Nov 132023

National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback’s response to 60 Minutes

When the agenda-driven members of our industry control the narrative and steer the optics, you get a result such as Sunday’s CBS 60 Minutes broadcast. This biased reporting fails to reflect the reality in horse racing. It is not accurate, balanced, nor fair to horsemen.
Everyone in horse racing knows the doping scandal of Servis and Navarro was a watershed moment showing some bad actors in our industry. Thanks to the New Jersey Racing Commission, the FBI and others, the takedown occurred. Which had nothing to do with HISA. CBS knew — or would have known with even minimal investigation — that the vast majority of horsemen nationwide are law-abiding, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth folks who condemn cheating and cheaters but also strongly oppose HISA in its current form.
CBS also knew HISA is subject to multiple lawsuits and that one U.S. Court of Appeals had already struck it down as unconstitutional. However, none of that fit the narrative this group wanted to preach to a public audience who knows little to nothing about horse racing. So, CBS just left it out.
We know Cecilia Vega of 60 Minutes did not produce an accurate, balanced, or fair characterization of the horsemen and horsewomen who work diligently in this industry every day. When asked a direct question about alleged abused medications and their relation to equine deaths from this past summer, the HISA CEO deflected with a non-responsive answer. The truth is there has not been one equine death reported as being linked to drugs – illegal or therapeutic overages.
Make no mistake, this story was a carefully concocted spin job by industry and media elites pushing a fake news narrative. It was couched to make HISA out to be the savior of horse racing but, as the story pointed out, HISA has not made things better. Also, it needs to be clearly understood that the breed registry by no means has the power or authority to speak on behalf of the industry.
We need horsemanship over regulations. We need the public relations for this industry to be run by everyday horsemen, not those trying to shrink horse racing to become a sport for the elite. This is an industry made up of thousands of women and men who daily toil long hours to make a living and they deserve to have their stories told. This 60 Minutes piece was not accurate, balanced, nor fair to the industry.
We ask you to let 60 minutes know. You can email the show at or post a comment on X/Twitter and tag @60Minutes and @ceciliavega.
Eric Hamelback,
CEO, National HBPA


The National HBPA take for horsemen: Monday, Oct. 30, 2023

HIWU continues to impose “self-inflected” injuries by failing

to recognize the existence of environmental transfer

Ted Shults — a nationally recognized authority in forensic toxicology and law who is well-versed in both racehorse and human drug testing — called American thoroughbred racing’s drug-testing policies a “self-inflected injury” when they fail to recognize the existence of environmental contamination and inadvertent transfer of recreational and prescription medications to horses.
Such policies unnecessarily make law-abiding trainers look like criminals. Human testing avoids this by setting realistic screening levels, below which they don’t waste time and money testing for that particular substance in an amount that has no impact on a horse’s performance and for which there is an exculpatory explanation.
“We would never do this on the human side,” said Shults, adding of testing technology, “The race for sensitivity is over…. We’re on the verge of going toward (detection levels) of parts per trillion.”
Shults was speaking FIVE years ago at the National HBPA Conference. Our testing at the time – in nanograms, or parts per billion in a milliliter of plasma – has blown past picograms (parts per trillion) and has entered into the realm of femtograms, which is one-thousandth of a picogram.
The Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU), the testing and enforcement arm of the private corporation known as the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), instead of taking the real world into consideration, has gone the other direction toward science (and common sense) denialism. In its apparent haste to look like it’s actually catching cheaters, HIWU has resorted to “gotcha” chemistry, ensnaring rule-abiding trainers in its web.
This does not clean up the industry. It does, however, ruin livelihoods and lives. Most trainers operate on an extremely thin profit margin under the best of circumstances. Many can’t afford the cost of appealing a HIWU or HISA ruling.
The latest example was laid out by writer T.D. Thornton in the Thoroughbred Daily News. Thornton powerfully chronicles the circumstances that New Jersey-based John and Diana Pimental found themselves in when one of John’s eight horses reportedly tested for 193 picograms of methamphetamine. HIWU appears to apply a close to zero-tolerance standard for meth, even though it’s a street drug whose hundreds of thousands of users could readily transfer in a trace level to a horse.
To put it in context, an accepted screening level for meth in humans is 500 nanograms per milliliter in urine. That’s 500,000 picograms.
According to the article, the subsequent HIWU search of John Pimental’s truck found an old container of the thyroid medicine Thyro-L (levothyroxine), which they said had been used a while back on his beloved 17-year-old pony. But HIWU has decided to ban even its possession, even though there is no science that proves accurate dosages in horses cause any harm.
John Pimental’s penalty? A three-year suspension and $25,000 fine. His eight horses and pony are gone. He can’t afford an attorney, has no savings and can’t even work ponying horses or as an outrider at a training center.
How is this OK? We all want to get rid of whatever cheating is out there. How does this accomplish that?
This is what you get when the federal government gives unfettered power to a private corporation, created at the bidding of a small group of well-funded elites, that operates in secrecy, with too many people who have less than adequate working knowledge of the industry calling the shots, and has the ability to charge racetracks – which one way or another is passed on to horsemen and women – whatever they want with virtually no accountability. To think that the Federal Trade Commission has effective oversight over HISA and its side-arm HIWU is incredibly naive.
Outraged by what happened to the Pimentals? You should be.
Here’s what you can do about it:
Have your voice heard. Take only 30 seconds to use this advocacy tool to send a message to your Congressional Representative that HISA is not helping horses but is wrecking lives.
HISA and HIWU make changes when they are called out on the harmful results of their misguided regulations. Their default position is ‘we had to start from scratch’ and ‘be patient. We need time to get this right.’ A, they didn’t have to start from scratch. They chose to blow up an existing system that did a lot of things right. B., the people making bad policy in the first place should not be the ones determining regulations for the industry.
It is NOT OK for HISA and HIWU to damage people’s lives while they scramble to correct their misguided regulations that common sense would have avoided in the first place.

TDN – T.D. Thornton – Former HBPA Prez On 5th Circuit Appeal: ‘No Matter The Result’ Both Sides Expect Supreme Court To Decide HISA’S Fate

TDN – T.D. Thornton – The Wait Begins: Fifth Circuit Hears HISA Constitutionality Appeal Arguments

Bloodhorse – Dick Downey – Oral Arguments Return in Fifth Circuit HISA Challenge

Paulick Report – NTRA – Tom Rooney – Rooney: Congress Will Not Repeal HISA, Newly-Introduced RHSA ‘Stands No Chance Of Becoming Law’

Paulick Report – FTC Approves HISA’s Proposed Enforcement Rule Modification, Publishes Proposed Budget

ESPN – Horse racing groups introduce competing safety legislation they hope will replace HISA

Paulick Report – Louisiana Congressman Introduces Legislation To Replace HISA

Racehorse Health and Safety Act Introduced

Coalition introduces bill to bring safety to industry after HISA’s failure

Contact: Eric Hamelback,

CEO, National HBPA


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, horseracing industry groups representing over tens of thousands of horsemen joined Congressman Clay Higgins (LA-03) to introduce the Racehorse Health and Safety Act (RHSA) to bring safety to the industry. The bill is endorsed by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (HBPA), the United States Trotting Association (USTA), the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV) and others. The RHSA would establish an interstate compact to develop nationwide rules governing scientific medication control and racetrack safety for horseracing, replacing the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), which is failing to bring safety to the industry.

