News Releases

Wednesday, May 01, 2019Contact: Shawn Smeallie (202) 327-8100
On Behalf of CHRI: Major Advertising Campaign Launched to Reform Horse Racing

Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity Pushes Federal Legislation

The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI) has launched a major digital advertising campaign to raise awareness of the need for the reforms embodied in the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019, legislation sponsored by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY). The campaign follows the recent spike in horse fatalities at Santa Anita Park that gained national media attention and aims to spread awareness of the gaps in regulation in the horse racing industry and mobilize Americans to put their support behind federal legislation.

“The United States lags far behind the international community in protecting horses from injuries and fatalities. Horses are injured and die at a rate of up to five times greater than other horse racing nations,” said Shawn Smeallie, executive director of the coalition. “The Horseracing Integrity Act will bring the United States up to international standards and will better protect our equine athletes.”

The Horseracing Integrity Act would create a private, independent regulatory body, the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority. The authority would be under the oversight of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the organization entrusted by the United States for drug testing of its Olympic athletes. Horse racing would operate under a single set of anti-doping and medication rules across the country, a system that the racing industry has never been able to replicate on its own.

“Horses should train and race free from drugs that can mask injuries and lead to more serious injuries,” said Staci Hancock, founding member of Water Hay Oats Alliance. “We need one, nationwide rulebook that the whole industry can rely on for direction — and we believe the Horseracing Integrity Act is the best path forward.”

The coalition’s ad campaign will target 7 million people interested in horse racing on Facebook and Twitter and run for two months. Additionally, it will geo-target horse racing audiences in Louisville, Baltimore, and New York City during the three Triple Crown races with the goal of raising awareness and building support for the Tonko/Barr bill.

“Improvements to horse racing practices are being made, but it’s difficult with 38 separate state regulatory bodies,” said Barbara Banke, owner of Stonestreet Farms. “A patchwork quilt of varying state regulations won’t bring the dramatic reform the industry needs. We need national legislation now.”

The coalition’s campaign urges all Americans to contact their elected representatives and urge support of the Horseracing Integrity Act and sign a petition to support the bill.

“A variety of factors can contribute to horse injuries and fatalities. This advertising campaign is designed to show that there is a proven path to improving equine health and reducing injuries and fatalities,” said Jim Gagliano, president and COO of The Jockey Club. “A number of tracks and organizations have announced reforms recently. Those efforts are important, but we need to go further by creating national horse racing standards, and the Horseracing Integrity Act will do that.”

The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity represents a diverse group of racing organizations, racetracks, owner and breeder associations, and animal welfare groups that support adoption of a national, uniform standard for drug and medication rules in horse racing. For more information and to read a copy of the proposed legislation, visit