HBPA: Feds Addressing ‘Problem That Does Not Exist’

by | 11.21.2013 | 12:57am
Phil Hanrahan, CEO of the National HBPA

Congress held its first hearing Thursday on H.R. 2012, a proposed bill that would impose federal regulations on horse racing medication rules and put an independent agency in charge of drug testing, and while there was a similarity in testimony to past hearings on previous racing legislation, one critical difference was that House members seemed to be paying attention this time.

The 70-minute hearing – conducted by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade – was squeezed in between floor votes on what subcommittee chairman Lee Terry (R-Neb.) called “getaway day” – was well attended, with up to a dozen members listening to testimony. A previous hearing in 2012 on now-expired legislation was sparsely attended. (Background memo on H.R. 2012.)

Many of the messages conveyed by witnesses speaking on behalf of H.R. 2012 Thursday were familiar to those heard in the past:

— Horseracing is a wonderful sport with a glorious history.

— Horseracing currently is plagued by cheaters who dope horses to gain an advantage.

— The current state-by-state regulatory structure is ineffective in establishing uniform rules and catching the cheaters.

— Federal legislation is needed to create uniform rules, guidelines, and penalties to regulate the use of medication in Thoroughbred racing.

Speaking on behalf of the bill was an assortment of individuals: businessman Jesse Overton, former chairman of the Minnesota Racing Commission, who told Congress there is “no drug or compound that has not been tried in horses”; Dr. Lawrence Soma, of the University of Pennsylvania testing laboratory, who talked about the difficulties of identifying protein-based drugs and peptides and the shortage of revenue to develop new tests; Travis Tygart, CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, who spoke about how the international Olympic movement came together during a crisis in cheating by many athletes to create the World Anti-Doping Agency; veterinarian Sheila Lyons, who repeated some of her critical comments from a 2012 hearing about veterinary ethics; and Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, who said the HSUS wants horse racing to succeed but said it needs to move away from the “reckless” use of drugs and self-regulation.

Phil Hanrahan, CEO of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, was the lone opponent of the bill among those invited to testify. He insisted horse racing is a clean sport, evidenced by the amount of testing conducted throughout the United States and the relativity few positive tests that are found.

“It attempts to address a problem that does not exist,” Hanrahan said of H.R. 2012.

In opening statements, chairman Terry talked about having previously worked at long-shuttered Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha, Neb. “Even when I was finished working there, I just couldn't get away from it,” he said. “I loved standing on the rail of the stretch, and as they come around that corner, you just feel the ground shaking from their power.”

Today, Terry said, “The perception is that the doping or drug use for the horses is pervasive.”

Other members echoed Terry's remarks.

“Doping in the Thoroughbred industry is a concern for every industry stakeholder,” said Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), co-sponsor of H.R. 2012, is not a member of the subcommittee but was given an exemption to participate. He played a New York Times video focusing on the number of horses that suffer fatal injuries during racing and said the lack of a “single entity” to impose and enforce rules was something the sport needs to change.

But not all members indicated support. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla), whose district includeds Tampa Bay Downs, said 50 racetracks are in support of reformed medication rules that would create uniformity without the need of federal legislation. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) also spoke against the bill.

GovTrack.us gives H.R. 2012 a 26 percent chance of getting past committee and a 19 percent chance of being enacted.



Jesse Overton, Chairman, SkyLearn, LLC and former Chairman, Minnesota Racing Commission; written testimony

Phil Hanrahan, Chief Executive Officer, National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association; written testimony

Lawrence Soma, VMD, Professor Emeritus of Anesthesia and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine; written testimony

Travis Tygart, Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency; written testimony

Sheila Lyons, DVM; written testimony

Wayne Pacelle, Chief Executive Officer and President, Humane Society of the United States; written testimony


Do you support H.R. 2012, a bill that would impose federal regulations on racing medication and give oversight power to the US Anti-Doping Agency?

View Results

Following the hearing, Rep. Pitts issued the following press release:
This morning, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade held a hearing to look at Congressman Joe Pitts' (PA-16) bill H.R. 2012, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. H.R. 2012 would empower the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to set rules for monitoring drug use in horse races that are simulcast under federal law. The bill would require no federal funding.

“Despite promises and assurances, state and industry groups have been unable to come together to develop uniform rules to police doping,” said Pitts. “The fact remains that there is no single entity which has the authority to impose uniform rules on racing commissions, tracks, trainers, and owners. Congress must step in to offer a sound national framework to protect the horses, the riders and the public.”

