Congress schedules subcommittee hearing on horse racing

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UPDATE: The following statement was added to the hearing notice for Monday’s Congressional hearing on horse racing by the Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

“Horseracing is a $40 billion industry that generates roughly 400,000 domestic jobs nationwide. Many question whether the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs on race day is threatening the viability, safety and integrity of the sport, and especially if it is a threat to the safety and wellbeing of the jockeys.

“In 2008, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the issue of performance enhancing drugs in horseracing and received assurances that the industry was implementing reforms to protect horses and jockeys. On April 30, members will review what reforms, if any, have been made in the horseracing industry to protect jockeys, horses, and the integrity of the sport.”


 

In June 2008, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection met in the wake of a public outcry that Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown raced on then-legal anabolic steroids and following the death of Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby.

Fast forward to 2012, when the Subcommittee on Health has scheduled an April 30 hearing in Kennett Square, Pa., entitled “A Review of Efforts to Protect the Health of Jockeys and Horses in Horseracing.” The hearing is in the district of Republican Rep. Joe Pitts, the chairman of the subcommittee and comes in the wake of a March 24 investigative article in the New York Times focusing on the death of horses and serious injury to jockeys, “Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys: Death and Disarray at America’s Racetracks.”

Among those expected but not confirmed to be invited as witnesses are retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, veterinarian Kate Papp, trainer Glenn Thompson (author of a book alleging widespread use of illegal drugs in racing), George Strawbridge of Augustin Stables, Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Lael Stables (whose 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was treated for an injury and subsequently euthanized at the New Bolton Center, just down the road from where the hearing will be conducted at the Unionville High School).

Pitts is co-sponsor of a bill filed in 2011 called the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act that would for the first time in the sport’s history establish national medication rules for horse racing, ban the raceday use of all drugs, and set uniform penalties for violators. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky (sponsor of the House bill) and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, another co-sponsor, are members of the Subcommittee on Health. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico sponsored a Senate version of the bill.

The witness list at the 2008 hearing included Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, who referred to the overuse of medication as “chemical warfare” on the backstretch of America’s racetracks. Under critical questioning by House members who asked why the federal government should not get involved in regulating horseracing, then Jockey Club president Alan Marzelli said the industry would be better off with the existing state regulatory framework and use the “power of persuasion” to work toward uniformity. The New York Tmes exposed how lax some state regulatory bodies have been, including New Mexico, which was a focal point of the article because of its high incidence of fatal racing injuries. But the 2008 hearing also bordered on the absurd at times, such as when Rep. Schakowsky suggested Eight Belles was a “genetic disaster waiting to happen” because she had multiple presences of Raise a Native in her pedigree.

The Paulick Report plans to be at the hearing and will be covering live via Twitter (follow @raypaulick to receive) and will file a comprehensive report upon its conclusion.

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  • Watcher

    A direct result of our industry “leaders’” inaction.

    • David

      To suggest Racing has inadequate leadership implies there is actual leadership, which, there is not.  This biz deserves everything that might come its way for stifling anything having long-term benefit against even slight near-term exposure.  Pathetic.

      • voiceofreason

        It’s hard to have visionary leadership when they can only focus as far as their wallet.

  • Watcher

    A direct result of our industry “leaders’” inaction.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OPYWICKFKTSPHHUKZQGUAM75JQ BILLIE

    Oh uh, lookie them horses walk!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OPYWICKFKTSPHHUKZQGUAM75JQ BILLIE

    Oh uh, lookie them horses walk!!

  • David

    To suggest Racing has inadequate leadership implies there is actual leadership, which, there is not.  This biz deserves everything that might come its way for stifling anything having long-term benefit against even slight near-term exposure.  Pathetic.

  • voiceofreason

    It’s hard to have visionary leadership when they can only focus as far as their wallet.

  • voiceofreason

    “Jockey Club president Alan Marzelli said the industry would be better
    off with the existing state regulatory framework and use the “power of
    persuasion” to work toward uniformity”.

    Power of persuasion? Well, I’m convinced.

  • voiceofreason

    “Jockey Club president Alan Marzelli said the industry would be better
    off with the existing state regulatory framework and use the “power of
    persuasion” to work toward uniformity”.

    Power of persuasion? Well, I’m convinced.

