Barr pushing for passage on contentious horse racing legislation

07/11/2018 01:07 PM

LEXINGTON — Since 2015 U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, has been pushing a bill which would move the multi-billion dollar sport of horse racing in the nation to one universal, federally regulated medical commission.

The legislation has largely divided the sport of horse racing, with proponents on both sides of the bipartisan bill arguing economic downturns will come if the bill is either not enacted or enacted.

Recently Barr alongside breeder and owner Arthur Hancock of Stone Farm, and Hall of Fame Jockey Chris McCarron spoke with Pure Politics about issues some have raised with the bill.

The Lexington Republican said that the wagering public’s confidence is shaken by separate state based authorities governing racing, adding equine athletes and their jockeys are also at risk because of the current rules.

During a hearing held on the bill in a House committee opponents from the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association said the bill was a smokescreen for the elimination of race day medications, including an anti-bleeding medication known as Lasix that is widely used in the United States on race day, but is banned in other countries.

Barr’s bill, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-New York, and co-sponsored by nearly 100 representatives would prohibit the use of any medication on race day. Hancock and Barr argue eliminating the medications on race day, like Lasix, would be safer and ensure uniformity in the sport.

There are arguments from some in the sport that adding another layer of federal bureaucracy would take more money away from owners — something Barr said is unfounded.

Retired Jockey Chris McCarron added the legislation is personal, as many jockeys and horses have met their end at the race track.

The next step in the Congressional process would be a markup on the bill which would include amendments, and finally, a vote in the House. Then, the legislation would have to go through the same hearings, markup and votes in the Senate — where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not weighed in on the issue publicly.

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