Humane Society Creates New National Horse Racing Advisory Council

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Humane Society Partners with NHRAC

After constructive discussion with other members of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity on animal welfare issues and working with thoughtful and progressive leaders committed to elevating the welfare standards in horse racing, The Humane Society of the United States announced the formation of its HSUS National Horse Racing Advisory Council. The council will continue to promote higher animal welfare standards within the scope of their involvement in horse racing.

humane society“The HSUS is serious about its responsibility to engage with sensible leaders within different industries where there are animal mistreatment issues to find a pathway for reform,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Everyone who makes or has made a living from the horse racing industry has a moral obligation to take all reasonable steps necessary to protect and enhance the welfare of the equine athletes who are the heart and soul of the sport and the business of horse racing.”

In its current bill form, HR 3084’s chief aim is to police Thoroughbred medication abuse via the establishment of a federal, non-governmental racing regulatory organization headed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). But since being introduced and assigned to a congressional committee on July 16, 2105, the legislation has not advanced.

HR 3084 has generated only mixed support from within the racing industry. The differences of opinion range from slight disagreements over semantics to flat-out resistance that anything needs to be done at all. The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has made it clear that it strongly opposes any attempt to utilize federal simulcasting rights as a cudgel for compliance, and the Association of Racing Commissioners International has spoken out against any bill that transfers regulatory powers to a private organization, like USADA, that has no experience in testing horses.

“I’m sorry to say that in spite of the efforts of a number of people to try and drive reform, we still have chronic problems within the industry. And one of the biggest problems is doping of horses,” Pacelle said. “Different standards for drugs in [38] different states means that [cheaters] are shopping for venues…They’re so deeply involved in doping of horses that they are trying to find ways to stay ahead of the regulators.” This has led, he said, to “too many horses dying on the track.”

Pacelle continued: “We think that a national industry needs a national regulatory framework. If the industry had been able to do this on its own, it could have done it five years ago or 10 years ago or 20 years ago…But I think the industry has proved [to] itself that self-regulation is not happening, and that’s why we need the Congress to step in and set a framework.”

Thursday’s newly formed National Horse Racing Advisory Council will be chaired by Joe De Francis, the former controlling shareholder in the Maryland Jockey Club. Other members of the advisory council include Jim Gagliano, the president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club; Stacie Clark Rogers, the operations consultant for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance; Allen Gutterman, a former racing executive who is a partner in a racing consulting firm; Joe Gorajec, the former executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission; Staci Hancock, a founding member of WHOA; and Chris McCarron, the retired Hall of Fame jockey.

“I am both honored and excited to be working with The HSUS and with the outstanding and dedicated individuals who will comprise the council,” said DeFrancis. “I have every expectation and confidence that the council will be a catalyst for the enactment of federal policies for the betterment of horse racing, to the benefit of all involved: horses, industry participants and fans.”

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