  • Patricia Lee

    It’s obvious how these hearings will come out because the HBPA is not invited.  A small but vocal group of people, including the breeders mentioned in your story, demand a lasix ban despite the fact that it is efficacious for both thoroughbreds and handicappers.  It’s just more sensationalist hearings and pushing the ban through, to the detriment of the industry.  The “bad” drugs have been banned . . . hasn’t anyone paid attention to all the regulatory work the states have done this year?  Yes, there are jurisdictions that don’t use lasix, but believe me, you cannot handicap there.  And in the United Kingdom, they don’t take out tax on race winnings.  And who benefits from a lasix ban?  Only the bigtime breeders who can afford to absorb any losses on bad stallions.

    • Tinky

      “Yes, there are jurisdictions that don’t use lasix, but believe me, you cannot handicap there.”

      What planet, exactly, do you live on?

      • Patricia Lee

         The same planet Steve Crist lives on; you might check out his many articles on this subject over the past year.

        • Upstart

          YOU made the comment there are jurisdictions that don’t use lasix. Please enlighten us NOW.

        • Tinky

          I’m afraid that you don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about. The “jurisdictions” that don’t use Lasix are foreign countries, and the notion that one “cannot handicap” races in those countries is absurd on its face.

          There is no race-day medication allowed in France, the UK, Australia, and Hong Kong, to name just four, and there are huge sums regularly wagered on their racing which is, if anything. more formful than that found in the U.S.

          • Herewego

            You are correct there are large sums wagered on racing in the countries that you mention.

            The interesting thing is in France, the UK and Australia the “past performance” information is a joke. No running lines, just a finish position and no recorded workouts.

            I haven’t heard anyone argue that Equibase should stop charting races in the US because everyone knows our past performance information is far better than those in other countries and having this information is beneficial for our customers.

            Yet many suggest that because they don’t race on lasix in those countries, horses in the US shouldn’t race on lasix despite research which proves that lasix reduces internal bleeding in race horses.

            I know I’m not going to change your mind on this topic but hopefully this comparison is at least food for thought.  

          • Tinky

            It might be food for thought if it were accurate, but it isn’t. 

            It is quite true that past Performances are very different in other countries than in the U.S., and there are undoubtedly some advantages to our version(s). What you fail to point out, probably out of ignorance, is that there is information available in other countries that is in many ways superior to what is available here. 

            Timeform assesses and rates every horse in training in in the U.K. Those assessments often provide important information that is never found in American PPs. The Racing Post provides interactive PPs and charts of races that provide many details and options that haven’t even been dreamt of in the Racing Form or Equibase offices.

            So, I am afraid that your comparison was not at all apt.

            Finally, with regard to your basic point, the results of races spanning hundreds of years, both abroad and in the U.S., clearly show that Thoroughbreds do not need to race on Lasix. It is obviously not the only way to reduce the likelihood of bleeding, and if it were necessary for the basic health of racehorses, then the careers of runners around the world would be truncated, and owners, trainers and breeders from other countries would be clamoring for change. Neither is remotely the case. 

          • voiceofreason

            Our PP’s are superior to the worlds in every way, ‘cept one: They are corrupted.

        • Stanley inman

          Uranus? Mars? No Pluto
          There was a time when dropping his name meant something
          But that was along time ago
          In another world

          • Don Reed

            Stan, that’s no way to size up the talent & experience of a man who on this coming Derby Day (05/05/12) stands a very good chance of picking winners.

    • RayPaulick

       I have not seen the final witness list. There may well be some who believe in the status quo. But you are correct in assuming how the chairman of the subcommittee wants this to come out: he co-sponsored the Whitfield bill.

  • Patricia Lee

    It’s obvious how these hearings will come out because the HBPA is not invited.  A small but vocal group of people, including the breeders mentioned in your story, demand a lasix ban despite the fact that it is efficacious for both thoroughbreds and handicappers.  It’s just more sensationalist hearings and pushing the ban through, to the detriment of the industry.  The “bad” drugs have been banned . . . hasn’t anyone paid attention to all the regulatory work the states have done this year?  Yes, there are jurisdictions that don’t use lasix, but believe me, you cannot handicap there.  And in the United Kingdom, they don’t take out tax on race winnings.  And who benefits from a lasix ban?  Only the bigtime breeders who can afford to absorb any losses on bad stallions.

