CHRB Adopts Stable Surveillance Rule

As expected, the California Horse Racing Board adopted an emergency regulation to reaffirm its authority to add surveillance in stable areas.

That heightened surveillance includes designating security stalls and the use of audio-visual equipment. But at its Oct. 6 meeting in Fresno, the board deleted language that would establish separate detention barns. The emergency rule advanced from an ad hoc security committee that recommended adoption at a meeting held last month.

"We already have the power for surveillance within the enclosure (barn areas and track grounds)," CHRB chairman John Harris said. "The purpose of this regulation is to clarify what we are doing."

Part of a continuing effort to bolster public confidence, the measure was among several items on the October agenda designed to insure "a level playing field," commissioners said. The board also launched an ad hoc committee to assure jockey weight accuracy and supported a plan to require tracks to install more cameras to review races.

The emergency measure grew out of concern that some trainers showed "unusual patterns" including high win percentages, according to CHRB staff. Drug tests produced no positive results, yet the patterns persisted. CHRB investigators wanted the authority to keep a closer eye on these trainers' operations.

"The commission felt unusual patterns discouraged the public and might contribute to the decline in attendance and betting at horse racing," CHRB policy specialist Jackie Wagner said.

The emergency regulation goes into effect in 10 days after a review by the state's Office of Administrative Law. Meanwhile, the CHRB has 120 days to conduct hearings on a permanent rule.

The rule states that "any horse, stable or trainer that is on the premises is subject to heightened surveillance" that could include "audio, video or any other means determined by the board (such as) having the horse stabled in a stall which has on-premises security." The CHRB has "absolute and sole discretion" in such matters.

Trainers will be expected to pay for the heightened security, staff said.

"We've been talking about this for five years," said Ed Halpern of the California Thoroughbred Trainers. "We support enhanced security in a trainers' own barn."

Elsewhere, executive director Ingrid Fermin, a longtime steward, gained support for her campaign to add cameras for race review, particularly at such trouble spots as the apex of the far turn where horses change leads to head into the stretch. Usually at the 5/16ths pole, this area is prone to bumping yet hard to really see with current camera locations, she said.

Adding a remote camera could cost up to $50,000 and a manned camera would cost more than $150,000, according to track estimates.

In other business, the board approved consolation payoffs for Pick Three wagers similar to the current system used for Daily Doubles and late scratches. If the scratch occurs before the first leg, the wager will be refunded. If a late scratch occurs in the second or third leg after the first leg is run, a consolation payout will be made. The post-time favorite had been substituted for late scratches on Pick Three tickets previously.