NEW ORLEANS. Congress has unconstitutionally given the nonprofit it created in 2020 too much power to develop and enforce racing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.
The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horse Racing Fairness and Safety Act, or HISA, is “seemingly unconstitutional.”
The authority created by the law was supposed to introduce a unified policy and law enforcement regarding racing against the backdrop of doping scandals and the death of horses on the racetracks. But the 5th District, in two rulings handed down Friday, ruled in favor of opponents of the law in lawsuits filed by racing associations and government officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.
The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA rules, but cannot change them. And the body can reject proposed changes.
Three judges in the 5th Circuit agreed with opponents of the law, including the National Association of Rider Benevolent and Protective Forces and similar groups in several states, that the installation gave too much power to non-governmental bodies and too little to the FTC.
“The basic constitutional principle is that federal power can only belong to the federal government. Individuals can only do this if they are under the authority of the agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote to the panel that ruled in the Texas case.
The same panel, which also included Judges Caroline Dinin King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas decision in a separate ruling in favor of the interests of horse racing and regulators challenging HISA in another case.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Equestrian Authority said that he would request further consideration of the case in court. Friday’s decision can be appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of the Supreme Court.
“If today’s decision remains in effect, it will not take effect until January 10, 2023,” Charles Sheeler wrote in an email. “We are focused on continuing our important work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of the HISA anti-doping and drug control program on January 1, 2023.”
The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action. “Throughout three Congresses, the brightest lawyers on Capitol Hill debated the constitutionality of the Horse Racing Fairness and Safety Act and ultimately decided that limited FTC oversight was enough,” Irby said in an email.
Among the topics covered by the authorities’ rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including the national concussion protocol), the whip and how often riders may use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and practice reports and veterinary records.
Animal rights groups that supported the law pointed to scandals in the industry related to drugs and horse treatments.
Duncan wrote that by declaring HISA unconstitutional, “We are not questioning the views of Congress on the problems in the horse racing industry. This political appeal goes beyond our course.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry welcomed the decision on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”
LEXINGTON, Kentucky. — Keenland reports that a 2.5 percent stake in Breeders’ Cup Classic Champion Flightline sold for $4.6 million in a special auction ahead of the start of the November breeding stock sale.
Freddie Seitz of Brookdale Farm signed a ticket for an unnamed client, track announced on release. The sale comes a day after 4-year-old son Tapita became the owner of the undefeated foal following his record-breaking 8-minute win in Saturday’s $6 million Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline arguably took home Horse of the Year honors with his fourth first class win in six starts for a total lead of 71 distances – a dominance that has been compared to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.
Flightline will begin her breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but the breeding fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the Bay Colt property, offered a partial share. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “cause a lot of buzz” and be more involved in the business.
“With a special horse like (Flightline), all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.
“There has never been a horse that did what it did, no matter how many years it was, until the Secretariat. You just have to pay and get involved, and that’s what he’s thinking about.”
LEXINGTON, Kentucky. Flightline has retired and will continue to breed after a dominant unbeaten career that ended with a runaway victory in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in Keeneland.
Tapita’s son will begin his breeding career next year at a farm in Versailles, Kentucky, Lane’s End Farms said in a press release Sunday morning.
The 4-year-old bay foal won the 1 mile classic with a record 8 mile time to become the 2:5 favorite to end his Thoroughbred career 6:0. His time of 2:00.05 was just a tick off the Authentic 1 time: 59.60 two years ago.
Flightline was virtually unknown until his 19m win at the September Grade 1 Pacific Classic in Del Mar. His combined 62} distance lead at the final championships of the season soon drew a lot of attention – along with comparisons to the legendary Triple Crown winner. Secretariat.
Trainer John Sadler’s apprentice lived up to the hype in the biggest race of his career by starting in fourth place. He and Todd Pletcher, coached by Life Is Good (8-1), soon pulled away from six other horses at a blistering pace to form their own long-corner match race.
By then, Flight Line had begun to swing into Life Is Good, painting even as they turned home and took off from there.
“Brilliant is his normal state,” Sadler later said. “He did not disappoint and never has. … He is just a wonderful, wonderful horse.”
Flightline earned $3.12 million for winning the Classic, raising his career total to $4.514 million. He almost cemented his position as Horse of the Year when the Eclipse Awards were announced in January.
The Flightline Owners’ Syndicate, which consists of five groups, has yet to determine a mating fee. A 2.5% stake in Flightline will be auctioned Monday at Keeneland ahead of the November breeding stock sale.
“We would like to thank Coach John Sadler and his team for the incredible work they have done with Flightline,” said Bill Farish of Lane’s End. “His historic performances are a credit to their experience and tireless efforts to bring out the very best in the horse.”
The announcement quickly answered a post-race question about whether Flightline would continue its classic competition win at 5 years old or go straight to the breeding barn.
The horse was particularly alert on an early Sunday morning in Keeneland, munching and bobbing his head up and down as onlookers took pictures.
“We came. We saw and we won,” Sadler said, adding that Flightline will be there for a few days and perform at Lane’s End.
Flightline won the classic race in front of 45,973 spectators just two years after the previous Breeders’ Cup was held without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Breeders’ Cup brought in a record $189,060,373 from all sources, up 3.4% from last year at Del Mar. At the track, Keeneland made $28,326,478 in two days.
Ryan Moore received the Bill Shoemaker Award for Best Breeders’ Cup Jockey with three wins, including aboard the Filly and Mare Turf on Tuesday. He also had three seconds. Irad Ortiz Jr. also had three victories, but was runner-up once.
Coaches Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien won three races each, with Appleby achieving this mark for the second consecutive year.
Also Sunday, trainer Steve Asmussen said that Epicenter was resting in his stall following surgery to repair a lateral condylar fracture in his right anterior.
Jockey Joel Rosario won a 5-1 second stretch on his back in the Classic and was taken to the Rood & Riddle Equestrian Hospital. Asmussen said veterinarian Larry Bramlidge inserted two screws to stabilize the injury.
“Doctor. Bramlidge and the team of Roode and Riddle are very pleased with how the surgery went and the prognosis for his health is excellent,” added Asmussen.