MD Commission votes not to collect HISA ratings

On April 5, the Maryland Racing Commission voted unanimously not to collect and remit annual ratings that will be billed by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority beginning July 1, 2022.

The Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act came into effect at the end of December 2020, but its rules and regulations – solely for its racetrack safety program – do not come into effect until July 1, 2022. The anti-doping program and drug control has been postponed to January 2023.

If state racing regulators decide not to collect and deliver HISA ratings, the obligation falls on covered racetracks under the HISA Act. The New Jersey Racing Commission also opted out in March not to administer the ratings.

RCN Executive Director Mike Hopkins told the commission he had discussed the matter with a legal adviser who said there was “no law, regulation or contract that gives the commission power” to pay and collect fees. Assistant Attorney General Eric London, who is the MRC’s lawyer, said he agreed with Hopkins.

“We don’t have the statutory power to do what they’re asking us to do,” MRC President Michael Algeo said before calling a motion on the vote.

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Algeo, a retired Maryland Circuit Court judge, said he also looked at state laws.

According to the proposed methodology for determining the valuation rule approved on April 1 by the Federal Trade Commission, the HISA 2022 budget is $14.3 million. A state-by-state spreadsheet shows Maryland’s share as $692,548, while a racetrack spreadsheet puts laurel parkthe share of at $414,934 and Pimlico Racecourseat $253,609.

2022 ratings are based on 2021 Thoroughbred data for purses and number of starts per racetrack. HISA, in a letter to the MRC and other racing regulatory agencies, said it was considering a rule change that would “calculate an adjustment to ratings for next year’s calculation based on starts actuals and scholarships paid in the previous year. This will mean that if a state’s assessment amount is different when the actual 2021 figures are used, a credit or debit will be made to the 2023 assessment to ‘line up the final numbers.’

Photo: Skip Dickstein

Clouds reflect off the pavilion window at Pimlico Racecourse

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