With a diverse board of directors for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority announced May 5, the industry moves a step closer toward a new reality in how it regulates and enforces its drug testing, medication rules, and safety standards.
The selection of the board announced Wednesday is the most concrete move to date as racing shifts oversight of these areas from the states to this board, which will be under the Federal Trade Commission. The selection follows Congressional approval of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020, which was signed into law by then-President Trump.
A positive for the board appears to be diversity of backgrounds. As the legislation called for, the nine-person board includes five members from outside the Thoroughbred industry and four industry representatives. No members can have current direct ties to the industry. The board is expected to select a chair at its first meeting.
Mitch McConnell voices his support of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act last August at Keeneland
Members of the board include:
- former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Kentucky (independent director);
- former president of baseball’s National League Leonard Coleman, Florida (independent director);
- former New York Racing Association president Ellen McClain, New York (independent director);
- former federal prosecutor Charles Scheeler, Maryland (independent director);
- chief legal officer for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans Adolpho Birch, chair of the Anti-Doping and Medication Control standing committee, Tennessee (independent director);
- former senior executive for the Maryland Jockey Club Joseph De Francis, Maryland (industry director);
- equine veterinarian Susan Stover, chair of the Racetrack Safety standing committee, California (industry director);
- immediate past president of Keeneland Bill Thomason, Kentucky (industry director);
- and former Breeders’ Cup president D.G. Van Clief, Virginia (industry director).
The selection process was led by Nancy Cox, University of Kentucky vice president for land-grant engagement and dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment; and Coleman, a former Churchill Downs Inc. board member who also was named to the HISA board.
Bill Thomason will serve on the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority board of directors
Cox said the board evaluated the 160 people nominated, evaluating them from within and outside of the industry. In addition to ensuring diversity in terms of professional backgrounds, the committee took into consideration geographic, racial, and gender diversity.
“Over the past several months, the nominating committee carefully reviewed each nominee with a deep and enduring understanding of the important responsibility entrusted to them in selecting the inaugural board and standing committees of this essential entity charged with standardizing safety in the industry,” said nominating committee co-chair Cox. “Thanks to the time and effort of the committee, we have a diverse board and standing committees with broad expertise who will bring the thoughtfulness and skill needed in implementing the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.”
The Authority board and standing committee members are responsible for developing, implementing, and enforcing a series of uniform anti-doping, medication control, racetrack safety, and operational rules to enhance equine safety and protect the integrity of the sport. It hopes to launch oversight of the sport in these areas next summer.
Also announced Wednesday were the two standing committees that will work with the board. The Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee includes four independent members and three industry members:
- Birch, chair, Tennessee (independent director);
- UFC executive Jeff Novitzky, Nevada (independent member);
- Women’s Tennis Association executive Kathleen Stroia, Florida (independent member);
- former chairman of the Kentucky Equine Drug Council Jerry Yon, Florida (independent member);
- University of California equine medical director Jeff Blea, California (industry member);
- executive director and CEO of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium Mary Scollay, Kentucky (industry member);
- professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Kentucky’s Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and director of the Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory Scott Stanley, Kentucky (industry member).
Mary Scollay will work on the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee
Racetrack Safety Standing Committee
The committee is comprised of four independent members and three industry members:
- Stover, chair, California (industry director);
- equine veterinarian Lisa Fortier, New York (independent member);
- orthopedic surgeon Peter Hester, Kentucky (independent member);
- dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University Paul Lunn, North Carolina (independent member);
- dean of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro School of Health Sciences Carl Mattacola, North Carolina (independent member);
- senior vice president of operations and capital projects for NYRA Glen Kozak, New York (industry member);
- Jockeys’ Guild co-chairman John Velazquez, New York (industry member).
Coleman, co-chair of the nominating committee and incoming board member, was impressed with the number of people who expressed interest in serving.
“The overwhelming response to the call for nominees is a clear example of the industry’s interest in and commitment to addressing the safety needs in this sport,” Coleman said. “The members of the Authority’s two standing committees bring extraordinary knowledge to the process of developing uniform standards in anti-doping and medication control and racetrack safety—a critical need for the horse racing industry.”
John Velazquez was named to the Racetrack Safety Standing Committee
The new board and the standing committees do not feature a trainer or representative with current ties to a horsemen’s organization. One of those organizations, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, has filed a lawsuit aimed at preventing HISA from being put in place. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, argues that HISA is unconstitutional in handing the power to regulate horse racing over to what it calls a private group.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association issued a release noting the broad industry support of HISA.
