Advocacy group, Animal Wellness Action, who’s goal is to prevent cruelty to animals, is headed to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass legislation to protect racehorses.
They will press Congress on the Horseracing Integrity Act, which would establish a national standard for medication use on racehorses and create a committee, managed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, to enforce and test the horses. It would be a very similar model the Olympics have for athletes. It is a first of its kind for animals.
The new push comes after the death of a horse, Mongolian Groom, at the Breeders’ Cup in California on Saturday. The horse, which injured his leg and was euthanized, was the seventh horse to die on that track since September of this year.
“It’s definitely something that is much more on the radar today than it was a week ago. I think everybody has expressed that,” Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby told The Hill after his meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
The bill is sponsored by and getting bipartisan support from Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and by Congressman Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.). It currently has 196 co-sponsors in the House.
Animal Wellness Action got 2020 Presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) as well as Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) to sign on bringing it to six co-sponsors in the Senate.
Irby’s group is part of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, which will return to Capitol Hill next week to lobby the House when it returns from recess. He predicted there will be a hearing in the House early next year, but the bill faces an uphill battle this Congress in the Senate.
The Breeders’ Cup, The Jockey Club and The Stronach Group are supporting the bill through the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity. But Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby, is not a part of the coalition.
That seems to be a significant obstacle for supporters of the bill. Churchill Downs is in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is essential to getting the bill through the upper chamber and McConnell has not taken a position on the bill.
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