Ky. delegation pushes horse racing reform bill through House

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WASHINGTON (KT) - Bipartisan legislation to reform the thoroughbred racing industry, co-sponsored by a member of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, cleared the U.S. House on Tuesday.


The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., received voice vote approval.


The bill includes a ban on race-day doping, the establishment of a uniform national standard for rules, and regulations for U.S. horseracing that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The measure s intended to address the safety and welfare of racehorses, and the integrity of the sport itself, through better anti-doping measures and racetrack safety standards.


Barr says the passage moves one step closer toward historic reform for the horse racing industry.  “This legislation, developed through a highly deliberative and bipartisan process, will ensure the safety of our equine athletes and increase the popularity, public confidence, and international competitiveness of the sport.  I want to thank my House colleagues for supporting this legislation which will usher in a new era for this great Kentucky, and great American, industry.”


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate, saluted the House action.  “Our bipartisan legislation to recognize a national standard for Thoroughbred racing is receiving support from all corners.  Now, it’s earned the approval of the House. Today’s vote was another important step toward protecting our beloved sport for the horses, jockeys, trainers, breeders, and fans.”


Other Senate co-sponsors include Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, along with Arizona Republican Martha McSally.


The measure also enjoys the support of Anthony Beck, president and CEO of Gainesway Farm in Lexington.


“As an owner and breeder, nothing is more important to me than the welfare of my horses,” he stated.  “Horses are the heart of this industry, and they deserve our respect. There is no place in our sport for race-day medication, and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act will ensure our horses race medication-free.”


On August 31, Barr and McConnell announced a consensus among prominent equine industry stakeholders that builds on the prior version of the Horseracing Integrity Act.


“Doping of athletes in sport to enhance performance is widely recognized as a form of cheating in human competition,” said Marty Irby, Executive Director of Animal Wellness Action, who testified before Congress on the issue in January.  It’s equally wrong and even more dangerous for the athletes involved to allow widespread doping in American horse racing.”


McConnell’s sponsorship, along with bipartisan support, likely means the bill will have an easy time in the Senate.

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