By: Jeremy Balan

The California Horse Racing Board’s Medication, Safety, and Welfare Committee Dec. 14 moved forward three measures to adjust training regulations more into line with rules currently employed for racing.

During the committee meeting Wednesday at Los Alamitos Race Course, CHRB members Madeline Auerbach and Alex Solis, along with CHRB executive director Rick Baedeker, ended up recommending that the full board consider changing rules regulating the use of whips during training, as well as the use of “non-steroidal anti-inflamatory drug substances.”

If the full board approves the proposals during its Dec. 15 meeting, they will be sent out for a 45-day public comment period.

Under the proposals, rules regarding whip use during training would be altered in two ways. The first would require exercise riders only use “riding crops,” which feature “popper” type whips that are currently used for racing. The second would carry over from racing to training the whip rule that only allows three consecutive strikes before giving the horse an opportunity to respond to the urging.

Solis immediately brought up concerns with how the three-strikes rule would be enforced during training without video recordings of every workout.

“In the mornings, who is going to keep track of the violations?” Solis asked.

“It is an issue and I’m not sure how we enforce this other than on a random, spot check videoing basis,” Baedeker said.

California Thoroughbred Trainers executive director Alan Balch also expressed concern with how the three-strikes rule would be enforced during training.

“It will be very difficult to survey (training) properly and not be accused of singling people out,” Balch said. “I’m not sure what the answer is there.”

Baedeker said, because of the public comment period, the CHRB would have time to iron out exactly how the regulations would be implemented.

“I must admit we haven’t thought through the practical applications of this part of it,” Baedeker said. “I’d remind everybody that we’re taking this to the full board to send this out for public comment, so we do have ample time to come up with a plan.”

Regarding NSAIDs, both Auerbach and CHRB equine medical director Rick Arthur expressed an interest in regulating all medical treatments for training on the same level as race days, but noted restricting NSAIDs was only a first step.

Baedeker also acknowledged that the idea to be more restrictive regarding medication use during training was at least in part in response to a rash of horse deaths at Del Mar this summer.

“This proposal follows a series of meetings that CHRB commissioners and staff … have had with all of the stakeholders following the Del Mar meeting, where as everybody knows, the number of catastrophic injuries was tragic,” Baedeker said. “Everybody understood, if we have another season like that, it could have a very severe impact on future Del Mar meets and even the industry as a whole.”