Federal racing authority appeals order to stand down in 2 states

Federal racing authority appeals order to stand down in 2 states

Government lawyers have asked a federal appeals court to allow the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to be restored in Louisiana and West Virginia by the end of the week.

The emergency motions were filed Monday by the Federal Trade Commission and a group of defendants led by HISA, which was ordered Tuesday by a district court in New Orleans to stop exercising its power in the two states.

Related: For now, judge puts halt to federal racing regulations in 2 states

Asking for a stay order by Friday to set aside last week’s preliminary injunction, FTC lawyers said district judge Terry Doughty, also from New Orleans, was “plainly mistaken understanding … the length of the period required for public comment.” HISA attorneys said Doughty’s move “constitutes flagrant judicial overreach.”

Lawyers for Louisiana, West Virginia, horsemen’s associations and the Jockeys’ Guild argued that a 14-day comment period before racetrack-safety rules went into effect was too short under terms of a 76-year-old federal law covering government agencies.

Doughty said last week it appeared the new agency went “beyond the statutory authority given to HISA and the FTC.”

FTC attorneys countered Monday that the law requires no minimum comment period and said “a stay is warranted, because that ruling rests on legal error and does not reflect a sound balancing of the equities.”

In their paperwork, the FTC lawyers claimed Doughty’s order “is defective on its face and, if not stayed, will cause grave and irreparable harm to the horse-racing industry and the public in contravention of Congress’s clear intent.”

Former President Donald Trump signed HISA into law in the final month of his administration after Congress added it to a COVID-relief and omnibus spending bill in December 2020. Designed to fill the void of a common authority to manage racing, it went into effect with racetrack-safety and administrative rules one month ago.

“A stay is also necessary to protect the thousands of horse-racing participants who have already taken steps to comply with the rules,” Monday’s HISA motion said. “The authority has devoted tens of thousands of hours and immeasurable resources to planning, communicating, and implementing the racetrack-safety program. In the one month since the rules have gone into effect, 27,112 people and 32,642 horses – including the great majority of ‘covered’ jockeys, trainers and horses – have registered under the act. As the industry moves towards a consistent regulatory structure, the district court’s injunction leads to the precise sort of disuniformity that Congress sought to eliminate.”

The HISA equine-medication regulations are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

The Jockeys’ Guild and the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, two of the plaintiffs who won last week’s preliminary injunction, did not offer an immediate response to Horse Racing Nation’s request Monday evening for a reaction to the HISA motion. A spokesperson said NHBPA leaders were busy preparing for executive-committee meetings in Minnesota. Jockeys’ Guild president and CEO Terry Meyocks said he had no comment at this time.

Doughty denied a HISA call Friday to set aside his preliminary injunction, leading to the government move Monday to a higher court.

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