Congressman Andy Barr: Horseracing Integrity Act Needed

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With the introduction of the Horseracing Integrity Act March 14 in the United States House of Representatives, BloodHorse on-line editor Frank Angst caught up with Rep. Andy Barr (Republican, Ky.), who introduced the rules with Rep. Paul Tonko (Democrat, N.Y.) The invoice, which would create a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority accountable for developing and administering a national anti-doping and medicine control program for horse racing, become delivered with 27 co-sponsors and become stated the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Horseracing Integrity Act is backed by way of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, a diverse organization of 18 individuals that includes racing corporations, racetracks, proprietor and breeder institutions, and animal welfare corporations that guide adoption of a national uniform general for drug and medicinal drug regulations in horse racing. CHRI counts among its contributors BloodHorse proprietors The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.  Five days after the bill was brought, Barr expressed optimism due to the fact he stated there may be greater information that horse racing has end up an industry this is national in scope.

 

He stated the current country-by means of-kingdom regulatory framework has fallen short on uniformity and noted that the contemporary law might be funded within the enterprise—not by means of horseplayers via delivered takeout. BloodHorse: What are a number of the motives you have been so devoted to this rules? Andy Barr: My first time period in Congress, I changed into learning about the issue. I had been round the horse enterprise my whole existence, my grandfather (J. B. Faulconer) became vp of public members of the family at Keeneland again within the ’60s, I grew up going to Three Chimneys Farm with my pal Case Clay—being around Seattle Slew and going out to Keeneland as a younger man and being a fan. You can not avoid it in case you develop up in Lexington, Kentucky. Even in my regulation practice, as a young legal professional we represented horse farms and we labored on various troubles associated with the horse industry. So I had familiarity with the industry however I spent those first few years in Congress virtually listening to all facets, from proprietors, breeders, trainers, the tracks—kind of getting a lay of the land.  Of path this has been a long-standing movement and effort to cope with the difficulty of medication in Thoroughbred racing. I took a take a look at the mins of the Jockey Club Round Table from 1980, when my grandfather became going to those meetings. In the early ’80s I trust my grandfather turned into vice chairman of Thoroughbred Racing Associations. I just type of desired to look what my grandfather was listening to on the time. (Then Jockey Club Chairman) Nicholas Brady gave a speak and it become remarkable. They had been speakme about the equal problems 30, 40 years ago—which became ‘What will we do about doping? What will we do about medication?’

I got here to the realization that for the future prosperity of the industry, after taking note of my ingredients and absolutely soaking up the arguments on all facets, that we do want to do all we can do to make sure uniformity. Especially while you take into account the differences in U.S. Racing and foreign jurisdictions—in which they’re—I wanted to do some thing that could deliver the U.S. Up to global requirements within the way we modify remedy. BH: In terms of uniformity, there are nevertheless differences from kingdom to nation under this regulatory model.  AB: That’s a hassle for me. Thoroughbred racing within the Thirties changed into more of an intrastate proposition. There had been some horses who manifestly traveled, but it wasn’t like it is nowadays. Today maximum Thoroughbreds are moving across nation traces, their starts are at distinct racetracks throughout the country. Obviously ninety% of the take care of is being wagered via (advance-deposit wagering) systems and simulcast wagering. It’s now not like most of the manage is at one track in one state.  So with a view to entice that new generation of fan, we want to ensure that there’s uniformity inside the guidelines of racing. I do not assume everybody could say, ‘Well, university basketball regulations must be distinct due to the fact you’re gambling inside the East Region instead of the South Region.’ Or while Kentucky performs Abilene Christian, they’re going to be playing with a 25-foot three-point line, however while Duke plays, they’re going to be playing with a 20-foot 3-factor line. It’s better for the game, better for the fans, if the wagering public has confidence that every one of those racehorses are racing beneath a unmarried set of uniform nationwide rules. We want to do as plenty as we are able to to ensure the protection and integrity of the sport. BH: Reading through the bill, it seems quite similar to the law that become put forward two years in the past. Would you are saying that’s a pretty accurate description or are there a few adjustments? AB: That’s quite accurate but there are multiple modifications. We’ve internalized a number of the comments, specifically from the horsemen who have been particularly vital of the rules or worried approximately the regulation.  The funding mechanism has continually been type of a sticking factor. So we’ve integrated into the invoice a checkoff application (funding by way of enterprise stakeholders) so that not handiest will you not have any threat to the takeout, but there could be a checkoff system to finance the new anti-doping authority. And it truly is similar to what we see in different packages in agriculture with the USDA. BH: So you looked at some different applications to look how they do their investment and it’s modeled off of that? AB: Correct. I suppose it is a less debatable way of financing the regulatory structure.

