Statement from the National HBPA Board of Directors

On September 9, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 (HISA) with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The bill takes regulatory authority from state racing commissions and creates a new regulatory body responsible to the Federal Trade Commission. The new federal authority would establish and enforce a national racing medication and track safety program for the horse racing industry. Senator McConnell announced his legislation was a compromise within the industry, but there can be no compromise without consulting the views of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), which represents close to 30,000 race horse owners and trainers.

The National HBPA has reviewed the proposed legislation and affirmatively states at this time we oppose the HISA.

  • Banning Lasix before studying it “is putting the cart before the horse,” as Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR), a veterinarian, stated during the September 9 markup of the companion legislation in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. The legislation works to phase out an important, protective medication, commonly known as Lasix, over the next three years. Lasix is the only known medication to treat a condition called Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), or bleeding in the lungs. EIPH threatens the health and wellbeing of many racehorses and until an alternative treatment is developed, the National HBPA believes that Lasix should be utilized on race day. Science and national veterinary leadership continue to support the administration of Lasix on race-day.
  • The new authority regulating horseracing nationwide will be governed by a board with a majority of members having no experience in the horseracing industry. And the board will be handpicked by the same elite interest groups pushing this legislation.
  • The legislation will be paid for on the backs of our membership. Unlike other legislation, Congress has not authorized any federal dollars to be spent on the proposed authority. The new authority will end up levying millions of dollars in fees on horsemen to pay for the new regulatory scheme. Given the economic hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, these new fees will likely put many small business owners and operators out of business.

The National HBPA and its affiliates remain strongly committed to the welfare of our human and equine athletes and will remain persistent in its efforts to achieve industry reforms that are fair and beneficial for all.