Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
Title 11. Gaming
Agency 10. Virginia Racing Commission
3/31/2020

Chapter 150. Harness Racing

Part I
Generally

11VAC10-150-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meaning, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Hopples" means equipment including straps with loops at each end, each loop encircling a leg on a horse's body which tend to steady the horse and help it to maintain its gait.

"Harness racing" means races whereby registered Standardbred horses compete in harness and hitched to sulkies or under saddle.

"Starter" means a horse that obtains a fair start when the starter dispatches the horses.

"Starting point" means a point, no less than 200 feet from the first turn, where the starter gives the word, "Go."

"Sulky" means a United States Trotting Association-approved dual-shaft, dual-wheel racing vehicle on which the driver is seated.

"Warmup trip" means a horse being exercised prior to racing.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 1.1, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000.

Part II
Conduct of Racing

11VAC10-150-12. Safety helmets.

A protective helmet, meeting the 2000 Standard for Protective Headgear (Snell Memorial Foundation), meeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 (49 CFR 571.218), or that is ASTM/SEI certified, securely fastened under the chin, must be worn at all times on association grounds when:

1. Racing, parading, or warming up a horse prior to racing; or

2. Jogging, training, or exercising a horse at any time.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 18, eff. May 31, 2007.

11VAC10-150-15. Safety vests.

A. A safety vest shall be worn when:

1. Racing, parading or warming up a horse prior to racing; or

2. Jogging, training or exercising a horse at any time.

B. A safety vest shall:

1. Cover the torso, front and back, from the collar bone to the hip bone;

2. Be of uniform material and thickness over the whole of the vest except for localized:

a. Variation due to pattern, for example, quilting;

b. Thinner areas to aid fit, for example, under the arms, at fastenings and at edges; and

c. Thicker areas in regard to particularly sensitive areas of the body, for example, the spine; and

3. Equal or exceed a minimum shock absorbance rating of five according to the specifications established by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA), which are as follows:

a. Use a critical height apparatus to measure the maximum deceleration on impact of a striker consisting of a spherical idententer weighing 5.9 (+/-0.05) kilograms with a diameter of 215 (+/- 2) millimeters,

b. Condition the vest and the striker for a minimum of three hours at 23º (+/-2º) Centigrade,

c. With the vest lying on a smooth, flat massive concrete base with the inside of the vest facing the striker and positioned so that the striker will impact on an area of typical thickness, not reinforced by additional material, raise and release the striker starting at a height of 0.2 meter and increasing the height by increments of 0.2 meter to a height that will result in a deceleration of over 300 gravity units (1G=9.81 ms-1) as measured by recording the signal from an accelerometer through the impact from the time before the striker impacts the vest until the accelerometer returns to the same level as before the impact,

d. Record the gravity units measured at each height increment on a line graph that has the gravity units in ascending order as the vertical axis and the release height in meters in ascending meters as the horizontal access,

e. Plot the height in meters at which the deceleration reached 300 gravity units, and

f. Multiply the height obtained in subdivision 3 e of this subsection by 10 to calculate the shock absorbance rating.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 18, eff. May 31, 2007.

11VAC10-150-20. Paddock procedures.

The trainer shall be responsible for the arrival in the paddock at the time prescribed by the stewards for each horse entered by the trainer. The following provisions shall apply to the procedures to be followed in the paddock:

1. The paddock time shall not be less than one hour prior to post time;

2. Except for warmup trip, no horse shall leave the paddock until the post parade;

3. No driver, trainer or groom, once admitted to the paddock shall leave the paddock unless to attend a horse during a warmup trip;

4. Once leaving the paddock no person, except an owner who has another horse entered in a later race, shall be permitted to return;

5. Any horse that falls to the racing surface during a warmup trip shall be automatically excused by the stewards;

6. The licensee shall provide the services of a farrier during hours when horses are racing or taking warmup trips; and

7. The licensee shall provide equipment so that racing will not be unnecessarily delayed due to broken equipment.

8. A trainer may exercise his option not to take warmup trips with his horse prior to racing; however, such horse shall be satisfactorily paraded before the commission veterinarian or his assistant prior to starting in a race to determine the horse's fitness for racing.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.1, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000.

11VAC10-150-30. Sulky.

Harness racing shall be conducted with each horse hitched to a United States Trotting Association-approved sulky. Each sulky shall have dual shafts and shall be equipped with wheel discs on the inside and outside of each wheel. During inclement weather, the wheels may be covered with mud guards. With the permission of the stewards, harness racing may be conducted under saddle.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.2, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000.

11VAC10-150-40. Identifying equipment.

The licensee shall supply to each horse entered a numbered saddle pad which corresponds to the number of the horse as listed in the daily racing program. The horse shall wear the designated saddle pad during all warmup trips.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.3, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000.

