Today marks a turning point toward a bright future for American horse racing, the health and welfare of its horses and jockeys, and the integrity of the sport. After years of negotiation and compromise, it is with great pride and complete satisfaction that the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) celebrates the inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) in the 2020 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The Omnibus passed through both houses of Congress late last night and currently awaits President Trump’s signature.
WHOA’s sincere appreciation goes to House Sponsors, Congressmen Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY), who worked together in a bi-partisan effort to keep our goals alive during the last eight years, over the course of three sessions of Congress. WHOA’s reform efforts would not have been possible without their dedicated support. Much gratitude also goes to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who brought the remaining diverse industry factions together and carried us across the finish line with a bill that will not only bring about drug and medication reform through the creation of a gold-standard anti-doping program, but also important track safety initiatives. The bill would not have passed without him.
WHOA has long supported the appointment of an independent anti-doping program run by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to tackle the problem of widespread drug use in American racing.
HISA meets that goal and our members look forward to the development of a gold standard program led by USADA. It is obvious that after years of committee review and discussion, America’s racing industry can not police it self, nor does it possess the power to adequately punish those who take advantage of the broken state-to-state system. Under the new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority national, uniform rules, testing procedures and penalties will be adopted in sync with international standards.
The passage of HISA was brought about by a broad-based effort. Today would not have been possible without the hard work of WHOA’s partners in the Coalition for Horseracing Integrity (CHRI), particularly Stuart Janney at The Jockey Club and Jeff Gural at The Meadowlands, along with animal welfare partners at Animal Wellness Action (AWA), Horses for Life Foundation, the American Society for the Prevention Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and WHOA Supporters too numerous to mention. It truly took a village.
Credit is due to the more than 2,000 individual industry participants in Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarterhorse racing who joined WHOA’s grass roots movement in support of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. Hand-in-hand, they have worked diligently to reach this monumental day for our horses, our sport and racing’s future.
For more information, visit WHOA’s website at: www.waterhayoatsalliance.com