USADA is a non-governmental organization that is designated as the official anti-doping agency for the U.S. Olympics and works with sports leagues to strengthen clean competition policies.

Under the new legislation, USADA would develop rules for permitted and prohibited substances and create anti-doping education, research, testing and adjudication programs for horseracing. It would also:

·         Put an end to race day medication;
·         Set a harmonized medication policy framework for all races with interstate simulcast wagering;
·         Require stiff penalties for cheating, including “one and done” and “three strikes, you're out” lifetime bans for the worst cases; and
·         Ensure racehorse drug administrations comply with veterinary ethics.

“A subcommittee hearing is the first step in serious consideration of legislation,” said Pitts. “We have to continue building the case for the bill, but there is bipartisan recognition that this is a serious problem and industry support for the solution I have proposed.”

View Pitts' opening statement from the hearing here.
View Pitts' questions for witnesses here.

  • G. Rarick

    Typical stance by Hanrahan. “No one disputes that Lasix prevents injuries and fatalities in race horses and reduces risks for jockeys.” Seriously? No one?

    “The main difference in medication policy between the United States and Britain (as well as the rest of Europe) is the timing of Lasix use.” The ignorance of this statement is stunning.

    “Horsemen in Britain are allowed to and do administer the same therapeutic medication used by American horsemen, including Lasix.” Again, a complete lack of awareness of how the rest of the world trains horses.

    I don’t see much coming out of this hearing but the status quo. Sigh.

  • Sinking Ship

    With GovTrack giving H.R. 2012 a 26 percent chance of getting past committee and a 19 percent chance of being enacted, it doesn’t seem this bill has a prayer. Nice try, folks.

    • 4Bellwether666

      That’s slim & none & slim just split…All one can do is hope…

      • Marc

        It doesn’t take a huge number of concerned people to stimulate legislative reforms. People like to complain, often with scant knowledge of the facts, but they usually fail to make even the simple effort to speak up when and where it matters most. That is why even a handful of well-presented arguments to the right persons at the right time can stimulate positive change.

        If you want to see this bill become a law, if you want uniform rules and penalties, then you have to let your Congressman and Senator know of your support. A quick letter or phone call is all it takes.

    • Marc

      Those odds are actually quite good considering the abysmal record of failed legislation in the 113th Congress -the current ideological logjam has managed to scuttle all but 2% of new bills. Members in the House and Senate, especially the House, are collective know as the do-nothing Congress.

  • Really

    Dr Soma continually repeating that steroids are banned shows that he is out of touch. They are just more regulated (levels) and their use is rampant in his state of PA.

    He also pretty much says lasix is proven to do nothing. Any horseman across the country except for maybe 5 outspoken people will tell you from personal experience that this is not true. Plus, regularly scoping your horses paints a much clearer picture of who really bleeds. Many show no signs but if ignored, this bleeding will shorten their career.

    There are other good points regarding conflicts of interest, etc. I think the vets testimony that vets who don’t do as their told and push the envelope may have been true before, but now that withdrawl times have been pushed back so far, this is not as much of a factor.

    I’m surprised that out of competition testing was not a big topic. Isn’t that how the doping agency really got the human cheaters? They are harping on lasix and are going to let steroids and blood doping agents continue? Duh.

  • jazz mania

    0 faith.

  • 4Bellwether666

    While they are @ it how about looking into drug test for all those clowns on capital hill and @ the white house???…ty…

  • Tinky

    Phil Hanrahan, HBPA CEO, just spouted the lie that current testing “shows conclusively” that doping is extremely rare. “99.9% of tests show…”

    There are only two possibilities: he is either dishonest or ignorant.

    • 4Bellwether666

      How about both of the above…

      • Tinky

        I was leaning strongly to the “dishonest” side until I heard his answer to the question of whether he factored in possible illicit drug use when handicapping. It now appears that you are correct.

    • Some of both, I believe.

      • betterthannothing

        Dishonest as hell. And tragically for horses and riders, the HBPA continues to earn the title of most malignant cancer in racing along with those who choose to abuse, dope and endanger both.

        • nu-fan

          betterthannothing: I’m with you on this. He’s too involved in horseracing and cannot claim ignorance. There are no other options.

