Texas Judge Issues Pause On HISA Implementation
A Texas judge ordered the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) to stop enforcing its rules involving medications and illegal drug testing for 30 days.
In a ruling, Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued the verdict to be in place until May 1. In broad strokes, the pause will not affect horse gambling in Texas. It will, however, affect implementation in other states.
Texas judge issues a 30-day pause on HISA enforcement
The injunction comes in response to a lawsuit made by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the state of Texas.
In the filing, the two groups asked Hendrix to rule expeditiously. The groups cited the start of the racing season, which includes the Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby and teams preparing for the Kentucky Derby.
In his ruling, Hendrix wrote:
“The plaintiffs have shown a serious risk of harm — potential physical injury to racehorses, potential disqualification from Triple Crown prep races, and the burden of coming into compliance with a new anti-doping regulatory scheme without the legally required delayed effective date.”
No complaints from HISA
However, Hendrix’s decision was met with zero pushback.
According to the Daily Racing Form, Lisa Lazarus, CEO of HISA, said the group would accept the judge’s ruling and not appeal it. The reason being HISA says there is typically a 30-day waiting period before implementing new rules.
With the 30 days in effect, states will resume responsibility for their respective anti-doping programs. Federal legislation established the HISA in 2020 to be horse racing’s first national regulator.
However, since its creation, HISA has faced resistance from various factions in horse racing across the US. Before being established, the 38 US racing states operated independently.
On March 21, Walter Ebel, general counsel for Arkansas’ Oaklawn Jockey Club, said the Arkansas Racing Commission’s decision to join the HISA was necessary. Speaking with the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Ebel said:
“I think what we’re seeing as the inevitable is here. I don’t think anybody has been a big fan of it, but it is what it is. And so we’ve got to go ahead and sign up and get the voluntary implementation going. And just go along with it. See what happens.”