As of March 23, 2021, 50 horses have died on racetracks across the United States in 2021 alone. That means nearly 15 horses are dying each month, or one dead horse every other day. Clearly even with all of the hype over the massive number of deaths last year, nothing substantial has changed in horse racing.
The Horseracing Integrity Act
The Horseracing Integrity Act was passed last year, although it does not take effect until July, 2022. It passed with bipartisan support, and had joint support from animal welfare groups as well as The Jockey Club, Breeder’s Cup, and the New York Racing Association, just to name a few.
The act focuses on the following:
- Create an anti-doping and medication control committee. The overall goal here is to identify and thus prevent the doping of horses. Most of the doping in horse racing has little to do with trying to get the horses to run faster, and rather is focused on masking pain, allowing horses who are obviously injured to continue to race. These injured horses can break legs, ankles, tear tendons, or end up with another type of catastrophic injury.
- Create a racetrack safety standard committee. Not all racetracks are the same, and some tracks are so poorly maintained that they create a hazard for horses. Currently the tracks are state-regulated, which is one of the many reasons there are so many horse deaths each year. The goal of the bill is to create a minimum standard for all tracks across the United States.
- The Federal Trade Commission will be in charge of establishing the standards for racetrack safety, from establishing doping protocols, to racetrack surface, to establishing violations for both racetracks and trainers who violate the rules. Currently while racetracks can ban trainers, those trainers can move to another track and continue to race their horses. If a trainer is banned from all tracks in one state, they just move to another state. There clearly needs to be a federal law to prevent these trainers from continuing to kill horses.
Lawsuit Against the Act
With what should be obvious changes in the race horsing industry, it comes to no surprise that inscrutable trainers have already filed a lawsuit challenging the Horseracing Integrity Act, stating that the industry can regulate itself just fine (given the hundreds of horses who die each year, clearly it cannot). These trainers who want to apparently continue to dope and race their horses on substandard track conditions include The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which states that it is wrong to cede state regulation to a private authority.
The lawsuit states that horse racing would be overseen by a private “Authority,” which they deem is illegal. Be very aware that the lawsuit has nothing to do with concern over a private group (overseen by the Federal Trade Commission), but rather these trainers know that if federal standards are enacted and trainers are actually held accountable for doping horses and giving them illegal medication, they will no longer be in business. This lawsuit is a last-ditch effort of a group of corrupt and unconscionable individuals who care little for the horses who make them money. They would rather continue a system that kills young horses every other day.
What You Can Do
Horse racing continues to kill horses at an exponential rate, with no end in sight. Until the Horseracing Integrity Act passes next year, and trainers and racetracks are finally held accountable for their actions, we suggest not attending any horse race. We are very aware that there are decent trainers out there who do care for their horses, but there is no way to just support those few trainers while also supporting an industry that only cares for the bottom line, as well as the trainers who are willing to kill a few horses in order to obtain it.