“I grew up on a horse ranch. I love horses, and the horse racing community is special to me. It’s part of who I am. While the federal government may have had good intentions in passing HISA, in practice it ended up obstructing best practices in the horse business. I will not sit by and allow horses to be harmed while government crushes the families that have built their lives around the horse racing industry,” stated Congressman Clay Higgins.

The bill establishes the Racehorse Health and Safety Organization (RHSO), with a Board of Directors appointed by the state racing commissions. Five board members will be appointed by the racing commissions in the states with the most racing days, and four members will be appointed by racing commissions in the remaining states. The RHSO Board will establish three Scientific Medication Control Committees, one for each racing breed: Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and Quarter Horses. Committee members will be selected by industry associations and the Board. The RHSO Board will also establish one Racetrack Safety Committee comprised of board appointed members and industry appointed members that will recommend breed specific rules to the board.

The Board will have the final say on all rules adopted, but it must justify its decisions with scientific evidence. Further, the RHSO will be granted the power to investigate rule violations, but the state racing commission of each participating state will retain enforcement power unless it requests the RHSO to assist with enforcement. Finally, the RHSO will be funded through annual fees from the participating state racing commissions, which will be specific to each breed.

States will have two years to decide whether to participate in the compact, and only participating states will be allowed to export simulcast signals for interstate, offsite betting. The RHSA also repeals HISA, which was passed in 2020 to bring safety to the horseracing industry but has proven to be ineffective.

After HISA was fully implemented this May, twelve horses died in six weeks at Churchill Downs Racetrack, home of the Kentucky Derby. Even though HISA admitted the racetrack was in “full compliance” with its racetrack safety rules, Churchill Downs was shut down, and races were moved to another track. Under HISA’s watch other racing fatalities occurred at Triple Crown racetracks and at prominent tracks in Maryland and New York. Despite spending $66.5 million this year, the HISA Authority recently failed to identify the cause of the problem.

As the HISA Authority concluded, “Horse racing has reached an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ moment requiring more than ever a truly unified effort for the horses. All stakeholder groups must participate in bringing the appropriate recommendations to fruition and being part of the solution.” The RHSA is that solution.

In addition to its implementation problems, HISA also has been riddled with legal setbacks since its passage in 2020. It was ruled unconstitutional last fall by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit brought by the National HBPA and is back before the court for a hearing next month after a one-sentence tweak to the bill.

Doug Daniels, DVM and President of the National HBPA, praised the RHSA: “The RHSA is a law that works from the ground up and brings all horseracing industry entities to the table in a collaborative, consensus-driven approach. It’s a sensible piece of legislation that will cost horsemen much less than HISA because it will utilize resources already existing in the states. And it will be constitutional and democratic, allowing everyone in the industry to have a voice in the rulemaking process.” Dr. Daniels continued, “HISA has proven to be flawed in implementation time and time again, and it’s time to pass legislation that has its regulations grounded in veterinary science. The Racehorse Health and Safety Act is just that.”

“This bill is not based on optics but on sound veterinary science, accountability, and transparency,” stated Russell Williams, President of the USTA. “The RHSO must ensure that all horseracing rules are based on generally accepted scientific principles and methods, and to the extent possible, on peer-reviewed scientific data and studies. This will keep the health of the horse at the forefront of everything it does and simultaneously provide proper justification for the rules to the industry.”

“The North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV) is supporting the Racehorse Health and Safety Act because the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority is a flawed institution which not only is harmful to the horse racing industry but has serious implications as a precedent to challenge our basic Constitutional liberties and protections,” said Donald Smith, President of the NAARV Board of Directors.

“Lo and behold, despite all the grandstanding and potentially good intentions of those who lobbied for HISA, its implementation has been an absolute failure by every metric,” said Attorney General Jeff Landry (LA). “In pushing a one-size-fits-all program that effectively grants control of an entire industry to a handful of elites within a private entity, the federal government’s plan has collapsed from underneath it — at the expense of the American racehorse and those who work the hardest within this industry. That is why it is time to repeal and replace HISA with something designed by horsemen for horsemen.”​

The RHSA is endorsed by:

National Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association (National HBPA)

United States Trotting Association (USTA)

North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV)

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry

Alabama HBPA

Arizona HBPA

Arkansas HBPA

Arkansas Court of Appeals retired Judge Bill Walmsley

Charles Town HBPA

Colorado HBPA

Delaware Standardbred Owners Association

Finger Lakes HBPA

Harness Horse Association of Central New York

Illinois HBPA

Indiana HBPA


Kentucky HBPA

Louisiana HBPA

Minnesota Harness Racing, Inc.

Minnesota HBPA

Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association, Inc.

Nebraska HBPA

New Mexico Horsemen’s Association

Oklahoma HBPA

Oregon HBPA

Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association

Pennsylvania HBPA

Standardbred Owners Association of New York

Tampa Bay HBPA

Virginia HBPA

Washington HBPA

Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association

TDN – HISA Submits Proposed Racetrack Safety Rule Changes to FTC for Approval

TDN – Open Letter To The Industry: Lisa Lazarus

TDN – TD Thornton – HBPA: Negotiations Between HISA And Sales Companies Equate To ‘Preferential Treatment’ For Breeders

TDN – T.D. Thornton – Judge Halts Anti-HISA Suit in Louisiana Pending Outcome of HBPA Case in U.S. Appeals Court

TDN – Dan Ross – HISA Proposes $80.9 Million 2024 Budget

Paulick Report – Racing And Gaming Conference: Cost Of HISA In The Crosshairs

Paulick Report – Ray Paulick – View From The Eighth Pole: Save HISA Constitutional Arguments For The Courts

TDN – Owner Rights Under HISA’s ADMC Rules

Lisa Lazarus and Ben Mosier should both be summarily terminated for cause.

The language they used in the preamble to their recent “Clarification of Owner Rights”  is so disgustingly condescending it shows that neither have the ability to impartially oversee HISA and both should get the broom before they do more damage.

“In response to recently published misinformation regarding owners’ rights under the HISA Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program, HISA and HIWU are compelled to again set the facts straight and reiterate our commitment to due process under HISA regulations.

TDN – Brent J Malmstrom – Letter To The Editor: Actions Detrimental Or An Inconvenient Truth?

TDN – Jockey Club’s Gagliano: HISA Is Necessary

TDN – Brent J Malmstrom – Letter to the Editor: Actions Detrimental

Phil has a question:

Is this pissing match benefiting the thoroughbred racing industry.

TDN – Open Letter To The Industry: Thomas B. Little DVM

Open letter to the industry: Darrell Vienna, attorney at law

HISA’s War Against Owners: Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

By Darrell Vienna

As HISA continues to modify and revise various parts of its rules1, one critical area has been allowed to continue its destructive effect on horse owners and their horses. This harmful oversight needs to be modified immediately. Or better yet, yesterday.

