Racing regulators next week will consider new rules governing Thoroughbred claiming races, including establishing a one-hour deadline after a race for objections to be raised about a claim as part of an overall effort to reduce transfer delays of horses between owners.
The New York State Gaming Commission's board will take up the issue in a meeting Aug. 22. If approved, the proposal would then go through a public comment period and would need to get okayed again by the board sometime in the future.
The proposed rule, seeking to expedite the claiming process, also paves the way for stewards of the Gaming Commission to impose sanctions on people who are later deemed to have been ineligible to have made a claim in a Thoroughbred race, even if track officials did not discover, in advance, that a claimant was ineligible.
The proposal to establish a one-hour deadline after a race for an objection to be made includes a provision that stewards would hear from interested parties on that same day and make a determination if the claim was valid or not.
"If an ineligible potential claimant is initially awarded a claim due to administrative error in not noting the ineligibility, complications arise when the claim is voided and there is a dispute over custody of the horse. If the horse remains with an ineligible claimant or is returned to the original owner from before the race, the horse may be trained or treated in a manner that is not preferred by the claimant who may be eventually awarded the horse, either by order of the stewards or through the Commission's dispute-resolution processes,'' wrote Edmund Burns, the Gaming Commission's counsel, to the agency's board members.
"It is in everyone's interests for any objections to a claim and any stewards' order in regard to ownership of a horse be raised and resolved as quickly as possible, so that custody of the horse may be determined promptly,'' Burns added in the June 24 memo made public by the agency Aug. 18.
The current practice that the track's racing secretary must verify the eligibility of claimants would be made more explicit under the new proposal rule change. Also being made explicit is that claims are void for horses scratched before a race.
Under the one-hour deadline provision for objections to be made, no further appeal of the final claiming decision could be made to the Gaming Commission "given the need for finality to determine the custody and care of the horse,'' Burns wrote to the commissioners. Objections must be delivered to stewards within 60 minutes after a claiming race's conclusion.
Also, if stewards learn, "even absent an objection by a horseperson," that an ineligible individual or party had been awarded a claim the stewards would need to act on the matter within 24 hours of a race "to be able to order the delivery of the horse to a different owner or trainer."
If a claimant is deemed ineligible, the stewards must, if one potential claimant remains, verify the claimant is, in fact, eligible and, if so, is then awarded the horse. If there is more than one remaining claimant, "the racing secretary shall verify that each such potential claimant is eligible to make the claim and then the stewards shall supervise the racing secretary in conducting a disposition by lot from among such eligible potential claimants. The right of claim to the horse shall be awarded to the claimant thereby decided by lot,'' the proposed rule states.
Existing claiming rules define eligible claimants as owners licensed for the current year, or a duly authorized agent, "if the owner is presently registered in good faith for racing at that meeting and has nominated a starter in the previous or current race of the licensed or franchised racing association, up to or including the race in which the claim is made."