Editor’s Note: Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) speaks at Keeneland regarding the announcement of new legislation on horse racing reform on Monday, August 31.

Lexington, KY – Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced a consensus among prominent equine industry stakeholders that will lead to historic reforms.  The agreed upon proposal builds on legislation Congressman Barr introduced in the House of Representatives to create a new independent regulatory committee responsible for establishing uniform safety and competition standards for the horseracing industry.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of work and negotiation to develop uniform racing standards under one independent regulatory body”, said Congressman Andy Barr.   “The future of the sport depends on fair competition, a level playing field across state lines, as well as the safety and welfare of our equine and human athletes. Now is the time for the horseracing industry to embrace change that will attract a new generation of fans and solidify the future of this special sport. I want to thank Leader McConnell for his partnership on this effort and I look forward to moving this legislation across the finish line.”

“I’m proud to be joined by prominent horseracing leaders in Kentucky as they take the courageous step to increase nationwide safety standards for horses, jockeys, trainers, breeders, and fans.  I’m grateful to Congressman Andy Barr for his leadership on this issue in Central Kentucky.  Kentucky is proud of our distinct horseracing traditions.  We must address the challenges the sport faces so we can preserve our heritage and the jobs of over 24,000 Kentuckians who support it,” said Senator McConnell.  “As Senate Majority Leader, I look forward to working with Congressman Barr and our colleagues across the aisle on our legislation to give federal recognition to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.  Together, we can better protect every competitor and give each of them a fair shot at the Winner’s Circle.” 

“This groundbreaking legislation and the collaborative effort behind it speaks to the commitment those of us in the Thoroughbred industry have to establish uniform safety and integrity standards across the U.S. and bring American racing in line with international guidelines,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said.  “We applaud the leadership of Senator McConnell and Congressman Barr, who share our passion for horse racing and a dedication to strengthening the future of this great sport.” 

“This legislation gives us an opportunity to make the single most significant and far-reaching safety and integrity enhancement in the history of Thoroughbred racing by bringing our sport into the 21st century and protecting its future for generations to come,” said Drew Fleming, President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Limited.  “While there is more work to do both in Congress and in the racing community, we are now on the path to a safer and more transparent sport thanks to Senator McConnell’s leadership and ability to bring people together around this important non-partisan issue.  It has been a privilege to work with Congressman Andy Barr, my Chairman Fred Hertrich and my trusted counterparts at Churchill Downs and The Jockey Club, among many others, to contribute to this initiative for the betterment of our industry.”

“The Jockey Club has long pursued a collaborative solution within our industry to establish national reforms ensuring clean competition and improved safety for horses and humans alike.  We express our sincere thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and organizations such as Breeders’ Cup, Churchill Downs Inc., Keeneland, New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group for working so closely with us on this legislation,” said Stuart S. Janney III, Chairman, The Jockey Club.  “We strongly believe that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is vital to developing uniform and effective medication and safety regulations that will enhance the integrity and safety of American horse racing and improve the sport.”

The Jockey Club Chairman continued, “We also applaud Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY) and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) for their support and devotion to horse racing and for introducing the original bill into the House and Senate.  We will continue to work closely with Congressional co-sponsors, industry stakeholders and animal welfare organizations in our pursuit of national, uniform standards for drugs, medication, and safety in horse racing.”

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act will recognize the newly formed Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, which will be tasked with creating uniform, national standards regarding prohibited and permitted substances for use in horse; setting up an accreditation system for labs to test drug test sample; and developing regional standards regarding racetrack safety.

Congressman Barr has advocated for the development of uniform standards of competition in horseracing since entering Congress in 2013.  The most recent iteration of Barr’s Horseracing Integrity Act, which he sponsored in the House of Representatives with Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), currently has over 250 co-sponsors in the House and companion legislation in the Senate.  In January, Barr testified in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, highlighting the importance of the legislation and further educating his colleagues in Congress on the matter.