The California Horse Racing Board conducted a meeting by teleconference on Thursday, January 20.
The public participated by dialling into the teleconference and/or listening through the audio webcast link on the CHRB website. Chairman Gregory Ferraro chaired the meeting, joined by Vice Chair Oscar Gonzales and Commissioners Dennis Alfieri, Damascus Castellanos, Brenda Washington Davis, Wendy Mitchell, and Alex Solis.
The audio of this entire Board meeting is available on the CHRB Website under the Webcast link. In brief:
Executive Director Scott Chaney reported that the University of California, Davis, has appointed acting Equine Medical Directors to fulfill the statutory and regulatory roles of the EMD while Dr. Jeff Blea, the Board-approved EMD, is on administrative leave from the University. The EMD serves on the faculty of UC Davis and, though assigned to the CHRB, is actually employed by the University. The CHRB played no part in placing him on administrative leave, and in fact has repeatedly questioned the propriety of actions taken by the California Veterinary Medical Board against Dr. Blea, which led to him being placed on leave. On that point, Chaney and several commissioners expressed their support for Dr. Blea, and later during closed session the full Board unanimously gave a vote of confidence for Dr. Blea.
Chaney also reported that the Board will not have a monthly meeting in February, so the next scheduled meeting will be on March 17. A Pari-Mutuel Committee meeting is likely to be held on March 16.
In a brief update on the Horseracing Safety and Integrity Act, Chaney commented that, “Overall, the direction in which the Authority is heading is positive from the CHRB’s perspective in that it will create national standards, while keeping California’s strict regulatory structure.”
Alan Balch, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, reported on the status of the ongoing work of the ad-hoc industry committee formed to improve animal safety. He focused on efforts to reduce equine shoulder injuries and sudden deaths.
The Board gave San Luis Rey Downs training center a 60-day extension to bring its barns into full compliance with CHRB fire-safety regulations. Importantly, local fire authorities recently inspected SLRD and gave their clearance.
The Board gave its annual approval to the executive director to deal with common administrative matters, such as approving changes to the time a racing program can begin and canceling show pools on request of the racing association.
Public comments made during the meeting can be accessed through the meeting audio archive on the CHRB website.