Two Congressman representing two centers of horse racing, upstate New York and Kentucky, have re-introduced a bill intended to improve the sport of kings with new anti-doping requirements.
For racing fans, this time of year is the middle of the Triple Crown season. The Belmont Stakes is only weeks away.
For Kentucky Representative Andy Barr, a Republican from Lexington, it’s the perfect time to re-introduce a bill that failed to move forward in the House last year: The Horseracing Integrity Act.
“And the reason why we’re re-introducing the bill is that we believe that the time has come for uniform medication rules in American horse racing,” said Barr.
Barr and co-sponsor Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko argue uniform rules across all states would ensure the integrity, competitiveness and safety of horse racing.
Barr said there’s currently a patchwork of regulations across dozens of racing jurisdictions.
“This lack of uniformity in the rules of horse racing has impaired interstate commerce and it has undermined public confidence in the sport,” said Barr.
Tonko, who represents Saratoga Springs, the home of the famed Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Casino Hotel, said it’s important the bill represent a spectrum of opinions in the racing industry.
“What I like about this legislation is that it values the equine athlete,” said Tonko.
Tonko says racing means big business in New York. It’s a $4 billion industry in the state.
There have been some improvements made to the bill this year. It will not only adhere to thoroughbreds, but also standardbreds and quarterhorses.
The new version of the bill also includes a prohibition on race-day medication. Barr said that provision was added with the backing of race track operator Frank Stronach and the Stronach Group
Tonko said the changes made will help strengthen support for it in Congress and in the industry.
“Every change that’s been made here to add to the Horseracing Integrity Act has been added to broaden and strengthen the coalition,” said Tonko.
Tonko said the bill will now be shopped around for more sponsors in Congress and will be the subject of hearings in the Energy and Commerce Committee, of which he is a ranking member.
The bill has gotten support from industry groups including the Humane Society of the U.S., the Jockey Club, and The New York Racing Association, which oversees thoroughbred racing at Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga.