Protect our equine athletes by passing the Horseracing Integrity Act

By on June 22, 2018 with 7 Comments

The Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R. 2651, will better protect our nation’s racehorses by replacing outdated state-by-state drug and medication rules, banning race-day medication, and putting the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in charge of a program to set one national uniform set of rules on medication use in horse racing (USADA is a non-profit organization that runs anti-doping programs for U.S. sports, including the U.S. Olympics and the Pan American Games).

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund have championed such reforms for many years now, and today I joined leaders within the racing industry to speak out at a key hearing in the U.S. House in support of this bill.

I told members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection that while many professional sports have taken crucial steps to eliminate illegal drugging, the racing industry continues to lag behind. Not because of a lack of leadership, but because too many players want to maintain the status quo — a structure of state-by state-regulation that lacks a universal standard – that allows them to circumvent regulatory oversight.

“Without reform, including the passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, horses and jockeys will continue to be at risk, and fans will increasingly support other clean sports where champions are determined based on athletic prowess, not a syringe loaded with performance enhancing drugs,” I said in my testimony.

Read: My full testimony on the Horseracing Integrity Act

Two weeks ago, the racing industry celebrated its latest Triple Crown winner, and it’s now enjoying the increased enthusiasm a new superstar brings to the sport. But all of that enthusiasm and support will be difficult to sustain if the industry fails to consider the welfare of the equine athletes at the heart of this sport.

The lead co-sponsors of the Horse Racing Integrity Act, Reps. Andy Barr, R-KY, and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., understand this. Both represent districts located in states that host the first and final legs of the Triple Crown. The bill enjoys the support of some 126 U.S. representatives, too.

Today, I told members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection that without reform, including the passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, horses and jockeys will continue to be at risk. Photo by Allison Shelley/AP Images for The HSUS

The bill also has the backing of our affiliate, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, with 9,200 members, including 5,000 veterinarians, around the country.

It also enjoys support within the racing industry, and championing the necessity for change at today’s hearing were Stuart S. Janney III, chairman of The Jockey Club, and Craig Fravel, President and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup. The Jockey Club, the Breeders’ Cup, and the Humane Society of the United States are all members of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity. The participation of these racing industry leaders at today’s hearing lends credibility to this cause, and demonstrates that the stakes are highest not only for the owners, the trainers, the spectators, or the economy, but also for the athletes themselves.

As Janney stated in his testimony: “Our sport needs an independent organization, free of conflicts of interest, to apply uniform rules, stringent out-of-competition testing, tough penalties, and effective enforcement, which will ensure clean competition and improvements in racing safety. “

“The challenges are modern and particularly in the world of medication both legal and illegal,” Favel said in his testimony. “There has been progress but for the most part we remain a locally governed sport with different regulatory and enforcement capabilities.”

It is crucial that we get the Horseracing Integrity Act passed this year, but to do so everyone who cares about these equine athletes needs to speak out for them. Not just for the winners but also for those who don’t make it to the top and often meet an undeserved end in a slaughterhouse. Please contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to cosponsor the Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R. 2651. Let’s make sure these beautiful animals who have played crucial roles throughout our country’s history are treated with the respect and compassion they deserve.

Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Annette Hif says:

    Let them be FREE!
    Horses deserves to enjoy life not to win money for the rich people.
    Banned all horse races and let them all be FREE. Please!!!❤🐴

  2. Marian Prato says:

    We must continue to try to save our race horses from abuse, abandonment and Slaughter. If these horses are running well and making millions of dollars the owners and trainers are happy — yet other horses who win moderate amounts money or less end up in Kill pens just like so many other horses. One hundred fifty thousand horses a year are shipped to Mexico and slaughtered including our race horses. Concerned Americans must continue to fight against these atrocities and stop the slaughter of our race horses, Wild horses and our domestic horses! The SAFE ACT HR113 needs to pass! You can help by calling your legislators!

  3. Elaine Brandt says:

    Please.pass this Act…There are too many unexplained,unnecessary deaths and injuries in the raci.g world…doping …..drugs..cruelty…

  4. Nicole Arciello says:

    Again, why is the HSUS against EVERY form of animal exploitation except for Horseracing? You are trying to save the horseracing industry not horses. It’s an absolute disgrace.

  5. Joy Aten says:

    The HSUS opposes dog racing yet does not oppose horse racing – and just today, I read Scott Beckstead’s explanation of that blatant hypocrisy; “horse racing doesn’t have the inherent cruelty of dog racing.”

    Could you, HSUS, speak to the “inherent cruelties” of dog racing, please? – list them specifically so we, the public you seek donations from, can see the differences you claim exist in dog racing versus horse racing?

    Having spent every weekend for 6 months during the meet on the backside with a racehorse rescue and placement organization – for nearly 10 years – I will be interested to see what additional cruelties exist in the dog racing industry. Other than the difference in the species being exploited for entertainment purposes, I cannot imagine what more abuse those poor dogs endure.

    • Jennifer Hoffman says:

      Joy, you raise really great points and questions. The nonprofit Horse Racing Wrongs needs voices like yours.

  6. Joy Aten says:

    Ms. Block, I read your testimony on the HIA – in regards to your being “encouraged by some of the industry initiatives for TB aftercare”, specifically the TAA and the TCA, let me help you to understand that their assistance is seriously lacking.

    According to Steve Rudy of the TAA, the racing industry provided 2.5 million dollars for its “retired” racehorses in 2016 and 2.6 million in 2017. Crumbs. 2.5 million is a mere 0.25% of one billion. Again, that is a quarter of a percent of just ONE billion…and horse racing is a MULTI-billion dollar industry. I cannot compute how miniscule that amount is. For the horses they profess to love as “family members”…crumbs.

    And the TCA? – the current BOD president, Michael McMahon, bred a mare named Market Risk. This 2012 gray mare is currently laboring at Mountaineer with a 4K price tag on her head. With 62 starts on her legs, how much longer do you think it is before she disappears into the slaughter pipeline?

    10K to 12K TB’s are slaughtered yearly – this industry has historically failed their “athletes” and continues to fail them to this day.

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