USTA asks members, industry participants to contact legislators to oppose harmful proposed legislation

Columbus, OH — The U.S. Trotting Association is requesting the assistance of all members and other harness racing participants in contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives to express opposition to new legislation called the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 (S. 4547) recently introduced by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

If enacted, the new law would:

1. Significantly increase your cost of racing
2. Eliminate the use of race-day Lasix
3. Place harness racing under the regulation of a new, federal Authority with little or no harness racing representation or consideration for our concerns

Attached is a letter template that can be customized by individuals and organizations to express opposition to the proposed legislation.

To find contact information for U.S. Senators, click here and “Choose a State.”

To find contact information for U.S. Representatives (House), click here and enter the appropriate zip code.

The attached letter can be sent by email or individuals can call their Congressman’s office directly to state opposition to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020.

Here’s why the law is bad for both harness racing participants and the industry.

Significant increase in the cost of racing
The proposed legislation would establish a new fee structure approximated to be a $45 surcharge to owners and trainers for every horse in every race. This significant increase in the cost of racing will force many small horse owners and trainers out of business.

Elimination of race-day Lasix
The new law would phase out the use of race-day Lasix, the only known medication to treat Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (bleeding) for all horses. Before taking any action on Lasix, the USTA has recommended an independent, large scale study to examine its effects. The USTA along with the major veterinarian organizations endorse the use of Lasix because it is in the best interests of the health of the horses.

New, federal racing Authority
The newly-created federal, regulatory Authority would regulate horse racing nationwide with a board made up of a majority of members who have no experience in the horse racing industry and hand-picked by the same Thoroughbred elite interest groups behind this legislation. With little or no representation on that board, the interests of harness racing will be ignored as they have been in the formulation of this bill.

Following is the letter template to use for contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives:

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.


[Insert Signature]


To read more about the proposed federal legislation and why it is bad for you and harness racing, see the links below.

USTA Opposes Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 (HISA)

USTA President Russell Williams’ statement of support of Rep. Kurt Schrader comments in House Energy and Commerce Committee

Back to Top

Share via