U.S. Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY) reintroduced the Horse Racing Integrity Act, H.R.1754. This federal bill aims to better protect America’s racehorses by (1) replacing outdated state-by-state drug and medication rules with one national standard, (2) ban race-day medication and (3) increase out-of-competition testing. The bill has support from a number of racing industry leaders and animal welfare groups.
For many years, the drug crisis in the horse racing industry has led to the premature deaths of thousands of horses. The problem started in 1980 when Congress decided to leave it up to individual states to come up with their own rules on what drugs to allow in horse racing. This led to various state laws with no uniform national standard. The lack of one standard opened the door for unethical trainers who travel from state to state to avoid penalties while continuing to dope and race the horses.
The widespread use of legal and illegal drugs has caused many problems for both horses and riders. Drugs that allow a horse to push through pain, which intensifies any injury, or the forcing of worn-out horses to compete, have resulted in career-ending injuries and even death. Overuse and abuse of drugs administered too close to race time can mask lameness in horses during their pre-race exams endangering both horse and rider during a race.
Many American racehorses are currently given race-day drugs to enhance their performance, a practice which is banned in most other countries. If a horse needs drugs in order to compete, that horse should not be on the track.
When this bill was introduced in the last Congress it had 132 cosponsors. Please contact your U.S. House reps and urge them to cosponsor the Horse Racing Integrity Act, H.R.1754. Find your reps here.