Steve Stewart / Linda Toscano group provides update

Open letter: Steve Stewart / Linda Toscano group provides update

August 4, 2021

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by Steve Stewart and Linda Toscano

It’s been four months now since we posted our open letter here at HRU in regards to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) (stories here, here and here). We have now held four online meetings to try to better understand how the new law will affect harness racing. We’ve met twice, virtually, with Travis Tygart, the head of the USADA, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that will help enforce the law. We’ve also heard from members of the thoroughbred industry to get their sense of what they think the testing landscape will look like once the law takes effect next year.

The new federal authority is just being formed and so far the rules and regulations have not been written, much less adopted. There is a great deal that we have learned.

Harness racing and thoroughbred racing will each pay for their own drug testing.

It is more likely the cost will go down, not up, as federal regulators use smart drug testing techniques.

There will be ways in which we can lobby regulators for medication rules specific to harness racing and differ from those governing thoroughbreds.

The new system will almost certainly be more effective than the current one.

The zoom calls have been very educational. The following trainers have participated in the calls and had excellent questions:

Ron Burke, Tony Alagna, Nancy Takter, Brian Brown and Paul Kelley, among others.

We are going to continue to hold these online calls, which are open to all members of or industry, and we hope more of you will participate by logging on or by submitting questions to help us all learn more.

If you’d rather email your questions, send them to and we will get them answered at the next session. We are also arranging in-person meetings about HISA in August at the Hambletonian, in September at the Jug, and in October in Lexington. If you want to participate in those meetings, please let us know.

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