|Tuesday, October 08, 2019
|Contact: Shawn Smeallie (202) 327-8100
|Horse Racing Reform Bill Gains Momentum
Washington, D.C. – The effort to bring uniform standards to protect racehorses passed three major milestones this week. One hundred and fifty members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors to the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA), which is more than one third of the House of Representatives. Besides the strong Congressional support, 135 of the industry’s leading trainers support the bill. Additionally, more than 53,000 people have signed a petition from the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI) calling for passage of the bill.
“The industry needs the Horseracing Integrity Act,” said Shawn Smeallie, executive director of the Coalition of Horse Racing Integrity. “While various tracks and organizations have announced reforms addressing horse injuries, the industry still suffers from a lack of a national system to regulate itself. Passage of the HIA solves that.”
The HIA is a horse-first bill that would create a private, independent national horse racing anti-doping authority responsible for developing and administering a strict anti-doping and medication control program. The CHRI is confident that passage of HIA will strengthen the horse racing industry by reforming industry drug use and showing Americans that the health of racehorses is a top priority.
“Racehorses in America are injured at a rate that is 2.5 to 5 times greater than other horse racing nations,” continued Smeallie. “The statistics show that the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to our equine athletes’ health. The Horseracing Integrity Act will bring the United States up to international standards and will better protect our horses.”
The horse racing industry is presently regulated by 38 different racing jurisdictions, which limits regulators’ effective management of the many issues involved in the health and safety of racehorses.
The HIA does not establish a Washington-based regulatory authority, but rather creates an independent body, the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority under the oversight of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The new anti-doping authority would be governed by a board of six individuals with deep horse racing expertise and seven individuals from the USADA. USADA is the benchmark for drug testing and enforcement of human athletes, including the nation’s Olympians, and will help ensure racehorses are free from performance-enhancing drugs during racing and training creating a safer environment for horses and jockeys.
“Clearly, we need to do more to protect horses and improve equine health,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “And the Horseracing Integrity Act will protect horses by creating the first truly national set of rules on drug usage and testing to ensure that horses are running free of performance-enhancing drugs. The health of the horse needs to come first, which is what this legislation does.”
“Public confidence in our sport has been shaken, and we find ourselves in a pivotal moment in horse racing’s long history in the U.S.,” said Kelly Summers Wietsma, president of Equisponse. “That is why this growing list of 52 industry-leading trainers, collectively with more than 50,000 wins and 22 North American year-end Outstanding Trainer awards, have signed a letter supporting the HIA.”
These trainers are in addition to the 100+ trainers, 800+ owners/breeders and 250+ industry professionals who have joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance, which is a founding member of the CHRI, and the leading opponent against the use of race-day medications.
“Horse racing in the United States has the most liberal drug rules among all international jurisdictions, especially when it comes to race-day medication,” said Staci Hancock, co-founder and the managing member of the Water Hay Oats Alliance. “We need federal legislation to bring national uniformity to state-run racing jurisdictions, which is why WHOA and its members support the Horseracing Integrity Act.”
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 HorseRacingIntegrity.com. To support the Horseracing Integrity Act by signing the petition, visit HorseRacingIntegrity2019.com.