Congressman Andy Barr

Everybody in horse racing wants the best for the horses involved. That involves drug testing for the horses. In a rare bipartisan moment, there seems to be government support for racehorse drug testing in the United States. wants to make sure that all are informed on what those are putting in their horses.


On March 14, 2019, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) cosponsored bipartisan legislation to establish a national standard for racehorse drug testing to be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority.


“As the representative for the ‘Horse Capital of the World,’ I have the distinct honor of fighting for the future of this great American sport,” Rep. Barr said, referring to Lexington, Kentucky. The state is the location for several thoroughbred race tracks and many horse farms. 


Who Else Supports the Bill

The Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R. 1754, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), would create an organization tasked with developing and implementing an anti-doping program for the entire horseracing industry. It would set a standardized list of allowable and illegal substances, treatments and methods for all specifically covered races in the United States.


U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), co-chairman of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, and U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Buddy Carter (R-GA) and John Katko (R-NY) are amongst those that have joined Rep. Barr as cosponsors of H.R. 1754.


What Can Be Expected

If it is enacted, H.R. 1754 would require full and fair information disclosure to breeding stock purchasers and the wagering public. It would ban the use of all medications within 24 hours of a race. And it would increase the safety and welfare of horses, jockeys and drivers, according to the lawmaker’s statement.


“I continue to believe the prosperity of Kentucky’s signature horseracing industry depends on national uniform medication standards and testing procedures,” said Rep. Barr last week.


At the moment, the American horseracing industry is governed by a multitude of rules that Rep. Barr called inconsistent at best, resulting in “impaired interstate commerce and undermined the public confidence in the sport.”


Rep. Tonko said H.R. 1754 would set nationwide rules that are “clear, consistent and conflict-free.”

“This will make horseracing safer for our equine athletes and jockeys while increasing confidence in the sport among the trainers, owners, horseplayers, and horse racing fans alike,” said Rep. Tonko, who noted the sport has supported good jobs and delivered billions of dollars in economic impact annually in his home state of New York and around the country. 


Reps. Barr and Tonko, who serve as co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Horse Caucus, have introduced a version of this legislation since 2015.


“I am proud to reintroduce this legislation with my friend and colleague, Congressman Tonko, and I look forward to building upon the great bipartisan work we secured last Congress, including more than 100 cosponsors, to ensure the safety and integrity of this sport is preserved for years to come,” Rep. Barr said.


H.R. 1754 is supported by The Jockey Club, the Water Hay Oats Alliance, the Keeneland Association Inc., and Breeders’ Cup Ltd.


“The Jockey Club is grateful to Representatives Barr and Tonko for their strong support of the Horseracing Integrity Act,” said Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “This legislation is vital for the health and safety of our athletes and the integrity of the sport of horse racing.”


H.R. 1754 has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.