U.S. House passes horse racing safety bill

National legislation designed to standardize medication and safety protocols in horse racing passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support Tuesday. A form of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act has been around since 2015, but it never had the traction to make it onto the House floor until this year.



a group of people sitting at a table in front of a fence: Horses run in front of empty stands at Santa Anita Park on March 14. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)


© (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Horses run in front of empty stands at Santa Anita Park on March 14. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has introduced the same bill in the Senate, although there is no date set for committee markup or a vote. It is expected to pass before the end of the year.

The House bill was introduced by Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), who represents the area around Saratoga, and Andy Barr (R-Ky.), who represents the area around Keeneland and horse farms near Lexington.

The bill has support from all the major racetrack organizations and animal welfare groups. It is, though, a concept with some broad principles rather than a specific plan to be executed at the state level. Currently, there are 38 different jurisdictions that regulate horse racing.

“[Tuesday’s] historic passage … by an overwhelmingly favorable bipartisan vote reflects broad industry support of much-needed national standards for anti-doping and medication control as well as racetrack safety,” said Alex Waldrop, president and chief executive of the National Thoroughbred Racing Assn.

While the idea is to standardize rules and regulations across the country, there appears to be some room for states to impose their own rules, which would no longer make it a national standard. If horse racing is truly standardized, some jurisdictions may have to relax their regulations.

New Jersey, for example, recently outlawed the use of the riding crop, also called a whip, except in the case of safety. It’s the most strict rule in the country. A new whip rule goes into effect in California on Thursday in which a horse can be struck no more than six times and only in an underhand motion.

The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Assn., which represents around 30,000 owners and trainers, has been the most vocal in its opposition to the bill. Among its objections is the proposed banning of the drug Lasix, which is used to treat exercise-induced bleeding from the lungs. The HBPA contends there have not been enough veterinary studies conducted to justify this move.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is one of the co-sponsors of the Senate bill, but the California Horse Racing Board has reservations about the bill’s passage. At Thursday’s CHRB meeting, Executive Director Scott Chaney expressed concern over fears that standards could be relaxed or that the highly respected UC Davis laboratory might be shut out of testing if it is taken over by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency as the bill proposes. The board, though has not taken a formal position on the matter.

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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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