By: T.D. Thornton

A proposed law working its way through the West Virginia legislature would mandate that fines assessed to Thoroughbred licensees be set aside in a new fund to cover the cost of post-mortem exams for horses that die at Mountaineer Park or Charles Town Races.

By West Virginia state statute, money collected from fines is currently earmarked for a relief fund to cover accident-related medical care or funeral expenses for human injuries, with the caveat that those funds don’t get paid out if the costs are already covered by insurance or workers’ compensation plans.

The amended committee version of HB 3021, which had its first reading in the House of Delegates on Friday, would change the current law to read “All civil penalties imposed by the stewards or the commission against thoroughbred horse racing licensees or permit holders shall be paid into a fund for expenses associated with the post-mortem examination of thoroughbreds that suffer breakdowns on a racetrack, in training or in competition, and that are euthanized, or thoroughbreds that expire while stabled on a racetrack under the jurisdiction of the Racing Commission.”

The proposed law also states that any balance in the fund at the end of any fiscal year in excess of $10,000 be divided equally and spent by the commission “to aid in the rescue, retraining, rehabilitation and aftercare of thoroughbred racehorses that are no longer able to compete on the racetracks in this state.”

In addition, some of that excess balance could still go to cover the hospitalization or funeral expenses referenced in the current law, but only if the equine post-mortem costs have been covered first.

Separately, fines assessed to greyhound industry licensees would now be earmarked for a fund that will aid “adoption programs involving West Virginia whelped dogs owned by residents of this state.”