We just posted that H.R.1754, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) is set to be voted on today, Sept. 29th.
There are powerful horse racing groups who are in favor of the bill; there are powerful horse racing groups who are opposed to it. All have been lobbying strongly for their wills to be done.
The North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV), a group “whose mission is to ensure the health and well-being of the racehorse through protecting and improving the veterinary care and welfare of the equine athlete”, opposes the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, believing that its enactment would do just the opposite.
Last week, the group wrote to the Congressional Budget Office to provide details regarding some of the devastating economic effects to the horse racing industry that the legislation would create.
The U.S. Trotting Association, which, like the NAARV, the American Quarter Horse Association, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, and myriad other industry groups, opposes the HISA and have been urging all horsemen to read NAARV’s Congressional Budget Office letter.
They express many concerns. We will mention just a few excerpted from the letter cited above.
1. This bill seeks to eliminate the use of furosemide (also known as Lasix) on race day in two-year-old and Stakes Thoroughbreds for the first three years, and ultimately all Thoroughbreds after that.*
2. The result of this bill is taxation without representation: The actual people in the business, unrepresented by the Jockey Club, will have a new tax (the fees assessed by the Authority) in order to participate in Horse Racing.
3. The Authority (created by the bill to be the mouthpiece of the entire racing industry) will be a private, independent, self-regulated corporation. But it will have the ability to assess taxes (“fees”) on individuals and States. There is no provision in the bill for what
remuneration may be provided to Authority Board Members, nor to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for the administration of the Authority.
4. The bill does not limit its tax burden to the participants of the sport. The Federal Trade Commission will be tasked with its oversight, and Administrative Law Judges to hear any cases arising from medication violations will have to receive compensation. Such tax liability will fall on all taxpayers and not just the Horse racing industry.
*Anyone who is a friend of Lasix is not a friend of the racehorse.
We get the impression that the Jockey Club is doing a good deal of political bullying. Churchill Downs Incorporated are also in favor of the HISA, but they can be. CDI are moving away from live horse racing to predominantly historic horse racing and will not be impacted nearly as much as other horse racing industry groups will be if the HISA becomes law.
It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
What about the horse?
What we have noticed in all of this bandying back and forth is that almost all arguments are centered around the horse racing industry and very little about the racehorse. Actually the only concern we have seen about the racehorse is tied to the use of Lasix, which racehorses do not need to be safe and healthy at the racetrack. So phasing out Lasix is very, very good.
The bottom line is this: If a horse is a bleeder (and only a tiny percentage are), then they should not be raced. It is as simple as that. Few racing jurisdictions around the world use it. Yet it is used in virtually every racehorse in the U.S. It masks banned drugs in the horse’s system.
If you are interested, there is an excellent article published in the The Guardian newspaper of England dated 31 Aug 2014 — Lasix: The drug debate which is bleeding US horse racing dry.
Just underneath the title, the article states: “It may be performance-enhancing, it may mask drugs that are, or it may be just plain cruel. Or it may be none of the above. The only certainty is that the Lasix controversy is not going away”.
American horse racing seems to see racehorses as throw away animals. Once they are used up, if they haven’t been killed training or racing first, are sent to a slaughterhouse to be killed and turned into meat for foreign gormands. We would like to see them tackle that.
Featured Image: Racehorses out on the track at dawn, Los Alamitos. Associated Press image.