Under current HISA rules, horse owners are being or will be deprived of their constitutional right to the use and enjoyment of their property. If the initial sample collected from a horse tests positive, the horse may be declared ineligible to race for the horse’s lifetime without any opportunity for the owner to be heard or present evidence. There presently is no review process for the owner under HISA rules.


HISA Rules provide for sanctions against both individuals (Covered Persons) and horses (Covered Horses). A Covered Horse is any horse that participates or engages in a workout or participates in races in jurisdictions governed by HISA. A horse which tests positive for certain substances, or has been subjected to certain prohibited methods, may be excluded from racing for period ranging from one month to life.

This exclusion from racing, which HISA calls a period of ineligibility, travels with the horse. Changing trainers or owners does not lift the ineligibility. The owner does not receive a hearing to challenge the decision – a decision that interferes with the use and enjoyment of his or her property. If the horse tests positive and the split sample is waived or confirms the initial finding, the horse may, depending on the substance detected, be rendered ineligible for the rest of its life.

Consider the following:

Scenario 1: A weanling is administered a bisphosphonate, a drug used off-label for treatment of sesamoiditis, by a farm veterinarian. The weanling is later purchased at auction by a first-time race horse owner. The horse is raced for the first time as a 2-year-old. The horse wins a race and the bisphosphonate is detected in the post-race sample. The science is clear. Once a horse has been treated with bisphosphonates, the substance may be detected for years. Pursuant to HISA rules, not only is the horse disqualified from the race, the horse can never race again because HISA has adopted rule 4310 which provides that the detection of bisphosphonates in any horse results in a lifetime ban, despite a lack of any evidence that the presence of bisphosphonates actually places horses at greater risk of injury.

Scenario 2: At the end of a race meeting, a trainer prepares to move his horses to race in another state. He is assigned stalls that are pre-bedded with straw by a feed company. One of the employees of the feed company takes metformin for diabetes — the third most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 92 million prescriptions. This feed-company employee relieves himself in the corner of one of the freshly bedded stalls. Days later the trainer puts one of his horses in the stall in which the metformin-taking feed-company employee urinated. The horse ingests some contaminated straw with his hay, causing a positive test in a post-race sample. The trainer is suspended and the horse is ineligible to work or race for a period of up to 14 months.

The owner who had no knowledge of the source of the prohibited substance is, without recourse or hearing, deprived of the use of his racehorse. Depending on the value of the horse, the owner may decide to sell or give the horse away. Since the horse has limited or no eligibility to race, its value is significantly diminished. What happens to these horses that are ineligible to race? Some may be retrained as riding or show horses; some may end up in unsanctioned match races; however, others may end up in killer pens awaiting slaughter.

HISA Officials have claimed that this rule is intended to promote horse welfare. Lisa Lazarus, CEO of HISA, has been recently quoted as saying, confusingly, that this rule is based on the length of time it takes for a substance to exit a horse’s system2. Nothing could be further from the truth. This imposition of ineligibility on the horse is simply an unreviewable punitive action against horse owners that endangers the health and safety of horses while at the same time being euphemistically labeled by HISA as a measure to promote “horse welfare.”

Let’s say, instead, that the owner chooses to keep the horse and race it after the 14-month ineligibility period is over. Research has shown that horses that do not engage in high-speed exercise for 30 days or more are at higher risk of fatal injury than horses that are in full training. The 14-month ineligibility period actually places these horses at higher risk of injury. The HISA argument of protecting horses is fallacious.

The obvious solution to this situation is to offer every owner a full review mechanism which comports with due process. Further, the horse’s ineligibility should end as soon as the horse passes subsequent testing. In the meantime, if you are an owner, whether or not you have already been directly affected by this rule, you should voice your most serious objection to this harmful and unconstitutional power play by a clearly unaware HISA.

1 HISA rules are little more than a conglomeration of “cut and pastes” from the rules of the Fédération Equestre International, a European-based association which deals with Olympic horse competitions.

2 Ms. Lazarus is obviously trying to obfuscate the issue of a pharmacologically effective drug to the irrelevant possibility that benign remnants of a drug may show up in hair. Horsemen should not stand for this underhanded misdirection.


Darrell Vienna, for years a leading trainer in California, is an internationally renowned authority in equine law and all aspects of horse racing, regardless of breed or jurisdiction. In more than three decades of practicing law, the graduate of the University of California and Loyola Law School has represented or assisted horsemen in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Great Britain, Hong Kong and Singapore. His efforts have resulted in numerous acquittals for licensees charged with violations of racing regulations. Vienna trained 1992 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and champion Gilded Time and Grade 1 winners Fly Till Dawn, Star Parade and Janet along with 64 other graded-stakes winners. His horses won 1,232 races and earned more than $50.6 million throughout his 40-year training career, during which he was licensed to train in 25 racing jurisdictions.

Media contact

Eric Hamelback,

CEO, National HBPA


Bloodhorse – Frank Angst – Prominent Industry Leaders Support HISA in Court Filing

Cal vet: HISA charting path toward decreasing care of our horses

(Photo courtesy Donald Smith)

By Donald Smith DVM

I am in the twilight of a career spanning more than 40 years practicing veterinary medicine at racetracks. With great sadness I question whether any of today’s vet school graduates — if they even choose to be a “horse doc” at the track — will have the option of working in the racing industry in another 40 years. Horse racing faces many problems, but the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and its resulting Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (the Authority) is not the solution and, in fact, is exacerbating the complex problem of keeping horses sound.

I have witnessed dedicated care and concern for horses from the people who are with them all day, every day. I have seen the commitment to their health and welfare by the trainers, grooms, veterinarians, riders, officials, owners and devotees of horse racing. I have seen that commitment lead to ever increasing standards of care of the horses which I examine and treat daily. These increasing standards have percolated upward from the horse-racing constituency to the horse-racing regulatory bureaucracy. They have been discussed and argued among the stakeholders in this industry. And they have been accepted because of the consensus of those involved.

The democratic ideal is for regulation to derive from consensus. If compliance is the goal, there must be consensus among the participants. Imposition of standards from a self-selected “Authority” is more consistent with autocracy than democracy. By ignoring the consensus of the racing industry, this Authority will sow more disarray, confusion and inadvertent non-compliance than uniform racing conditions. Its oppressive nature will further weaken an industry which is already contracting and dwindling in its significance. The latest example: the announced closing of Golden Gate Fields, the home base of my racetrack practice, at the end of the year.

In addition to its lack of consensus, the most telling revelation of the insincerity and oppressive nature of HISA is the refusal to release financial information. Public institutions in the United States are designed to be transparent in order to comply with the goals of democratic governance. Information is the essential nutrient of democracy.

HISA is not really about the high-minded ideals it touts; it is really about power. The power of a small, self-selected group of people to impose their opinions and standards on a much larger group of people. The power to subvert the Constitution, the basic law of the United States, by denying to its subjects the rights and protections of the Constitution. The power to collect taxes from its subjects without their consent or representation. The power to conduct its business and spend its resources without any effective review, oversight or control by its constituents.