          • 4Bellwether666

            Yes he can claim ignorance by that statement he made to the congressmen and the rest of the country…

      • betterthannothing

        Sorry Lou, my post was meant to be a reply to Tinky’s post.

        • better than, That’s quite alright. While you are reading, can you tell me why people allow themselves to be led by a man such as Hanrahan? I believe that the Trainers’ Benevolent And Protection Association has a portion of membership that is opposed to this bill for the very same reason as their spokesman . He is going to say whatever he believes is necessary in order to keep his job. Some trainers will also follow that pattern, with their owners, but then act in a manner that is contrary. I believe these trainers are a minority of the membership in the TBPA as far as trainers are concerned and yet they seem to control Hanrahan. It is almost always about MONEY.

          • The entire industry is about money. Not almost ALWAYS and it always has been. Why would anybody get into it if not for the money being the number one incentive? Sure there’s a good deal and i’d say most of the mass majority even love the horses,… but it’s always about the money.

      • 4Bellwether666

        Not some…A whole lot…

    • Barry Irwin

      Mr. Hanrahan embarrassed himself and any horsemen he represents.

  • Patricia Hooker

    I do believe this is very needed but the powers that be will not let it happen for there is too much money to be made as it is. The only damage is to the Thoroughbred themselves, who we as horse lovers enjoy watch them do what they do best is give their all. Anyone of these animals once in the gate have the ability to win no matter who they are on any certain day. This is what makes it so exciting to watch and they are willing to die to get to the wire first. So I do encourage those who are trying to get this legislation together to go to being law would think past the money and what is best for the Thoroughbred please.

    • 4Bellwether666

      If they will look out for the Horse first and foremost that will help keep the jocks safer too…ty Ms. Hooker…

      • Patricia Hooker

        I know by my working with Michigan Legislators that if hey do not want to follow even when it is law. The Libility insurance to cover horse persons who run businesses whether working directly with horses or a side support business from continual law suits, but the legislators added just two words which made it totally void, and so they can do it too specially at the federal level. I am on the Board of Director of the Michigan Equine Partnership.

  • Non-doping owner

    “Claiming races are are really dumping grounds for horses who have injuries too severe to let them continue to run at a higher level.” So says the “expert” witness from the Humane Society who supports this legislation. With ignorant witnesses offering these sorts of views, my hope for a positive outcome here is dim.

    • Needles

      There are a lot of sound horses who race in claiming races. I guess he never realized that some horses are just slower than others.

    • betterthannothing

      Of course sound but slow horses can run in claiming races but I agree with that quote because there are only negative reasons why high earners, including multiple graded stakes winners and foreign-born grass horses who used to be good enough to be imported into this country become claimers who run in cheaper and cheaper races: they are suffering from injuries, diseases, on-going and/or cumulative chemical toxicity, fear of pain, exhaustion, depression, abuse and/or gross mismanagement.

  • Ray, Thank you for bringing the committee hearings to those who care. I have a few comments if you will indulge me. First of all I was impressed with Dr. Lyons courage and testimony and can’t remember why she was ridiculed last time out. She came across as sincere and her allegations possibly made sense. We are all ridiculed by some who disagrees with us. I was also impressed by Wayne Pacell from the SPCA and Hanrahan was just being Hanrahan. Again I must say that regardless of any legislation passed, it can be no more effective than the stewards and racing commissioners administering it. If I knew the scientific truth about race day Lasix I might be able to support their proposals.

  • HappyHarriett

    Anything the Federal Government wants to control, I run away from immediately. If you want your horse racing life to have even a teensy bit of self-regulation, freedom, and choice, you will NOT allow the Federal Government into your horse barn.

    Oh wait – there is Obamacare – look how well that’s functioning. Yep – the Feds involved in your life or your horse’s life – what could go wrong??

  • zchairman

    I have owned over 1000 horses all bought as weanlings or yearlings so I know a fair bit about the reality of EIPH based ‘real world testing’, not hypothetical or emotional information. I have scoped a horse for bleeding over 5000 times—that alone is a pretty significant study. I can tell everyone with absolute certainty that nearly all horses bleed, and once they bleed, they are more likely to bleed again and the bleeding gets progressively worse eventually doing permanent damage to the horses lung tissue. I can also guarantee you that banning Lasix will reduce the number of starts each horse makes per year and per lifetime and will make wagering/handicapping nearly impossible—that is what will kill racing. Be very careful what you wish for. There is a reason 95% of horseman (read people who own, pay for and actually know the facts about a horses health and specifically EIPH) are in favor of Lasix.
    Be tough on medication cheaters and ban them for life—PROBLEM SOLVED.

