A bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, that would create the first set of national regulations for the thoroughbred horse-racing industry took its next step toward becoming law Tuesday as it passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote.
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, co-sponsored by Tonko and Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., would designate the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to implement uniform national medication and track safety standards for the thoroughbred industry.
“After nearly six years working to advance this bipartisan legislation to modernize horseracing in the United States, we are at long last rounding the final turn,” Tonko said in a press release. “Our Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act puts the health and well being of our equine athletes and jockeys firmly at the center of the sport, and delivers commonsense medication and track safety standards that will lift this noble sport to higher standards of integrity and safety. These long overdue reforms will help restore public trust in the sport and put it on a path to a long and vital future, supporting countless jobs and driving economic activity in communities across our nation.”
The bill passed by the House Tuesday has companion Senate legislation introduced recently by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R, Ky., and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Martha McSally, R-Ariz. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Should that legislation pass the Senate, it would then go to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.
Tonko first introduced the legislation in 2015, and has renewed his push for the bill since 2019. The bill would ban race-day medications for all thoroughbreds, and set up an independent commission to make recommendations on issues like the use of equine medications, which are regarded by some as performance-enhancing drugs during training.
The racing industry has generated increased scrutiny in recent years due to the number of horses who die or suffer fatal injuries during racing and training.
“The passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act in the U.S. House of Representatives paves the way for a uniform, national approach to medication control and anti-doping across the sport,” New York Racing Association President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement. “Thanks to Rep. Paul Tonko and Rep. Andy Barr, today’s bi-partisan vote leaves no doubt as to the importance of this legislation in securing the future of horse racing in the United States. NYRA urges the U.S. Senate to quickly consider and pass the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.”
“I have had the good fortune to win the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, nine Breeders’ Cup races, four Travers stakes, and an Eclipse Award as the outstanding trainer in North America, so I know a little about U.S. horse racing,” Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Shug McGaughey said in a press release. “The HISA, which includes racetrack safety to further enhance the anti-doping program in the Horseracing Integrity Act, will bring meaningful standards to help protect thoroughbred racehorses and to safeguard the integrity and future of our sport.”