HBPA: ‘Pump the Brakes’ on Eliminating Raceday Medications

by | 04.18.2011 | 8:01am

The National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association's leadership wants to “pump the brakes” on the horse racing industry's desire to eliminate raceday medication in horses.

And I want to fly jet airplanes.

Hours before the NTRA was to have its second meeting in a week, where an up or down vote on the Association of Racing Commissioners International's proposed five-year phase out of raceday medication was expected, the NHBPA sent out a three-page press release and a six-page “detailed response” explaining why racing in the United States cannot possibly align itself with the rest of the world.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

“Do we need to have a national discussion about race-day use of anti-bleeding medications, zero tolerance, and negative public perception of our sport?” the HBPA asks in the conclusion to its detailed response. “Absolutely. However, it is vital that we balance the needs of effective regulation of our sport with sensible training practices that benefit the horse. These issues are not as black or white as some would have us believe.”

This, plain and simple, is a stall tactic. Members of Congress have racing in the crosshairs, and they are tired of hearing rhetoric about “national discussions.” In one fell swoop, the federal government could impose draconian regulations that truly are “zero tolerance” when it comes to medication.

“The National HBPA believes strongly in scientifically sound and properly enforced regulatory policies. Proper regulation should be the goal, and while we may not be perfect, we are certainly much farther along than was the case even a decade ago. Arguably, with the exception of the race- day use of medications to treat EIPH, most U.S. testing procedures and medication standards are equally or more strict than those in other countries around the globe.”

Racing in the U.S. has made progress. Sure it has. It has progressed from a sport that was considered mainstream 20 years ago to one that is fighting for its survival today. The image of racing in our country is worse today than it's ever been, largely – though not entirely — because of medication policies and perceptions of illegal doping of horses.

“Let's step back from the 'shock and awe' tactics,” the HBPA concludes,  “and focus on policies that are in the best long-term interest of the racehorses and the owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms, and exercise riders who care for them each day.”

Did I say “blah, blah blah”?

Horse racing has to stop allowing the foxes to guard the henhouse, both locally and nationally. The NHBPA cannot be trusted to help formulate policy regulating the sport.  We are in the middle of a sea change. American racing has an opportunity to align itself with the rest of the world or remain an island unto itself. The tides of unpopularity are rising.

Click here for the NHBPA's press release.

Click here for the NHBPA's detailed response to the RCI proposal.

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