Kentucky Horse Racing Authority
Statement of KHRA Executive Director

Press Release Date:  Thursday, June 19, 2008  
Contact Information:  Lisa Underwood, 859-246-2040  


June 19, 2008

 

STATEMENT OF LISA UNDERWOOD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KENTUCKY HORSE RACING AUTHORITY

 

 

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority appreciates the interest of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s commerce, trade and consumer protection subcommittee in issues related to thoroughbred horse racing. Our industry faces several notable challenges, and we welcome the input of organizations and individuals who share our motivation of strengthening racing throughout the United States.

 

Through the course of today’s hearing in Washington, two issues have emerged. One is whether a national authority should govern racing. The other surrounds the use of medications used in race horses.

 

As to the first issue, it appears that the rationale for such a federal racing authority is built upon the perception that state racing regulators have failed to deal with health and safety issues such as the use of anabolic steroids. This perception is flawed. State regulators have engaged in ongoing efforts to make racing safer. For example, in recent years, many states have adopted model rules for the use of such drugs, and leading industry organizations such as the Racing and Medication Testing Consortium are actively examining medications issues.  Racing Commissioners International, of which the KHRA is a member, proposes model rules on a variety of issues involving safety on a continuing basis.  The KHRA believes that several questions must be answered before we would support a concept such as a federal racing authority. Moreover, good government dictates that we not burden an already struggling industry with unnecessary regulation.

 

As for KHRA, we adopted the uniform medication rule in 2005, we participate in the national injury reporting system, we conduct a pre-race examination of every thoroughbred horse entered in a race, and we constantly review proposals concerning the safety of the horse.

 

Even with these measures, we are moving forward. KHRA Chairman Bob Beck announced in May the formation of an Equine Safety and Welfare Committee. This panel will review issues relating to the health and welfare of the horse. At our June meeting, the safety committee was charged with making recommendations on riding crops, shoes and track surfaces, as well as other safety and welfare issues.

  

Until the concept of a national authority is fleshed out by a specific proposal in Congress, and until we can carefully examine such a proposal to ensure that such an authority will result in a safer racing environment in Kentucky, we view such a concept with some degree of skepticism.

 

As to the second issue raised today, KHRA believes that the use of medications in race horses should continually be reviewed. Even after we adopted the model rule on medication in 2005, we have re-examined our policies in this area.

 

As an indication of our commitment, KHRA hired a leading authority, Dr. Mary Scollay, to serve as our first-ever equine medical director. She will start work in July.

 

Anabolic steroid use has been the subject of intense discussion and examination in Kentucky for some time. A committee was formed last month, headed by Dr. Jim Smith, to provide a recommendation to the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council on anabolic steroids. This committee has already met and is gathering pertinent information. Committee members are expected to report back to the council in early July.

 

Meanwhile, both the Kentucky Equine Safety and Welfare Committee and the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council will review and consider the Jockey Club recommendations in connection with promulgating regulations.