On the recommendation of its Racing Committee, the American Association of Equine Practitioners board of directors voted this week to support the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act (H.R. 1754/S. 4547). The legislation’s chief goal is to create uniform safety and medication standards in all U.S. racing jurisdictions.
“Uniformity of rules is essential to protecting the safety of the racehorse and ensuring the integrity of the sport,” said AAEP President Dr. David Frisbie.
The AAEP’s position of support is principally based on the qualifications of the individuals chosen to serve on the HISA Nominating Committee, including equine industry leaders Dr. Jerry Black and Dr. Nancy Cox, who will select the members of the board of directors and the standing committees of the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act Authority. However, for the horse to be best served, the AAEP will continue to advocate for additional veterinary representation on the HISA board and committees beyond the single position currently designated for each.
“In the previous version of the bill, the AAEP was a strong proponent for the governance structure to include individuals with the requisite expertise needed to capably address anti-doping and therapeutic medication regulation,” said Dr. Jeff Berk, AAEP immediate past president and Racing Committee chair. “The composition of the Authority Nominating Committee gives us confidence that the needed scientific expertise for these important positions will be considered, but we believe the breadth of knowledge needed to successfully protect equine athletes requires additional individuals.”
Regarding the race-day administration of furosemide (Lasix), the AAEP’s position continues as one of support, as the medication remains the most efficacious treatment for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) in the horse.
However, in 2019, a coalition of 20 racetracks, including hosts of Triple Crown races, along with numerous racing jurisdictions committed to restricting administration of furosemide on race day, independent of federal legislation.
“We are pleased to see in the revised legislation that the Authority will convene an advisory panel comprised of horse racing anti-doping and medication control experts to study race-day furosemide, including its impact on equine health and the integrity of competition,” added Dr. Scott Hay, AAEP president-elect and a racetrack practitioner. “Investigating effective management strategies for EIPH which do not require race-day medication administration has been a central goal of the AAEP’s Prescription for Racing Reform developed five years ago.”
The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.