Stay Informed: Why the Future of Harness Racing Depends on the Racehorse Health and Safety Act (RHSA)

Stay Informed: Why the Future of Harness Racing Depends on RHSA

Learn why USTA and thousands of other horsemen support the Racehorse Health and Safety Act.


The Thoroughbred Daily News reports that another Thoroughbred trainer, George Weaver, whose groom has a prescription for the diabetes medicine metformin, is facing a possible two-year suspension for having a horse test positive for that drug.

USTA President Russell Williams Q&A on why the Racehorse Health and Safety Act is a much better alternative to the current Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act

Editor’s Note: In this Q&A, USTA President Russell Williams explains how the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) is not constitutional and describes the myriad of major problems that is has caused for the Thoroughbred industry since its inception and why the Racehorse Health and Safety Act (RHSA), which creates an interstate compact, is significantly better for the horse racing industry. Williams elaborates on the differences between the two pointing out that RHSA is better for the horses and better for the industry. He also discusses the current status of litigation and the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could rule that HISA is unconstitutional. If that happens, he warns “To the extent that the HISA Authority has brought any value to the table, if the HISA statute is invalidated that value becomes the property of the Thoroughbred industry, which has already paid dearly for it.”

(See additional stories below)


In every decision we make, the best interests of the harness racing industry and the horses we care for are our priorities. As you know, the USTA has been actively working to provide a more effective alternative to the controversial Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) that was passed in 2020.

We have proactively been working with others throughout the racing community to help introduce new Federal legislation that will repeal and replace the misguided HISA law, which is strongly opposed and has been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Legislation Overview

On September 26, 2023, Congressman Clay Higgins (LA-3) with the support of tens of thousands of horsemen, introduced the Racehorse Health and Safety Act (RHSA). The purpose of RHSA is to protect the health and welfare of horses and improve the integrity and safety of horse racing. To read the story on the introduction of RHSA, click here.

The bill establishes the Racehorse Health and Safety Organization (RHSO), with a Board of Directors appointed by state racing commissions. Once passed, the RHSO would include:

• Five board members appointed by racing commissions in states with the most racing days, and four members appointed by racing commissions in the remaining states.

• Three Scientific Medication Control Committees, one for each racing breed: Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds, and Quarter Horses (Committee members selected by industry associations and the Board)

• One Racetrack Safety Committee comprised of board-appointed members and industry-appointed members to recommend breed-specific rules to the Board. The Board will have the final say on all rules adopted, but it must justify its decisions with scientific evidence.

RHSO would be funded through annual fees from participating state racing commissions, and fees will be collected and allocated specifically to each breed, making it fair for all and reducing the financial burden in place under the current legislation.

Currently, the legislation (H.R. 5693) has four co-sponsors:
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5)
Rep. Alexander Mooney (R-WV-2)
Rep. Donald Davis (D-NC-1)
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4)

How You Can Help Pass RHSA

We need your help to get it through the U.S. House of Representatives. We urge you to contact your Congressman TODAY to ask them to support the Racehorse Health and Safety Act. Let them know that:

1. The current law is flawed and not grounded in veterinary science.
2. The current law has proven NOT to work as too many racehorses have recently died.
3. RHSA is designed by horsemen for horsemen.
4. RHSA is fair and constitutional.
5. RHSA is supported by more than 30 equine organizations including the U.S. Trotting Association, National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians as well as numerous states attorneys general.

Below is a link to a sample letter to use when contacting your congressman. Consider encouraging them to contact you from a firsthand horseman’s perspective. Your engagement on this bill is critical to its success.

To find the contact information for your congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, click here.

Downloads for contact with your congressman (click on links)

o Sample letter for Congressmen to encourage their support of the bill
o RHSA vs. HISA comparison


News and Support for RHSA (click on links)– Open letter from suspended Thoroughbred trainer Rusty Arnold – from Association of Racing Commissioners International Commissioner Doug Moore – by Eric Mitchell, – from the USTA Communications Department – from

Harness racing’s future hinges on success of Racehorse Health and Safety Act – by USTA CEO Mike Tanner, Hoof Beats magazine

Jimmy Corrigan Vows to Fight HIWU Suspensionby Bill Finley, Thoroughbred Daily News

Protecting the American Racehorse: Op-Ed from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff LandryUS Trotting News

Opinion: Racetrack Veterinarians Support HISA Alternativeby Dr. Rick Fischer, Horse Racing Nation

Congress Abused its Power to Rein in Horse Racing: Here’s How We Ride to the RescueDr. Doug Daniels, Fox News

Actions DetrimentalBrent J. Malmstrom, Thoroughbred Daily News

A False Start: The Turmoil Surrounding the Horseracing Safety and Integrity Actby Aqsa Yonas Rana of the Bloomberg News Network

Back to Top

Share via