ARCI “hopeful” on new racing bill

Lexington, KY — The Association of Racing Commissioners International said today it was “hopeful” that a new proposal by Senator Mitch McConnell would unite the racing industry and better protect horses.

The ARCI reserved further comment on the bill noting that they have yet to see specific language and were not consulted by Senator McConnell’s staff about the practical application and implementation should the concept become law.

The ARCI has previously opposed the Tonko-Barr proposal as currently drafted partly because it did not address the regulatory gap that exists for young horses yet to come under the jurisdiction of a state racing commission.

The group has called for closing this gap and for rules affecting unregulated horses to govern the use of certain medications (i.e., bisphosphonates), require electronic submission of complete vet records including the required diagnosis that justifies drug administrations, and reviews of those records and out of competition equine suitability reviews to better identify potentially “at risk” horses for greater monitoring.

“The most important reform needed to protect horses and ultimately the sport is the regulatory monitoring — either by government or an NGO — of the care and treatment given to all horses intended to race from point of birth forward,” ARCI President Ed Martin said, echoing testimony he has previously made before Congressional panels.

“Any proposal that does not require the registration of a racehorse with an entity that will do this will fall short in safeguarding our horses, the sport, and the investment of owners,” he said.

Last year the ARCI informed the three major breed registries that a NGO registry based scheme would be the quickest and most effective way to do this as all jurisdictions require horses be registered with the appropriate breed registry to be eligible to race.

In August 2019 the ARCI Board formally met with leaders of The Jockey Club in an attempt to advance this request. In testimony before Congress last January ARCI underscored this need and urged that it be included in any legislation that advances if private initiatives did not materialize.

“We eagerly await the specifics of what is being proposed and we remain hopeful. Building upon a partnership with the states will be essential to avoid any unanticipated legal challenges that could come, effectively delaying implementation for years should this ultimately pass,” Martin said.

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