Stuart S. Janney III:
Thank you, Kip, for that very interesting look into the future.
Like Julie Broadway, our next two speakers have a Washington connection, but their roots are in two districts that are so vital to our interests. Lexington, Kentucky, and Saratoga, New York.
They have a deep appreciation for the Thoroughbred industry, particularly the economic impact it brings to a community. They also know that the future health of the sport and all those jobs and businesses built on it are tied to consumer confidence and the integrity of competition.
That's why they've introduced and promoted the passage of H.R.3084, the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2015. As an industry we should be immensely grateful for their interest and their concern, just as we are grateful to both of them for being here today with an update.
We'll call on you first, Congressman Barr.
Rep. Andy Barr:
Thank you, Stuart. Good morning. It's my great privilege to represent Lexington, Kentucky, and the surrounding Bluegrass region in Congress, the horse capital of the world. As co chairman of the Congressional Horse Caucus, I've had, with my friend Congressman Paul Tonko of New York, the privilege of leading efforts to advance the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Integrity Act.
I'd like to recognize my other colleague, Elise Stefanik, a congresswoman from New York who is also a co-sponsor.
Today I want to reflect briefly on why I believe federal legislation is needed and what needs to happen going forward to achieve our ultimate objective.
First, why subpoena federal legislation necessary? To be sure, we have much to celebrate about our sport of Thoroughbred racing. As advocates of reform, we must never hesitate to point out there is far more good about the state of racing today than there is bad.
Friday's inspiring Hall of Fame induction ceremony is ample evidence of that fact. The speakers who have presented here today also showcase initiatives to promote the sport. And American Pharoah proved that greatness is still possible, going wire to wire in the Breeders' Cup Classic and winning the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.
So calls for reform should not be misinterpreted as unfair or destructive criticism of the sport we all love. But the reality is this. There is tremendous competition for today's entertainment dollar. And the industry must continue to innovate to win over new betters and new fans.
Without new growth strategies, there is a real risk that nationwide handle, the number of racetracks, racetrack attendance, foal crops, bloodstock sales, and Thoroughbred ownership will continue to decline over the long term. And that means fewer jobs and opportunities for the men and women who earn their livelihood in an industry that generates over $3 billion annually in my home state of Kentucky alone.
While those of us close to the racing industry hold the sport in high regard, the recent McKinsey study commissioned by The Jockey Club reveals that medication related issues have undermined public confidence and the integrity of racing and adversely impacted fans perception of the sport.
This perception of doping has compromised export sales of American breeding stock to perspective buyers in foreign jurisdictions with strong rules prohibiting race day medication. And Thoroughbred racing continues to labor under a diverse set of inconsistent and conflicting medication rules that vary from state to state.
The industry has made notable strides in recent years to adopt uniform standards. The work of the racing medication and testing consortium, and the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, has been positive and should be commended.
But the fact remains that to date only ten states have fully adopted the national uniform medication program; the remaining 28 state racing jurisdictions operate under rules only applicable to that state and have great variances.
Since more than half of all Thoroughbred race horses compete in multiple states in a given year, this creates serious problems for owners, trainers, equine practitioners and the betting public. Since the majority of industry handle is wagered across state lines through simulcast wagering, the absence of national uniform medication rules impedes interstate commerce.
I am a conservative who believes in federalism and states’ rights. But I also understand the framers of the constitution conferred to Congress the power to regulate Interstate commerce precisely for the purpose of eliminating these kinds of impediments to interstate exchange.
I'm a realist who recognizes that all of racing's challenges are not solely attributable to the perceptions of doping or cheating. But I also recognize the importance of eliminating any and all excuses for young people to not become fans of our sport.
And I believe that the predicate of innovation in marketing is a commitment to integrity, safety and uniformity of rules.
As I was preparing my remarks, I couldn't help but look at old transcripts of Jockey Club Round Tables in the past. And I found an interesting speech from former Jockey Club chairman Nicholas Brady from August 10, 1980.
I was particularly interested to read what my grandfather, the late J.B. Faulconer, then executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, was listening to at the time. And he was in this room then. This is what Chairman Brady had to say 36 years ago, and I quote:
It is becoming increasingly obvious that we are at war on the issue of medication, at war with the humane associations, at war with the public and the media, at war with the Congress, and at war among ourselves. We will lose that war by default if every organization in racing continues to forge its own consensus on medication. The time has come for us to end our internal disputes and come together to find an equitable solution to this program. I recognize that it is a complicated program and that feelings are strong and polarized. But if our industry wants to control its own destiny, if we are to prevent federal legislation of unknown consequences, we must develop support for an industry wide medication policy and then take effective actions to restore public confidence in racing. What should we do? We must have a reasonable, fair, enforceable, and uniform rule adopted in all racing jurisdictions.
As noted in Chairman Brady's remarks, much of what was said at that 1980 Round Table was directed to how the industry might avoid federal legislation.
I would submit that the inability of the industry to develop on its own national uniform rules for the past 36 years is the most persuasive argument for why we need federal legislation today. But not legislation of unknown consequences, as Brady feared; rather, legislation of well understood consequences, crafted by the industry for the industry that will reinvigorate public confidence, eliminate barriers to Interstate commerce, and avoid overreaching federal intervention in the future.
And not legislation that would invite federal overreach or excessive legislation, instead legislation that will actually reduce regulation from 38 different conflicting and contradictory regulatory systems into a single, streamlined, and uniformed regulatory system.
Second, our experience to date working on this bill helps us see the path forward.
During previous Congresses, legislators proposed federal solutions, but despite their best efforts, their work fell short. I've known from the beginning this project wouldn't be easy. Many told me to not get involved, that the industry was too divided, that the problem was too hard to solve.
But after listening to my constituents and industry participants, I did get involved. Not because I thought it would be easy, but it was the right thing to do and well worth the effort. And I knew our efforts had to be different from those failed efforts in the past.
So today I'm proud to say our effort has been different because we set out to build a diverse and broad coalition of support, a coalition that now stands behind us and continues to grow. Our inclusive efforts have allowed us to earn the endorsements from 17 different stakeholder organizations, which in turn has allowed us to earn support of more than 50 members of Congress and a growing industry in reform from both sides of the aisle in both houses of Congress.
But to continue our progress and move legislation forward and to achieve our objective, to achieve safety and integrity through national uniform standards, we must continue an open and inclusive discussion about how we can improve the legislation to incorporate as many stakeholders and members of Congress as possible.
Only with a consensus approach and an earnest willingness to compromise will we ultimately enact the reform we need.
I believe that organizations in the industry have far more in common than they have differences, and these overlapping priorities should be seen as opportunities.
So in conclusion, I issue this call to action to every faction and organization within the Thoroughbred industry. Come together in the months ahead. Not just as members of the Coalition for Racing Integrity, but also with racetracks and horsemen's groups and veterinarians and organizations who are not yet part of the coalition.
Meet with a facilitator, if necessary, and find areas of potential compromise, overlapping interests and common cause. Produce a statement of principles that will guide lawmakers in improving the existing legislation to further enlarge our coalition of support.
Thank you again to Stuart and The Jockey Club for inviting me to speak today. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to champion these reforms to ensure integrity in Thoroughbred racing, enhancing the safety of the equine and human athletes involved, and to promote the long term growth and prosperity of the sport we all love.
Thank you very much.