06/20/2013 5:49PM

California Horse Racing Board: Voided claims at 19 since new rule took effect


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The claims of 19 horses at three California tracks from May 16 through June 16 were voided following the implementation of a rule that requires claims to be rescinded on horses who die or are placed on the veterinarian's list after the race from which they are claimed, the California Horse Racing Board was told on Thursday.

Dr. Rick Arthur, California's equine medical director, gave testimony at Thursday's meeting, stating that 229 horses were claimed during that time at Betfair Hollywood Park, Golden Gate Fields, and Los Alamitos, with 19 of those claims voided. Hollywood Park and Golden Gate Fields operate Thoroughbred meetings. Los Alamitos has a mixed meeting of Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds.

Seven of 72 claims were voided at Golden Gate Fields, six of 91 were voided at Hollywood Park and six of 66 claims were voided at Los Alamitos.

Arthur said that "procedures are working well administratively" in the implementation of the rule.

The state or official veterinarian at each track judges whether a claim should be voided for lameness or unsoundness on the racetrack immediately after the race or at the test barn before the horse is released to the new owner and trainer.

Arthur said that none of the 19 horses whose claims were voided has returned to race, but said "it's too early to expect that." Horses placed on the vet's list must have a workout in the presence of an official veterinarian and pass a blood test before being removed from the list.

The rule was the subject of widespread discussion at Thursday's racing board meeting, and will be the topic of a committee meeting at Del Mar next month.

Trainer Peter Miller, who had the claim of one of his horses voided at Hollywood Park on June 2, said the rule is flawed, noting that horses who bleed visibly through the nose are not placed on the vet's list. He said another flaw could be an owner who claims a mare with the intent of retirement for breeding but later has the claim voided.

Miller was the lone trainer to speak regarding the rule at Thursday's meeting.

"Claiming is inherently risky," Miller said. "Anything can happen once the gates opened. That's why it was a perfect system. [A trainer] knew he could lose them or not lose them.

"In my opinion, it's a bad rule. It's too subjective."

Vice-chairman Chuck Winner said the rule merits ongoing debate.

"We all agreed when we passed this that it may not be perfect," he said. "This was the best idea that we had come up. We're talking about 30 days since we started. This is not enough time, in my view, to change it, to throw it out, or accept it entirely. There are a lot of issues.

"I've had two trainers tell me that they are more confident in claiming horses now because the horse will be sounder when they claim it. We should look at it in committee and people ought to make the points they are making. We can learn from it. We'll try to make it as perfect as we can."

The rule was adopted by the racing board in February and was implemented on May 16.