  • Tony

    I hope someone from HANA goes there and explains to them how badly the Horse racing Industry is being run.

    • Patricia Lee

       Well, we certainly don’t need the feds to “run” the industry.  Why does anyone think they can do a better job than the state commissions . . . the feds bring bureaucracy, lack of expertise and a good dose of PETA.

      • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

        “THE GAME” NEEDS HELP…FROM “THE CROOKS”…PERIOD…

    • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

      they know whats going on…now they r going to due something about it!!!…

  • Tony

    I hope someone from HANA goes there and explains to them how badly the Horse racing Industry is being run.

  • Tinky

    “Yes, there are jurisdictions that don’t use lasix, but believe me, you cannot handicap there.”

    What planet, exactly, do you live on?

  • RayPaulick

     I have not seen the final witness list. There may well be some who believe in the status quo. But you are correct in assuming how the chairman of the subcommittee wants this to come out: he co-sponsored the Whitfield bill.

  • Patricia Lee

     The same planet Steve Crist lives on; you might check out his many articles on this subject over the past year.

  • Patricia Lee

     Well, we certainly don’t need the feds to “run” the industry.  Why does anyone think they can do a better job than the state commissions . . . the feds bring bureaucracy, lack of expertise and a good dose of PETA.

  • wallyhorse

    The problem is the same one as before.  It’s the fiefdoms concerned about keeping that in order that is causing things like this.

  • wallyhorse

    The problem is the same one as before.  It’s the fiefdoms concerned about keeping that in order that is causing things like this.

  • Upstart

    YOU made the comment there are jurisdictions that don’t use lasix. Please enlighten us NOW.

  • Tinky

    I’m afraid that you don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about. The “jurisdictions” that don’t use Lasix are foreign countries, and the notion that one “cannot handicap” races in those countries is absurd on its face.

    There is no race-day medication allowed in France, the UK, Australia, and Hong Kong, to name just four, and there are huge sums regularly wagered on their racing which is, if anything. more formful than that found in the U.S.

  • Stanley inman

    Uranus? Mars? No Pluto
    There was a time when dropping his name meant something
    But that was along time ago
    In another world

  • Don Reed

    These boobs can’t even control the renegades in the General Services Administration (as if only ONE of these clowns had squandered taxpayer funds!). 

    Look elsewhere for your solution, horsemen.

    • Watcher

      Don, few horsemen welcome federal intervention. Our “leaders” have failed us because they didn’t take proactive measures to internally fix our problems. When people like Tom Ludt of Vinery vote against a drug ban you can be sure that some politician will be there to exploit it. 

      Look elsewhere?  Where and whom?

    • Jimculpepper

      Despite claims of elitism,  whether horse racing  or government regulatory commisions, the common problem is people whose thinking and behavior is common, be they blue blood, blue dog, or hound dog.  It really is “representative government” because the upper crust and leadership has the same motives as the trailor park nobility. So much for education.

  • Don Reed

    These boobs can’t even control the renegades in the General Services Administration (as if only ONE of these clowns had squandered taxpayer funds!). 

    Look elsewhere for your solution, horsemen.

  • Don Reed

    Stan, that’s no way to size up the talent & experience of a man who on this coming Derby Day (05/05/12) stands a very good chance of picking winners.

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    THE FED IS GOING TO DIG REEL DEEP INTO “THE GAME”…STAY TUNED…BABY…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    THE FED IS GOING TO DIG REEL DEEP INTO “THE GAME”…STAY TUNED…BABY…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    they know whats going on…now they r going to due something about it!!!…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    u ARE PLAIN STUPID…PERIOD…

  • http://www.facebook.com/SusanKayne Susan Kayne

    The problem is training unsound horses on drugs, day in and day out. Profiteering veterinarians are running the horse business into the ground in the erroneous name of care and it will bring this industry to its knees. I spoke of this on my own blog http://www.unbridledracing.blogspot.com/2012/04/breaking-down-data-drugsa-holistic-view.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/SusanKayne Susan Kayne

    The problem is training unsound horses on drugs, day in and day out. Profiteering veterinarians are running the horse business into the ground in the erroneous name of care and it will bring this industry to its knees. I spoke of this on my own blog http://www.unbridledracing.blo

  • Tmazderby

    National approval ratings of Congress stand at approximately 12%.  That equates to a 88% disapproval rate.  And the industry is asking for their help?  Have them balance your budget while you are at it!

