Judge stops horse racing authority enforcement in La., W.Va.

Judge stops horse racing authority enforcement in La., W.Va.

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that a national horse racing authority cannot enforce its rules in Louisiana and West Virginia while a lawsuit challenging the organization is pending.

Granting a preliminary injunction, Louisiana Western District Judge Terry Doughty said the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority probably exceeded its limits on three rules which came into effect on July 1. State and racing authorities in those jurisdictions have filed a lawsuit to prevent the federal authority’s new regulations from taking effect.

HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus said the decision was geographically limited to Louisiana and West Virginia and did not question the organization’s constitutionality or validity.

“Congress enacted HISA to improve the welfare of horses and jockeys and protect the integrity of this great sport by creating, for the first time, national rules and standards to govern thoroughbred racing,” she said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. “These measures are backed by research and informed by the expertise of independent representatives and industry. The reality is that the majority of race participants support the authority’s mission to protect those who play by the rules and hold those who don’t accountable in order to keep our equine and human athletes safe and fair. of the competition.

Doughty said the authority may have overstepped its bounds when it comes to defining which horses are covered by the rules, whether investigators can confiscate records of anyone who owns or ‘performs services’ on a horse covered and to base state payments for maintenance partly on race grants.

Attorneys general in Louisiana and West Virginia hailed the injunction as a victory. Jeff Landry of Louisiana said the regulations were “unclear, inconsistent, and violated due process.”

“I am grateful that Judge Doughty enforced the law and stopped this federal interference from devastating our state and the thousands of Louisianans in the equestrian industry here,” Landry said in a statement. “Louisiana not only regulated horse racing but also built an entire culture around it with owners, trainers, jockeys, racetracks and patrons. … The process of creating the law and its associated regulations showed a reckless disregard for the thousands of industry participants in Louisiana and a corresponding reckless disregard for the impact on our state.”

Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia said he was confident the legal challenge brought by the Louisiana State Racing Commission, Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, West Virginia Racing Commission and Jockeys’ Guild “will also have a favorable result”.

The Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act took effect in January 2021, giving a federal authority the ability to regulate the sport across the United States. Safety regulations began in July, with anti-doping rules will enter into force at the beginning of 2023.

Activist Marty Irby criticized the decision, calling HISA “the sport’s last chance for survival”.

“It’s a shame to see the federal court side with the operators and rogue state officials who continue to help maintain doping and animal abuse in American horse racing,” Irby said, executive director of Animal Wellness Action. “If these states insist on operating under the status quo, then we will make sure to highlight every doping incident, death and scandal in their areas.


AP reporter Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed.


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