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SOANY opposes Horse Racing Integrity Act

September 30, 2020

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The Standardbred Owners Association of New York (SOANY), representing thousands of harness horsemen across New York State, strongly opposes S.4547, the federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020.

While our harness horsemen absolutely take issues of safety and integrity seriously, the fact of the matter is that this legislation was clearly written specifically for the Thoroughbred industry and will do absolutely nothing to benefit the well-being of Standardbred horses or our game.

On the contrary, the passage of S.4547 will have significant negative impacts on the harness racing industry and will have the unintended consequence of putting the health of our equine athletes — and ultimately the livelihoods of thousands of industry stakeholders — at risk.

• Harness racing will be a regulatory afterthought — the new federal authority created by this bill will be controlled by a majority of members who have little experience in the horse racing industry and who will be entirely beholden to Thoroughbred interests. Harness racing interests have been excluded from the formulation of this bill and will no doubt continue to be excluded under this new regulatory structure.

• Elimination of race-day Lasix will harm Standardbreds — Thoroughbred interests have again excluded harness horsemen and veterinary experts from this important discussion, as the fact remains that the USTA and major veterinarian organizations have long endorsed the use of Lasix in the best interests of the health of Standardbred racehorses.

• New costs will drive stakeholders out of harness racing — finally, there is no question that a new surcharge of nearly $50 per race will end up causing significant economic hardship and ultimately drive owners, trainers and other horsemen out of the harness racing industry. Once again, this fee structure was clearly developed with Thoroughbred interests in mind — as T-breds race exponentially fewer times each year — and without any understanding of the economic realities of harness racing or the agricultural industries it supports.

If the goal of this legislation is to address the high-profile safety and integrity concerns that have roiled the Thoroughbred industry in recent years, then the United States Senate should go back to the drawing board and write legislation that focuses solely on those issues and does not have the unintended consequence of injuring Standardbred horses and damaging harness racing. We once again urge the Senate to reject S.4547.

Please contact SOA President Joe Faraldo at 718.544.6800 or the SOA’s governmental affairs representative, Joni Yoswein at 212.233.5700, should you have any questions and thank you for your consideration. (SOANY)

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