  • Tmazderby

    National approval ratings of Congress stand at approximately 12%.  That equates to a 88% disapproval rate.  And the industry is asking for their help?  Have them balance your budget while you are at it!

  • equine

    Can we ask Sen Udall (NM) why federal oversight of racing will be effective at protecting horses when it requires the privately funded welfare group Animal Angels to expose extreme cruelty to dying horses because a government employed livestock inspector failed to perform his duties? AA revealed this during their recent investigation at the Southwest Livestock Auction &Feedlot in Los Lunas, NM. Hundreds of horses were present at this slaughter market facility. Horses unable to rise and dyeing, horses with serious injuries, horses starving and without water or hay all in the presence of the livestock inspector. It is alleged the owner of the facility

  • equine

    Can we ask Sen Udall (NM) why federal oversight of racing will be effective at protecting horses when it requires the privately funded welfare group Animal Angels to expose extreme cruelty to dying horses because a government employed livestock inspector failed to perform his duties? AA revealed this during their recent investigation at the Southwest Livestock Auction &Feedlot in Los Lunas, NM. Hundreds of horses were present at this slaughter market facility. Horses unable to rise and dyeing, horses with serious injuries, horses starving and without water or hay all in the presence of the livestock inspector. It is alleged the owner of the facility

  • Meyer1127

    The Powers that be in TB racing,better get their heads out of the sand and know that they have let it slide and let it slide until the Fed.Gov will take it over and the whole thing will come tumbling down and their wallets will shrink to $O then.

  • Meyer1127

    The Powers that be in TB racing,better get their heads out of the sand and know that they have let it slide and let it slide until the Fed.Gov will take it over and the whole thing will come tumbling down and their wallets will shrink to $O then.

  • http://xpressbet.com Herewego

    You are correct there are large sums wagered on racing in the countries that you mention.

    The interesting thing is in France, the UK and Australia the “past performance” information is a joke. No running lines, just a finish position and no recorded workouts.

    I haven’t heard anyone argue that Equibase should stop charting races in the US because everyone knows our past performance information is far better than those in other countries and having this information is beneficial for our customers.

    Yet many suggest that because they don’t race on lasix in those countries, horses in the US shouldn’t race on lasix despite research which proves that lasix reduces internal bleeding in race horses.

    I know I’m not going to change your mind on this topic but hopefully this comparison is at least food for thought.  

  • Watcher

    Don, few horsemen welcome federal intervention. Our “leaders” have failed us because they didn’t take proactive measures to internally fix our problems. When people like Tom Ludt of Vinery vote against a drug ban you can be sure that some politician will be there to exploit it. 

    Look elsewhere?  Where and whom?

  • Jimbo

    Thank god someone’s going to finally look into these important issues.

  • Jimbo

    Thank god someone’s going to finally look into these important issues.

  • Jimculpepper

    Despite claims of elitism,  whether horse racing  or government regulatory commisions, the common problem is people whose thinking and behavior is common, be they blue blood, blue dog, or hound dog.  It really is “representative government” because the upper crust and leadership has the same motives as the trailor park nobility. So much for education.

  • Ruffian

    It’s a sad state of affairs when the government has to resort to legislating what should be common sense (don’t text while driving…you think?), and while I’m sure many people with a vested interest in horse racing are not anxious for new federal scrutiny and oversight of the industry, too bad: that ship’s sailed.  Something had to give and it did.
    Unless I’m missing something, the promised reforms after 2008 did little to improve the safety, health and welfare of the athletes and the sport’s image and “integrity.”  For racing jurisdictions and horsemen’s organizations to continue to defend themselves by pretending nothing’s wrong and it’s still business as usual is sublimely ridiculous.   

