The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate Monday night. The bill was expected to be approved by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, but the outgoing US president is holding up the proceedings based on his dissatisfaction with the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package in which the HISA was included.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led the bipartisan effort to pass the bill, which was considered a longshot to become reality. All bets are off at this point, but it’s a crucial time for the economy and those involved in the horse racing industry. Once the bill is approved, the legislation will have major impacts on one of the commonwealth’s most prominent industries by addressing medical and safety standards in horse racing.
“Kentucky’s cherished horseracing traditions deserve to be protected. I’m proud the Senate agreed to my legislation to preserve our signature racing industry and the 24,000 workers who support it,” McConnell said in a statement.
US Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) also championed the historic, bipartisan legislation.
“With today’s passage of HISA in Congress we are in the final stretch of achieving the most transformational and consequential reform of the Thoroughbred horseracing industry since enactment of the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.”
Horseracing Integrity And Safety Act Impact
The HISA means sweeping changes for a sport that has been rocked by recent doping scandals and has come under fire from animal rights activists and media outlets over equine fatalities on the racetrack. The concept behind the bill is to bring more national structure to racing, and hand over control of drug enforcement to the US Anti-Doping Agency.
The push to have the act passed was led by the Jockey Club and was joined by several major racetracks and organizations. The list includes the Breeders’ Cup, the NTRA, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the New York Racing Association, Del Mar, the Stronach Group and the Water Hay Oats Alliance.
“This is a monumental step forward that will help secure the future of Thoroughbred racing in the United States,” said Dave O’Rourke, president and CEO of the New York Racing Association (NYRA). “For the first time, the sport will have a unified set of national safety and integrity standards to replace an outdated system that relied on patchwork regulation.”
Stay tuned for the announced winner.