Horseracing Rules Go into Effect After Fifth Circuit Action

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BATON ROUGE (The Center Square) — New horseracing rules developed by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority are now in force nationwide after an appeals court temporarily stayed a preliminary injunction issued last week for Louisiana and West Virginia.

A three-judge panel with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an administrative stay Wednesday that trumps a preliminary injunction issued July 26 by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty that halted HISA rules in Louisiana and West Virginia.

The preliminary injunction stemmed from a lawsuit brought by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, West Virginia and several horseracing and jockey interests challenging the HISA, a nongovernmental agency created by Congress to impose national oversight over thoroughbred racing.

Landry is leading the lawsuit to repeal a series of new regulations regarding in-race riding, jockey safety requirements, veterinary reporting obligations and registration for horses and participants.

Landry contends the HISA law substitutes state regulatory commissions with a private corporation with little oversight from the Federal Trade Commission, while the process for adopting regulations by the HISA allowed little time for public comment. The lawsuit, which names HISA and the FTC, involves a dozen counts, ranging from multiple violations of the Administrative Procedure Act to violations of the Fourth and Seventh Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The administrative stay renders moot a dispute over the intent of Doughty’s preliminary injunction, which was limited in scope to Louisiana, West Virginia, “and as to all plaintiffs in this proceeding,” Bloodhorse reports.

HISA continued to enforce rules for members of the Jockeys’ Guild riding outside of those two states, but the Jockeys’ Guild argued jockeys are covered as plaintiffs in the case and asked the district court to clarify the injunction.

HISA also appealed the preliminary injunction to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The FTC wrote to the appeals court on Aug. 1 that “both the government and the public will be irreparably harmed if the district court’s preliminary injunction setting aside the Commission’s regulatory program in its entirety in two states remains in effect until this court resolves this appeal on its merits.”

The FTC also argued Doughty’s preliminary injunction “threatens to sow confusion within the horseracing industry” while “any harm to plaintiffs from a stay will be slight, if it exists at all,” according to Thoroughbred Daily News.

Plaintiffs in the case countered “the irreparable harm plaintiffs would suffer from a stay puts the public interest in balance of harms beyond a doubt. Any harm to defendants’ nonexistent interest in furthering an illegal regulatory scheme is easily outweighed by plaintiffs’ irreparable harms.”

Landry’s office did not return requests for comment on Wednesday’s appeals court ruling.

The temporary stay is in effect “pending further consideration of the motion to stay.”

Numerous jockeys were cited for use of riding crops not compliant with HISA specifications in Arizona and Iowa on Aug. 1. HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus told Bloodhorse the cited riders have until Sept. 1 to show the purchase of a compliant crop and if so their violations will be dismissed. If not, they could face fines, she said.

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