As the US Senate passed the year-end government funding bill, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act were also included. The Act aims at setting and recognizing a national standard for the Thoroughbred racing industry. At the time of writing, the bill is awaiting the President's signature before it becomes law. It was considered a long shot by most in the Thoroughbred racing industry, but as soon as President Donald Trump appends his signature, it will become a reality.
Congressman Paul Tonko, Andy Bar, and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, all spearheaded the passage of the bill in the House of Representative and Senate. In a statement, McConnel said, "Kentucky's cherished horseracing deserve to be protected. I am proud the Senate agreed to my legislation to preserve our signature racing industry and the 24,000 workers who support it. With the leadership of Congressman Andy Barr and the Partnership of sports leaders, horse advocates, and fans, we are one step closer to promoting fairness and safety across Thoroughbred racing."
The two other legislators bought expressed their satisfaction and excitement over the passage of the bill in Congress. Both legislators are keen on protecting the values of Thoroughbred racing while giving room for reform in the industry. Tonko stated that the Act will provide additional jobs, better appreciate the equine athletes, and most importantly, save the sports. With regards to drugs and safety issues, an independent regulatory body will be set up through the Act that will set medication and safety protocols. Hopefully, the criticisms of the industry over this issue will come to an end with the signing of this bill into law.
Several top organizations and racetracks lent their voice to the push that was led by The Jockey Club. Some of these organizations are:
- Breeders' Cup
- Water Hay Oats Alliance
- Del Mar
- Churchill Downs
- The New York Racing Association
- The Stronach Group
As soon as the bill is turned into law, the "Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority" will swing into action to ensure a framework is set ahead of July 1, 2022, in which it will take effect. The "Authority," which will be a board made up of nine members will also be tasked with developing and implementing a horseracing anti-doping, end-medication program, and a racetrack safety program for covered horses.
Reactions From Industry Leaders Following the Passage of the Bill
Staci Hancock, Managing Member of the Water Hay Oats Alliance
"This is the day that members of the Water Hay Oats Alliance have been waiting for. Since 2012, our grassroots movement has supported the passage of legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing. We thank Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and House Sponsors, Congressmen Andy Barr and Paul Tonko, for getting it across the finish line."
Drew Fleming, President, and CEO of Breeders' Cup
"This marks the single most significant safety and integrity development in the history of Thoroughbred racing. Breeders' Cup thanks House and Senate leadership for their support and applauds Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for bringing the industry together to build consensus on meaningful reforms and regulations. Breeders’ Cup is proud to have played a role in this effort."