HISA’s oppressive reporting requirements, prohibition of clinically effective medications and devastating punishments for clerical errors is discouraging veterinarians from committing to racetrack practice. This is in addition to the serious shortage of qualified regulatory veterinarians facing HISA. As the supply of veterinarians willing to comply with HISA standards dwindles, the availability of medical care for our horses will dwindle. HISA’s windblown pronouncements of commitment to equine welfare are hypocritical in light of the facts. HISA professes to be interested in the welfare of horses but is actually charting a path towards decreasing care of our horses.

Recently I scoped two horses who bled a significant amount (3 on a scale of 5) — an amount that has been shown to interfere with their ability to oxygenate their blood, and provides an ideal medium for growth of pathological organisms. An amount which has been shown to compromise the lung tissue so that bleeding will worsen in the future. These horses were ineligible for the anti-bleeder medication Lasix due to California regulations and they are ineligible under HISA rules. Yet HISA claims to be concerned with horse welfare. Lasix has been repeatedly shown to reduce the incidence of bleeding. It is cheap. Its administration is effectively controlled. Its duration of effect is only 45 minutes. The safety and efficacy of race-day administration of Lasix has been established from 50 years of empirical experience and scientific studies.

It appears HISA, through the standards set in the Act itself, seems vigorously committed to prohibiting Lasix. In fact, the establishment of HISA, with its expensive and oppressive regulations and requirements, can be traced directly to the manic efforts of a few zealots to prohibit Lasix. Since I began practicing medicine 44 years ago, they have been repeatedly rebuffed by multiple regulatory agencies and professional associations to institute a ban on Lasix. It was only by surreptitious passage of the HISA legislation tucked into the 2020 COVID emergency relief bill that they will be able to accomplish their goal. Of course, this comes with all the inflated federal controls and expenses mandated by HISA.

I have enjoyed many pleasurable and gratifying experiences during my time caring for racehorses. It is a wonderful occupation. It is beyond my ability to describe the emotional rewards that come from close daily contact with horses. I am lucky to have known them.

However, I am discouraged by the indifference of veterinary students and young veterinarians to racetrack practice. I hope that this will change. I hope that our Courts and industry leaders can replace HISA with a common-sense piece of legislation built through consensus and veterinary science. Uniformity that can be responsive, representative of the industry as a whole, and will be able to shepherd horse racing into more future rewards.

Donald Smith D.V.M. has been an equine veterinarian practicing at Northern California racetracks since 1983. He graduated from Princeton University in 1973 and the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979. His practice today consists of mostly other performance horses and about 10 percent racehorses. Dr. Smith is a vice president of the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV).


Media contact

Eric Hamelback,

CEO, National HBPA


Hamelback on HISA changing provisional suspension rule
July 28, 2023
Announcement by HISA & HIWU Regarding Provisional Suspensions: The policy changes linked to here will be effective immediately and shall apply to any Responsible Person Provisionally Suspended following a positive test for a Banned Substance.
Statement from National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback:
“The National HBPA understands when there are seismic changes, there will be bumps in any type of implementation. While today’s changes announced by HISA are undoubtedly good for horsemen and women, they also highlight the fundamental flaws in HISA. As the NHBPA pointed out long before execution, the HISA rule-making process excludes consensus, full transparency and industry involvement, leading to bad policies that often must be reversed and do nothing but sow chaos and confusion.
“The NHBPA will continue to advocate for trainers and owners in court, in Congress and with the Authority to restore common sense and due process. We don’t object to this revision, which appears to have been done on the fly without FTC oversight, but we will continue to fight the process that makes such mistakes over and over.”
Media contact
Eric Hamelback,
CEO, National HBPA

 Bloodhorse – Byron King – HISA Alters Provisional Suspension Procedures

Hamelback: ‘Stop comparing us to the NFL, MLB and NBA…. You cannot do away with due process when you’re dealing with law. And that’s essentially what (HISA has) been given the keys to do.”

(Photo of National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback by Gwen Davis/Davis Innovation)

For the past several years, National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback, on behalf of his board, has spoken out about the fundamental problems with what then was the looming Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act, including warning of its assault on due process. With HISA now law, resulting in screw up after screw up — changing the rules in reaction to gross injustices instead of starting out with rules and policies that were thoroughly vetted and based on science and lawfulness — horse owners, trainers and attorneys are starting to see Hamelback’s perspective played out in real time.

Hamelback discussed the egregiousness of HISA and its Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit with satellite radio host Steve Byk on Wednesday. Particularly important: While HISA’s default defense to eviscerating due process is to say that’s how other sports do it, Hamelback has repeatedly pointed out that major-league sports are following rules (including those established as part of collective bargaining with players’ associations) while horse-racing participants must follow laws. As Hamelback had preached for years: under HISA, allegations of violations literally now are federal cases.

Read below for highlights from the interview. If Eric’s comments strike a chord and you have concerns or personal experiences with how our industry is headed under HISA, please reach out to Eric at The future of your industry is at stake, and the stake-holders need to speak up.

Hamelback: “For many of us, there’s only so many ways we can say ‘I told you so.’ We felt we did a good job to try to warn everyone that this bill had unconstitutionality aspects to it. I think without question we proved the bill was not constitutional when Senator McConnell forced in a ‘fix.’ But we also said that ‘fix’ did not fix what was completely unconstitutional in the bill…. When you look at due process, those are points we’ve been making for quite some time. You look at our General Counsel Peter Ecabert and then Pete Sacopulos, an equine attorney in Indiana, we’ve literally been making presentations on this very topic since April of 2021. We’ve tried to make everyone understand that when you do sign with HISA — you have to register or you can’t run, and they force you to do so — that gives them the right to essentially do what’s going on now.

“We’ve stayed quiet because our hope is that in October, when we are present once again in front of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, that same panel of judges will uphold the unconstitutionality and we get some relief so we can correct what is going on and hopefully move forward as an industry without too much damage.

“When you look at Mac Robertson’s issue, he paid the money for the split (sample to be tested, which did not confirm the positive finding), (but) the quote unquote damage has been done. I’d like to point now to an elderly lady who had a Regu-Mate positive. Again, altrenogest is a medication typically used in the farm world but has merit, is a legal substance, yet when found in a male horse, they treat it as a banned substance, which makes no sense, no common sense whatsoever.”

“I want to address a few things that Ms. (HISA CEO Lisa) Lazarus has said recently… Ms. Lazarus talks about our ‘sport’ — again, a problem I have; we are an industry — but she says that we are the only sport that hadn’t been adjudicating things the way they are now under HISA. Our industry is governed by law. I always laugh when I say it, but I throw flags (as an official) on Friday, and those kids (playing high school football) don’t break a law. So stop comparing us to the NFL, MLB and the NBA. They do not have laws as rules. When you have a law as rules, and that rule is allegedly broken, you’ve broken a law and you need to be provided due process…. Stop comparing us to other sports. It is not another sport.”

