HISA updates void claim, other safety rules

Newly updated rules from the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) modify the body’s void-claim and waiver claiming regulations, among other changes.

The changes were announced June 7. They take effect July 8.

The void-claim rules came under particular scrutiny in recent months in a Maryland case in which a claim was voided more than two months after the initial claim – and over a week after the horse had died. An administrative law judge ultimately ruled the claim could not be voided.

The updated rules aim to prevent that from happening again. In fact, they improve the existing rules in a couple of key ways.

Under the revised rules, a person who claimed a horse that tests positive under HISA’s anti-doping and medication control (ADMC) program has 48 hours to decide whether to void the claim or not. That itself is a change from the old rule, which required the claimant to declare in advance of the race whether to accept a horse with a positive.

The old rule requiring a pre-race declaration led to at least one case in which a claim was voided even though the claimant wanted to keep the horse. That situation is implicitly acknowledged in the updated rule’s supporting documentation.

“[I]n those instances in which the Prohibited Substance does not alter the value of the horse to the claimant, the claimant should have the option to keep the horse,” the document notes. “This might be the case if the claimant desires to purchase the horse for breeding purposes, rather than to run the horse in future races.”

A claimant might also reasonably determine that a horse’s positive in one race doesn’t materially affect its racing value for any number of reasons.

While giving claimants the option to void the claim of a horse that’s tested positive – rather than requiring the decision up front – the revised rules also place some boundaries around it. Those rules do not allow the claim to be voided if the horse has made a start for its new owners, if the new owners do not properly care for the horse or make “material alterations to the horse,” or if the horse dies or is euthanized.


“[T]hese acts demonstrate an intent on the part of the claimant to exercise ownership of the horse and could result in physical changes to the horse,” the document explains.

Another provision will allow a person whose claim is voided to recoup all of their expenses, including “reasonable expenses” for caring for the horse prior to the voiding of the claim.

The new rules make a number of other changes to the Racetrack Safety Program. Another change involving claiming would allow the connections of a horse returning from a layoff to run twice – rather than the currently permitted once – without exposing the horse to being claimed. The option to waive the claiming tag the second time is available only if the horse is running in a race in which the claiming tag is equal to or higher than that for which the horse last ran, there is no change in majority ownership, and the horse did not win the first time it ran with the waiver.

Other chanes will increase the standdown time for fetlock corticosteroid injections to 14 days prior to working and 30 days prior to racing, a doubling from current regs; prohibit horses born in 2023 from participating in covered races or works if they have been subject to pin-firing “of any structure” or freeze-firing of the shins; and require horses to have a post-workout blood test if they are seeking to race after after having been placed on the vets’ list as unsound, having bled, having not raced for more than a year, or are making their first career start after January 1 of their four-year-old year.

The full document is available here.