McConnell Introduces Bill to Recognize a Uniform, National Standard for Thoroughbred Racing
“I’ve been proud to stand up for Kentucky horseracing throughout my career…It’s been my privilege to deliver for this sport and Kentuckians behind it.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the introduction of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act:
“On Saturday, the world of sports once again revolved around my hometown of Louisville for the 146th Kentucky Derby.
“Like so many other events, the coronavirus made this year’s Derby look a little different.
“The race had already been postponed for only the second time in history. And none of the 150,000 spectators who normally fill Churchill Downs were there to sing My Old Kentucky Home.
“But the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports refused to be defeated. The Derby remains the longest continuously-held American sporting event. And this year’s Labor Day Derby proved worth the wait.
“The winning Thoroughbred, Authentic, outlasted a ferocious challenge from the favorite. I’d like to extend the Senate’s congratulations to the entire Hall of Fame team.
“This year’s Derby showed our great traditions can adapt to overcome any challenge. But our sport must be protected.
“I’ve been proud to stand up for Kentucky horseracing throughout my career.
“I introduced a check-off bill to promote the sport domestically. I assembled a coalition to open new markets in Japan and Hong Kong. I worked to make sure Internet regulation didn’t unduly restrict the racing industry. I’ve secured tax provisions to promote equine equity and grow investment in Kentucky.
“It’s been my privilege to deliver for this sport and Kentuckians behind it. Today, I’m introducing new legislation to keep it up.
“Because, unfortunately, the coronavirus isn’t Thoroughbred racing’s only challenge. In recent years, tragedies on the track, medication scandals, and an inconsistent patchwork of regulations have cast clouds over the future.
“A national publication’s editorial board even called for this sport to be abolished altogether.
“We needed action to protect the sport we love, defend our history, and the 24,000 Kentuckians who work in the Thoroughbred racing industry.
“So, in Lexington, Kentucky—the Horse Capital of the World—I announced with my friend Congressman Andy Barr that we’d found a way forward.
“Today, I will introduce the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act to recognize a uniform, national standard for Thoroughbred racing.
“Baseball, football, and other professional sports have a central regulatory authority. Thoroughbred racing should too.
“Some of the biggest names in the sport -- Churchill Downs, Keeneland, the Breeders’ Cup, and the Jockey Club, just to name a few -- are supporting our plan to provide federal recognition and enforcement power to an independent Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.
“The Board will be made up of both industry-selected and independent members. It will set national standards for track safety, anti-doping and medication practices, and lab protocols. This will make Thoroughbred racing as fair and as safe as possible.
“I’m proud to partner with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on this bipartisan legislation. New York is home to another leg of the Triple Crown.
“Their junior Senator has previously introduced similar legislation to protect our sport. I’m also glad to have the senior Senator for California and the junior Senator for Arizona as original co-sponsors on this bipartisan bill.
“Today, Congressmen Barr and Paul Tonko will present this legislation in the House.
“I’m grateful for Congressman Barr’s years of leadership on this issue, and I’m glad we are making bipartisan, bicameral progress with our bill.
“This way, when we can all return to the grandstands to watch Thoroughbreds round the final turn toward a thundering finish, we’ll be taking pride in a fair and safe race.”