    • Needles

      Maybe racing and breeding would be better if we only raced the ones who can race without lasix even if that meant we shut down the many dump race tracks that draw 50 people to watch their lousy cards.

      • Big Red

        explain that stupid theory to the owners Orb and every other stallion owner that used / needed Lasix.
        we would end up with a bunch of 10 claimers passing on THEIR genes!

        • Figless

          That’s what the problem is now, bleeders passing on their genes weakening the pool.

        • rachel

          You mean the blue-collar work horses that run 100+ times in their hard earned careers? Might do the industry a world of good.

    • sittin’ chilly

      I know several vets who have scoped a lot more horses than you who would disagree, specifically about bleeding getting progressively worse in most horses. Many management and pathological factors, lasix use among them, come into play in the outcomes of horses who bleed.

      • fb0252

        name one, other than Sheila Lyons.

        • sittin’ chilly

          Give me a contact point and I will. And I second the thought that anyone who thinks cheating is rare is clueless about what actually goes on.

    • equine avenger

      “I can also guarantee you that banning Lasix will reduce the number of starts each horse makes per year and per lifetime ”
      Boy, I wonder how those horses did it post Lasix days. You know, the horses that raced 15+ times a year, 75-150 races lifetime. How about those two year olds who started 20+ times. Gee……..maybe it was all just a dream.

      • equine avenger

        I meant ‘pre Lasix days’

      • Don Reed

        Man O’War was a mirage. Soviet propaganda.

      • G. Rarick

        A couple of horses in my yard have run 12 times this year and will run one or two more – that’s if we can get into a race. My entries next week are in races with between 53 and 198 horses that all want to get in. Unfortunately, a full field at these tracks is only 17. Wait a minute…..no lasix….aren’t we supposed to have only three-horse fields in France by that logic? We have so many horses on the waiting list to get in you can’t even FIND a race!

    • Knowitall

      What did you use before lasix was legal?

      • betterthannothing

        Good question! Horsemanship and patience? An healthier stable environment? Yearly quality rest?

      • Casey

        We watched them bleed… and then used lots of antibiotics to try and heal them up before racing again… just like they’re doing around the world. Not using Lasix doesn’t mean they aren’t bleeding

      • BoB


      • Black Helen

        Buccah Leaves

    • Tinky

      “I can also guarantee you that banning Lasix will reduce the number of starts each horse makes per year and per lifetime and will make wagering/handicapping nearly impossible”

      If this were actually the case, then please do explain why two-thirds of the horses racing around the world do so successfully without the drug, and enjoy careers that are as long or, in many cases, longer than their American counterparts.

      While you’re at it, please do explain how horses racing RIGHT HERE IN THE U.S. averaged 30 career starts in 1970 WITHOUT LASIX, and now average around 10.

    • hadrianmarcus

      Horses race Lasix free in Dubai, Japan, Europe, Hong Kong, and Australia. How do they do it. Isn’t amazing that only American horses (in America!) need Lasix. Even American-bred horses can race Lasix-free once they leave the good ole USA and it’s trainers who have forgotten how to train without a syringe. I haven’t seen many three horse fields at Tokyo, Ascot and Meydan lately. Lasix is about maximizing the return on investment, pure and simple. If the Gods of racing deemed that horses using lasix received a five pound competitive disadvantage, you’d see a stampede of trainers and owners turning anti-Lasix.

      • McGov

        100% hit the nail on the head….it’s all about maximizing starts…Lasix is a substitute for time…it is the fast food approach to training.
        We need younger, higher educated trainers. Those willing to explore better options than sticking a needle in a horse to solve every problem.

    • chairman, You asking readers to believe that ninety five percent of the people that “Actually know the facts” agree with you is an offering of pure garbage. Who are these people and what are their credentials? Are they a panel of scientists from select universities? I know you are not going to answer that question.

