Calif. No-Claim Rule Going Into Effect

Change would protect horses returning to action after a layoff of 180 days or more.

A California rule that gives owners the option of protecting a horse that has been out of action for at least 180 days from being claimed away goes into effect on Sept. 20.

In order to qualify, a horse returning from a lay-up as, in effect, "claim proof" after the 180-day period, it must be entered in a race at a claiming price equal to or greater than the level in which it last started. A horse would be exempted from claiming under this circumstance just once.

The idea was first proposed by the Thoroughbred Owners of California last October as a way to encourage horsemen to provide proper rest for their horses.

“We would like to have horses have the opportunity to be rested, lengthening their career,” said Tom Bachman, a TOC director from Northern California, in earlier testimony before the CHRB. “It is to the owner’s advantage to be able to bring that horse back and run one time (and) not have to worry about somebody claiming the horse and taking advantage of the time and money spent in the rehab of the horse.”

The rare change in claiming rules was approved by the California Horse Racing Board following a public hearing in May but needed the approval of the Office of Administrative Law before it could be filed with the Secretary of State.

The board gave the move its unanimous endorsement, with chairman Richard Shapiro commenting, “We’re trying to find a way to give the owner an incentive to put a horse out for some R&R. The owner’s made an investment in rehabilitating the horse and he doesn’t want to see that first time back he loses the horse and the investment.”

According to the CHRB, horses entered for the non-claiming option will be identified in the official program. Equibase is taking steps to identify horses running for this condition in their past-performance lines beginning next month.