Day At The Track

Ed Martin reaction to Barr-Tonko Legislation

09:18 AM 15 Mar 2019 NZDT
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Ed Martin,Harness racing Association of Racing Commissioners International
Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International
Association of Racing Commissioners International


The Association of Racing Commissioners International is disappointed that the sponsors of the re-introduced federal legislation have totally ignored the needs articulated on behalf of those responsible for policing the sport of horse racing.

The sponsors of this legislation have proposed nothing to address the significant part of the race horse industry that is totally unregulated.

This bill will do nothing to protect horses. It is shocking that the use of bisphosphonates on young horses is not addressed given the significant concern that they adversely affect bone development in young horses and contribute to stress fractures as they do in other mammals.

We already know stress fractures can be a precursor to increased risk of a catastrophic breakdown. This issue was presented to lawmakers at the public hearing on this proposal in the last Congress, yet they continue to focus on repealing a long standing equine welfare program permitting a controlled furosemide administration on race day proven to be helpful to the health of the horse and recently affirmed by a consensus statement from the independent American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Unfortunately, the constructive suggestions of what the federal government could do to safeguard horses and help integrity efforts in racing continue to be ignored. Here are the suggestions that were presented in my testimony last year.

The federal government could -

Require all horses bred to be racehorses be registered with and come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) which would have the ARCI maintain this data for use jointly by APHIS and the state racing commissions;

Empower APHIS to make rules affecting young horses not yet under the jurisdiction of a state racing commission;

Direct APHIS to contract with state racing commissions for the purpose of out-of-competition equine welfare examinations to determine adherence to the APHIS rules;

Authorize APHIS to recover costs for such inspections from the owners of any horse inspected, consistent with state racing commission contracts entered into for this purpose;


Require that a portion of the existing funds - $9.5 million - appropriated by Congress each year for anti-doping programs through the White House Office of National Drug Policy be available to fund anti-doping research of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium consistent with anti-doping needs identified by the Organization of Racing Investigators or the ARCI;


Adopt the ARCI Model Rules affecting equine welfare and medication by reference, thereby achieving universal uniformity in regulation;


Require the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to each dedicate at least one agent for the sole purpose of assisting state racing commissions in the conduct of investigations, particularly those that cross jurisdictional lines. Note: The FDA already has such an investigator assigned.


Rebecca Shoemaker

Assistant to the President & CEO

Association of Racing Commissioners International

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