“I’m going to continue to preach that the National HBPA vigorously promotes the highest standard of care and horsemanship. It’s our tagline. We want that for our racehorses. We want the highest safety and protocols out there. But at the end of the day, we have to understand that we cannot fix problems by creating regulations. We are regulating the horsemanship out of this industry — and that’s a problem.”

Steve Byk: “This interjected amount of doubt in a horseman’s veracity and essentially their horsemanship, that is not going to be instantly offset by a clean test in this case (such as Robertson). This is the old ‘Page 1 is the news of the positive and page 12 is the follow-up.’”

Hamelback: “… Yes, there was an uncovering of an environmental transfer from, I believe, a feed additive. But the damage has already been done. As you said, from Page 1 to Page 12 ‘oh, well, we’ll fix that.’ But what damage has been done already? — whether it’s losing horses, certainly losing the possibility of income. But what I’d like to focus on with that in mind, a lot was said (by HISA) that we want to do what’s in the best interest of the horse. There is no way you can tell me these sanctions and some of these rules and the penalties applied are in the best interest of the horse.

“… Ms. Lazarus has said publicly that they had to start from a clean sheet, and that is the farthest thing from the truth. Many of us in this industry expected HISA to be applied using the (Association of Racing Commissioners International) model rules and start from there and develop best practices. Now, I have no problem with laboratory uniformity… and maybe that’s happening. But again, laboratory uniformity and (testing) thresholds are not the same thing. And we are seeing medications such as Isoxsuprine, Regu-Mate, it just doesn’t make any sense for those things to be on the banned-substance list.”

“During the world of the RMTC (Racetrack Medication & Testing Consortium), everybody including the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) said, ‘OK, we’ll go back (from 24 hours) to a 48-hour restriction on administration time (for most medications, including anti-inflammatories) because that will get us to the point where the pre-race exams are well in advance of post time. And now? What are we doing? We’re backing it up even more. No science behind why we’re doing 96 or 72 hours for certain medications…. And yet horses are still going down. We’re still having issues — and all of their regulations are in place.

“It’s extremely frustrating for me, who has said publicly on multiple occasions that I base the decision I make on what I think is best for the horse. And that is unequivocally not happening now under HISA.”

Byk: “You’re starting to hear from owners now, who are beginning to understand the ramifications of the operation of this system.”

Hamelback: “Exactly…. The more and more you look into the rules.… some of the things of how they were written, they didn’t ask people who understand what’s going on…. It’s not in the best interest of the horse. They continue to make these stumbles and yet keep pushing forward and saying, ‘we’ll fix them later.’”

Byk: “And then there’s the expense of defending yourself as well.”

Hamelback: “Which is astronomical if you’re realizing now, as we are, that this is a federal issue. I’m paraphrasing Bill Mott. I think he said you’re making a federal case out of me taking care of the horse. Like all of a sudden it’s a federal crime. And that’s exactly what we’ve been trying to say, that this just does not equate to our world as an industry. You cannot do away with due process when you’re dealing with law. And that’s essentially what they’ve been given the keys to do.”


Media contact

Eric Hamelback,

CEO, National HBPA


Paulick Report – Voss – Attorney: Under HIWU Regulations, Trainers On Provisional Anti-Doping Suspensions Can Still Visit The Barn

Phil has a question:

Can thoroughbred racing in the US afford HISA and HIWU.

Paulick Report – Mott: HISA ‘Making A Federal Crime’ Of Working Art Collector Too Early

TDN – Thornton – Vets: HISA Puts Them at ‘Greater Risk than Other Covered Persons’

Community News – Schmidt – Texas horse racing needs HISA

TDN – Thornton – Federal Judge Says No To Latest HISA Injunction Attempt

TDN – Thornton – HBPA On HISA: This Court’s Job Is To Again Tell Congress ‘No’

TDN – Bill Finley – Nunn’s Attorney Charges HISA With Hypocrisy In Dealing With Intra-Articular Injections

Paulick Report – Economic Indicators: Wagering Falls In June For Fifth Time In Six Months

Phil has a question:

Is the question now when and not if.

This Mess We’re in

Bloodhorse – Byron King – Uncertainty Amid HISA Conflict Continues in Texas

TDN – Ross – Legal Expert: If Fifth Circuit Finds HISA Constitutional, Texas “Absolutely” Can Implement Law

Wall Street Journal – A Horse Race Goes to Court

Wall Street Journal editorializes in favor of National HBPA lawsuit
HBPA: ‘At every turn, we have said our goal is simple: to ensure that the regulations that govern our industry are in line with the Constitution’
For the past two years, we’ve heard nonstop from the other side of the HISA debate that our lawsuit was frivolous, ill-intended, and a waste of time. At every turn, we have said our goal is simple: to ensure that the regulations that govern our industry are in line with the Constitution. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal, America’s number one newspaper, ran an editorial that should be a huge encouragement to all of us. The editorial board, which is dedicated to defending American principles and free enterprise, gave their view that the Supreme Court should hear our case. Here are some key excerpts:
  • The current Supreme Court is doing vital work policing the Constitution’s separation of powers. And it may soon get another chance in a case over whether a private horse-racing authority can deploy regulatory powers usually reserved for the federal government.
  • When Congress created HISA, it delegated its authority to the private association to regulate the sport nationwide. The authority was ostensibly under the umbrella of the Federal Trade Commission, but in reality it was running the show. In November 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional because the association had final say on regulation.
  • A “cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government,” Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel. “Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency.” Congress then tweaked the law with the amendment that the FTC could modify rules after HISA had created them. That’s still slim power for the FTC to wield within a far larger grant of power to the private authority.
  • The Supreme Court has signaled its interest in hearing a private non-delegation case. Denying certiorari in 2022’s Texas v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Justice Samuel Alito (joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch) wrote that there is a “fundamental question about the limits on the Federal Government’s authority to delegate its powers to private actors” and therefore a “need to clarify the private non-delegation doctrine in an appropriate future case.” Here it comes.
The National HBPA is grateful to our members and partners across the country who have stood with us in this fight. We look forward to continuing to advocate on your behalf and to our eventual vindication in this case.

TDN – Texas Judge Says No to ADMC Injunction

TDN – Ross – Sam Houston Handle Down 92%, Texas Industry At Crossroads


Phil has a question:

Have beer sales skyrocketed to provide all the piss for these pissing contests.

The National HBPA has never done anything more than insist that the regulatory authority writing the rules for this industry be structured in a way that respects the constitutional rights of all horsemen and be operated in a way that is transparent, responsive and accountable. We will continue to fight for these rights in court. We believe the best path forward for the industry—the best way to keep our horses and their humans safe—is a regulatory framework built on those principles: transparent, responsive, accountable, constitutional.

TDN – Thornton – FTC: Latest Anti-HISA Suit Doesn’t Come ‘Within a Furlong’ of Demonstrating Harms

Bloodhorse – Hamelback: Now Not the Time to Go Low or Assign Blame

Bloodhorse – Gagliano Our Voices: Safeguard Our Game by Supporting HISA

Bloodhorse – HISA to Investigate Equine Deaths at Churchill Downs

Phil has a question:

Which level of bureaucracy do the horsemen have to bow down to.

