USTA opposes Horse Racing Integrity Act
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The U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) strongly opposes the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019 (S. 1820), which was introduced Wednesday (June 12) by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The legislation is bad for harness racing, horse racing, and the health and welfare of horses.
“At a time in which the industry is focused on preventing deaths, this legislation will have the opposite effect, and more horses will die,” said USTA President Russell Williams.
The legislation seeks to ban the use of a race-day, therapeutic medication called Lasix. Lasix is endorsed by veterinarians as the only known treatment for Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), a disease that causes bleeding in the lungs of a racehorse. Both the American Association of Equine Practitioners and North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians support the use of Lasix and oppose the legislation.
The bill also increases the cost of regulation and threatens the livelihoods of USTA members.
“This newly-created regulatory body will have to impose additional fees and costs on the industry because it will receive no federal funding. Harness racing horsemen will be hit particularly hard because most of them are working-class people,” added Williams. “It will drive many of them out of the business.”
According to a recent American Horse Council study, the racing industry contributes $36 billion annually to the national economy and provides 240,000 direct jobs. Any measure that will add further regulatory and cost burdens will only harm those state and local economies that depend on the industry.
Finally, the proposed legislation would federalize horse racing and place it under the control of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), adding an unnecessary layer of oversight to the current state-based system. It would create an unelected, national board that specifically prohibits current owners, trainers, drivers, and practicing veterinarians from serving on it.
“Why an unelected board at the FTC would be better at regulating horse racing than those that know our industry best is beyond me,” said Williams.
While the recent deaths in California are alarming, and more research needs to be done on what caused the tragedies, the proposed legislation would not have prevented a single death. Instead of working to reduce deaths in the industry, this legislation covers up the problem by pointing the finger at so-called “rampant doping” in the industry.
Test results prove that doping is not a problem. In 2018, the Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Program conducted by U.S. racing regulatory bodies and compiled by the Association of Racing Commissioners International found that 99.4 percent of all racehorses were compliant with the rules. The “clear” rate for Standardbred horses was even higher at 99.71 percent.
The USTA strongly opposes the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019 (S. 1820) and encourages all industry participants and racing fans to contact their U.S. Senator to express their opposition to Senator Gillibrand’s proposed legislation. (USTA)