09/20/2012 3:49PM

New California claiming rule proposed

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POMONA, Calif. – Claims submitted for horses who are later placed on official veterinary lists, for issues such as unsoundness or lameness, will be voided in California if a proposed rule is passed in coming months by the California Horse Racing Board.

Currently, horses who are claimed and placed on official veterinary lists are considered claimed, and are transferred to the new owner and trainer.

Thursday, the board voted 6-1 to allow for the rule change to be subject to a 45-day comment period to gauge opinion from horsemen and the public. “We want to do the right thing by the horse,” commissioner Chuck Winner said.

Commissioner Richard Rosenberg voted against sending the rule for a public comment, saying he “was totally opposed to this language.”

The new rule states that a claim will be voided and the horse returned to the original owner if aN association or CHRB “veterinarian determine the horse will be placed on the veterinarian’s list as unsound or lame before the horse is released to the successful claimant.”

This fall, after the 45 days, the racing board will revisit the rule change and are expected to vote. If approved, an actual rule change is several months away.

The proposal follows a rule change implemented in the last year in California that voids a claim if a horse is euthanized on the racetrack.

The rule has resulted in controversy. At least twice during the Del Mar meeting, horses were claimed, transported back to the new trainer’s stable, but found to be too severely injured to be saved. Both horses were euthanized in the stables and not on the track, resulting in the transfer of ownership.

M More than 1 year ago
The procedures for the post race inspection could be devised to prevent any of the problems listed below (neutral vet; a shorter 48 hour window for voiding claim, etc). These are still pending. Owners and trainers should get input, along with track officials. The major issue I see is removing incentives to mask the condition of horses. The two major issues in racing today are: substances and safety. And the current claiming process can be improved to help address both. Horse racing bodies can't proclaim they are addressing safety or substances if the claiming system they oversee offers incentives (claiming price money and freedom from upkeep of lame horse) to mask the condition of horses, race them, and move them through the claiming box. This second buffer and deterrent would both remove the incentive to mask the condition of a horse or enter an unsound one--both of which could be major safety issues for riders and others horses. The assumed risks are many in claiming, but they should not include concealment of lameness. Of course, the horse could be injured in the very claiming race in question (but then the burden should rest with current owner who was in custody/control and who gets the benefits--purse). 2 claimed horses were euthanized at Del Mar; one was vanned off at SA already. The regulatory bodies have to act; otherwise, the entire industry risks greater legislative oversight or even public relations issues ( animal rights protestors, etc). The entering of potentially unsound horses and masking can even impacts the betting public through skewing performances and reducing confidence in the system.
Thomas Hagadone More than 1 year ago
What will happen when the trainer of a claimed horse goes to the state vet and says, "Doc. How about if you find a soundness problem in my horse that just got claimed?" You don't think it will happen? Wait. Selling live animals is a lot different than selling cars. If a person buys a cow they have no idea if that cow can produce a calf. RISK. It is what made America great and now our almighty government hacks want to take risk out of everything. Leave horse racing alone. The next thing will be to void a sale on some half million dollar purchase of a yearling that ends up being a dud. People gamble when they buy horses thinking the horse will make them some money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I must be missing something? The same stewards and track vets who allow lame, crippled, injured horses to run in the race in which they are claimed are then going to turn around after the race and void the claim saying the horse is injured and can't run in the immediate (45days) future? Here is a crazy idea. How about better pre race inspection of all claiming horses so if they are not sound they don't get to run in the race in which they might be claimed and have the vets start will the big class droppers. This rule is the dumbest thing I have ever heard! It's going to be subjective it's never going to be applied uniformly. It's going to hurt California racing which is already struggling for more horses
Mooch J More than 1 year ago
Even at used car auctions you can give a car back to the original owner if you find it had major problems (unless you buy from the "as is" lane) so I think it's a good rule to show at least as much integrity as a used car company and insure no one gets stuck with some patched together POS, not to mention the protection of the bettors. Again, good rule
russell More than 1 year ago
Makes sense to me but who is making the final call if a horse is sound or lame? Thats the scam.
Mike B More than 1 year ago
There is still a great deal of caveat emptor involved claiming even with this rule. The rule is not about voiding claims for failure to meet performance expectations but only for a soundness determination by a neutral veterinarian. This rule just aligns the incentives for proper track safety. It could even prevent some lawsuits should a jockey or horse be serious injured by a horse that should not have been on the track. These injures can run into the millions of dollars. So I see tracks adopting this rule for risk management in the future. By having claiming races (the majority of races , after all) the track creates the public market in the horses. Hence they likely have some duty here to at least take reasonable precautions to prevent a track created system that can encourage putting potentially lane or unsound horses into races. This new rule would properly align the incentives and only rewards the proper behaviors for trainers and owners. The rule does not remove the normal risks of claiming in horse racing per se but works to prevent risk, potential fraud or deliberate concealment about the status of the horse. It does not fundamentally change the disequilibrium of information in the claiming transaction or fundamentally change the allocation of risk (except perhaps for the risk of being defrauded, which governing bodies should mitigate). You'd get more faith in the claiming process, and perhaps most important of all--help horse racing survive. The number one way for new/younger owners to get into racing is via claiming. If a young partner buys a lame claimer that was running on a block (pain med), you lose more than a horse--but also a future owner, fan, and supporter of the sport. That can never be regained. And with the graying out of the horse racing fans and entire industry, the loss of faith by the next wave of potential owners could impact everyone's business.
Steven Wells More than 1 year ago
This rule will only make the game more frustrating for owners. A owner put's in a claim on a 3-5 shot that runs 4th. Tells trainer he must be lame go get my money back. Claming horses are the biggest part of the sport without them we would have 2 day race weeks and a handful of racetracks. Claiming a horse is a risk the owner knows going in if the horse is unsound do the right thing get him healthy and bring him back.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Steven is correct, it's part of the game. See if you can claim a 50,000 runer for a bargen when he's in for 15,000 and then make him well.
M More than 1 year ago
100% agree! Nursing first claimer back right now. There is too much incentive to run unsound horses to get them claimed which can endanger jockeys, other horses, and financially harm future owners. The system even rewards those who can get unsound horses on the track by making the market in them. Good owners and trainers have nothing to fear. This would build more confidence in claimers and probably add more potential buyers.
Carson Wiest More than 1 year ago
good rule, the oneills, bafferts and millers will hate it tho
realquiet8 More than 1 year ago
Hey Carson Miller is my trainer so plese keep him out of the same sentence with the criminal Drug O' Neil thanks alot man
Thomas Hagadone More than 1 year ago
Those trainers will rarely be affected by this rule. How many cheap claimers do they have in their barn.
Laramie Bowcock More than 1 year ago
This seems like it could work, but only if they have a very explicit definition of "lameness" I think.
Steven Wells More than 1 year ago
And when have we seen that in horse racing?