Horseracing integrity the topic of Congressional hearing

Mark Mulholland
Updated: January 28, 2020 06:50 PM
Created: January 28, 2020 05:49 PM

WASHINGTON D.C. - If there are problems with horseracing, they're hard to find at Saratoga Race Course. The famed track tends to buck the trend of declining support and interest, but it's not entirely without its challenges.

Horses break down here, though less frequently than most tracks.


"We've received countless promises from the industry for decades and yet here we are in 2020 with more than 40 deaths on the tracks at Santa Anita, further tarnishing the sport in the eyes of the American public," said Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko of Amsterdam, whose district - which includes Saratoga, is on a mission to wipe out horse deaths in racing.

Tonko is the co-sponsor of the Horseracing Integrity Act, a bill (H.R. 1754) that calls for uniform national regulations of horse medication and doping.

Several stakeholders, even those opposed, testified to a House subcommittee Tuesday that the bill will let the betting public know that all horses will be on equal footing.

"They're sick and tired of betting on races, not knowing who the cheaters are, not knowing which horses are coming out of barns that are not playing by the rules," said Hall of Fame Jockey Chris McCarron.

"This bill will not save racehorses, there will still be injuries, there will still be deaths. What it will do, I agree, is accomplish something in changing the public's perception," said Dennis Drazin, CEO of Darby Development, the operator of Monmouth Park Racetrack.

Drazin notes that he's opposed to the Tonko bill.

Long-time NY-based trainer and Hoosick Falls resident Gary Contessa supports the bill and says horseracing can't afford to put it off any longer.

"The lack of transparency is out of control, and we need to get behind this bill, if for no other reason, than to get the public to believe in us again."

NYRA President and CEO David O'Rourke is also supporting the Horseracing Integrity Act, writing to Congress, "The passage of H.R. 1754 is vital to equine health and the integrity of our sport, as well as the many industries it supports."

MORE INFORMATION: Horseracing Integrity Act

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