House passes bill to ban doping horses on race day

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act moves on to the Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban doping horses on race day as well as install federal regulations over the sport to help ensure the animals’ safety.

In addition to banning race-day medication — a key concern tied to the safety and well-being of the animals — the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act would establish a uniform set of track safety standards and put in place a uniform anti-doping and medication control program at all 38 racing jurisdictions.

The bill will now go to the Senate.

“This legislation tackles some of the key reasons behind the growing numbers of racehorse deaths in recent years, including the rampant doping of these animals with performance-enhancing drugs and painkillers that mask pain in order to allow injured horses to train or race,” a statement from the Humane Society reads. “Racehorses would only be allowed to compete if they are free from such drugs.”

PHOTO: John Velazquez rides Authentic in the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.,  Sept. 5, 2020.

John Velazquez rides Authentic in the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 5, 2020.

John Velazquez rides Authentic in the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 5, 2020.

The proposed legislation comes after years of controversial horse deaths and animal welfare advocates calling for federal regulation of horse racing. In March 2019, Southern California’s Santa Anita Park introduced a zero-tolerance policy for almost all medication on race day after dozens of horses died within months of beginning the season.

An average of 8.5 horses died during races every week in 2019, according to The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database. This number does not include horses that died during training.

“This is an animal protection crisis, and we commend House members for their swift and decisive vote to end it,” Humane Society CEO and President Kitty Block said in a statement.

The bill is supported by Churchill Downs Incorporated, the Louisville-based operator of the Kentucky Derby, The Jockey Club, the Breeders Cup and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, according to the Humane Society.

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House approves bill to combat doping in horse racing

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House approved a bill Tuesday to create national medication and safety standards for the horse racing industry to discourage use of performance-enhancing drugs that can lead to horse injuries and deaths.

The “Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act” comes after the racing industry has been hit by a series of doping scandals and a rash of horse fatalities in recent years. More than two dozen people, including the trainer of champion Maximum Security, were charged in March in what authorities described as a widespread international scheme to drug horses to make them race faster.


Jason Servis, whose horse Maximum Security crossed the finish line first at the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference, was among those charged.



The House approved the bill by voice vote, sending it to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has co-sponsored similar legislation. McConnell’s home state of Kentucky boasts some of the country’s top breeding outfits and Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the fabled Triple Crown. Co-sponsors include senior Democrats from California and New York, which also have top racetracks and breeding operations.


Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., co-sponsored the House bill, calling it an overdue step to help restore public trust in the sport and “put it on a path to a long and vital future.”

“Horseracing has long been woven into the fabric of American culture,” Tonko said during House debate, citing storied names such as Secretariat and Man o’ War that “stir the imagination of racing fans” across the country and the world.


Racing also serves as a major economic driver in many parts of the country, including New York, said Tonko, whose district includes the well-known Saratoga Race Course.


Even so, the sport in recent years has seen “the devastating results that can occur when these equine athletes are pushed beyond their limits,” Tonko said.

Often aided by medications that can mask underlying health issues, the same tragic story “has played out countless times across the country,” he said, citing a patchwork of medical and safety regulations that are uneven and often unenforced.

The House bill would empower an independent Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to set uniform, national standards for medication, track safety and testing of horses for

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House Approves Bill to Combat Doping in Horse Racing | Political News

By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House approved a bill Tuesday to create national medication and safety standards for the horse racing industry to discourage use of performance-enhancing drugs that can lead to horse injuries and deaths.

The “Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act” comes after the racing industry has been hit by a series of doping scandals and a rash of horse fatalities in recent years. More than two dozen people, including the trainer of champion Maximum Security, were charged in March in what authorities described as a widespread international scheme to drug horses to make them race faster.

Jason Servis, whose horse Maximum Security crossed the finish line first at the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference, was among those charged.

The House approved the bill by voice vote, sending it to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has co-sponsored similar legislation. McConnell’s home state of Kentucky boasts some of the country’s top breeding outfits and Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the fabled Triple Crown. Co-sponsors include senior Democrats from California and New York, which also have top racetracks and breeding operations.

Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., co-sponsored the House bill, calling it an overdue step to help restore public trust in the sport and “put it on a path to a long and vital future.”

“Horseracing has long been woven into the fabric of American culture,” Tonko said during House debate, citing storied names such as Secretariat and Man o’ War that “stir the imagination of racing fans” across the country and the world.

Racing also serves as a major economic driver in many parts of the country, including New York, said Tonko, whose district includes the well-known Saratoga Race Course.

Even so, the sport in recent years has seen “the devastating results that can occur when these equine athletes are pushed beyond their limits,” Tonko said.

Often aided by medications that can mask underlying health issues, the same tragic story “has played out countless times across the country,” he said, citing a patchwork of medical and safety regulations that are uneven and often unenforced.

