Laughing hyena. Photographer unknown.

House Cmte to consider thoroughbred racing reform legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVQ) — The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce has officially scheduled a markup hearing for H.R. 1754, the Horseracing Integrity Act, led by U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Andy Barr, R-Ky., for Wednesday.

The markup, which gives committee members the opportunity to present changes or amendments before it is sent to the full House for consideration, comes on the heels of an announcement last week from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that he will introduce compromise legislation.

McConnell’s bill, expected to be introduced this week, and named the Horseracing Safety and Integrity (HISA) Act, would replicate many of the key provisions within H.R. 1754, including a ban on race-day doping, the establishment of a uniform national standard for rules and regulations for thoroughbred horseracing in the U.S. that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

The doping of American racehorses has been a controversial issue over the past five years with horses dying on racetracks annually, and the indictment of 37 trainers and veterinarians in March 2020.

The legislative effort is now supported by all three Triple Crown racetracks, as Churchill Downs has endorsed the effort for the first time. The effort continues to enjoy the support of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI), which includes the Jockey Club, the Breeders Cup, Keeneland Racecourse, the Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association, the Water Hay Oats Alliance, and animal welfare groups like Animal Wellness Action.

The fractured nature of anti-doping and track safety efforts across the U.S.’s 38 racing jurisdictions has undermined the public’s confidence in horseracing, threatened the integrity of competition, and endangered the human and equine athletes.

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We say

Let us be perfectly clear about this. Horse racing is running for cover. They are scared witless. They see that the days of horse racing are numbered. In the meantime, they will try to sustain their doomed run as long as they possibly can, with desperate pieces of legislation like this one. Sorry but it is much, much too late.

Churchill Downs Incorporated is the only racing jurisdiction who saw the handwriting on the wall years ago and began diversifying. Their aim, or so it appears to us, is to become a huge gambling conglomerate which includes little to no live horse racing with the possible exception of the Kentucky Derby. Churchill appears to care very little about the other two races that comprise the Triple Crown. That Crown has been tarnished by super doper and cheater Bob Baffert and those of similar ilk.

In the meantime statements are being made that with this new Mitch McConnell led bill the end of racehorse doping is in sight. One feels like bursting out with hyena like howls of hysterical laughter. If you read or hear anyone making that statement, consider them a damn fool.

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