TDN – Thornton – HISA, FTC Link Grim Headlines to HBPA’s Desire for ‘Status Quo’

Bloodhorse – Downey – Keeping Tabs on HISA Lawsuits: Current Status

TDN – Thornton – Federal Judge Rules HISA Constitutional After Law’s Rewrite

Louisville attorney Hillerich: HISA will return U.S. racing to Sport of Kings, running off middle class, smaller outfits

The following is an editorial written by Louisville attorney, horse owner and breeder Ron Hillerich (photo courtesy Ron Hillerich):

I am a practicing attorney in Louisville, KY., and have been involved in the racing and breeding of thoroughbred horses since 1992. Over the years my partner and I have been blessed to operate a very small stable and currently have four horses in training and six 2-year-olds on the way. We also have five broodmares and a stallion who stands in Indiana. When I first became involved in the business, I was told racing was “the Sport of Kings” but through luck and dedicated effort we have been able to buck that perception and survive and profit in a most economically challenging industry. Our small stable has generated income for the Breeders’ Cup through fees associated with nominating our foals for participation as well as providing a source of income for numerous workers in the horse industry.

We have raced horses in Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, Florida and Maryland, all with not one iota of a problem preparing our horses to race and abide by the rules and regulations in these various jurisdictions. I understand the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) is attempting to bring unity to all of the various racing jurisdictions under the guise of making it a safer sport for the equine and human athletes and to promote confidence in our industry for the general public. Recently, the Fifth Circuit has held HISA unconstitutional and our Sixth Circuit has held that HISA is constitutional. Perhaps the United States Supreme Court will entertain this division in circuits, settling the issue once and for all and find, as I believe, that HISA is unconstitutional and, furthermore, completely unnecessary and too costly.

I am a firm believer in the old adage “less government makes better government.” In my opinion, HISA is an unnecessary extension of government control and redundant since the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the racetracks, and the courts have done an excellent job of policing our industry and protecting our horses. A quick glimpse at the punishments handed down by not only the various racing commissions but by the tracks themselves over the last several years provides strong proof of the effort made to protect the integrity of our sport and there is simply no need to create additional “red tape” and expense.


HISA, under the pretext of protecting the equine athlete and bringing uniformity to the industry, wants to further regulate and burden trainers and owners with additional, unnecessary rules and record keeping. Just one simple example: Trainers now have to, on a daily basis, record every medication/procedure administered by the trainer and/or his staff, a diagnosis/reason for the treatment and the name of the contact for the information of the person who administered the treatment. Does this mean that a groom who soaks a horse’s foot in Epsom salt or administers a chiropractic massage or any other number of common procedures will have to record these minor treatment modalities to have on hand if requested by HISA?

A smaller stable like ours simply does not have, nor can it afford, the record keeping and reporting that HISA is mandating. It is my belief that a smaller stable would need to employ a separate person just to oversee the record keeping for “big brother” and, of course, this additional cost will be passed on from the trainer to an owner like myself. Another example is the additional testing and vet exams now mandated and required by HISA, which cause more costs being passed along to the owner. The long and short of all of this is that HISA, through its zealousness to regulate, will negatively impact smaller stables, forcing them out of business. While thus returning horse racing to the “Sport of Kings,” a vital segment that provides very necessary economic support to the industry will be sacrificed.

HISA might argue it is not burdensome and/or costly, but not being fully transparent with their own budget makes their argument fall on deaf ears. Everyone is painfully aware that more control, regulation and red tape will create more cost and expense.

It is my belief that state racing commissions such as the KHRC, a state’s court system and the race tracks themselves can continue to implement and enforce the already existing rules and regulations regarding the proper care and treatment of our horses. The National HBPA, through the strong efforts of CEO Eric Hamelback, and the Kentucky HBPA, through the strong leadership of President Rick Hiles, have always been for national uniformity of fair and scientifically based policies that advance industry safety.

Additional regulation by HISA is simply redundant, unnecessary and will not change the horse industry for the better but will deprive smaller owners and stables, such as myself, the opportunity to participate in the future and result in economic loss to the industry, including the Breeders’ Cup.

Ron Hillerich, President Hillerich Racing, Inc.

325 W. Main Street, Suite 1810 Louisville, KY 40202

TDN – Sue Finley – Bill Walmsley, Iowa HBPA File Suit Against FTC Over HISA

TDN – Sal Sinatra To Serve As HISA Adviser

TDN – Thornton – Judge Orders Gulf Coast vs. HISA Case Transferred To Same Division As NHBPA Suit

Bloodhorse  – Byron King and Rollins – HISA’s Anti-Doping Program Suspended 30 Days


Hiles: KY Legislature’s resolution raising concerns about HISA shows reasonable persons understand its flaws
Click here to read the KY Senates’ resolution raising concerns about HISA
Click here to read the KY House’s resolution raising concerns about HISA

(Rick Hiles with Sugar Cube/Jennie Rees photo)

Statement from Kentucky HBPA President Rick Hiles on the Kentucky General Assembly unanimously passing a resolution (SR 243 and HR 98) raising concerns about the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act:

We applaud the Kentucky Senate, led by sponsors Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer and John Schickel, and the Kentucky House of Representatives, with Reps. Matt Koch and Al Gentry the sponsors, for their resolution that raises many of the concerns we have about the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act and the private Authority corporation it created and granted broad powers.


No matter the inflammatory rhetoric slung at the National HBPA, the resolution — which passed unanimously in both the Senate and House on Thursday — shows that reasonable persons understand that HISA was rushed into existence with a flawed process. They understand our stated concerns about unintended consequences that could devastate portions of our industry across the country, including Kentucky.


It’s gratifying to have leadership that understands that the HISA challenge by the National HBPA, many of its affiliates including Kentucky, the United States Trotting Association, several state racing commissions and attorneys generals and others is because we all want our industry to be strong and to do better and better. All these parties are in complete support of measures that promote integrity, uniformity and fair racing but this must be accomplished only through lawful, accountable and transparent means.


Prominent in the resolution is the very real threat that the financial structure set up by this unfunded mandate will jeopardize small and medium-sized tracks and smaller stables. That in turn will have a huge impact on Kentucky’s breeding and racing industries, as well as the agribusiness that is fueled by horse racing.


Kentucky is blessed to have legislative leadership such as Senators Thayer and Schickel and Representatives Koch and Gentry, among others, who understand our industry, its complexities and appreciate that racing in Kentucky and elsewhere has many levels that contribute to the entire ecosystem. To destabilize parts of it, we believe, will have unintended consequences to all involved in the industry from top to bottom.

Rick Hiles is the longtime president of the Kentucky HBPA and the First Vice President of the National HBPA.

