AQHA says it can’t support Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: June 9, 2017

The American Quarter Horse Association June 9 said it supports uniform model rules and upgraded programs to combat use of performance-enhancing drugs in racing but won’t support the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017.

The Quarter Horse and Standardbred industries were added to the legislation introduced May 25. The bill, which replaces the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015, also contains a ban on race-day Lasix effective Jan. 1, 2019.

“Of particular concern regarding this proposal is the elimination of all race-day medications, including Lasix, the use of which has been endorsed by several equine groups and the American Association of Equine Practitioners to help mitigate the occurrence of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage in racehorses,” AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines said. “American Quarter Horse representation on the (Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority) and funding sources for the program are also among other areas of concern that we have regarding the legislation as currently proposed.”

The AQHA said it is committed to racehorse welfare “and continues to work with international, national and state racing organizations and commissions to evaluate protocols to allow for uniform medication rules and deterrents of performance-enhancing drugs. In addition, the use of Lasix in AQHA shows is currently under review by the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission by request of the Executive Committee.”

The Quarter Horse industry, which has had issues with abuse of the bronchodilator clenbuterol, worked with the Association of Racing Commissioners International to amend model rules. ARCI in April voted to classify clenbuterol as a prohibited substance in Quarter Horse racing.

The AQHA said it also continues to support out-of-competition testing and hair testing.

Meanwhile, the United States Trotting Association said it would convene its executive committee or full board of directors to review the federal bill. But USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner indicated support for the measure seems doubtful.

“I think I’m safe in saying that the race-day prohibition of Lasix would be very troubling to us,” Tanner said in a statement. “In 2012 we came out strongly in favor of it as being an effective and humane treatment (for racehorses). That’s a position echoed by other equine groups, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

“It’s not just us, and we’re perplexed as to why this keeps coming around. Beyond that, we have concerns about the makeup of the proposed (authority), the fact that more than several keys industry groups, including ours, were not consulted in the drafting of the legislation, and the potential government allocation of fees to pay for all of this.”