The House bill would empower an independent Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to set uniform, national standards for medication, track safety and testing of horses for performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs.

Tonko called the bill “a win for the industry, sports fans and equine athletes,” adding it would put horses at their rightful place as the center of racing.

The legislation is supported by a range of groups, including The Jockey Club, the New York Racing Association and the Humane Society of the United States.

“This anti-doping legislation will modernize horseracing in the U.S., put the welfare of the horses at the center of the enterprise and hold the industry to a higher standard that mirrors the rest of the world,” said Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, an advocacy group.

Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said

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House panel approves bill to combat doping in horse racing

WASHINGTON — A key House committee on Wednesday gave bipartisan approval to legislation to create national standards for the horse racing industry to prevent fatalities and discourage illegal medication practices. The Senate’s top Republican said he would press to pass the bill before the year is out.

The 46-5 vote in a Democratic-controlled panel is a good sign for the bill’s prospects.

“Our bill delivers commonsense medication and track safety standards that protect America’s horses and jockeys, needed progress that will put this popular and historic sport on track for a strong recovery and a bright future,” said top sponsor Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., whose district is home to Saratoga Race Course, a premier racetrack.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., whose state is home to the country’s top breeding outfits and the Kentucky Derby, introduced identical legislation with senior Democrats from California and New York, which also have top racetracks and breeding operations.

The “Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act” comes after the racing industry has been hit by a series of doping scandals and a rash of fatal breakdowns in recent years. It is also struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, with tracks like Churchill Downs holding races — including last weekend’s Kentucky Derby, delayed from May — without spectators.

Several top trainers were charged earlier this year with illegally doping their horses with performance-enhancing drugs, including Jason Servis, whose horse Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Derby but was disqualified for racing interference.

The legislation is aimed at empowering an independent Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority with federal recognition and enforcement power to set uniform standards for medication, track safety, and testing of horses for PEDs.

“Unfortunately, the coronavirus isn’t thoroughbred racing’s only challenge. In recent years, tragedies on the track, medication scandals and an inconsistent patchwork of regulations have cast clouds over the future,” McConnell said in a floor speech.

While blue-blood racing organizations such as the Jockey Club and key racing circuits support the idea, McConnell has not attracted cosponsors from states like Florida, Louisiana and New Jersey, where some of the sport’s scandals have occurred and where oversight is considered uneven at best. But Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce panel, is a strong supporter.

McConnell said in a brief hallway interview that the industry has long been plagued by disunity and that after reading a Washington Post editorial questioning whether racing should remain legal he told stakeholders “in the strongest possible way that they needed to get together or I would try to do it for them. And they did get together.”

McConnell said he hopes to win passage of the legislation before the end of the congressional session and plans to discuss the topic with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Also at issue is a series of horse fatalities in California in recent years, which has garnered the industry bad press and enemies like People

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House committee to hear proposed bill that would ban doping of horses on race day

Animal welfare advocates have been calling for federal regulations.

The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce plans to hear a proposed bill that would ban the doping of horses on race day — a key concern over the safety and wellbeing of racehorses.

The Committee is expected to amend and approve the Horseracing Integrity Act, or H.R. 1754, which would establish the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority as an independent, private non-profit corporation.

The authority, which would be overseen by the Federal Trade Commission, would be responsible for developing and administering an anti-doping and medication control program for racehorses as well as the personnel engaged in the care, training, or racing of the horses.

PHOTO: Authentic #18, ridden by jockey John Velazquez and the field break from the starting gate during the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 05, 2020.

Authentic #18, ridden by jockey John Velazquez and the field break from the starting gate during the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 05, 2020.

Authentic #18, ridden by jockey John Velazquez and the field break from the starting gate during the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 05, 2020.

The bill was introduced in March 2019 by U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Andy Barr, R-Ky. If approved, it would be taken up on the House floor.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced on Aug. 31 he would introduce compromise legislation, named the Horseracing Safety and Integrity (HISA) Act, which would incorporate many of the key provisions within H.R. 1754.

The proposed legislation comes after years of controversial horse deaths and animal welfare advocates calling for federal regulation of horse racing. In March 2019, Southern California’s Santa Anita Park introduced a zero-tolerance policy for almost all medication on race day after dozens of horses died within months of beginning the season.

“The doping of American racehorses has been a controversial issue over the past five years with hundreds of horses dying on racetracks annually, and the indictment of 37 trainers and veterinarians in March of 2020,” the Animal Wellness Action said in a statement Tuesday.

The legislation is supported by all three Triple Crown racetracks as well as the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, according to Animal Wellness Action.

“With the anticipated successful mark up in the House Energy and Commerce Committee today, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 will take a significant step forward toward passage in the House,” Humane Society President and CEO Kitty Block told ABC News in a statement. “The bill mirrors language being introduced today by Senate Majority Leader McConnell representing a state with deep economic stakes in racing

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