Some of that praise included the following:
“Breeders’ Cup has supported the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act from day one, and today’s announcement gives us even more confidence in the uniform anti-doping, medication control, and operational standards that will be effectively and efficiently implemented and enforced by the independent Authority,” said Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Drew Fleming. “On behalf of the Breeders’ Cup board of directors and members, I’d like to thank the nominating committee for assembling these esteemed individuals to lead the Authority’s board of directors and standing committees. Together, they will make racing a safer, more transparent sport for generations to come.”
Churchill Downs Inc.
“The establishment of an independent, diverse, and knowledgeable national authority represents another milestone for horse racing and brings us one step closer to the implementation of world class uniform standards across the United States,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI.
Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity
“The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity strongly commends the work of the Blue-Ribbon Nominating Committee formed to select the members for Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act Authority Board,” said CHRI executive director Shawn Smeallie. “The Committee, co-chaired by Dr. Nancy Cox and Len Coleman, struck an ideal balance of board members who have regional and ethnic diversity and deep experience in anti-doping and track safety issues. Passing the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was only the first act of this multi-year effort. Act two is when the rubber will meet the road, and having the right people, with the right experience, on the right committees will make the difference between success and failure. Today, the nomination committee took that first positive step toward making integrity and safety a priority in this sport, and they should be applauded for their work.”
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
“The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club applauds the naming of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act Authority and its standing committees,” said Del Mar COO and president Josh Rubinstein. “As a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition and an accredited racetrack of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, Del Mar looks forward to working with HISA to ensure our sport is conducted nationally at the very highest levels of safety and integrity.”
Humane Society of the United States
“The Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Humane Society of the United States congratulate Joe De Francis, the chair of the HSUS Horse Racing Advisory Council, on his selection to the Authority spearheading reform in the horse racing industry,” said Humane Society Legislative Fund president Sara Amundson. “The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, a priority bill we advocated for last Congress, was signed into law and mandates industry reform on doping horses and improving racetrack safety. All of the members of this pivotal committee should be acknowledged for standing up to undertake the task ahead of them to secure a healthy and safe future for all racehorses as mandated by the law.”
The Jockey Club
“We applaud the selections for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority board and committees by the HISA nominating committee,” said The Jockey Club chairman Stuart Janney III. “They have chosen an excellent and diverse group with a broad array of relevant expertise. For many years, we have wished for one central authority to regulate medication use and safety matters for the sport of Thoroughbred racing. We are elated that will become a reality as early as next year.”
“The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is a milestone step toward building a better, safer sport that will strengthen public confidence in racing,” said Keeneland CEO and president Shannon Arvin. “The Authority, under the leadership of the qualified individuals announced today, will replace the current patchwork of regulations that vary across racing jurisdictions with consistent and enforceable rules, including medication restrictions, operational reforms, and a racetrack safety program. Keeneland fully supports this collaborative effort to codify the culture of safety and integrity that will protect and modernize our sport for our fans, participants, and, most importantly, our horses.”
National Thoroughbred Racing Association
“The HISA Authority and standing committee appointments announced today include a diverse group of individuals with the right combination of independence and relevant experience necessary to establish uniform national anti-doping and racetrack safety standards as well as implement the tough but fair enforcement procedures essential to ensuring compliance with these standards,” said NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop.
New York Racing Association
“The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is a monumental step forward that will help secure the future of Thoroughbred racing in the United States,” said NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “The appointment of the HISA Authority board of directors marks the next step in the implementation of this crucial legislation, and NYRA looks forward to working closely with the well qualified individuals announced today.”
Some of the political leaders who championed the HISA legislation also weighed in through released statements.
“The official formation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority is the critical next step in safeguarding this cherished sport. I’m grateful to University of Kentucky vice president Nancy Cox, and the other members of the nominating committee, for their diligence in selecting respected individuals to serve on Thoroughbred racing’s independent governing body,” said U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), who introduced HISA in the Senate and led it to enactment. “With uniform, national standards for medication-use and track safety, we can address the challenges facing horse racing and preserve one of Kentucky’s signature industries for generations to come. Along with all horse racing fans, I look forward to the Authority’s work to protect horses and jockeys and to give every competitor a fair shot at the winner’s circle.”
“Today, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority Nominating Committee put forward an impressive slate of individuals that will lead the Thoroughbred racing industry forward,” said Congressman Andy Barr (Republican, Kentucky). “This group of regionally and professionally diverse individuals will guide the implementation of uniform standards of safety and competition. I want to thank each member for volunteering their time and talents to serving this vital industry. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is a historic reform that will strengthen Kentucky’s signature industry for generations to come.”