BH: The makeup in Congress has modified due to the fact that a preceding model of this bill changed into introduced in 2017. Do you have any experience as to how that may effect its possibilities of advancing? AB: You never know. In general, the rules has momentum. Whether it’s been Democrats or Republicans in fee, this has been a bipartisan effort. We had over a hundred bipartisan co-sponsors in the closing Congress—extraordinarily even in terms of the distribution of the sponsors of the invoice.  Congressman Tonko serves at the committee of jurisdiction, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has helped. There’s a few sturdy help on that committee. I was capable of touch Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon, the rating Republican on that committee, approximately the problem and help train him on the problem. He became interested enough to preserve a listening to when Republicans had been still on top of things of that committee.  So it is a bipartisan attempt and momentum maintains to construct as members of Congress emerge as more educated and understand that this virtually is interstate trade and the Congress does have jurisdiction over the issue. Let’s face it, no longer all individuals of Congress constitute Saratoga or Keeneland. Not all contributors represent Santa Anita or Belmont. So for participants who don’t have a colourful horse enterprise of their districts, there may be a gaining knowledge of curve.

BH: Within the industry, in protecting this law, it appears that evidently the most divisive problem is race-day medicinal drug—Lasix. Why are you so dedicated to keeping the race-day remedy prohibition inside the bill? AB: The coalition that backs the invoice has been supportive of that. Frank Stronach’s endorsement in the closing Congress changed into truly conditioned on that ban on race-day medicinal drug. I assume you’ve got seen what The Stronach Group has completed within the aftermath of the tragedies in California. I applaud The Stronach Group for taking a 0 tolerance coverage, bringing those racetracks as much as global standards.  I need to make a factor, and I assume perhaps a few horsemen and veterinarians don’t understand my views in this absolutely. I do not have a problem with therapeutic medication. I think there’s a role for therapeutic medicinal drug. Human athletes require healing medication; equine athletes want healing medicinal drug. The secret’s, we want on race day there to be a drug-loose surroundings wherein the horses are sound, in which the horses are in true situation, in which they may be no longer prompted by using any performance-improving medicinal drugs, and it is truly approximately truthful opposition. That’s why we think out-of-competition testing is likewise suitable.  But once more, we are not presenting an anti-doping authority that would ban all medications, such as all therapeutic medicinal drugs, always. We’re just announcing, let’s have uniform medication rules. Let’s have vibrant lines among permissible therapeutics and impermissible overall performance-enhancing capsules and doping. And allow’s permit the professionals, a various move-section of the enterprise, on what the regulations should truly be. BH: Is there help from this bill from past the racing industry? AB: The Humane Society (of the United States) has always advocated our law. Frankly, you have got a few agencies available that do not understand the enterprise and are frankly a bit radical, like (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). One of the motivations in the back of the regulation is to save you these radical organizations like PETA in their preference to damage this exquisite industry. The fact of the matter is that this enterprise treats those equine athletes, whether or not they’re at the racetrack or retired, better than any other animals. This is a humane recreation. This is a game that treats those horses with admire and the vast, massive majority of trainers and proprietors and breeders—horsemen and jockeys—they take care of these animals very, very well. We need to put off any argument that any radical group like PETA should ever ought to hurt our game.

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