11VAC10-150-50. Racing colors.

Drivers must wear distinguishing colors, clean white pants and a safety helmet, with the chin strap in place, during all warmup trips and races.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.4, eff. July 15, 1991.

11VAC10-150-60. Substitute driver.

No driver shall, without good and sufficient reason, refuse to drive a horse when ordered by the stewards to substitute for another driver. When a driver is programmed to drive a horse and removed at his request, he shall not be permitted to drive another horse in the same race.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.5, eff. July 15, 1991.

11VAC10-150-70. Late driver change.

No driver may be changed without the permission of the stewards and for good cause. A person who causes a driver change after the daily racing program has been printed shall be subject to disciplinary action.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.6, eff. July 15, 1991.

11VAC10-150-80. Hopples.

A horse habitually wearing hopples shall not be permitted to start in a race without them unless permission is granted by the stewards. A free-legged pacer shall not be permitted to race with hopples unless permission is granted by the stewards. Any person altering a horse's hopples for a fraudulent purpose shall be subject to disciplinary action.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.7, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000.

11VAC10-150-90. Excessive use of the whip.

Drivers will be allowed whips not exceeding three feet, nine inches, plus a snapper not longer than six inches. The following actions shall be considered as excessive use of the whip:

1. Causing visible injury;

2. Whipping a horse after a race; and

3. Whipping under the arch or shafts of the sulky.

The use of the whip shall be confined to an area above and between the sulky shafts, to include the sulky shafts and the outside wheel discs. Drivers shall keep a line in each hand from the start of the race until the head of the stretch finishing the race.

The commission veterinarian or his designee shall make a mandatory visual inspection of each horse following each race for evidence of excessive use of the whip.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.8, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000.

11VAC10-150-100. Post parade.

No horse may be excused from the post parade without the permission of the stewards. The horses comprising a race shall be formed in a post parade and on the track no less than 12 minutes prior to post time, unless, due to inclement weather, the stewards decrease the length of time. The starter shall inform the drivers of the number and length of warmup scores to be taken prior to going to the starting gate.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.9, eff. July 15, 1991.

11VAC10-150-110. Timing procedure.

The time shall be taken from the first horse leaving the point which the distance of the race is measured until the winner reaches the wire. The leading horse shall be timed and his time only shall be announced. In the case of a dead heat for win, the time shall be accorded to the horses involved in the dead heat.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 2.10, eff. July 15, 1991.

Part III
Driving Rules

11VAC10-150-120. Start.

A driver shall obey the starter's instructions. The starter may make recommendations to the stewards that disciplinary action be taken against a driver for:

1. Delaying the start;

2. Failing to obey the starter's instructions;

3. Rushing ahead of the inside or outside wing of the starting gate;

4. Coming to the starting gate out of position.

5. Crossing over before reaching the starting post;

6. Interfering with another driver or horse during the start; and

7. Failing to come up into the correct post position.

When a horse comes to the starting gate out of its assigned post position and gains an unfair advantage by moving either to the left or right of its assigned post position before the starter gives the word "go," the horse may be disqualified and placed by the stewards.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 3.1, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000.

11VAC10-150-130. Racing.

A. Although a leading horse is entitled to any part of the racing surface, except after selecting his position in the home stretch, the driver of the leading horse and any other driver committing any of the following acts shall be subject to disciplinary action:

1. Changing either to the right or left during any part of the race when another horse is so near him that it causes the other horse to shorten its stride or make a break;

2. Jostling, striking, hooking wheels or interfering with another horse or driver;

3. Crossing sharply in front of a horse or crossing over in front of a field of horses in a reckless manner, endangering other drivers;

4. Swerving in and out or pulling up quickly;

5. Crowding a horse or driver;

6. Carrying a horse out;

7. Causing confusion or interference among trailing horses;

8. Letting a horse pass inside needlessly or otherwise helping another horse to improve his position in the race;

9. Committing any act which shall impede the progress of another horse or causing him to break;

10. Changing course after selecting a position in the home stretch;

11. Swerving in and out, or bearing in and out, in a manner so as to interfere with another horse, cause another driver to change course or take back;

12. Driving in a careless or reckless manner;

13. Loud shouting or other improper conduct; and

14. Kicking a horse, which shall be defined as a blow or thrust with the foot against any part of the horse's body or to impel by striking with the foot. Removal of a foot from the stirrups in and of itself shall not constitute the offense of kicking. The stewards shall assess a minimum fine of $200, a suspension or both disciplinary actions for the first violation, and any subsequent violation shall result in a suspension.

