Barbara Banke, owner of Stonestreet Farm and chairman and proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, delivered the following remarks in support of the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 at Sunday's Jockey Club Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
My family and I are invested, financially and emotionally, in the future health of the horse racing business, and that is why I support the Horseracing Integrity Act.
I'm proud of what we've accomplished at Stonestreet. We've built a top-notch global Thoroughbred business with the same tenets that helped build a top-notch global wine business. Whether it's wines that outperform their competition or horses running in the best stakes races in the world, I have learned how to market complex, high-quality products in a competitive and increasingly crowded market.
At Stonestreet, we've campaigned some of the most elite Thoroughbreds in the business, including three Horse of the Year Eclipse Awards, two Hall of Fame inductees and the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes in 85 years.
In just 10 years, we've won graded stakes in six different countries. The successes of American Thoroughbreds internationally is raising the awareness and prestige of American horses in global markets. We've seen this most recently with our own victory at Royal Ascot with homebred star, Lady Aurelia. Lady Aurelia and her American-bred compatriots like Arrogate, Tepin and Caravaggio are testament to the quality of our American breeding programs.
They also reflect the trend for big race days and racing festivals like the Melbourne Carnival, the Pegasus, the Everest, Saratoga and Royal Ascot. These features attract international superstars and command the world's attention.
To win in the long term, we must demonstate to both new and future racing fans that our industry acts with integrity and elevated standards of care to protect the health of our athletes.
The morass of conflicting state medication thresholds and rules is too confusing and slow to change. With this bill we can achieve comprehensive reform that is meaningful both to horse owners and the general public.
We would benefit significantly and immediately if we standardize best practices across our industry in medication regulation and testing which this bill would accomplish. This will increase the perception that our industry is well organized and responsibly self-governed.
As a business person, I know that change is constant and that it comes at us with ever increasing speed. The tradition of Saratoga brings me back to a time that was slower and much less frenetic. The challenges and changes coming at us in the racing indusry are fast and furious. I admit that I am not a patient person but I know that our industry does not have the luxury of time to waste.
A robust future is available to us in an increasingly global business environment. We must foster consumer confidence and make the world stand up and take notice of our American horses.
Stonestreet is a breeder of high-end racehorses. Our broodmare band is international. We have mares from Europe, South America, Canada, Africa and Australia. Our homebreds have won across the world.
Like many others, we want to be recognized as a global leader. We want and need to attract new buyers of our bloodstock as well as new racing fans. The storied past of racing lives on today. We need to capture our passion and share these stories with a new generation. Though we've made tremendous strides, we need to chart a course that drives creative thinking and innovation. As we navigate an increasingly competitive business landscape, it is imperative we capitalize on this opportunity to change afforded by this bill. Let's successfully compete for today's entertainment and wagering dollar.
Whether it is the Sport of Kings or crafting the Nectar of the Gods … an industry cannot survive – let alone thrive – if it stands still.
The federal regulatory framework afforded by this bill will lead to greater public trust – similar to the wine business which has a uniformity of standards and practices with some federal oversight. Many of the aspects in wine that affect consumer trust, like labeling and appellation standards are federally regulated. And in the wine businesss we've learned to thrive in that environment.
Some may say that the horse industry does not need more regulation. I say that we need to replace the patchwork of conflicting medication regulations and standards with a single comprehensive scheme that will enhance public trust of racing.
A centralized and undeviating program with shared standards will afford us economies of scale, efficiencies, branding, and strength when facing common obstacles. USADA has expertise in anti-doping programs, including the Olympics, which, the horse racing industry, can use.
Business opportunites are easier to realize when we work together using our similarities and not our differences. The bill sets the stage for us to communicate to the public the story of how American legends are created on the racetrack with integrity and authenticity.
We have a great deal to celebrate about the sport of racing. But we must build a strong, unified voice to bolster the global reputation of our American-bred horses. We must craft our narrative and rebuild the foundation of integrity to establish trust with audiences old and new.
So today, I'd like us all to think seriously about supporting legislation that will do just that … build faith among our present patrons and attract future ones. We must establish an unwavering vision of our practices on a national level via legislation. This will ensure that our industry has essential standards and best practices that will cement credibilty as we open potential new markets.
The age we live in is not the age we leave behind and each day we wait is opportunity wasted. I would rather be talking with you today about the competitive field of the Travers or the Breeders' Cup; it would be easier to imagine and far less fraught with controversy. I'm here to talk about this opportunity here and now to move this industry forward.
We're blessed to work with the most majestic and athletic creatures on earth, driven by their singular passion – winning. Our American equine community is fueled by that same competitive spirit. As an industry, we have much to be proud of and a future that looks robust and promising.
I believe that adopting national standards and national best practices is essential to elevate perception and marketing efforts across the industry. Together, let's build a formidable future for the remarkable sport that we all love.
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