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Tonko, Barr Off to the Races with Horseracing Integrity Bill

Legislation would protect equine athletes, elevate ‘sport of kings’ with nationwide standards

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Washington, March 14, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTON—Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Horse Caucus, reintroduced H.R. 1754: the Horseracing Integrity Act today to establish a uniform national medication program, bringing the United States in line with international standards.

“Horseracing thrives when we put the majestic equine athlete front and center” Tonko said. “Our legislation creates a set of nationwide rules that are clear, consistent, and conflict-free. This will make horseracing safer for our equine athletes and jockeys while increasing confidence in the sport among the trainers, owners, horseplayers, and horseracing fans alike. This sport of kings has long supported good jobs and delivers billions of dollars in economic impact every year in my home state of New York and throughout the country. I am grateful to Congressman Barr for partnering with me on this common-sense legislation and look forward to advancing our measure through the House.”

“As the Representative for the Horse Capital of the World, I have the distinct honor of fighting for the future of this great American sport,” said Congressman Barr.  “I continue to believe the prosperity of Kentucky’s signature horseracing industry depends on national uniform medication standards and testing procedures.  I am proud to reintroduce this legislation with my friend and colleague, Congressman Tonko, and I look forward to building upon the great bipartisan work we secured last Congress, including more than 100 cosponsors, to ensure the safety and integrity of this sport is preserved for years to come.”

Under existing law, 38 state racing commissions make up the U.S. horseracing industry, producing an inconsistent patchwork of rules governing the sport, including medication policies and practices. Setting common-sense national standards consistent with horseracing worldwide would enable greater interstate collaboration and commerce and allow public confidence in the sport to flourish.

The Horseracing Integrity Act

  • Establishes a conflict-free, self-regulatory organization responsible for creating and implementing an anti-doping program for the entire horseracing industry
  • Develops standardized list of permitted and prohibited substances, treatments and methods for all covered races in the United States
  • Requires full & fair information disclosure to breeding stock purchasers and the wagering public
  • Bans the use of all medications within 24 hours of a race
  • Provides for the increased safety and welfare of horses, jockeys and drivers

“If each of the 32 National Football League teams set their own rules for legal and illegal medication use for athletes there would be constant confusion and an outcry for reform. Yet that’s exactly how the horseracing industry currently operates, and the reason why The Horseracing Integrity Act has the potential to be a real game changer for racehorses,” stated Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.  “We applaud Representatives Tonko and Barr for introducing this pro-animal welfare and pro-industry legislation that will ban race-day medication, create a uniform medication policy for all 38 racing jurisdictions, and substantially increase out-of-competition testing for racehorses.”

“Today over 1,700 members of the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) celebrate the reintroduction of The Horseracing Integrity Act in the House of Representatives,” said Staci Hancock, Managing Member on behalf of the Water Hay Oats Alliance. “We thank our sponsors, Congressmen Andy Barr and Paul Tonko, for working together in a bipartisan effort to achieve ‘clean racing’ and uniformity among the 38 racing jurisdictions in the United States. Passage of the Horse Racing Integrity Act is absolutely crucial to the future of American horse racing.  WHOA strongly believes it is the right thing for our industry.”

“The Jockey Club is grateful to Representatives Barr and Tonko for their strong support of the Horseracing Integrity Act,” said Jim Gagliano, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Jockey Club, “this legislation is vital for the health and safety of our athletes and the integrity of the sport of horse racing.”

This bill is supported by the Humane Society of the U.S., New York Racing Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Animal Welfare Institute, the Water Hay Oats Alliance, the Jockey Club, Animal Wellness Action, the Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the Stronach Group.

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