Racing regulators’ conference to address integrity, welfare issues
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Tuesday, April 18, 2017) — Are our testing laboratories catching the cheaters? And are our racing officials getting it right?
Those are among the hot-button topics that promise insightful and lively discussion at the ARCI Conference on Racing Integrity and Welfare that runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Charleston Marriott. The three days of panels and presentations address issues facing members of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which represents the only independent entities recognized by law to license, make and enforce rules and adjudicate matters pertaining to pari-mutuel racing.
Paul Matties Jr., winner of the 2016 National Handicapping Championship, will provide a horseplayer’s perspective into whether today’s racing officials are making the correct calls. Joining Matties on the “Questioning Whether Racing Officials Get It Right” session on Wednesday morning will be veteran steward Hugh Gallagher, chair of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program and the New York Racing Association’s first safety steward, and Maryland Racing Commission executive director and ARCI treasurer Mike Hopkins. Outgoing ARCI chair and 2001 NHC tournament winner Judy Wagner serves as moderator.
“Any time I can represent the horseplayers, I’m always honored,” said the 47-year-old Matties, a professional gambler and horse owner from Ballston Spa, N.Y. “It’s become commonplace in the industry over time that the players are the ones who are forgotten when decisions need to be made. I’m optimistic that somebody is reaching out. All horseplayers go about things in different ways. I’ve been thinking about it, so I can represent everybody — not just what I believe. I’m going to think of it as we’re a group.
“I’m not going there to be critical of anything that has been done in the past. Let’s look at future things. I’m excited to go, and I’m curious what kind of things I’ll be asked. I hope Judy doesn’t take it easy on me. I want it to be substantive.”
Wagner, who is vice chair of the Louisiana Racing Commission and the horseplayers’ representative on the board of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the panel is part of ARCI’s outreach to players to “listen and ensure a product that has a high level of integrity.
“We want this panel — and the others at the conference — to provide unvarnished insight and dialogue on how we can improve, as well as what we are doing right.”
“ARCI members work for the public and not any aspect of the industry,” said ARCI president Ed Martin. “We are always careful to keep the horseplayer in mind with everything we do. Horseplayers outnumber everyone else and keep the sport going. We should never forget that.
“There are many racing-related meetings each year by various groups, but the annual RCI conference is the only one where industry issues and potential solutions are discussed directly with the people who actually make and enforce the rules throughout North America and parts of the Caribbean. The regulatory standards determined at this meeting more often than not actually become the policy affecting everyone involved in racing. The RCI members are the only truly independent arbiters of racing-related matters as designated by the various laws that have empowered them.”
Other panels at the conference:
“Drug Testing Forum: Are We Doing It Right? Are We Catching the Cheaters?”
“Veterinarians: Racing Records and the Trust Issue”
“The Adjudication System: Is there a Better Way?”
“Policing the Backside: A View From the Front Line”
“Regulating the Whip and Crop”
“Promoting Racing - Putting our Best Foot Forward in a Storm of Negativity”
Presentations include “The Challenge in Adapting New Technology and Opportunities to Statutory Limitations.”
Meetings include: model-rules committee, drug testing standards, ARCI’s annual business meeting and board organizational sessions as well as the regulators’ Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing committees.
Wednesday’s luncheon speaker features Bennett Liebman, Esq., the Albany Law School’s Government Lawyer-in-Residence, giving a talk entitled, “Confessions of a Recovering Racing Regulator.”
The complete agenda and information about speakers can be found at http://bit.ly/2oGkAcj.