    • jim cronk

      zchairman who are you ? my name is jim cronk

    • Barry Irwin

      I have had just the opposite experience. There are many reasons that horses bleed and a lot of them can be eliminated or controlled by management. I have not raced 5,000 horses, but I’ve raced more than 750 and the number of horses I’ve had that bled from the nostrils wouldn’t reach the number of fingers on one hand. I’ve had perhaps 10 chronic bleeders. They were horses that developed scar tissue because they were compromised before we got them. Thoughtful horsemen, owners and vets can deal with bleeding without subjecting 95 percent of all American racehorses to the rigors of using Lasix on them. There are better methods. Lasix must go because it is used by cheaters and the use of any drug on raceday has sent the wrong message to what remains of our fan base.

      • Really

        Barry, I think that almost all horseman would agree with you that the % of horses that bleed out the nose is very few. However, those are extremely severe cases. More bleeders can only be seen via scope and the scope only goes so far. Others can’t even be seen with the scope. Couldn’t it be that your bad bleeders that were already “compromised” when you got them were those where bleeding for a while unbeknownst to the previous connections? Maybe they didn’t get ahead of the problem and damage accumulated resulting in a bad bleeder….

        • Barry Irwin

          I knew they were bleeders when I bought them and took the risk.

    • David

      Sounds like your info coming from the same kind of vet who would claim that they can tell if a horse can race or not based on looking at the repository xrays at the yearling sales! Pure nonsense! The horse industry has been scammed enough by this type of scare tactic. Just because technology has improved enough to see things that we used to not see, doesn’t mean that is has become a problem or out of the normal of how things can work. If we go back towards natural horsemanship, I think we will see an improvement in our horses performance and careers, and bring back our fan base that we use to covet as a leading spectator sport. Lasix is a medication that is greatly abused, and needs to be included in the race day ban of medications. Weaning the true, but small percentage of, bleeders out of our gene pool is only going to help the breed.

    • Matt D.

      As far as I know the Euros don’t use lasix on race day and the industry seems to be doing just fine. As you know many of the horses racing in Europe were bred in the USA. I respect any opinion that is based on actual experience and as a result I’m interested in your take on our situation as compared to the Euros – thanks.

    • There are natural alternatives available to replace Lasix that do in fact work well for horses with EIPH, that won’t cost an arm and a leg either!! Vets on the tracks make a substantial portion of their living by giving Lasix!! Just saying!!!

  • Needles

    Phil Hanrahan (not surprisingly) misses the main point. The small percentage of cheaters in the game are killing it. There are only 1-2 at every racetrack but they have enough horses in their yard to ruin the landscape. Phil, it’s not about a 99% clean rate, it’s about the drugs you aren’t testing for. USADA is way better in that regard.

    • fb0252

      this is ur supposition or u have something to actually back up ur claim?

    • Harry

      if you think there are only 1-2 cheaters at every racetrack, you must race somewhere other than where I race….

      • easygoer8

        He/she must live out of the United States.

    • 4Bellwether666

      1 or 2 @ every track???…Get real PLEASE…

  • princessspiro

    Thank you Mr paulick for printing this, I read both Wayne Pacelle’s and Sheila Lyons testimony. I am so impressed with the passion and sound good judgment of Dr Lyons, she is the “voice in the wilderness”, I hope the industry listens to her. I completely understand her main overall point, that no drugs will only benefit the sport in totality in every way, the positive domino effect. As for mr Pacelle, I have respect for him and his basic perspective is right on even though some of his opinions may not sit well with some people. If you overlook minor nitpicking statements, the overall essence of his comments are well understood by many people that participate on this site. Both of them are simply stating what is well known about the industry which is they brought this upon themselves. They don’t want to destroy the sport they just want to make it better so even more people will catch the passion for the sport and protect the horses that give their all.

  • 14151617

    It may have taken 40 + years for the Government to try and let the Walking Horse Industry regulate itself with 0 results but looks like they are going to put the skids on them soon.
    Don’t you think for one second they can’t do the same thing to drugs in racing and I am sure they are not going to take 40 years to get it done this time.

  • Laurie

    I found Lee Terry’s (the chairman of the committee) comments to be utterly laughable.

    Terry is firmly anti-horse racing. During the struggle to save Ak-sar-ben, Terry was on the Omaha City Council. The hearings on Ak-sar-ben were under a separate political entity; it was under the jurisdiction of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. One member of the board, George Mills, was “on the fence” on whether or not to vote to sell the track for development.

