Deep Within Relief Bill, Horse Racing Gets New Tools to Clean Up

POSTED ON  |  10-01-2021

Racing USA
No one much liked the horse breeder and owner Arthur Hancock III in the spring of 1991 after he delivered what he now calls his “drugs-and-thugs speech” to the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing. He had spoken openly about thoroughbred racing’s dirty little secret: that too many of its horses were running on performance-enhancing drugs or were so doped up on anti-inflammatories and painkillers that they were running unnaturally fast and hurting themselves, often fatally.

It was not only the horses that were suffering but also people like Hancock, who had made a living breeding fast horses for generations, and others who harbored a passion for thoroughbreds.

Horse racing, Hancock said then, was losing market share to other sports, and even casinos had a better reputation than one of America’s oldest pastimes. Horse racing needed some law and order. Hancock offered up what he called the Horse Racing Act of 1992, which called for drug-free racing, uniform rules backed by stiff penalties and a central office to enforce them. “How are we going to compete with these if we are not in control of our own destiny and if we are perceived by the masses of fans and potential fans as being dishonest and riddled by drugs and thugs?” Hancock, now 77, asked those in attendance.

Nearly 30 years later, Hancock and others are finally getting help cleaning up the sport in the form of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, a provision included deep in the measure signed Sunday by President Trump to provide $900 billion in pandemic aid and to fund the government through September.

The horse racing measure, which takes effect July 1, 2022, calls for a board overseen by the Federal Trade Commission to write rules and penalties to be enforced by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which regulates Olympic athletes in the United States and which revealed Lance Armstrong’s cheating and issued him a lifetime suspension in 2012. “It gives the horse industry a future,” Hancock said. “We were a rogue nation — now we are not.” The changes, certainly overdue, were needed badly.

© 2015 IGSRV All rights reserved.