Horsemen File Suit Seeking to Stop Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act -

Horsemen File Suit Seeking to Stop Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act –

HBPA sues to overturn unconstitutional HISA law

In National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association v. Black, Liberty Justice Center is representing Thoroughbred horse owners and trainers in a federal lawsuit to stop the new HISA law that illegally gives a private entity government powers.

The following article written by Steve Bittenbender appeared on on March 15, 2021.

When the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HSIA) was making its way through Congress, a salient talking point was that it had the support of key stakeholders within the racing community. On Monday, a national group representing thoroughbred owners and trainers filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to stop the law from taking effect.

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), along with affiliate chapters from 11 states, claims Congress acted unconstitutionally when it voted to delegate rule-making authority to an unelected private entity.

The law, which Congress passed at the end of last year as part of an omnibus spending bill, nationalizes drug standards in racing. The measure had been submitted for years by US Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), but it attracted significant attention in 2019 after the equine deaths at Santa Anita captured national attention.

Last summer, US Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined the effort and proposed a similar bill that also called for the private national organization oversight authority over other safety-related measures.

Proponents say the law gives the sport a national governing body, just like other sports outlets.

However, the plaintiffs see the new law as a measure to favor the owners and trainers at the top end of the sport at the expense of the rank-and-file horsemen who rarely compete at that level.

Besides Arkansas, other state affiliates joining the lawsuit are Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia. Several notable chapters though, including Kentucky and Florida, are not listed in the case.

Horsemen Raise Concerns About Cost

The horsemen who filed the lawsuit said there was never any real talk about the costs, nor how to fund the new law.

There’s a real concern among thoroughbred horse owners that this could put us out of business,” said Bill Walmsley, president of the Arkansas HBPA. “By passing HISA, Congress picked winners and losers and put well-connected owners in charge of horseracing across the country.”

While HSIA enjoyed support from the likes of the Stronach Group, Churchill Downs, the New York Racing Association, Keeneland, The Jockey Club, and the Breeders’ Cup, the National HBPA had questioned whether the measure would truly be able to accomplish what it seeks – to improve the safety and welfare of the horses and jockeys.

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