Horseracing Integrity Act gains attention ahead of the Kentucky Derby

May 04, 2019 04:05 PM

The Kentucky Derby take places May 4, and it may be a little overshadowed this year. It comes after 23 horses over three months have died at the Santa Anita Park in California. 

Those deaths have created more buzz around the Horseracing Integrity Act. It's legislation recently reintroduced by local Congressman Paul Tonko and Congressman Andy Barr from Kentucky. 

Under existing law, the American horseracing industry is regulated state by state, which means inconsistent rules regarding medication use and enforcement across 38 racing jurisdictions. This legislation would create a uniform national medication program for race horses.

"Which drugs can be used, which can't at what time and application,” said Congressman Tonko. “Undoing the same day medication opportunity that has been out there, making certain that horses that should not be racing that day are not, simply being given a certain series or drugs."

Congressman Tonko said the bill has been gaining more sponsors recently. It is also supported by the New York Racing Association, which runs the Saratoga Race Course. The Saratoga Race Course, along with the triple crown sites have all recently announced they plan to phase out the use of the medication Lasix, which makes horses weigh less at race time.

However, not everyone feels the Horse Racing Integrity Act is a fix to the problem. 

“Instead of looking at it as a sport that needs to be cleaned up like baseball during the steroid era or heavyweight boxing look at it what it is animal exploitation, animal cruelty,” said Patrick Battuello, the founder and president of Horseracing Wrongs.

Battuello wants to see the multi-billion dollar industry done away with all together. He said even if the legislation passes and medications are monitored, it still won’t keep horses from dying on the tracks. 

“The Horse Racing Integrity Act passes and they get the killing down to roughly 1,000 horses, is that ok for a two dollar bet?” said Battuello. 


Emily De Vito

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