A nearly five-year process to implement third-party administration of race-day furosemide (commonly known as Lasix) in California could be nearing an end after the California Horse Racing Board approved a proposal to authorize the practice April 6.
During a meeting at Golden Gate Fields, the four attending members of the CHRB voted unanimously to approve the proposal, which will now need the blessing of California's Office of Administrative Law before the policy can be implemented in the state.
Third-party Lasix administration proposals in California have gone down this path before only to be rejected by OAL, but CHRB counsel is confident the new regulation will be accepted.
With approval by the OAL, the change in Lasix administration would move California in line with the National Uniform Medication Program.
"Upon initial submission to OAL, this rule was rejected. There was a number of technical suggestions, as well as a few substantive requests being made," CHRB general counsel Philip Laird told the board Thursday. "Staff has addressed those concerns, and as I said, most of the changes in the rule are technical. A few that are more substantive (have) more detail on how the process works. You'll see there is more information about chain of custody in the rule and there is also more information about what (racing) associations are required to include in their applications. ... We believe this will resolve any issues (OAL) raised.
"I'd say 'third time's a charm' but it's probably the ninth or 10th at this point."
The agenda item lacked the controversy that has followed third-party Lasix attempts in the past, when veterinarians have expressed displeasure with the policy. There was no discussion on the issue by the CHRB commissioners in attendance (George Krikorian and Araceli Ruano were not in attendance).
Earlier in the meeting Thoroughbred Owners of California president and chief executive officer Greg Avioli announced that the TOC would not allow the advance-deposit wagering outlet TwinSpires to offer wagering on California races to California residents. Avioli cited the fact that TwinSpires has not deployed agreed-upon geolocation services as the reason for cutting off the ADW. As of 3 p.m. PT Thursday, however, TwinSpires was still accepting wagers on races at Santa Anita Park.
Geolocated wagers made with mobile devices on track grounds are counted as on-track wagers rather than ADW wagers considered off-site, which allows the TOC and the track to take a larger cut in takeout from each wager made.
"This decision was not made lightly, and comes following several months of intensive work and negotiations with TwinSpires and the other ADWs to comply with the geolocation we all agreed to back in December that required the ADW companies to identify on-track wagers using geolocation technology, which would then provide a more equitable distribution of revenues to the industry from ADW wagers placed on-track" Avioli said. "I'm not happy to be here today to say this. The last thing we wanted to do was inconvenience the customer in any way in California."
Avioli said ADWs Xpressbet, TVG, and NYRA Bets have complied with TOC's geolocation request, but TwinSpires has not complied. The TOC also decided to disallow ADWs BetAmerica and Watch and Wager from offering California customers wagering on California races in December.
"We wanted this in place by Dec. 31, but at the ADWs' request, we gave them a 90-day extension, which we thought was more time than was needed," Avioli said. "Here we sit three weeks after that, and we've granted multiple extensions already. ... If it wasn't just TwinSpires, we would consider a further extension, but the fact is we have three ADWs already complying and they would be at a competitive disadvantage if they continued to comply and one ADW didn't. ... We are willing to immediately turn it back on as soon as they comply with the agreement we made in December."
A statement from TwinSpires objected to Avioli's claim that the ADW is not compliant to the TOC's geolocation requirements.
"TOC has a contractual obligation to provide their consent to TwinSpires so long as TwinSpires is in compliance with our geolocation agreement with TOC," the statement said. "We believe TwinSpires is in compliance with this agreement, as we implemented (geolocation) and reporting in California Feb. 24 and we are providing the required reports, files, and documentation. We are also actively working to modify our technical geolocation solution as requested by TOC March 22. We anticipate completing those modifications in the next 24-48 hours.
"TOC dictated the terms of the geolocation agreement to TwinSpires under the threat of cutting off content to TwinSpires customers in December. We have complied with that agreement and worked with TOC through any issues within the framework of that agreement. TOC indicated they do not wish to inconvenience players and are only seeking a more equitable distribution of ADW wagers placed while a player is located on track. Cutting off content certainly inconveniences players and based on the first five weeks of (geolocation), we anticipate the technical change requested by TOC will result in approximately $8,000 of additional fees paid to the local track and TOC over a 12-month period. In addition to working to complete TOC’s requested changes as quickly as possible during the busy build up to the Kentucky Derby, we have also agreed to pay the additional fees retroactively to Dec. 26."