Under McConnell Bill, Breeders To Help Pay For Integrity Program

September 21, 2020

An analysis being prepared of newly proposed legislation by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell will, for the first time, put the thoroughbred breeding industry under racing regulation and require breeders help pay for the sport’s anti-doping and medication enforcement programs. 

The analysis is being prepared on behalf of the Association of Racing Commissioners International so the group can prepare for a “smooth transition” should the measure be enacted.  

In December, 2017 the ARCI called for closing the “regulatory gap” to better protect horses by requiring oversight – publicly or privately – of those segments of the industry that do not fall under the authority of a state racing commission. Such expansion of regulatory authority at the state or federal level would require legislation and industry support, which did not materialize.   

The McConnell bill falls short of what the ARCI had envisioned, but does require Breeders register with the newly formed NGO (non-governmental organization) and to be considered as “covered persons” eligible for assessments to help pay for the proposed Authority and its Enforcement Agency. Costs associated with this program have yet to be disclosed but are expected to be in excess of the total funds now being paid by all the state agency programs currently in existence. Costs assessed by the new Authority may depend on the extent to which the existing state based enforcement infrastructure is used.

The bill also requires the disclosure of horses that have been treated with bisphosphonate drugs.  

In July, 2019, the ARCI formally requested The Jockey Club institute a private program of equine welfare regulation using their existing authority and special status in all state racing rulebooks.  No federal or state legislation would be required for such a program.

The ARCI advocated for horses not yet under the jurisdiction of a racing commission to require submission of all veterinary records and perform suitability reviews that could be used to better identify horses in need of increased monitoring as a safeguard.  “The brutal reality is that some horses needs to be monitored more aggressively and this can only be done by an entity with existing authority to do so or with one specifically empowered by statute,” Martin said, noting that RCI continues to assess whether the McConnell bill will accomplish this.

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