Dear NSA Constituency:
There has been considerable chatter in our community regarding an incident that occurred at the
Steeplechase at Callaway on November 7, the Stewards decision, an appeal of that decision to the
NSA’s Hearing Review and Appeals Committee and the Committee’s decision. Although the NSA
Board has no jurisdiction over rules interpretation and enforcement, the Executive Committee has
felt compelled to address the situation given the unique circumstances and the best interests of our
The facts are quite simple. A trailer hauling horses to Callaway for the race meet suffered a flat tire
and the horses were delayed. The assistant trainer notified the Stewards. The horses were declared to
run with Lasix, and the rules provide that a horse declared on Lasix must run on Lasix or be scratched
and declared ineligible to run. The assistant trainer requested that the horses who would not receive
Lasix in a timely manner be allowed to run anyway. Before making that decision, the stewards
discussed the matter with the SOTA representatives present, and those representatives polled all of
the other trainers who were present at that time. All of those trainers agreed to allow the six tardy
horses to run, as did the Race Chairman. The Stewards, in keeping with the spirit of the sport and the
nature of our effort this year to give racing opportunities to as many as possible given the severe
limitations of the pandemic, determined to allow the horses to run without Lasix. Two of the horses
allowed to run without Lasix were first and second in the third race. Unfortunately, the trainer of the
third place horse was not present at the time of the polling of the trainers on the question of
allowing the tardy horses to run without Lasix and she filed a protest regarding the Stewards
The Hearing, Review and Appeals Committee, comprised of three highly respected attorneys who
are completely independent of the Board, upheld the protest in a well-written ruling that explained
the difficulty of the situation and the mandatory requirements of the rules. The subsequent
discussion has centered around the fact that the ruling was limited to the protestant’s race and not
the other races where horses were allowed to run without Lasix. Obviously, this was very
disconcerting to some of the other trainers and owners who were in the same position as the
protestant but did not file a protest. Others felt that the Stewards had acted appropriately given the
unusual circumstances, the challenges caused by the pandemic, and the fact that the rule is designed
to protect the betting public (it is mandatory at the pari-mutuel meets) and these were not betting
races. Everyone agrees that the rules should be modified.
While the NSA Board has no involvement in protests and appeals, it is in the Board’s interest to act in
the best interests of our sport when appropriate. The Executive Committee believes that this is such a
situation. Given this very unique situation in challenging and unprecedented times for our sport, it
was decided that we should take action that would not leave any of the participants at Callaway
adversely affected. The Executive Committee, therefore, decided to fund the payment of the purse
differences as if the protest were applied to all of the Callaway races, not just the third race that was
legitimately and successfully protested. The protestant retracted her appeal when informed that, not
only would she receive a first place purse distribution, but all of those involved in races with those six
horses would also be made whole. The original order of finish and the original purse distributions will
remain intact as well. The Hearing, Review and Appeals Committee has rescinded its ruling.
In addition, I have asked the Stewards Advisory Committee to review the rules that applied in this
situation, and they have made recommendations to modify the rules accordingly.
I would like to personally thank all involved in this matter. The Stewards acted in the best interest of
our sport and without prejudice. The protestant was within her rights, and when afforded an
opportunity to act in favor of the greater good, she did so willingly. The NSA recognized a very
special situation and acted in the best interest of steeplechasing.
Should you have any questions or comments as it pertains to anything referenced above, please do
not hesitate to contact me.
Alfred C. Griffin, Jr.
President, National Steeplechase Association