    Terry sent the Douglas County Election Commissioner – on City Council letterhead – a memo asking what processes would need to be met to hold a recall election against Mills. Terry was enraged that Mills was actually open to hearing both sides of the issue. Terry also sent Mills a letter stating (and I’m paraphrasing, I can’t remember the exact verbiage, but it’s very close)
    that horse racing, gambling and low paying jobs were not “very Republican stances”.

    As for his Congressional record, Terry is known more for his partying with lobbyists as opposed to any legislative achievements. The Omaha World Herald, a very conservative newspaper, endorsed his Democratic opponent in 2012.

    I’m ashamed to be in his district.

    • Hamish

      Hi Laurie. So you are obviously some sort of political “hit” person looking to tarnish or smear Chairman Terry’s position. Your typical charachter defamation game in D.C is unfortunately at least as worse as our horse industry issues, so good for you, you’re in the right place making your first post on a horseracing blog. If you listed to his testimony, you would have heard from a fellow that is “concerned” about the future of an activity that he really likes. Please don’t drag horseracing down to your level.

    • Barry Irwin

      Sorry to read this Laurie.

  • Don Reed

    The HPBA exists?

    • Harry

      Not if you need help or honest testimony. If you own a hotel or convention center, they are alive and well TWICE a year!

      • Don Reed

        Everyone’s wild about Harry.

  • Don Reed

    Phil Hanrahan, one third of the deaf-dumb-and-blind monkeys.
    Which look great on the fireplace mantle, don’t they?.

  • fb0252

    HBPA is the only witness active in horse racing, and their testimony is that it’s a bill without a problem. So, which is it? No problem or are we going to believe the continued hysterics of such as Princessspiro below–heaven forbid that a horse receive hyloraunic acid as a supplement–I’d doubt the princess or Sport horse Sheila Lyons know what that is? And, oh, the bill outlaws lasix. Now we know what this is all about.

  • Don Reed

    Honorary Oscar is awarded to the Chia Pet hairdo.

  • Harry

    Once again, the HBPA stands for the cheaters and the money grubbing vets and leave the honest horseman to struggle, sorry b***ards!

  • Jay Stone

    After listening to all their testimony and reading their written testimony a couple of things stand out. USADA would be a good place to start and some of his ideas sound logical. The rest of the group either has their own agenda or belong in the Stone Age. For every speaker there were 5 or more that should have been invited and would have made more sense. The HBPA speaker made an idiot of himself and his organization. The ban on Lasix has absolutely no chance

  • 4Bellwether666

    Went to Turfway Park in 2006 to buy my first race Horse from a owner that was getting out of “The Game”…I ask him why he was getting out with his trainer standing right there with us and he flat told me if you ain’t cheating you ain’t wining and His trainer backed him up…

  • SusanKayne

    Wow…seriously, in what country does Hanrahan speak of this clean racing?

    • easygoer8

      He must have taken a trip abroad somewhere and is confused.

  • we’re watching

    Throw this lying bum out with the other cheaters that he apparently represents. This is the problem, those who benefit from the lies and cheating.

    • SusanKayne

      Liars figure and figures lie…..

  • Good observation, Mimi

  • Hamish

    Decent information and some new positions presented today. I’m not so sure who would have put up the HBPA Chief to spout off some of the things he said they may come back to bite him, but that’s an insignificant organization to begin with, so I guess they just took a shot.

    • fb0252

      the org that trains and owns ur race horses is insignificant. perfect sense Hamish!

      • Hamish

        No pal, I own and breed my own racehorses, and hire a legitimate trainer, and you sir/madam make NO sense. I consider the HBPA insignificant because it represents the interest of its inner circle, not me. Licensed owners of racehorses are only an involuntary member of the HBPA, because we race horses in our name, therefore becoming members of the local horsemen’s organization, then by proxy, becoming a member of the national. After watching Mr. Hanrahan today, I want nothing to do with HBPA.

        • fb0252

          u r one of those then that believes everybody cheats?

          • Hamish

            No, not everyone, just a bunch of them. Have you ever been to the races and watched and listened to the trainers, owners, bettors discussing and wagering on the hot horse du jour? How about the backside of a racetrack race day as the horses are prepped for race day and the pre-race antics occur? You can’t be from the horse industry, otherwise you wouldn’t make such statements. Truthful, honest folks know what we have become, but our organizational leadership covers up. This is the real shame.

          • fb0252

            i’ve been to many races Hamish. Lived on many backstretches. Pay very little attention to “talk”. Instead go on what I “see”. I’ve watched trainers in the act violating rules.

