US Jockey Club to lobby for federal racing legislation

Ogden Mills Phipps
Ogden Mills Phipps

The US Jockey Club will seek federal laws to bring uniformity to racing across the country.

Club chairman Ogden Mills Phipps said while thoroughbred racing had made strides around medication reform, federal legislation was needed to enhance safety, integrity and the perception of racing.

Phipps, addressing a Jockey Club round-table conference in New York, said the organization would broaden its efforts by developing a strategy that would include a push for federal laws.

“Our horsemen and our customers all deserve a level playing field, with uniform rules and clean competition,” he said.

“We need the National Uniform Medication Program to be implemented in every racing state. We need uniformity of rules and greatly improved lab standards. We need a penalty structure that is strong enough to be a meaningful deterrent — not one that would allow a trainer to amass literally dozens of violations over the course of his career and continue training.

“And, we need to eliminate the use of all drugs on race day.”

Phipps reiterated the comments he made in March: “With the safety of our horses, the integrity of competition and the general perception of the sport all at risk, we cannot afford to wait any longer.”

He said the organisation would continue to advocate for reform in many state legislatures across the country, including Florida, New York and Texas.

Representatives of The Jockey Club will also continue to work closely with racing commissions throughout the country.

“As is the case with any initiative created, embraced or supported by The Jockey Club, we will do what we think is in the best interest of this industry.

“This is, and will continue to be, a serious, multi-pronged effort to achieve the reform we need.”

Phipps made his address to the organisation’s 62nd Annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing immediately after vice-chairman Stuart S. Janney III delivered a progress report on medication reform.

Janney, who chairs the club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee, noted that:

  • Nine of 38 states have fully implemented a two-tier drug classification system (controlled therapeutic medications and prohibited substances).
  • Twelve of 38 states have implemented a system in which administration of furosemide is administered solely by veterinarians designated by the local regulatory authority.
  • Five drug-testing labs, covering racing in 21 states, have been fully accredited by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
  • Six of 38 states have adopted the new Racing Commissioners International Penalty Guidelines for Multiple Medication Violations.
  • Five states – Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Virginia – have adopted all four phases of the National Uniform Medication Program.

“There are those who look at these numbers and believe that, given time, this industry will achieve uniformity, that uniformity is just around the corner,” Janney said. “I wish I did. We are better than before but it would be a stretch to call it uniformity.”

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