B. If at a racetrack that does not have a continuous solid inside hub rail a horse or part of the horse's sulky leaves the course by going inside the hub rail or other demarcation that constitutes the inside limits of the course, the offending horse shall be placed one or more positions where, in the opinion of the stewards, the action gave the horse an unfair advantage over other horses in the race or the action helped the horse improve its position in the race. In addition, when an act of interference causes a horse or part of the horse's sulky to cross the inside limits of the course, and the horse is placed by the judges, the offending horse shall be placed behind the horse with which it interfered.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 3.2, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000; Volume 18, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2002; Volume 20, Issue 4, eff. November 17, 2003.

11VAC10-150-140. Objections.

A driver shall lodge an objection by promptly informing the patrol judge prior to pulling up his horse after the race and dismounting. He shall proceed immediately to the designated telephone in the paddock to explain his objection.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 3.3, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 18, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2002.

11VAC10-150-150. Driven to the finish.

A driver shall drive his horse so as to win or finish as near as possible to the first-place horse and demonstrate the best and fastest performance of which it is capable during the race.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 3.4, eff. July 15, 1991.

11VAC10-150-160. Inconsistent driving.

When a horse is driven or has been driven in the past with a design to prevent its winning a race, which it was evidently capable of winning, or driven in an inconsistent manner, or driven in a manner to perpetrate a fraud, the driver and anyone conspiring with him shall be subject to disciplinary action.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 3.5, eff. July 15, 1991.

11VAC10-150-170. Breaking.

A. Driver's responsibility. When a horse breaks from its gait, the driver shall at once, where clearance exists, take the horse to the outside and pull it to its gait. The stewards may set any horse back one or more places if a driver of a breaking horse does not:

1. Properly attempt to pull the horse to its gait;

2. Take the horse to the outside where clearance exists; or

3. Lose ground by the break.

B. Lapped-on break. The stewards shall set back a breaking horse when the nose of a contending horse, which is on gait, is at least even with the hind quarter of the breaking horse at the finish.

C. Fraudulent intent. A driver allowing his horse to break, or causing his horse to make a break, for a fraudulent purpose shall be subject to disciplinary action.

D. Notation. One of the stewards shall call out a break made during the course of a race so that the clerk of the course may make a notation on the horse's eligibility certificate.

E. Any horse making a break that causes interference to other contending horses may be placed behind all offended horses; if there has been no failure on the part of the driver of the breaking horse in complying with this section, the driver may not be subject to disciplinary action by the stewards.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 3.6, eff. July 15, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 26, eff. August 14, 2000.

11VAC10-150-180. Excessive conversation.

A driver engaging in excessive or unnecessary conversation between or among other drivers while on the racing surface, either during warmup trips, post parade or races shall be subject to disciplinary action.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-05-02 § 3.7, eff. July 15, 1991.

11VAC10-150-190. Qualifying races.

A. No Standardbred may be raced unless it has a race at the chosen gait, with a charted line in qualifying time, within 30 days of its last race; however, this may be extended to 45 days for a particular race or race meet with the approval of the stewards.

B. If a Standardbred does not have a charted line within 30 days (or 45 days if approved by the stewards in accordance with subsection A of this section) of its race, then the horse must race in a qualifying race under the supervision of the stewards to determine its fitness for racing.

C. The following provisions shall apply to qualifying races:

1. The licensee shall provide appropriate personnel for qualifying races to keep a charted line for each Standardbred in each qualifying race, an electronic timing device shall be in operation, and a photo-finish camera shall be in operation;

2. The licensee shall schedule as many qualifying races on as many days as is deemed appropriate for the horse supply, and the licensee shall maintain the racing surface in condition so that all Standardbreds have a reasonable opportunity to meet the qualifying time;

3. A Standardbred must race in a qualifying race if it has one race over a fast track that is not in the qualifying time as agreed upon by the licensee and the representative of the horsemen or on gait;

4. A Standardbred coming off the Veterinarian's List must race in a qualifying race, and the stewards, in their discretion, may require the horse to race in one or more qualifying races to establish its fitness for racing; and

5. The stewards, in their discretion, may authorize the collection of blood, urine or other samples of body substances from Standardbreds after competing in qualifying races.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 18, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2002; amended, Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 2, eff. September 16, 2017.

11VAC10-150-200. Time trials.

For Standardbreds, time trials are permitted with the permission of the licensee and the commission provided that (i) the horse is subject to post-race testing; (ii) an electronic timing device is utilized; (iii) if the horse is accompanied by prompters, the prompters shall not precede the horse; and (iv) the stewards are present.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 18, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2002.

Documents Incorporated by Reference (11VAC10-150)

Standard for Protective Headgear, 2000, Snell Memorial Foundation, 3628 Madison Avenue, Suite 11, North Highlands, CA 95660



Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.