    • Concerned Observer

      Hamish, If you are a horse owner, you belong to the HBPA. They count you in their membership roles so they vote for you. That is the problem. We owners seem to have no say in the HBPA….but they speak for us! Vote! Run for HBPA office!

  • Anon

    Any good reason why a trainer who knows what they are talking about wasn’t called to testify? I don’t know enough about the drugs to have an opinion on what should/shouldn’t be banned, all I know is we really don’t need the current crop of power hungry thugs in the fed. govt killing horse racing the same way they are slowly killing the private health insurance industry.

    There is a provision in the bill that says this USADA will have the power to give permission to the tracks on whether or not they can run their races. Based on what criteria exactly? “We’re sorry Keeneland, but you won’t be able to hold your spring meet until you pay up” says the guy whose last name is Soprano while he raps his baton in his hand.

    And I’m sure the bill will ban performance enhancing drugs in equestrian sports too, right? Oh wait, it doesn’t.

  • Harry

    If anyone doubts there is doping in racing, just limit who has access to the horse from entry time until race time. Have a guard present EVERY TIME someone goes in the stall. Let’s see how many high percentage trainers go into a “slump”

    • fb0252

      u’d explain, possibly, how “doping” a horse works harry?

    • easygoer8

      The trainers might “pay off” the gurads. Scum are always one step ahead.

  • Tinky

    I said nothing about racing having been pure back in the day, but we’re talking about bleeding, and endoscopes hadn’t even been invented for many decades when horses were averaging 30+ career starts. It’s nonsense to suggest that pre-race bleeding medications were widespread prior to Lasix.

  • Barry Irwin

    I was very impressed by the speakers from the SPCA and USADA in particular. They came off very well. They were matter of fact, reasonable and confident. Some of the Representatives and the HBPA spokesperson make jackasses out of themselves with their obvious agendas.

  • Black Helen

    Buccah leaves were used before Lasix.

  • 14151617

    Please take a look at the other hearings that are going on with HR2012 Past Act(I think that is the correct bill #) The representative organizations are saying the same things at both hearings.
    Everything is fine,nothing going on,95% compliance rate.
    Makes you feel like they all fell out of the same pea pod.
    Doping,soring,slaughtering,removing wild horses form the range all of this is suppose to be good for the welfare of the horse?
    No it is only good for the pockets of the persons doing it.

  • Richard C

    Phil must have done past PR work for Lance Armstrong.

  • easygoer8

    If H.R. 2013 is passed and enforced, a lot of high profile trainers won’t be winning so much anymore!

  • Marc

    The federal government would NOT administer the bill. The enforcement entity would be the independent, non-profit United States Anti-Doping Agency. USADA is not an arm of government and they would be independently empowered to write the rules and regulations within the framework of the enabling legislation.

    • Mimi Hunter

      I see no difference. So the USADA would be able to write it’s own rules under a program that says they can pretty much write what they want. ‘Independently empowered’ – that is not a thing which fosters trust.

      • Marc

        You may be right, Mimi. Neither the federal government nor an independent agency nor a charity can do anything right in your judgment. Everyone is either incompetent or untrustworthy except for you. Pointless to suggest that our roads, schools, military, fire protection, police, etc., are run by government agencies.

        Perhaps you’d be best moving to an uninhabited desert island where you can live and die by your own devices without relying any government or private social programs whatsoever.

  • Marc

    For decades people in racing have said that having uniform rules and enforcement is essential. Right now our hodge-podge of 38 different medication and drug policies is ineffective.

    Racing regulators and racing industry groups have been unable to achieve uniformity without federal assistance. However, because many people seem to have a knee-jerk distaste of direct government intervention, HR 2012 was written to empower USADA to oversee drug testing. USADA is the recognized non-governmental leader in anti-doping enforcement.

  • Marc

    There is a very simple problem that folks in the racing industry – and most particularly trainers and veterinarians – fail to address. At least a couple dozen horses break down in races every single week. Dozens more limp back to the barns injured in training. Many hundreds of horses die yearly as a result of catastrophic injuries.

    the death of an athlete in any human sport provokes a demand for reform. Human life is precious with one exception. Jockeys don’t really matter very much. Do they? They die and racing doesn’t skip a four-beat gait.

