|Message from the CEO|
Spring 2013 Issue
Dear Horsewomen and Horsemen of the National HBPA:
The Claiming Crown races on December 1 at Gulfstream Park were a huge success. The fields were large, as was the on-track and off-track handle. The races were competitive, the weather was great, and Gulfstream did a first-rate job as the host for a first-class day of racing. My thanks to the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and the Florida HBPA and its board of directors for their support of this event. I also want to thank all the trainers and owners who embraced the new nomination process and then sent their horses to the races.
The NHBPA Winter Convention, hosted by the Tampa Bay Downs HBPA, was held February 20-24 in Clearwater Beach, Florida, just after this issue went to print. The Medication Forum, entitled “The Science behind Furosemide and its Long-Term Effects on Skeletal Mineral Balance,” was set to explore this controversial topic and the related rumors and innuendos. In addition to speaking at this forum, internationally known veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage was to cover “Effects of Training and Racing on the Musculoskeletal System.” This was sure to be an exceptional presentation that provided trainers and owners alike with some insightful and useful information. The convention had a variety of other forums, committee meetings and information sessions. The next issue of the The Horsemen’s Journal will have a full report.
Medication regulation issues continue to be in the forefront of our industry. Dave Basler, chair of the NHBPA’s Model Rules Committee, attended the December Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Model Rules Committee Meeting, at which proposed medication rules were the primary topic. Prior to the ARCI meeting, Dave, Kent Stirling, Dr. Thomas Tobin and I had a series of teleconference and in-person meetings with The Jockey Club, at the request of the ARCI, in an effort to come to some sort of consensus between the NHBPA, The Jockey Club and the ARCI on various medication proposals. Numerous definitions and concepts were discussed and presented at the ARCI Model Rules Committee Meeting, and we anticipate the ARCI will soon be publishing the minutes from the meeting. Some of our recommendations were adopted, some were not adopted, and some will be subject to further discussion.
Simultaneously and in conjunction with the ARCI, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) was, and is, moving forward on various mediation regulation matters, proposals and recommendations. Because Kent Stirling, the chair of the NHBPA’s Medication Committee, was unable to attend the November RMTC meeting due to a prior commitment, Dr. Tobin and I attended the meeting in Louisville in Kent’s place. One of the issues discussed at this meeting was the use by the RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee of “secret science.” It is our view that it is “secret science” because only those individuals who signed a confidentiality agreement were permitted to see and discuss these unpublished, non-peer-reviewed medication research papers and the data contained therein. The papers and the data supporting the conclusions contained in the research papers could not be discussed with anyone who had not signed a confidentiality agreement. Yet this data was used by the RMTC and other organizations to make proposed medication rules. It is our view that medication rules and regulations should be based on publically available science demonstrating what is in the best interest of the horse. Otherwise, reliance on “secret science” subjects its proponents to charges of being motivated by political convenience rather than reasoned decision-making.
Both the RMTC and the ARCI (as well as The Jockey Club) are proposing medication regulatory concepts based on grouping medications as either “therapeutic substances,” “therapeutic – acutely used substances,” “non-therapeutic substances,” “substances not affecting body systems” or some variation of this model. Kent Stirling and Dave Basler and their NHBPA Committees, Dr. Tobin, Robin Richards and I are engaged, as well as other HBPA leaders, on an almost daily basis, addressing these issues and proposals in an effort to make sure these concepts are in the best interests of the horse, our members and the industry.
With the new Congress sworn in, we anticipate renewed potential activity at the federal level as it relates to medication and perhaps other matters related to the Interstate Horseracing Act and Internet poker. In that regard, Robin Richards, Frank Petramalo Jr. and I, along with Brian Fitzgerald from our lobbying firm, American Continental Group, and Randy Funkhouser from the Charles Town HBPA, met with various members of Congress and/or their staffs in February as part of our efforts to educate lawmakers and their staffs about Thoroughbred horse racing in general and those aspects of racing and wagering that most impact owners and trainers.
While we are on the subject of Washington, D.C., laws and regulations, Will Velie, Julio Rubio, Dale Romans, Jerry Crawford and others have been very active with immigration issues and regulations. Recently, the Obama administration announced a new immigration policy whereby individuals with U.S. citizen spouses and parents will be able to remain together while waiver applications are processed in the United States. This may help to ease our industry-wide labor shortage. Please contact Will or Julio for more information about this program and other potential changes in immigration rules and regulations that may assist you in retaining and obtaining grooms, hot walkers and exercise riders from outside of the United States or keeping the employees you currently have. You can also read an immigration update on page 38 of this issue.
I do want to publically recognize and thank our national sponsors, Horseman Labor Solutions, Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supplies, equineline.com (The Jockey Club Information Systems) and Finish Line Horse Products Inc., for renewing their sponsorships with the NHBPA. Their ongoing support of the NHBPA and our members is greatly appreciated.
Finally, a reminder that the next Executive Committee Meeting will be held April 9-10 in Lexington, and the Minnesota HBPA has graciously agreed to host the 2013 NHBPA Summer Convention from July 11-14. As always, if any of you are in Lexington, please stop by the NHBPA’s office. We welcome your comments, feedback and visits.
May the Racing Gods smile on you, and may you have many visits to the winner’s circle.
Chief Executive Officer