Thoroughbred trainers and assistants in New York must now fulfill at least four hours annually of continuing education coursework in order to retain their licenses

Thoroughbred trainers and assistants in New York must now fulfill at least four hours annually of continuing education coursework in order to retain their licenses

Chad B. Harmon

New York Approves Continuing Ed Requirement

Applies to Thoroughbred trainers, assistants

Thoroughbred trainers and assistant trainers will now be required to fulfill at least four hours annually of continuing education coursework in order to retain their racing licenses with New York state.

The state Gaming Commission's board set the minimum education levels Dec. 13, a month after the same measure was deferred following last-minute concerns raised by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. The regulation approved is unchanged from what the board was set to take up in October.

"Creating a continuing education requirement for trainers will bring knowledge and evidence-based research to an audience that would otherwise generally not be exposed to it," said commission executive director Robert Williams. "Continuing education for trainers should improve the quality of horsemanship at New York racetracks and enhance equine welfare."

The horsemen's group wrote the agency in late October—in the closing hours of a public comment period—to raise concerns that there will not be enough classes available so that trainers can meet the mandate. But the agency said there will be enough offerings—both in-person and online—to more than meet the annual requirement; it called the horsemen group's concerns about number of available courses "unfounded."

The horsemen's group also wondered why Thoroughbred trainers were being "singled out" with the new mandate. On Tuesday, Williams told the board that the agency's staff is now working on similar education rules for Standardbred trainers.

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Keeping or attaining a racing industry license in New York will be conditioned upon meeting the education requirement, though trainers not based in the state and who have 12 or fewer starts in a year in New York can request a waiver.

An Oct. 31 letter to the agency by NYTHA president Rick Violette Jr. said that while continuing education is valuable, "it should not be to the benefit of just one category of horse racing licenses,'' he wrote.

The agency, though, noted that the rule has been supported by The Jockey Club and the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The courses offered to trainers—which the agency said can be completed free-of-charge through The Jockey Club, racing stewards, and other outlets—must also be approved by the Gaming Commission. The coursework will be focused on equine health, welfare, and safety as well as what the state says are other "small business, ethical, and human resource topics.''

"Continuing education is a time-honored method for professionals to achieve both personal and professional development," said New York State Equine medical director Dr. Scott E. Palmer.