    Riding sore horses puts jockeys at risk. Riding horses whose painful injuries are masked by potent legal and illegal drugs is just plain crazy, and not unlike driving an Indy car on bald tires.

    I get it. People on the track are largely immune to the carnage of dead and crippled horses. They’ve lived with it for decades and it doesn’t nag at their conscience anymore. It’s a business, after all, and horses are the tools of the trade. Horses die. Plain and simple.

    But when the first-time patron sees a horse shatter a leg and die on the track, that is now a last-time patron. If you want this sport to survive, then you need to look at racing with a fresh set of eyes.

    To those who haven’t yet grown accustomed to blood and death on the racetrack, the image is horrifying. To them, perhaps only to them…

    Horses matter. Jockeys matter.

    • val

      good post

    • Have to agree with the bulk of this Marc. However I don’t agree that the folks on the backstretch are numb to the carnage! I’ve worked a whole lot of years on the tracks from East to West. I think that it’s an issue we all wish we could solve, and keep from happening. There’s always going to be plenty of breakdowns, regardless of changes we may make. I do believe they can be lessened though. Stiffer fines, long suspensions that would threaten careers would stop a lot of the shenanigans on the backside of tracks. We only slap a trainer on the hand for illegal drug use on a racehorse! Illegal drugs of any kind should ban a trainer. What excuse can be made to justify any illegal drug in a race horse? I know of none that’d make sense! People on the backside do care though. In fact…. I believe they are acutely aware of the losses on the tracks!!

      • Marc

        I’m with you.

        • Really wasn’t trying to even be disagreeable at all. i’m sure we’re all aware that many trainers don’t give a damn. They’ll collect their ins. money, and move on to another horse! But I wouldn’t say that this is the describing the majority of those on the backstretch. Would you? I mean not overall. Though there are plenty of asshats to go ’round for sure. Maybe i’m more naive than I care to believe. But I think things can be made better. Fairness for every starter would be a great beginning to accomplishing this goal. Zero tolerance for drugs on the tracks, would be the ultimate test of trainers and their talents. I’d be thrilled to have this become the new designer model.. We’d sure eliminate hole bunch of sore sub par horses that have no business on any racetrack. Whatta you think?

    • Bottlecap44

      I think the people who work on the backside would have to love horses to get up that early in the morning 7 days a week! But I think a lot of the breakdowns could also be caused by track surface. Even the poorly written NY times article had an online chart showing the breakdown rate of different tracks that showed Presque Isle (tapeta surface) had the lowest breakdown rate. I wonder if somebody somewhere has ever done a study to examine the rate of breakdowns on different surfaces versus how many were really caused by drugs.

      • Marc

        Poor, uneven or hard track surfaces have long been implicated in increasing the likelihood of breakdowns. It is a very important factor. But the era of permissive medication rules ushered in a dramatic increase in breakdown rates.

        It stands to reason. If you use a drug, a nerve block or procedure to block pain (nature’s protection against further injury) and send the horse out to race, then unhealed injuries in joints and bones worsen, develop into chronic conditions, and require ever more ‘medication’ to maintain so-called ‘racing soundness’.

        It isn’t that trainers are indifferent to horse welfare. The sport slid into dependence on permissive drug use to compensate for demands to race more frequently and the inability to properly condition horses stabled 23 hours a day.

        There are many things that can be done to better protect horses and jockeys. Banning pre-race ‘medication’ would be the single most effective approach.

  • Concerned Observer

    The HBPA is going to do to racing, what the UAW did to the American auto industry. Once our reputation is tarnished and our competition is entrenched…..it will hard hard to rebound.
    Are we already there?

  • easygoer8

    Done!! With the above site, it’s so easy to do!

  • 4Bellwether666

    The 29% chance of this Bill (H.R. 2012) getting out of the committee just went way up…YA THINK!!!…

    • Marc

      Let’s hope so. But to enhance our chances, please call your member of Congress and your Senator and ask that they support and co-sponsor the legislation. It only takes a minute.

  • Feels kinda icky to vote yes tor any Gov’t agency to oversee horse racing! Though USADA seems to be what we need to have in the industry. Don’t know why they’d state the racing community cannot come together to fix itself. I’m not aware we’ve really ever tried to fix anything, far as the doping goes! Pretty sad, we’ve had time since ’08 Committee told us to get it fixed or risk losing the privilege to do so ourselves. I’ve seen little being done to fix any of it!

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