HISA Amendment Included In Omnibus Bill Passed By Congress; Industry Leaders Reaffirm Support - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

HISA Amendment Included In Omnibus Bill Passed By Congress; Industry Leaders Reaffirm Support

Lisa Lazarus, CEO of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority

An amendment strengthening the Federal Trade Commission's rule making and oversight role of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority was included in the $1.7-trillion omnibus government spending bill passed by the House of Representatives on a 225 to 201 vote on Friday, clearing the way for President Joseph Biden to sign the legislation into law and avert a government shutdown at midnight Friday.

The Senate passed the measure on Thursday by a 68-29 margin.

The amendment became necessary after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling and found the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act – the law creating the Authority – unconstitutional on the grounds that it delegated rule-making authority to a non-governmental agency.

The ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals effectively delayed implementation of the Authority's Anti-Doping and Medication Control program, that was scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2023. In the wake of the ruling finding the law unconstitutional, the FTC – citing the legal uncertainty – did not approve the regulations submitted by the Authority. It's unclear at this time how quickly those rules may be re-submitted, and, pending approval, put in place. Racetrack Safety Program rules and enforcement are still in place.

The 2020 law said the FTC could accept or reject regulations proposed by the Authority, but the newly approved amendment broadens that power. It states that the government agency may “abrogate, add to, and modify the rules of the Authority promulgated in accordance with this Act as the Commission finds necessary or appropriate to ensure the fair administration of the Authority, to conform the rules of the Authority to requirements of this Act and Applicable rules approved by the Commission, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of this Act.”

Several lawsuits have been filed by horsemen's organizations and state racing commissions against HISA calling into question the law's constitutionality. One of them, filed in Kentucky, is currently awaiting a ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court found in HISA's favor.

Lisa Lazarus, CEO of the Authority, issued the following statement in the wake of the House vote: “We are grateful to Congress for their ongoing, bi-partisan efforts to affirm their support for HISA in order to advance safety and integrity in Thoroughbred racing. We at HISA look forward to engaging with all racing participants so that we can work collaboratively towards the smooth and effective implementation of the Racetrack Safety and the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Programs.”

Shortly after the House voted to approve the government spending bill, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association distributed the following press release in support of HISA: 

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) is joined by leaders throughout the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry in expressing its strong support for Congress's reinforcement of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) in the omnibus appropriations bill that was passed by the House today and now heads to President Biden's desk to be signed.

“On behalf of NTRA members, which include broad representation of every aspect of the Thoroughbred industry, we welcome the successful bipartisan efforts of Congress to reaffirm Congressional support for HISA's mission,” said NTRA President and CEO Tom Rooney. “HISA is critical to our sport and we look forward to working collaboratively with every industry constituency to continue to support the essential role of HISA going forward. We especially want to thank Congressional leadership in Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi, committee leadership in Chairman Pallone, Chairwoman Cantwell, and Rep. Schakowsky, and our longtime champions Reps. Tonko and Barr and Senators Feinstein and Gillibrand. Finally, I thank the many people from far and wide across the industry who advocated for this law with their elected officials.”

Signed into law by President Trump in December 2020, HISA has long had bipartisan support in Congress. The law recognized the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, under the supervision and control of the Federal Trade Commission, to develop and implement national, uniform medication control, anti-doping and racetrack safety programs.

The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., and Washington, D.C., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators representing nearly 80 percent of the U.S. pari-mutuel handle, more than 30,000 owners, breeders and trainers, and other affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development.

Other key leaders and stakeholders in the Thoroughbred industry have issued statements of support:

Craig Fravel, Executive Vice-Chairman, 1/ST  

“The process of ensuring the integrity of our sport and the safety of its participants is an ongoing one and we are grateful to legislative leadership in the House and Senate for agreeing to important clarifications to HISA. Uniform rules, effective and fair enforcement, and public confidence go hand-in-hand and we look forward to full implementation of HISA medication and safety rules and the continued improvement of our sport that is sure to follow.”

Drew Fleming, President & CEO, Breeders' Cup Limited 

“We very much appreciate the successful bipartisan Congressional efforts to support HISA. Hopefully, this will provide an opportunity for all industry participants to come together and continue to enhance and grow our sport through consistent, balanced, and effective regulation and enforcement.”

Bill Carstanjen, CEO, Churchill Downs Incorporated 

“Churchill Downs Incorporated is grateful for Senator McConnell's continued commitment to the success of Thoroughbred racing and we appreciate the resulting bipartisan support to pass clarifying language to HISA. CDI believes HISA is a critical vehicle for establishing a comprehensive and consistent regulatory framework to protect the integrity of our sport and the safety and wellbeing of our equine and human athletes. We also believe that HISA's ultimate success will depend on the Authority working collaboratively and in good faith with various industry groups to ensure widely accepted regulatory principles and an effective implementation.”