“Reforming the noble sport of horse racing—and implementing the high standards we established in our Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act—will require a deft, experienced, and compassionate group of hands that can balance the historic and geographically diverse character of this sport’s past with a resounding and ethical vision for its bright future. The group of leaders advanced by the nominating committee today has what it takes to meet that challenge, and I look forward to working with them to ensure they get the job done for the sake of our equine athletes and the many people and communities who depend on them,” said Rep. Paul Tonko (Democrat, New York).
Additional Bio Information on Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority Board of Directors
- Steve Beshear is an independent director from Kentucky. He served two terms as the 61st governor of Kentucky. An attorney by trade, Beshear has an extensive background in public service in Kentucky, including terms as Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
- Adolpho Birch is an independent director from Tennessee who will chair the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee of the Authority. Birch is senior vice president of business affairs and chief legal officer for the Tennessee Titans. Prior to joining the Titans, he spent 23 years at the National Football League’s headquarters, with responsibilities that included administration and enforcement of the NFL’s policies related to the integrity of the game, substance abuse, performance-enhancing drugs, gambling, and criminal misconduct.
- Leonard Coleman is an independent director from Florida. Coleman is the former president of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. He joined Major League Baseball in 1992 as the executive director of market development. Previously, Coleman was a municipal finance banker for Kidder, Peabody and Company and served as commissioner of both the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and Department of Energy. Coleman is also a former board member of Churchill Downs.
- Ellen McClain is an independent director from New York. McClain serves as the chief financial officer for Year UP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the opportunity divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experience, and support that will empower them through careers and higher education. From 2009-13, she served in various leadership roles with the New York Racing Association, including as its president.
- Charles Scheeler is an independent director from Maryland. Scheeler is a retired partner at DLA Piper. He has an extensive legal career in the private and public sector. Prior to joining DLA Piper, Scheeler was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and served as lead counsel to former Senator George Mitchell in his investigation of performance-enhancing substance use in Major League Baseball. Scheeler also has extensive experience investigating and monitoring Division I athletics programs’ compliance with the National College Athletics Association.
- Joseph De Francis is an industry director from Maryland. De Francis is the managing partner of Gainesville Associates. Prior to this role, he was a senior executive for various Thoroughbred racing entities, including the Maryland Jockey Club and Magna Entertainment Corporation. De Francis has served on several industry and charitable organization boards, including the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the Johns Hopkins Heart Institute, among others.
- Susan Stover is an industry director from California, and she will chair the Racetrack Safety Standing Committee of the Authority. Stover is a professor of surgical and radiological science at the University of California, Davis and an expert in clinical equine surgery and lameness. Her research investigates the prevalence, distribution, and morphology of equine stress fractures, risk factors, and injury prevention, as well as the impact of equine injuries on human welfare.
- Bill Thomason is an industry director from Kentucky. Thomason is the immediate past president of Keeneland, a role he served in from 2012-20. Throughout his career, Thomason has been engaged with several industry organizations, including the NTRA and American Horse Council, as well as several civic and corporate boards, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Foundation.
- D.G. Van Clief is an industry director from Virginia. Van Clief retired in 2006 from serving as president of the Breeders’ Cup since 1996. A longtime racing executive, Van Clief was chairman of the Fasig-Tipton Company and a trustee of The Jockey Club Foundation. For several generations, his family operated Nydrie Stud in Virginia, and his grandmother bred 1947 Kentucky Derby winner Jet Pilot.
Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is an independent director on the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority board
Additional Bio Information on Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee Members
- Jeff Novitzky is an independent member from Nevada. Novitzky is Ultimate Fighting Championship’s vice president of athlete health and performance. In this role, he partnered with the United States Anti-Doping Agency to implement UFC’s anti-doping program. Prior to UFC, Novitzky was a federal agent for the Food and Drug Administration and an investigator for the Internal Revenue Service.
- Kathleen Stroia is an independent member from Florida. Stroia is senior vice president of sport sciences and medicine and transitions for the Women’s Tennis Association and the WTA’s representative on the board of the Society for Tennis Medicine and Science. Stroia has served on various committees related to her sport, including the International Tennis Federation Medical Commission, the Tennis Anti-doping Committee, and the U.S. Tennis Association Sport Science Committee, among others.
