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Horse Racing Commission launches Integrity Hotline for suspected illegal behavior

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission launched an Integrity Hotline for reporting suspected illegal or unethical behavior at Pennsylvania’s six racetracks. Tips can be reported anonymously at any time by leaving a detailed message at (717) 787-1942.

Commission staff will follow up to determine whether official action by the commission or track management is warranted. If an issue is reported that would not fall under the commission’s regulatory authority, staff will refer the call to the entity with jurisdiction.

“The Integrity Hotline is one of many strides the commission has taken since 2016 to fulfill its mission to oversee the sport and protect the health and safety of horses that race in Pennsylvania,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “The hotline as well as the Equine Safety and Welfare Plan measures taking effect March 1 represent tangible progress and demonstrate the commission’s commitment to using every tool at its disposal to further the integrity and safety of the sport.”

The hotline is posted at locations throughout each racetrack, in public areas as well as barns and backside locations accessible only to licensees. The number will also be published in racing programs, on each racetrack’s website and on the commission’s webpages at agriculture.pa.gov. The hotline will also be posted during Harness Racing events held during county and local fairs across the state.

Anyone who witnesses suspicious behavior surrounding potential racing violations and the treatment and care of horses can call the number and leave a message detailing the time, date, location, actions witnessed and other relevant information.

The commission will also begin implementing most measures in the Equine Safety and Welfare Plan, which the commission adopted in January to protect horses racing at the state’s three thoroughbred tracks. The commission and industry representatives developed the plan after examining the feasibility and effectiveness of actions taken in other states and steps likely to be implemented in coming years as a result of federal legislation.

Steps in the action plan that begin implementation and enforcement include:

  • Tracks will conduct an independent, third-party analysis of the racetrack twice a year. The first analysis at thoroughbred tracks is to be completed within 60 days and submitted to the commission.
  • Increase monitoring and oversight of morning workout sessions. Employ additional veterinarians to conduct oversight and examination.
  • Trainers must submit a pre-entry form to the racing panel for permission to race. Form requires the submission of the most recent 30-day medical reports for horses entered to race. The racing panel consists of the race secretary, commission veterinarian, steward and horsemen’s representative.
  • Any horse that finishes more than 12 lengths behind the winner in its last five consecutive starts after February 28, 2022 will be ineligible to start in a race at Pennsylvania thoroughbred racetracks.
  • Require the practicing veterinarian to conduct an examination within 48 hours of a horse being placed on the vet’s list due to lameness. This examination will assist in determining the cause and if diagnostics are warranted. The practicing veterinarian will provide a verbal report to the commission veterinarian.
  • Establish stricter criteria for removal from the vet’s list, utilizing diagnostics, scanning and imaging.

These additional measures in the plan will require adopting new regulations or acquiring services, training or equipment that will take additional time to secure. Work to achieve these measures is in progress.

  • Require the practicing veterinarians to attest that each horse is fit, serviceable and in sound condition, and is suitable to race.
  • Intra-articular injections: the initial injection is permitted based on the practicing veterinarian’s examination and recommendation. Any additional injections require diagnostics to support further injections. If any injection is a corticosteroid, the horse is placed on the 30-day vet’s list.
  • Establish a pilot program to install either a PET scan or MRI equipment to aid in the detection of bone issues.
  • Create a Pennsylvania fatality database.

For more information about horseracing in Pennsylvania, visit agriculture.pa.gov.