TDN – Thornton – Plaintiffs in Louisiana Lawsuit Make Case for Allowing Amended Complaint

Bloodhorse – The Water Hay Oats Alliance Announces Dissolution

Bloodhorse – Letter to the Editor: National HBPA’s Hypocrisy

Bloodhorse – HIWU Launches Anonymous Whistleblower Platforms

TDN – HISA Launches Whistleblower Platforms

Bloodhorse – EquiTrace Launches New HISA Portal Integration

Bloodhorse – OwnerView Webinar Focuses on HISA for Owners

Bloodhorse – HISA CEO Lazarus: Launch of ADMC a Historic Moment

Before HISA cracks out the champagne remember that it was also a Historic Moment for General George Custer at Little BigHorn.

Before HISA cracks out the champagne remember that the maiden voyage of the Titanic was also a Historic Moment.

Bloodhorse – FTC Approves HISA’s Anti-Doping Medication Control Rule

National HBPA statement on Approval of ADMC Rules

FTC’s Decision Leads to Increased Industry Confusion

LEXINGTON, KY –The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) released the following statement regarding today’s decision by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to approve of Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) rules proposed by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (Authority).
“The Authority is barreling forward to implement HISA, and the FTC is enabling it by rubber-stamping another set of seriously flawed rules,” said National HBPA President Doug Daniels, DVM. “Industry concerns must be taken into account, and we believe no one at the FTC is listening. That’s why the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled HISA unconstitutional in our lawsuit. Without our efforts, I fear for our future. Today, we plan to file a motion with the Northern District of Texas court asking the judge immediately to stop these rules from going into effect.”
On October 13, 2022, the Authority submitted to the FTC its proposed ADMC rules. On November 18, 2022, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled HISA unconstitutional. The court found that HISA violated the private non-delegation doctrine because the Act gave the FTC insufficient oversight over a private corporation that was tasked with regulating the industry. Shortly after, on December 12th, the FTC disapproved of the proposed rules citing legal uncertainty and a lack of uniformity throughout the U.S. due to the Fifth Circuit ruling. On December 29th, HISA was amended by Congress in a failed effort to “fix” the constitutional defects. In early January 2023, the Authority resubmitted the exact same rules for approval by the FTC. On March 3, 2023, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Fifth Circuit’s decision and found that HISA was constitutional. Today, the FTC approved the ADMC rules with no new notice and comment period and no changes whatsoever.

Bloodhorse – Downey – Judges Put HISA National Injunction Efforts on Hold

Paulick Report – HBPA Conference: Trio Of Trainers Call HISA ‘A Façade’ To Cover ‘Personal Agendas’

Phil has a question:

After you sift through all the conspiracy bullshit these assholes are spewing what are the personal agendas they are alleging.

Are they alleging that some HISA bureaucrats want a position where they get paid for looking out the window all day.

National HBPA – Trainers: HISA ‘is a facade’ to cover an agenda

Horsemen expect added costs to close tracks, run off owners

(Trainers Talk (from left): Jason Barkley, Ron Faucheux, Bret Calhoun and National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback. Photos by Denis Blake/National HBPA)

Story by Tom Law

NEW ORLEANS, La. — The 2023 National HBPA Annual Conference closed with a lively discussion with three prominent horsemen who questioned the need, validity and overreach of federal legislation pitched as the so-called savior of racing while the industry heads into a challenging economic and logistical future.


Bret Calhoun, Ron Faucheux and Jason Barkley participated in the Trainer’s Talk panel moderated by multiple Eclipse Award-winning journalist and media specialist Jennie Rees and talked about everything from the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, challenges facing small to mid-sized stables, finding and keeping help and what gives them motivation in spite of all of racing’s uncertainties.

HISA dominated the discussion – as it did much of the conference this week at The Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans – and the trio pulled no punches when it came to the controversial entity.

“The whole thing is a façade. It’s been all smoke and mirrors,” said Calhoun, a member of the Louisiana HBPA board who also maintains strings in Kentucky and Texas. “They sold this thing as the safety of the horse. It’s absolutely not about safety of horse. It’s a few people, with self-interest and they have their own personal agenda.

“If it was all about the horse we’d be spending a lot more time on racing surfaces. We could probably cure about 50 to 75 percent of the injuries if we had somebody overseeing surfaces on a daily, weekly basis. Not somebody taking soil samples before the meet and at the end of the meet and calling it good.

“They’ve been taking away certain medications, therapy machines, things that are truly beneficial. They’re having the opposite effect of what they’re saying … safety of the horse and rider. They’re doing absolutely the opposite. Like I said, it’s all a façade.”

Faucheux, also a member of the Louisiana HBPA board and just two back of the leader on the Fair Grounds’ leading trainer’s list that he topped for the 2021-2022 meeting, conditions a stable of about 60 horses and hasn’t left his native state since HISA rules went into effect last summer.

“I haven’t signed up and I won’t sign up. I’ll get out of training if I have to sign up,” Faucheux said. “A stable like mine, 55-, 60-horse stable, I couldn’t afford the cost of having to hire somebody to do the paperwork for me. The added expenses of it all, it wouldn’t work financially for me. It’s a struggle to get by the last couple years. Feed costs have gone up 50 percent, hay, shavings, it doesn’t make financial sense for a trainer in Louisiana year-round to sign up and have to take on all those added fees because right now we’re barely making it as it is.”

Barkley maintains a stable of about 30 horses based at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn Park in the winter and in Kentucky the majority of the year. A member of the Kentucky HBPA board and a third-generation horseman, Barkley said he feels the impact of the regulations already and only sees them as potential obstacles for trainers hoping to grow their stables.

“A lot of my smaller clients they don’t want to pay the added cost of a per-start fee, the extra vet checks, and all the added fees they want to put on us,” Barkley said. “There’s added costs and the time to do all the work. Between me and my main assistant, who is my wife, Shelbi, we do the extra paperwork, keeping track of everything. We already kept track of what every horse got every day but to then have to put it into files, that doubles the workload. That is time taken away from actually working with your horses, which is what you should really be focused on.”

Rees steered the discussion away from HISA at several points but the new laws found a way back, much like many of the prior panels during the week-long conference in the French Quarter.

“What is HISA’s ultimate goal? I’m sure there is one,” Faucheux said. “To me it looks like about half the racetracks to close down and about half the people to get out of it. And I think that’s what will eventually happen if it’s implemented across the country, over the span of several years.”

“These are people sitting in offices and coming up with these rules and regulations that really aren’t for the benefit of the horse, the riders, the owner, the industry as a whole,” Calhoun said. “It’s not good for the industry. … To get this bill, to attach it to a Covid bill, an emergency bill, that’s something that should be stopped with every instance. No emergency bill should ever have anything attached to it. That’s how they got this going. … That’s how Congress works, unfortunately.”

The trainers also agreed on that another major challenge they face – finding and keeping good help. That situation was difficult well before the pandemic and exacerbated since.

“I’ve got a family of like 15 that work for me,” Barkley said, joking that his 2-year-old daughter was back at the barn mixing feed while he attended the panel. “A lot of it’s you get good people that know good people, and hopefully keep pulling them in that way.”

Calhoun called it an “impossible task” he and his colleagues face nationwide.

“Since Covid, there’s now a reduced number of employees that you can find,” Calhoun said. “That’s part of issue. Then you add HISA costs to this and our labor costs are through the roof. It’s the highest bidder and eventually you’re losing significant money to stay in business.”

