USTA President Russell Williams’ response to Meadowlands statement on support for HISA

Columbus, OH – Following is a response from USTA President Russell Williams on statement made Monday (Dec. 28) by the Meadowlands supporting the recently passed Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act:

“Mr. Gural’s central message seems to be that he would like to see harness racing brought within the jurisdiction of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and that ‘we can modify the law next year to meet our needs, which are considerably different than the Thoroughbreds’ so that we can ‘live with’ HISA.

USTA President Russell Williams. USTA/Mark Hall photo.

“HISA supporters refused to countenance the slightest modification during more than three years of USTA effort to get something that we could live with. There is no reason to think that next year would be any different.

“HISA is unconstitutional and is very unlikely to withstand the legal challenges that will be forthcoming if an attempt is made to apply it to harness racing.”


Following is the Meadowlands’ statement supporting the HISA:

East Rutherford, NJ — The Meadowlands supports the inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) in the 2020 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

The Omnibus passed through both houses of Congress last week and was signed into law by President Trump on Sunday.

“The HISA is important to all of horse racing to demonstrate that we are addressing the problems that have plagued the sport for the last several decades. It is clear the past and current policies do not work,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural.

“Virtually all the horsemen that I have asked support trying to eliminate trainers that drug the horses. Having the Federal government involved will put some teeth into the effort to stop them as the indictments and subsequent arrests of last March showed.

“It seems inconceivable that in 2022 every Thoroughbred racetrack will have uniform rules and be governed by this legislation while every Standardbred racetrack will continue to be governed by the states despite the fact that 27 of the 29 people indicted earlier this year were associated with Standardbred racing and only two were Thoroughbred trainers.

“Hopefully we can work with the USTA to modify the law next year to meet our needs which are considerably different than the Thoroughbreds. If the USTA continues to oppose the legislation it would be our intention to ask the Racing Commissions in New York and New Jersey to allow us to opt in to the legislation since it does provide that option.

“I remain confident that the majority of the issues that concern the Standardbred industry can be addressed and adjusted to where we can live with them.”

Details on the HISA and its passage are available by visiting the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) website and consider joining that organization while you’re on the site. It is free to join. The Water Hay Oats Alliance is a grassroots movement of like-minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing.

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