The National Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) announces its opposition to the Senate version of the Horseracing Integrity Act (S. 1820), introduced last week by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Martha McSally (R-AZ). On behalf of Thoroughbred race horse owners and trainers, the HBPA has been steadfast in its opposition to the House companion measure introduced earlier this year by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY-20) and Andy Barr (R-KY-06) (H.R. 1754).

“Senator Gillibrand and Senator McSally have clearly been misguided. Banning race day Lasix will cause more equine deaths, and additional regulations will cause jobs to be lost,” stated Eric Hamelback, CEO of the HBPA.

The HBPA fully supports the veterinary community and the science on which they base their opinions. Under S. 1820, owners, trainers, and veterinarians would no longer have the choice to utilize the therapeutic, legal medication furosemide, more commonly known as Lasix. Lasix is used in horses to control or prevent Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhages (EIPH), or “bleeding” and has been used safely and humanely for the last 40 years in American horse racing. Horses often experience EIPH episodes during intense exercise, such as during races. Current industry policy endorses and strictly regulates the use of this medication on race day because it is in the best interests of the health and welfare of the horse.

“If Lasix is completely banned the number of fatalities on race tracks throughout the country will increase. While we are committed to finding answers that will prevent, reduce, and solve the occurrence of any fatality for our thoroughbred athletes, this bill is NOT the answer.” said Hamelback.

Also, the HBPA has deep concerns about the additional fees and costs that S. 1820 would place on those in the horse racing industry. For the smaller industry folks, these new fees will be the tipping point that pushes them out of the business. While wealthy owners may not feel the pinch, rural and agrarian jobs will be lost, and lives will be devastated. This loss of income will have a rippling effect on state and local economies that depend on the industry.

Hamelback believes the introduction of this legislation is a misguided attempt to address the recent equine deaths in California: “S. 1820 would not have prevented one single death. My members are as concerned as any about the recent tragedies in California, and we agree more independent research needs to be done to discover the cause of these deaths. However, implying that the racing industry is rampant with doping and that this legislation is the solution is completely wrongheaded.”

The HBPA strongly opposes the Horseracing Integrity Act and encourages industry participants to voice their opposition by contacting their representatives in Congress.