The trainers still possess great passion for racing – and the horse – despite all the challenges lumped on them from the boardrooms and from lingering economic issues stemming from the pandemic.

“When I realized quite early that I wasn’t going to be the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints I said I want to do this,” Faucheux said. “This is probably second to that. But all jokes aside, I love it. I love being a trainer. I love my horses, the staff and I love the lifestyle. … There’s a lot that goes along with it that can sour you up. Recently, with HISA brought about, and the price increases of everything, it makes it hard to go on and do it the way you want to do it.”

Calhoun acknowledged that winning 20 percent of the time – which very likely might get a trainer consideration for the Hall of Fame over a long career – still meant losing bunches of races along the way. But it’s the winning that makes it worth it, he said.

“That’s what drives me,” Calhoun said. “And the horse is what makes you want to get up every morning and do it.”

Barkley agreed, and echoed sentiments of one of his colleagues with a large stable spread out in multiple states.

“I just love the action. It’s all fun to me,” Barkley said. “I heard Mike Maker say, ‘they’ll run out of stalls before I run out of horses,’ and that’s kind of how I think. Bring them on, we’ll fight the fight as well as we can for as long as we can. … It’s all fun for me.”

Bloodhorse – NHPBA – LA Attorney General Predicts Additional HISA Litigation

Eric Hamelback, CEO, National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association: “Today, we stand firmly on our victory in the Fifth Circuit, however we are disappointed in the Sixth Circuit ruling. We have stated from the onset that there are multiple aspects of unconstitutionality plaguing HISA. The Fifth Circuit ruled on the arguments presented to them, and the Sixth Circuit ruled on the arguments they were presented. With that, we remain confident in our arguments and committed to our case. As seen now, the shifting legal uncertainty only upholds more confusion ahead for the industry and should lead everyone to agree we need a new bill to correct this uncertainty. We will keep fighting all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary to protect our industry and make sure our rules and regulations are built on a legal foundation.”

Paulick Report – Paulick – Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Finds HISA Constitutional

Bloodhorse – Downey – 6th Circuit Appeals Court Declares HISA Constitutional

TDN – Ross – California First to Sign Voluntary Agreement, Pay HISA 2023 Fees

Phil has a question:

Does any participant in Alberta racing who has witnessed the absolute clusterfuck of Horse Racing Alberta think that HISA will be a benefit to US horse Racing.

What does the Undertaker really do.

TDN – Lucinda Finley Q&A: “Long Litigation Road Ahead” For HISA

Paulick Report – ‘It’s A Shame It’s Come To This’: Fonner Park Cancels Interstate Wagering Over HISA Concerns

Bloodhorse – Downey – HISA Opponents Seek National Injunction

Paulick Report – Fifth Circuit Denies HISA’s Request To Vacate Ruling Against It

TDN – Thornton and Sue Finley – Fifth Circuit Judges Deny Motions Related to Rewritten HISA Law

Bloodhorse – Downey – Fifth Circuit Again Slaps Down HISA, FTC

Hamelback statement on 5th Circuit denying HISA motion

‘This should remind everyone that constitutionality isn’t optional’
Statement from Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ denying the recent HISA motion:
“We view this as additional strong evidence as to the valid concerns we have been raising all along and this should remind everyone that constitutionality isn’t optional. We have made it very clear that the one-sentence so-called fix tucked into Congress’ must-pass year-end spending bill did not address all the legal questions created in the HISA corporation’s enabling legislation.
“With that said, it’s extremely gratifying that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the HISA corporation’s motion to vacate the Appellate Court’s original unanimous opinion that found the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act unlawful.
“Citing the legal uncertainties in the wake of the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, the FTC issued an order on Dec. 12 of 2022 disapproving the Anti-Doping and Medication Control proposed rules submitted by the HISA corporation until those questions regarding constitutional challenges are resolved. Therefore, it was the height of arrogance for the HISA corporation to recently resubmit such rules on the pretext that the so-called fix actually was one. As we see it now more than ever, the Fifth Circuit Court made it clear significant constitutional questions remain with HISA .
“To be clear, absolutely nothing has changed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals since the FTC originally rejected these rules, and the FTC must wait on the outcome of ongoing litigation to be resolved. Along with a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Congressmen, we believe the FTC must reject these again based on the unconstitutional uncertainty.”

Bloodhorse – Rollins – Biden Signs Omnibus Bill With HISA Language Into Law

Bloodhorse – Eric Mitchell – FTC Rejects HISA Anti-Doping and Medication Rules

TDN – Lowe – Letter to the Editor: Sport of Kings vs. King of Sports

TDN – Thornton – HISA Opponents Spar On Fifth Circuit’s Unconstitutionality Ruling

TDN – Conservative Judges in Sixth Circuit Appeals Court “Does Not Bode Well” for HISA

Bloodhorse – Downey – HBPA: HISA Still ‘Law of the Land’ Except in Two States

TDN – Thornton – No Matter Which Way HISA Goes, CHRB Confident on Rules Consistency

Paulick Report – ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’: Potential Outcomes Following HISA Ruling Could Include Supreme Court Or Congressional Edits

Paulick Report – ARCI’s Martin: ‘Storm Cloud Hanging Over Regulatory Actions Taken By HISA’

TDN – Thornton – Temporary Stay From August Lifted in Different HISA Suit

Bloodhorse – Downey – Many Options Remain in HISA Constitutionality Cases

TDN – Ross – Q and A With Constitutional Law Expert Lucinda Finley

Bloodhorse – Letter to the Editor from Ed Martin, ARCI. -Differing Legal Opinions Will Guide States

Bloodhorse – Downey – Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals: HISA Unconstitutional

TDN – Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Finds HISA Unconstitutional


Statement from NHBPA CEO Eric Hamelback

on Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling HISA unconstitutional

5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 3-0 opinion ruling HISA unconstitutional
“It is the duty of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association to protect horsemen across the country and that is not a responsibility I take lightly,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the NHBPA. “From HISA’s onset, we have thoroughly and fairly examined the HISA corporation’s impact on our industry and its constitutionality. We operated in good faith and did our due diligence to appropriately weigh the pros and cons. We have been saying for years this law and the defined Authority itself are unconstitutional and we are pleased the court has unanimously sided with our position, an outcome many in our industry thought was impossible.

“Today’s unanimous ruling clearly states the entity constructed under HISA is an unconstitutional body and should not hold governing power over our industry, a position we have long supported. On behalf of the NHBPA, I can assure you that we will be following this development closely and support the power reverting back into the hands of the State Racing Commissions. I will keep our members updated as we continue exploring the ruling further as more details come to the surface. We are very appreciative of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for the thorough analysis and opinion. We also thank the many industry stakeholders who supported us in our effort to ensure that horsemen are not subject to an unconstitutional law.”

Media contact:

Eric Hamelback,

CEO, National HBPA


Horse Racing Nation – Appeals court: U.S. horse-racing authority is unconstitutional

TDN – Bill Finley and Dan Ross- Court Decision on HISA Creates Chaos

Hawthorne Sal

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