- Jerry Yon is an independent member from Florida. Yon is a retired gastroenterologist and previous member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, where he helped establish the Kentucky equine medical director position, and is a past chair of the Equine Drug Research Council, which advises the KHRC on drug testing, regulations, and penalties.
- Jeff Blea is an industry member from California. Blea is equine medical director at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He is also a partner/owner in Von Bluecher, Blea, Hunkin, Inc., an equine veterinary medicine and surgery practice. Blea has served on and led several equine industry organizations, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Southern California Equine Foundation, and the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance.
- Mary Scollay is an industry member from Kentucky. Scollay is the executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, one of the industry’s foremost scientific authorities on performance-enhancing drugs, therapeutic medications, and laboratory testing. She has served as a racing regulator since 1987 and is an active member in several industry and professional practice organizations, including the AAEP and the International Group of Specialist Racing Veterinarians.
- Scott Stanley is an industry member from Kentucky. Stanley is a professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Kentucky’s Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and director of the Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory. A research scientist with more than 30 years of regulatory drug testing experience, his work focuses on developing new anti-doping approaches and the establishment of the Equine Biological Passport project.
Additional Bio Information on Racetrack Safety Standing Committee Members
- Lisa Fortier is an independent member from New York. Fortier is the James Law Professor of Surgery, Equine Park Faculty Director, and associate chair for Graduate Education and Research at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her primary clinical and translational research interests are in equine orthopedic surgery, tendonitis, arthritis, and regenerative medicine.
- Peter Hester is an independent member from Kentucky. Hester is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and previously worked for equine veterinary surgeon William Reed at Belmont Park. While in medical school, he was a night watchman at Ballindaggin Farm and has maintained a passion for the sport and rider safety.
- Paul Lunn is an independent member from North Carolina. Lunn is dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. Previously he was a professor and administrator at Colorado State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lunn’s scholarly interests are in equine immunology and infectious disease.
- Carl Mattacola is an independent member from North Carolina. Mattacola is dean of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro School of Health and Human Sciences. Prior to this, he was associate dean of academic and faculty affairs for the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Mattacola’s research has focused on neuromuscular, postural, and functional considerations in the treatment and rehabilitation of lower extremity injury.
- Glen Kozak is an industry member from New York. Kozak is senior vice president of operations and capital projects for the New York Racing Association’s facility and track operations, which include Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course, Aqueduct Racetrack, and others. Prior to joining NYRA, Kozak worked for the Maryland Jockey Club as vice president of facilities and racing surfaces.
- John Velazquez is an industry member from New York. Velazquez is one of the most accomplished and respected jockeys in the history of horse racing, having won almost 6,300 races. He is North America’s all-time leading money-earning jockey and holds the record for most graded stakes wins. He is a board member of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund and co-chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2012.
Nominating Committee Members
- Leonard Coleman is the former president of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. He joined Major League Baseball in 1992 as the executive director of market development. Previously, Coleman was a municipal finance banker for Kidder, Peabody and Company and served as commissioner of both the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and Department of Energy. Coleman is also a former board member of Churchill Downs Inc.
- Nancy Cox is the vice president for land-grant engagement and the dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment at the University of Kentucky. Prior to that, she served as associate dean for research and director of the Experiment Station at the University of Kentucky. Cox championed the formation of the UK Equine Initiative (now UK Ag Equine Programs), recognizing the importance of the horse industry and its significance to Kentucky.
- Katrina Adams is the immediate past president of the United States Tennis Association, following two consecutive terms as the USTA’s chairman and president. A successful professional tennis player, Adams was elected vice president of the International Tennis Federation in 2015 and was appointed as chairman of the Fed Cup Committee in 2016.
- Jerry Black is a visiting professor at Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine and is an emeritus professor and Wagonhound Land and Livestock chair in Equine Sciences at Colorado State University. He is the former president of the AAEP and former chair of the board of trustees of the American Horse Council.
- Joseph Dunford is the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and was the principal military advisor to the president, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council from Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2019. Prior to becoming chairman, General Dunford served as the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
- Frank Keating is the former governor of Oklahoma. Prior to that role, his career in law enforcement and public service included time as a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, U.S. Attorney and state prosecutor, and Oklahoma House and Senate member. He served as assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury, associate U.S. attorney general, and general counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- Ken Schanzer served as president of NBC Sports from June 1998 until his retirement in September 2011. He also served as chief operating officer. During Schanzer’s tenure, he secured the television rights to the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup for NBC. Before joining NBC Sports, he served as senior vice president of government relations for the National Association of Broadcasters.