Home » Congress passes Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act to create national industry oversight

Congress passes Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act to create national industry oversight

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Both chambers of Congress on Tuesday passed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), legislation to create national standards for the sport. If signed into law by President Trump as expected, the new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority will be an independent regulatory authority, similar to other professional sports, to set medication use and safety protocols.

The bipartisan legislation has earned broad support from trainers, breeders, jockeys, and other leaders of the Thoroughbred racing industry. In August, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (KY-06) joined horseracing leaders in Lexington, the Horse Capital of the World, to announce an agreement year in the making to create national standards for the sport.

HISA will be an independent regulatory authority, similar to other professional sports, to enforce medication use and safety protocols.

“This is a pivotal moment for the future of horseracing, a sport that will now be governed by world-class, uniform standards across the United States,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc.”

“The passage of HISA is a landmark moment for the Thoroughbred racing community’s ongoing efforts to ensure our horses are running under the safest and most transparent conditions possible and to protect the integrity of the sport for our athletes, horsemen, and fans,” said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason jointly with President-elect Shannon Arvin. “The independent authority established by HISA will bring a level of consistency and accountability that will improve our sport for years to come as they work to develop and implement uniform anti-doping, medication control, and operational measures. Keeneland is honored to have been involved in this ground-breaking legislation.

“This marks the single most significant safety and integrity development in the history of Thoroughbred racing. This moment also demonstrates that great progress can be accomplished when the industry works together,” said Drew Fleming, president, and CEO of Breeders’ Cup. “We recognize there is more to be done, and we look forward to working with our counterparts to build on this momentum and further improve the sport for generations to come.”

“With the passage of this bill, we restore confidence with our fans that the competition is clean, the game is fair and the horse and rider are protected,” said Stuart S. Janney, III, chairman of The Jockey Club.

Barr has authored, introduced, and advocated for such legislation for the last six years.

McConnell introduced HISA in the Senate, which passed it as part of the year-end government funding bill. The legislation now goes to President Trump’s desk to become law.

Barr and U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20) shepherded this final version of the bill through the House.

“With today’s passage of HISA in Congress we are in the final stretch of achieving the most transformational and consequential reform of the Thoroughbred horseracing industry since enactment of the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978,” Barr said Tuesday. “For almost a decade, I have worked with industry stakeholders and my congressional colleagues to build consensus around reforms that will protect equine athletes and strengthen confidence and international competitiveness in the sport.  I am proud to champion this historic, bipartisan legislation with Congressman Paul Tonko and Leader McConnell and I look forward to President Trump signing it into law.”

“Kentucky’s cherished horseracing traditions deserve to be protected. I’m proud the Senate agreed to my legislation to preserve our signature racing industry and the 24,000 workers who support it,” McConnell said. “With the leadership of Congressman Andy Barr and the partnership of sports leaders, horse advocates, and fans, we’re one step closer to promoting fairness and safety across Thoroughbred racing. As Majority Leader, I made this Kentucky-focused legislation a top priority in the Senate. I look forward to this major advancement for our beloved sport becoming law.”

U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)—senators representing states with prominent racetracks—were original cosponsors in the Senate.

“This is the day that the members of the Water Hay Oats Alliance have long been waiting for,” said Staci Hancock, managing member of the WHOA. “Since 2012 our grassroots movement has supported the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in horseracing. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act brings much-needed drug and medication reform, as well as national track safety standards, to our sport. It is with great pride and complete satisfaction that WHOA celebrates the bill’s passage.”