September XX, 2020
The Honorable XX
XX Senate/House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator/Representative XX:
The United States Trotting Association advocates for the betterment of the horse and horse racing on behalf of Standardbred racehorse owners, trainers and backstretch personnel. In that context, the USTA and many others who are supportive of the horse industry are very concerned about, and have strong feelings against, the newly-introduced Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 (HISA).
If enacted, the HISA would, over the next three years, mandate a phase out of an important, protective medication, commonly known as Lasix. Lasix is the only known medication to treat a condition called Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), or bleeding in the lungs. Because EIPH threatens the health and well-being of many racehorses, we believe that, until an alternative treatment is developed, Lasix should be utilized on race day. Lasix is not performance enhancing, it is not doping, and due to the very sensitive capabilities of testing, it cannot be used to mask illegal medications. Science and national veterinary leadership groups continue to support the administration of Lasix on race-day. If bill sponsors truly care for the health of racehorses, they should consider an independent, peer-reviewed, U.S.-based, large-scale study on Lasix prior to implementing any ban on race day Lasix.
Additionally, the HISA states that initial funding for the new horseracing regulatory Authority will come from loans taken out by the Authority. Those loans must then be repaid through a new fee structure determined by the Authority. Bill supporters have indicated that it would be funded by a surcharge to the owners and trainers of every horse in every race to cover operational costs and to repay the loans. Compounding this reality with the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic would force many small, agricultural-based business owners out of the industry.
Finally, the new Authority created in the HISA would regulate horseracing nationwide through a board that will have a majority of members who have no experience in the horseracing industry. This board will be hand-picked by the same elite interest groups pushing this legislation. We believe that a majority of the board should be represented by those who will be impacted by the new regulatory scheme, and it should specifically include practicing veterinarians.
According to a recent American Horse Council study, the horse racing industry contributes approximately $36 billion annually to the national economy and provides about 240,000 direct jobs. Any measure which will add further regulatory and cost burdens will only harm those state and local economies that depend on the industry. Accordingly, we urge you to oppose the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.