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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Being Left at the Gate

Those who follow all breeds of horses which race have no doubt heard of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Act of 2015 (H.R. 3084), legislation which would bring a national standard for medication rules and ban race day medication throughout thoroughbred racing,

The legislation calls for the formation of a  Thoroughbred Anti-Doping Association (TADA), initially comprised of the USADA with stakeholders from thoroughbred racing being added to the group. TADA will be responsible for the establishment and enforcement of rules regarding medication including issuing penalties.

Wait, you ask.  Doesn't the state racing commissions control racing, including medication penalties?   Now it does, but it will need to cede this part of their regulatory duties to the TADA if they wish interstate simulcast wagering to continue in their state.

Being the Jockey Club has called for this type of legislation it doesn't surprise me the bill involves thoroughbred racing only, but it still distresses me.  For one, it shows the standardbred industry hasn't gotten on board yet with the idea of an independent agency handling drug regulations and policing (as is the case with the AQHA and those who regulate donkey and mule racing).  Secondly, it shows harness racing being left at the gate once again should this legislation become law (admittedly a long shot).

Were this legislation to become law, what would be the impact on harness racing?  For one, it would be the racing breed without a national standard for medication and enforcement of the same from an anti-doping agency which would imply harness racing the wild west of cheats.   Also, coming late to the party may result in harness racing being subjected at some point to thoroughbred racing medication rules instead of being at the table early and involved in establishing the medication rules.

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