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It’s a pretty simple press release, but it might be the best move the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority has made in its short existence.
 
An Oct. 17 announcement identified 19 members of HISA’s first horsemen’s advisory group from an application pool of more than 250 people. The group starts meeting this month to provide feedback to the authority’s executive team and standing committees on the implementation and evolution of HISA’s racetrack safety and anti-doping and medication control regulations.
 
HISA announced the intent to create an advisory group in late August and sought applications. The members represent a broad range of views and experience from across the racing community. Trainers, owners and veterinarians are included, as are representatives of racing offices, backstretch employees, farriers and aftercare initiatives. Members will serve between one- and two-year terms. The group includes:
 
Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. 
 
Trainer Kelsey Danner, based at Palm Meadows in Florida and at Delaware Park.
 
Trainer Tom Drury, a board member of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders.
 
Trainer Linda Gaudet, vice president of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. Backstretch worker representative.
 
Rick Gold, chair of the Thoroughbred Owners of California’s Integrity and Safety Committee and a Thoroughbred owner in California and Australia.
 
Trainer Donnie Von Hemel.
 
Delawarean Fred Hertrich III, former chairman of the Breeders’ Cup Board of Directors and proprietor of Watercress Farm in Paris, Ky. Also the harness-racing representative.
 
Owner and bloodstock agent David Ingordo.
 
Owner and horseplayer Frank Jones, vice chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Kentucky Horse­men’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
 
Maryland-based trainer Tim Keefe, president of the MTHA.
 
Dr. Sara Langsam, veterinarian with Teigland, Franklin, and Brokken, based at Belmont Park. One of two veterinarian representatives.
 
Trainer Ron Moquett.
 
Maggi Moss, an attorney and Thoroughbred owner with horses in Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana and New York.
 
Maryland trainer Graham Motion.
 
Dr. John Piehowicz, veterinarian and founder of Cincinnati Equine. One of two veterinarian representatives.
 
Tom Robbins, executive vice president, racing and industry relations at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and the group’s racing office representative.
 
Trainer Rick Schosberg, vice president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, president of Take2 Second Career Thoroughbreds.
 
Thomas Trosin, a second-generation farrier and past president of the American Farriers Association. The group’s farrier representative.
 
Owner Kirk Wycoff, proprietor of Three Diamonds Farm.
 
The group will go a long way toward assuring racing participants that HISA is the way forward after an at times chaotic 2022 – and it’s long overdue. HISA, created by federal legislation in 2020, tackled the massive job of creating – somewhat from scratch – national racing rules that would apply to all Thoroughbred races run in the country while trying to figure out how to meld those rules into the existing state racing-commission structure. 
 
The racetrack safety program went into effect July 1, but came with confusion about registration (human and horse), whip rules for jockeys, shoe rules for horses and guidelines for stewards. The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association chapters in several states filed lawsuits, as did The Jockeys Guild. The Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, a HISA supporter, took a more cooperative stance but still pointed out problems.
 
HISA’s job only gets bigger. The anti-doping and medication control component is supposed to start in January. Horsemen input is crucial and the advisory group will play a big role. 
 
Buy-in and support from horsemen are key ingredients to the future of HISA, and the hope for reform. Owners and trainers I talk to pretty much all agree on the need for national rules and changes. They don’t agree on some of the steps taken by HISA in its early days and feel the frustration of trying to follow the rules while also seeing mistakes such as improper disqualifications for whip violations. Furthermore, those owners and trainers wish HISA had first tackled other issues such as licensing or penalties/suspensions instead of horseshoes and whip use.
 
A horsemen’s advisory group might have pointed out those key issues earlier, and should have been one of HISA’s first steps. 

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