The Indiana Horse Racing Commission has voted unanimously to endorse new rules that disallow a suspended trainer from transferring a horse to a spouse, immediate family member, or assistant trainer. The measures, part of the agency’s program to bolster integrity in racing, give the racing commission the power to deny licensure, place horses on the stewards’ list, or ask that they be stabled on the grounds.
The regulations ensure that trainer suspensions are meaningful and not cosmetic, said Joe Gorajec, the commission’s executive director. The betting public should be assured that a trainer is not involved with his or her stable while serving a suspension, he said.
If a trainer receives a suspension greater than 15 days, horses under his or her care must be transferred to another party that isn’t a spouse, member of the immediate family, assistant, employee, or household member of the trainer. Horses trained by a licensee fitting the above criteria can be ruled ineligible to compete in Indiana.
In addition, stewards can require that horses previously trained by a suspended trainer or owned by an individual employing a suspended trainer be stabled on the grounds.
“In some jurisdictions, these suspensions have become a joke. The suspended trainer has unfettered access,” Gorajec said. “It just makes a sham of the whole transaction. This rule stops that practice.”
The new rules also prevent the sale of horses trained by someone under suspension to other owners. An owner can be denied a license and his horses restricted to the grounds or even placed on the stewards list should the seller’s credentials come into question.
Some horsemen who attended the March 16 racing commission meeting said they believe the regulations would create additional hardships for owners and trainers. “We need owners,” said Jim Noel of the Indiana Quarter Horse Association. “This is the worst way to keep owners.”
From a regulatory perspective, Indiana already has a history of being tough on horsemen. In 2005 and 2006, 23 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse applicants were refused a license in Indiana; 11 of them were participating in other racing jurisdictions.
“Our standards, I believe, are relatively high,” Gorajec said.