Coming Soon: You May Need To Register With HISA As The July 1 Deadline Approaches – Horse Racing News


Attendees at the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) annual meeting last week had many questions for the new national agency set to begin its regulatory takeover. On day one of the convention, Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority CEO Lisa Lazarus gave the commissioners some more details on what to expect on July 1, including a phased roll-out of the racetrack safety accreditation program, as well as more immediate rule changes, including some impacting crop use.

On the second day of the conference, the commissioners heard from lawyers and technology experts to answer questions about what to expect.

Lawyers have expressed concern or confusion about how transparent the new agency will actually be, and as with many things regarding HISA, no one is yet quite sure whose stance is correct. So far, HISA has claimed that it doesn’t fall under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a 1972 statute that requires certain committees to post announcements of upcoming meetings and open those meetings to the public. Some attorneys view the Federal Advisory Committee Act as having narrow scope in terms of the types of bodies it may apply to, and it is not clear if HSIA could be one of them. This could also exempt HISA from open record requests.

Ed Martin, President and CEO of ARCI, said the organization has formally encouraged HISA to consider including Open Records requirements in its code. Additionally, Martin expressed frustration at what he described as poor communication from HISA with the race stewards. Martin says the commissioners received no advance warning when HISA determined on July 1 this year that it would not be able to take responsibility for drug testing and only found this out after a public announcement was made.

“This came as a kind of surprise to many jurisdictions because there was no advance warning or discussion,” Martin said.

Martin emphasized that open communication with both the public and key members of the industry is the best way forward for the new agency as it begins the complex process of taking over race regulation.

Some participants had questions about how the appeal process against a steward’s decision would change under the new authority. John Roach, HISA’s interim general counsel, explained that there will still be levels of appeals under the new system. Using the example of a breach of the whip rule, Roach said the new system would prompt stewards to make a decision and if the driver appealed it would go through a level of review with the authority. If the data subject wishes to appeal HISA’s decision regarding the violation, they may request a Federal Trade Commission administrative judge to hear an appeal, which the FTC need not grant. If an FTC administrative judge hears the appeal and upholds the stewards’ decision, the individual concerned would then go to federal court.

It is not clear how the timeline for this appeal process would compare to the existing system where a licensee would appeal a steward’s decision to the state racing commission, then the local court, then the state court of appeals and the state supreme court, before proceeding to the US Supreme Court, if applicable. (Relatively few appeals from suspensions or other violations of racing rules are brought before the US Supreme Court.)

In another presentation, Steve Keech, HISA’s Director of Technology, led the audience through a demonstration of the registration process for HISA. Anyone deemed a Covered Person under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act must register with the new agency. This includes most people currently licensed by state racing commissions, except for people who do not directly participate in racing, such as food vendors or cleaning staff, etc.

There are no fees for registering with HISA. Registration allows the agency to track continuing education credits, compile licensing and regulatory information, and more.

Users are asked to enter their existing state license information into HISA’s registration portal. The HISA system has been integrated with state licensing databases, InCompass, ARCI, and others to scrape all licensing information for a specific individual and compile it in one place. The system uses third-party address verification systems to ensure that the contact information entered is correct, based on that person’s previously known locations.

The registration process is available in both English and Spanish, and Keech said he has worked with jockeys from various Central and South American countries to ensure the Spanish language version is appropriate for all dialects so the instructions are as clear as possible .

Horses must also be registered, which requires the person responsible for that horse (usually, but not always, the trainer) to enter the horse’s vaccination history and upload health records into the system, along with specifying the horse’s location. Location information needs to be updated every time the horse moves from one location to another. Keech said his team is still working on how to import large batches of horse registration information for trainers with large stables who may already have some records stored in InCompass.

It is not yet clear how the complaint or sale of horses will work in this system or what information will be exchanged between the responsible persons.

It’s also unclear how HISA or other agencies will enforce the requirement that all data subjects actually complete the registration process under the new law. As several Commission staffers pointed out in the question-and-answer portion of the presentation, getting some barn workers licensed by the state is already a struggle and it is not uncommon for barns to have unlicensed workers.

However, Keech hopes that the HISA system, which will integrate information from currently separate databases, could open up new opportunities for productive use of that data. For example, veterinarians must enter information about their veterinarian as well as their racing licenses into the database, which could help states find qualified practitioners with the right license when in the midst of a veterinarian shortage. It will also make it easier for authorities to view a specific individual’s entire license history as well as a horse’s veterinary list history in all jurisdictions.

The registration system is scheduled to start on July 1, and on that date the agency’s regulations state that all data subjects must be registered with HISA. The system is not yet publicly accessible.


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