Skip to content

Horseracing bill mirrors DesJarlais goals for WH industry




By Sadie Fowler

A bill in the horseracing industry backed by a Kentucky congressman holds similar intent to that of U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ bill that relates to the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and amending the Horse Protection Act.

Both bills aim toward creating unified standards for each respective breed in terms of objective standards in terms of evaluating horses who perform, be it on the track or in the show ring.

Rep. Andy Barr, who represents the sixth district in Kentucky, announced support last week of the Horseracing Integrity Act.

Rep. Barr plans to reintroduce the legislation to create uniform medication standards across the 38 different racing jurisdictions in the United States, according to a press release issued on his website, barr.house.gov. The act would create an independent anti-doping program to ensure that all racing states are playing by the same anti-doping rules, and that all racing jurisdictions are in step with international standards.

Regulation of horse racing in the United States is highly fragmented among the 38 racing states, which has led to a wide disparity in the effectiveness of medication testing and enforcement.

“Today, horseracing in America took a great step forward,” Rep. Barr said. “Frank Stronach, Founder and Honorary Chairman of North America's largest Thoroughbred racing company, The Stronach Group, announced his unqualified support for the Horseracing Integrity Act. This bipartisan legislation, which I sponsored with Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), will finally bring uniformity and independence to horseracing’s anti-doping program and no race day medication.”

Barr is also a sponsor of a bill introduced by Rep DesJarlais, of Tennessee, which would amend the Horse Protection Act on behalf of Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiasts. DesJarlais’ act aims to create a better enforcement system, one which relies on local expertise, objective science, and produces healthy animals.

 Objective testing would include the use of blood samples and more use of digital X-rays. The inspection administrator would be a single industry enforcement entity, the Horse Industry Organization (HIO) under the HPA. Currently the HPA is enforced by multiple HIOs that all have different rules and enforcement guidelines.

 Mike Inman, CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, applauded Barr’s efforts, as well as DesJarlais’, and said both industries have similar needs of a uniform regulatory system.

 “A single, industry-wide independent compliance organization using objective, repeatable science-based testing without the need for government funding is the common sense effective route to consistency and effectiveness,” Inman said. “This initiative by Congressman Andy Barr to improve the racing industry mirrors the legislation Congressman Scott DesJarlais has put forth for the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry. Hopefully both pieces will continue to gain support in the upcoming months.”

The Horseracing Integrity Act would create an independent anti-doping program to ensure that all racing states are playing by the same anti-doping rules, and that all racing jurisdictions are in step with international standards. Currently, regulation of this industry is highly fragmented, Barr’s release said.

Barr’s bill designates the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), a non-profit, to oversee a nationwide program to protect the racing industry.

The Stronach Group, which has announced its full support of Rep. Barr’s bill, is one of the world’s leading horse racetrack operators, owning racetracks including Santa Anita Park, Pimlico Race Course (home of the legendary Preakness), and the Gulfstream Park, one of Forida’s newest entertainment destinations.

 DesJarlais’ current bill, re-introduced March 2, kept the same original list of co-sponsors, Phil Roe (R-TN-1), Jimmy Duncan (R-TN-2), Chuck Fleishmann (R-TN-3), Diane Black (R-TN-6) and Blackburn from Tennessee. Hal Rogers (R-KY-5) and Andy Barr (R-KY-6). There are two new co-sponsors from Kentucky, James Comer (R-KY-1) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2). Comer replaced Rep. Ed Whitfield in the new Congress.

The inconsistency in inspections, conducted by both the USDA Veterinary Medical Officers and industry Designated Qualified Persons, has severely damaged the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. At the 2016 Celebration, USDA Veterinary Medical Officers disagreed 22 percent of the time on whether a horse was compliant or not and 52 percent of the time the VMOs disagreed on their inspection finding.

More Stories

  • Latest Issue 3 1 31

    Read More
  • Walking In The Smokies stall deadline approaching

    The Walking In The Smokies Horse Show, scheduled for April 8-10, 2021, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is preparing for their first annual show and would like to send a reminder to anyone needing stalls that the deadline is March 15. Please contact Lexi Stinnett at 828-550-8520 to reserve stalls on the show grounds. Read More
  • Trainers' Show announces judges

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association National Trainers’ Show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. March 18-20, 2021. Judges for the three-day event will be Wayne Dean, Newton Parks and Johnny Puckett. Read More
  • USDA prepares for 2021 show season

    The USDA recently conducted their virtual HIO training course for the 2021 show season. The USDA and industry recently received the final report from the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and some of the recommendations in that report are communicated in the new processes the USDA will implement in 2021... Read More
  • WHOA hosts virtual awards ceremony

    On Saturday. February 20th, the Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) held their National High Point awards for 2020 on their WHOA Facebook page with winners who chose to be zooming in to accept their awards... Read More
  • WHOA to host virtual awards ceremony on February 20

    The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) will recognize their award winners from the 2020 show season during a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, February 20, 2021. The show will be broadcast live on WHOA’s Facebook page beginning at 6 pm central time. Read More
  • FAST Spring Showcase announces judging panel

    The FAST Spring Showcase is pleased to announce that John Fikes, Newton Parks and Sam Sorrell will judge this years’ two-day event. The show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. April 16-17, 2021... Read More
  • Obituary – Kimberly Woods

    Kimberly Lynn Woods, age 47 departed this life on Sunday, February 14, 2021 at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky... Read More
  • WHAA annual barn party rescheduled due to inclement weather

    There will be a lot of great items to auction as well as breeding fees to some of the top stallions in the industry and training fees for many of the top trainers. Everyone is encouraged to bring your young horses to preview for the upcoming show season. Read More
  • Birth Announcement – William Jackson Bauer

    Dr. & Mrs. Will  Bauer of Gainesville, Georgia welcomed their first child, William Jackson Bauer, on December 4, 2020. Jack weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces at birth... Read More