The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Industry Support for Federal Intervention
Many people in racing consider involvement by the federal government to be the least preferred avenue for regulatory oversight of medication rules and drug testing. Others do not want to see sweeping changes, such as the elimination of raceday administration of drugs to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. Yet there are those who believe it is the only way to put American racing on the same level as international jurisdictions that do not permit any drugs to be given to a horse on the day of a race.
When Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield and New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall recently filed the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act – designed to eliminate drugs from horse racing – Arthur and Staci Hancock of Stone Farm, George Strawbridge of Augustin Stables, and Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Lael Stables signed a letter of support for the legislation.
Click here for the text of the bill.
Click here for the letter of support.
“In our opinion, this is the only way to end this terrible blight on American racing and to bring us in line with the rest of the world. We fear that racing is rapidly becoming a socially unacceptable sport because of performance-enhancing drugs. Many of our organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about this, but are utterly powerless to do anything about it. We have been disappointed time after time over the years by promises, platitudes, and good intentions. Now, here is a way to stop this madness once and for all.”
As a group, the Hancocks, Jacksons, and Strawbridge answered written questions from the Paulick Report about the legislation.
What has been the reaction to the letter of support of the federal Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act that you (Arthur and Staci Hancock, George Strawbridge, and Roy and Gretchen Jackson) signed?
We feel that the reaction has been very positive, especially since the IHIA is a new idea.
Have many other individuals or organizations joined you in support of the legislation?
We have already received over 200 signed letters of support for this amendment from leaders and major participants in the industry. The list is growing by the day. (See names below.)
Why is this legislation so important to you?
We feel it is vitally important to the survival of our industry. All else aside, the public doesn’t like to see horses racing on drugs, and without the public we are finished. Also, we want to save the image and value of the American Thoroughbred. We feel that this practice is ruining our industry.
In what ways do you think the Thoroughbred breed may have been weakened through permissive medication rules in the U.S.?
The stats tell the tale. In 1950 horses averaged 45.2 starts in their lifetime. Now it is less than 13. This is a devastating statistic. Also, the average number of annual starts has dropped from 11.31 in 1960 to 6.11 today, nearly 50%. We have had five generations of mares and stallions who have raced on a drug regimen. We are raising and selling a fragile, chemical horse dependent upon pharmaceuticals.
Why, or how, do you think North America became out of step with the rest of the world on race-day medication?
We feel that this culture has evolved because there has been no way to stop it. At one time The Jockey Club could have ended it, but after the Fink vs. Cole lawsuit in 1951 which basically said that a private corporation could not exercise a governmental function, The Jockey Club lost the ability to deal with this issue. There is no other way.
In other countries, horses are treated with therapeutic medication and can train on drugs like Bute and Lasix. Does this bill go too far in prohibiting that practice, and will it penalize horses that have been treated days or weeks before a race with a therapeutic drug?
The IHIA does not re-invent the wheel. It aligns us with the practices of the rest of the world. We will no longer be a “rogue nation” in this regard. In reality the IHIA allows any veterinary treatment as long as the horse is no longer “under the influence” of a drug with a performance enhancing effect when it is racing. We are the ones out of step, not our competitors in the rest of the world.
Critics have said you and others who have been calling for elimination of race-day medication— whether it’s international horsemen competing in the Breeders’ Cup or American-based stables—continue to use Lasix on the day of a race. Is that hypocritical?
We are talking about performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) here. Nobody wants to fight with one hand tied behind his back and give the opponent an edge. That is why Europeans use it when they come here. They realize that the diuretic Lasix gives a horse a competitive advantage by reducing the horse’s weight by as much as 20 to 30 pounds. Therefore, in order to compete on a level playing field, trainers are forced to use Lasix. If PEDs are eliminated in America there will be a level playing field for everybody. The rest of the world competes on a clean, level playing field, why can’t we?
Racing already has problems with short fields. Won’t this make things worse?
It hasn’t made them smaller in the rest of the world. Results speak for themselves.
Isn’t there another way to do this without the federal government’s intervention?
If we felt there was another way then we would be all for it. We have been waiting 30 years for it and it isn’t here yet. We would ask you the same question: If there is another way, what is it? The Federal government gave us the IHA in 1978. They are already involved.
How can people who support this legislation help?
They can sign our letter so that we can show the people in Washington that we as an industry care. They can also let their politicians know they are sick and tired of the situation. It is really up to the members of our industry. We have spent a lot of time and energy on this but the industry will need to carry the ball if they are in agreement. Congress wants to know how we feel. There is an opportunity here if we choose to take it.
INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE SIGNED THE LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR THE INTERSTATE HORSERACING IMPROVEMENT ACT:
John Adger; Joseph Allen; John and Jerry Amerman; Ken and Maxine Anderson; Helen T. Andrews; Gina Anson; Mark Antonini; Doug Arnold; Luis E. Astacio; Joy Agen; Peggy Augustus; Chrisopher L. Baker; Peter C. Bance; Craig Bandoroff; Antony Beck; Kathleen Berkey; William Betz; Janet Bindas; Gary Biszantz; James F. Bleakley Jr.; Thomas W. Bowers; Turner W. Branch; Julie Braswell; Dennis Brida; Julia Brida; Cal Britton; Fabricio Buffolo; Michael Burns; Michael Callanan; Alex Campbell; Cot Campbell; Lesley Campion; Gilbert Cankonin; Riccardo Cantoni; Kimberley Carville; Bill Casner; Doug Cauthen; Tony Cecil; Lee Chesterfield.
Case Clay; Christophe Clement; Terence Collier; Lincoln Collins; Eugenio Colombo; Alan Conway; Bonnie Conway; Alan Cooper; Patrick Costello; Robert Courtney; Susan Crowell; Carol Michelle Curtis; Robert Curtis; Tom David, DVM; Jeanne Davis; Sergio de Sousa; Adele Dilschneider; Herman G. Dingess; Jonathan Drake; Neil Drysdale and Shawn Dugan; Peter Esterline, DVM; R.S. Evans; Abbey Farmer; Dr. Greg Ferraro; Bernard J. Figurell; Paddy Finlason; Jim Fitzgerald; Gregg Flanigan; Nathan Fox; John Fulton; Tom Gamel; Tommy Gandolfo; Alex Goggin; H.G. Goodman; John K. Goodman; Claire Goodwillie; William D. Gould; Rudi Groothedde.
John D. Gunther; Lucy Hamilton; Arthur and Staci Hancock; Clay Hancock; Gene and Eileen Hartis; Isabelle Haskell de Tomaso; Marianne Hebner; Doug Henderson; Andrea Hennig; Jim and Susan Hill; Richard R. Hough III; Edmund A. Hudon; Sharon Hudon; B. Wayne Hughes; Steven R. Humphrey; Broussard Hundley; Rosemary Hundley; Melvin Hunter; Barry Irwin; Roy and Gretchen Jackson; Bettina L. Jenney; Lorraine and Dennis Johnson; Aaron and Marie Jones; Johnny Jones; Bill Justice; Marc Keller; Jon and Sarah Kelly; James B. Keogh; Burton Kinerk; Lori Kirk; Ron Kirk; Robert Kirkham; Arnold Kirkpatrick; Jack Knowlton; Dr. Steve Kramer.
Ted Kuster; Peter V. Lamantin; Lisa Lashaway; Lucy G. LeMay; Don Little; Bruce Lunsford; Sheila Lyons, DVM; Elaine MacPherson; Linda Madsen; Keith Manfred; Anthony Manganaro; Jim Marinelli; Richard and Sue Ann Masson; John Mayer; Carroll Mayfield; Robert McAvoy; Bernard McCormack; John McCormack; R.J. McCreery; Carol S. McCune; Richard McElroy; Jim McIngole; Michael McMahon; Bob McNair; Kenny McPeek; Ashley Mickel; Elizabeth Moloney; James Moloney; Elizabeth R. Moran; Don Myers; Bill Nicholls; Wilson Nicholls; Rick Nichols; John and Joanne Normile; Brian P. O’Rourke; Mary Margaret Ostrander; Audrey W. Otto; Lonnie Owens; Greg Pachman; Agnes Paletti; Neil D. Parcen; Catherine Parke; Shelley J. Parr.
Virginia Payson and David Cole; Mike Pearson; John Phillips; Arthur Preston; Kelly Rabach; Jamie Ralson; Jackie and Frank Ramos; David and Carol Rhodes; Alyce Rideout; Randall and Denise Rolfe; Debbie Rosenblum; Christopher Hugh Rous; Michael D. Rubin; Michael Sanger; Christopher Santrelli; Susan Savidge; Paul Saylor; Donald L. Schutt Sr.; Barry Schwartz; Jonathan Sheppard; Suzi Shoemaker; Elmo Shropshire; Jay Sloan; Melinda Smith; Jim Squires; Peter Stanley; Nancy Sterling; George Strawbridge; Frank Stronach; John Stuart; Joe Sutton; Carol Swenson; Lita M. Tabish; Larry Teague; Linda Tellington-Jones, PhD; Jeff Thornsbury; Tim Thornton; Ken Tomlinson; Elizabeth J. Valando.
Jack Van Berg; Cher Villalobos; James A. Wade; Ric Waldman; Pam Wanveer; W. Temple Webber Jr.; Charlotte Weber; Rob Whiteley; James Wigan; David Williamson; Julie Wilson; Diane and Ronald Winfrey; Rene and Lauren Woolcott; Karen Worthington; Mia Wyatt; Naoya Yoshida, DVM; Harry J. Zaharian.