the care of a licensed trainer for at least seven days before a race.
  • Executive Director Scott Chaney reported that the CHRB’s concerns about the proposed federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) have been communicated to legislators. A principal concern is that national standards, as called for in HISA, may actually be less strict than California’s safety rules and protocols, which are the strictest in the nation.
  • Chairman Ferraro reported on the previous day’s meeting of the Medication, Safety, and Welfare Committee. Dr. Francisco Uzal presented the annual CHRB/University of California, Davis, Postmortem Report, which is available on the CHRB website. Chairman Ferraro pointed out that 90 percent of the horses that have been examined in the Postmortem Program had pre-existing lesions. When he then reported on the next agenda item discussed by the committee – a proposal to clarify that official veterinarians may require diagnostic imaging before removing some horses from the Veterinarian’s List – he said this should help identify those pre-existing lesions that contribute to equine fatalities. He said the committee also discussed the need to eliminate the use of thyroxine in horse racing, given that thyroid problems in young horses “are practically nil.” He reported that the committee supports a proposed elimination of a requirement for each track to receive a fire clearance just prior to each meet, as local fire authorities seldom visit racetracks that often. He said a one-year clearance from fire authorities should be sufficient. Dr. Arthur, the CHRB’s equine medical director, reported at the committee meeting that California horse racing experienced 20 Class 1, 2, and 3 violations last year from more than 30,000 samples.
  • In a separate report, Dr. Arthur described the Postmortem Program and methods of tracking and reporting equine fatalities at facilities under the jurisdiction of the CHRB as consistent, complete, and transparent for over 30 years.
  • The Board approved for 45-day public notice a proposed regulatory amendment to eliminate the requirement for retention of syringes used to administer furosemide, or Lasix, to racehorses. Chairman Ferraro stated that because Lasix must be administered by regulatory personnel, never by private veterinarians, there is no chance of the syringes containing anything but the authorized bleeder medication.
  • The Board approved a regulatory amendment stipulating that the racing veterinarian is under the supervision of the official veterinarian.
  • Because the pandemic forced the cancelation of the Big Fresno Fair meet this year, the mandatory payout of carryover money in Pick 5 and Pick 6 pools at the fairs did not take place as scheduled. The Board authorized the fairs to distribute those carryovers on the final day of the 2021 Big Fresno Fair meet if there are no winning tickets beforehand.
  • Public comments made during the meeting can be accessed through the meeting audio archive on the CHRB website

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