  • Ruffian

    It’s a sad state of affairs when the government has to resort to legislating what should be common sense (don’t text while driving…you think?), and while I’m sure many people with a vested interest in horse racing are not anxious for new federal scrutiny and oversight of the industry, too bad: that ship’s sailed.  Something had to give and it did.
    Unless I’m missing something, the promised reforms after 2008 did little to improve the safety, health and welfare of the athletes and the sport’s image and “integrity.”  For racing jurisdictions and horsemen’s organizations to continue to defend themselves by pretending nothing’s wrong and it’s still business as usual is sublimely ridiculous.   

  • Ridindirty3

    Let’s clean up Thoroughbred Racing!!! Brought to you by the same Gov’t that brought you those two recent hits the GSA spending spree & the not so secret….Secret Service hooker’s gone wild scandal! I’ve said it before….I’ll say it again….these guys will make our current racing leaders look like superstars!

  • Paddy Irish Man

    There is a need for federal intervention in the industry here in the states. No one state is going to move first on the drugs and welfare issues. As seen in the Kentucky senate!!! People have been afraid to change and embrace that change as a positive. It makes no sense having one jurisdiction racing with different legislation and rules than another. America needs unity and unfortunately federal intervention is the only way this can happen. Change in the racing industry here should be viewed as a positive not negative for the wider industry.  

  • Paddy Irish Man

    There is a need for federal intervention in the industry here in the states. No one state is going to move first on the drugs and welfare issues. As seen in the Kentucky senate!!! People have been afraid to change and embrace that change as a positive. It makes no sense having one jurisdiction racing with different legislation and rules than another. America needs unity and unfortunately federal intervention is the only way this can happen. Change in the racing industry here should be viewed as a positive not negative for the wider industry.  

  • Tinky

    It might be food for thought if it were accurate, but it isn’t. 

    It is quite true that past Performances are very different in other countries than in the U.S., and there are undoubtedly some advantages to our version(s). What you fail to point out, probably out of ignorance, is that there is information available in other countries that is in many ways superior to what is available here. 

    Timeform assesses and rates every horse in training in in the U.K. Those assessments often provide important information that is never found in American PPs. The Racing Post provides interactive PPs and charts of races that provide many details and options that haven’t even been dreamt of in the Racing Form or Equibase offices.

    So, I am afraid that your comparison was not at all apt.

    Finally, with regard to your basic point, the results of races spanning hundreds of years, both abroad and in the U.S., clearly show that Thoroughbreds do not need to race on Lasix. It is obviously not the only way to reduce the likelihood of bleeding, and if it were necessary for the basic health of racehorses, then the careers of runners around the world would be truncated, and owners, trainers and breeders from other countries would be clamoring for change. Neither is remotely the case. 

  • Ridindirty3

    I’m sure glad the Fed Gov’t is looking into all this….’cause they get everything right! I hear there’s gonna be a few ex-GSA & Secret Service guys available….they should be a perfect fit to ensure the integrity of our sport! 

  • voiceofreason

    Our PP’s are superior to the worlds in every way, ‘cept one: They are corrupted.

  • Francis Bush

    Here’s just another example of the government nosing into a business operations. Nothing government does is sacred when it comes to stealing money. With the country in the tank I suppose it would have been expected sooner rather than later.  

  • Francis Bush

    Here’s just another example of the government nosing into a business operations. Nothing government does is sacred when it comes to stealing money. With the country in the tank I suppose it would have been expected sooner rather than later.  

  • Darkhorse112095

    I would love a job as a Federal Official to over see Horse Racing. They are concerned with all the break downs. Step one is to over see all horses entered to race up to three days before race time! To check and recheck all medications that the VET comes onto the race track with and what he leaves with at the stable gate! Have all vets submit Mri and xrays taken on any horse that intends to race at that track. A lot of the break downs are due to greedy trainers and sometime owners for day money and the latter insurance money. Watch officials and make sure there doing there jobs not collecting a paycheck. ECT

  • Darkhorse112095

    I would love a job as a Federal Official to over see Horse Racing. They are concerned with all the break downs. Step one is to over see all horses entered to race up to three days before race time! To check and recheck all medications that the VET comes onto the race track with and what he leaves with at the stable gate! Have all vets submit Mri and xrays taken on any horse that intends to race at that track. A lot of the break downs are due to greedy trainers and sometime owners for day money and the latter insurance money. Watch officials and make sure there doing there jobs not collecting a paycheck. ECT

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