AQHA Voices Concerns over Horseracing Integrity Act

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The American Quarter Horse Association released the following statement Thursday, adding its objections to the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017, which was introduced into the House of Representatives May 25.

“On May 25, Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) introduced the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 to the House of Representatives. In summary, the bill requires “a uniform anti-doping and medication control program to be developed and enforced by an independent Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority.”

While the American Quarter Horse Association strongly supports uniformity in the horse racing industry, it is unable to support the latest version of the newly introduced legislation.

“Of particular concern regarding this proposal is the elimination of all race-day medications, including Lasix, the use of which has been endorsed by several equine groups and the American Association of Equine Practitioners to help mitigate the occurrence of exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage in racehorses,” said Craig Huffhines, AQHA executive vice president. “American Quarter Horse representation on the Authority and funding sources for the program are also among other areas of concern that we have regarding the legislation as currently proposed.”

AQHA is committed to the welfare of the racehorse and continues to work with international, national and state racing organizations and commissions to evaluate protocols to allow for uniform medication rules and deterrents of performance-enhancing drugs. In addition, the use of Lasix in AQHA shows is currently under review by the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission by request of the Executive Committee.

In recent months, AQHA worked with the Association of Racing Commissioners International to separate American Quarter Horse flat racing in its medication violation model rules to help eliminate the use of illegal performance-enhancing medications. The Association has also supported recent industry movements that include out-of-competition testing and hair testing.”

The AQHA statement follows a statement by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (click here) released earlier this week also expressing opposition to the newly introduced legislation.

The 2017 version of the bill is the first to include Standardbred and Quarter Horse Racing, in addition to Thoroughbred racing, and the United States Trotting Association has also voiced reservations over the bill.

“I think that I’m safe in saying that the race-day prohibition of Lasix would be very troubling to us,” USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner told Harness Racing Update. “In 2012, we came out strongly in favor of it as a being an effective and humane treatment. That’s a position that’s echoed by several other equine groups, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners. It’s not just us, and we’re perplexed as to why this keeps coming around.”

Tanner continued, “Beyond that, we have concerns about the makeup of the proposed board, the fact that more than several key industry groups, including ours, were not consulted in the drafting of the legislation, and about the potential governmental allocation of fees to pay for all of this. Moreover, while we have long been in favor of a uniform medication schedule on a breed-specific basis, this isn’t that. This appears to be a “one-size fits all” proposition that treats Standardbred racing, Thoroughbred racing, and Quarter Horse racing as if they are one and the same, with the same issues and challenges–and that’s just not the case. We will be closely following the course of Barr/Tonko. I’m sure that we’ll have more to say about it in the coming months.”

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