Josh Rubinstein, President and COO, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club 

“For many years Del Mar and California's Thoroughbred racing stakeholders have supported uniform standards and reforms that ensure the integrity of our competition and enhance the safety and wellbeing of both our human and equine athletes. We appreciate the bipartisan support of this measure and want to thank especially the members of our California delegation for their continued support of HISA and our industry.”

John Velazquez, Hall of Fame Jockey, HISA Racetrack Safety Committee Member 

“As a member of HISA's Racetrack Safety Committee, I want to thank Congress for reaffirming HISA as there is still a lot of work to be done to improve safety for horses and riders. HISA has committed to working closely with the Jockey's Guild on revisions to the Racetrack Safety rules and I am optimistic that we can make great progress working together.”

Shannon Arvin, President & CEO, Keeneland Association 

“Keeneland has always operated according to what is best for our horses, riders and the sport, which is why we've supported the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (the Act) from day one. We appreciate Congress reaffirming its support for a cleaner, safer sport via the uniform rules and enforcement mechanisms brought forth by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.”

Chauncey Morris, Executive Director, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association 

“Kentucky has over 60,000 people tied to horses and racing. Meaningful and responsible reform that stands the scrutiny of Americans who are largely outside of horse racing is the best way to safeguard the Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky. HISA must accomplish its mission.”

Chris Larmey, Chairman, National Horseplayers Championship Players' Committee that represents 5,500 NHC Tour Members 

“We thank Congress for its ongoing support of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), which we believe will lead to a higher degree of safety and welfare for our equine and human athletes and a more level and uniform playing field to wager on a product we can trust.”

David O'Rourke, President & CEO, New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA)

“HISA will achieve the reforms long supported and advanced by NYRA, including a national approach to medication control and the strongest anti-doping authority the sport has ever seen. Horse racing is an engine for economic opportunity that creates and sustains good jobs in every corner of New York State, and the successful implementation of HISA will secure its future in New York and across the country.”

James L. Gagliano, President and COO, The Jockey Club 

“The Jockey Club is extremely appreciative of the efforts Congress is making in support of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. The Jockey Club has supported nationwide, uniform rules and regulations for Thoroughbred racing for decades through numerous initiatives. HISA is Thoroughbred racing's best solution to greatly improve regulation of the sport and to help ensure our sport is clean and is safe for our athletes – both equine and human.”

Dan Metzger, President, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association

“TOBA is grateful to see Congress reiterate its support for HISA in the omnibus appropriations bill. HISA is very important to Thoroughbred owners and breeders to ensure fairness and uniform standards across the country. We remain hopeful the industry will come together to continue to improve Thoroughbred racing and work in collaboration with HISA for future success.”

Trainers, attributable to the following group: Mark Casse, Christophe Clement, Shug McGaughey, Kenny McPeek, Graham Motion, Todd Pletcher, Eric Reed, Dale Romans, John Sadler, Jonathan Thomas, Nick Zito

“As trainers who work and compete across our country, we applaud Congress for their bipartisan affirmation of HISA and the importance of uniform, national rules. The consistency, fairness and efficiencies of uniform rules and enforcement are desperately needed, and we call on our fellow trainers to come together in support of a safer, fairer sport.”


Dr. Jeff Berk, Equine Veterinarian and AAEP Past President  

“I'd like to thank the efforts of Congress for their continued support of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. Thoroughbred racing has needed uniform rules and a national safety program to guarantee the sport's sustainability. As a veterinarian, I'm keenly aware that the Thoroughbred – and human athletes – depend on us to keep them safe and HISA shares that mission.”

L.R. Bramlage DVM MS, Equine Surgeon, Former President AAEP and ACVS

“I practice every day caring for the stars of Thoroughbred racing. I want to thank Congress for reaffirming HISA and recognizing its importance in protecting the safety and welfare of Thoroughbred racehorses. For years we have been quarreling among ourselves trying to find a way to assure integrity in horse racing for our benefit and for the benefit of our fans, with little effect. To not finish this real effort for integrity and uniformity would move us back to square one, again! Many of the loudest voices for fairness, who would benefit the most from uniformity, are sounding off against this effort. It is time we all begin singing from the same hymnal and get this done!”

Sara Langsam VMD, TFB Equine, Belmont/Aqueduct Division

“As a Veterinarian who is at the racetrack daily caring for Thoroughbred racehorses, I want to thank Congress for reaffirming its commitment to HISA so that we can continue the important work of strengthening the industry's safety and integrity protocols. We have long needed uniformity and a national regulator to harmonize anti-doping and medication control testing. I have been going to racetracks all my life as a fan and now as a Veterinarian and I believe HISA gives us the best opportunity for horseracing to reach its potential and secure its future.”

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