Statement from Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (PA HBPA) Executive Director Todd Mostoller:
“The safety of our equine athletes is our responsibility, and we are firmly committed to providing the highest standards of horsemanship at our race tracks and will work toward continuously improving the care, health, and safety of all thoroughbred racehorses.”
May 9, 2019 -- As I continue to closely follow the stories about the horse racing community, I - along with the membership of the PA HBPA - am driven by our mutual respect, deep affection and concern for thoroughbred horses with an ever-present focus on their health and safety as well as maintaining the solid integrity of our industry.
No one knows for certain what caused the chain of tragic events at Santa Anita, but the membership of the PA HBPA has always been cognizant of our responsibility to do everything possible to reduce risk to our athletes, both equine and human. There is no greater priority. Therefore, we continue to provide the highest degree of care, including stringent race day veterinary oversight and a worldclass testing and research laboratory from PennVet, to help ensure the safety and well-being of every thoroughbred competing across the Commonwealth.
It is important to note in 2018, Erie’s Presque Isle Downs was considered the safest racetrack in North America. Combined, the safety record at Pennsylvania’s three thoroughbred racetracks (Presque Isle Downs, Penn National and Parx) far surpassed the national average.
The PA HBPA supports the efforts and statements of many of our fellow industry stakeholders in the industry that endorse initiatives supporting the welfare of our thoroughbred racehorses. We understand adjustments need to be made in how we mandate policies. We are working closely with the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) and others.
In our ongoing commitment to the continuous improvement of safety for both horse and rider, I support the opinions of the NHBPA CEO Eric Hamelback and agree with his calls for:
Suspending the call for the Horse Racing Integrity Act: We are committed to a set of reforms for the industry that will help address misunderstanding and lack of trust by some of the non-racing public, however, I feel that H.R. 1754 would bring a significant burden to the horse industry by creating a new, duplicative regulatory bureaucracy from the federal level in addition to the existing regulatory structures at the state level, resulting in new taxes and fees passed down to the horse owners and members of the industry at large.
Restricted medications: All performance-enhancing medications will continue to be banned, and random drug testing for prohibited substances may take place at any time. All horses entered to race should be subjected to pre-race veterinary examinations, and any horses with soundness issues should be immediately removed from the race and placed on the veterinarians’ list.
Support of approved medications: Lasix (furosemide) is recognized as an effective treatment for the prevention of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhages (EIPH) that can occur during intense exercise, such as horse racing. Lasix is recognized by the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians and the American Association of Equine Practitioners as safe and effective, and they believe that its use is in the health and welfare interests of the animals.
Transparency of treatment: All medical treatments and procedures must be disclosed and made available to regulatory authorities. Whenever a horse is claimed or transferred, all of its veterinary records must be transmitted to the new owner if so requested. We also encourage more open communications among owners, trainers and veterinarians.
Racing surface analysis: Tracks must undergo an independent surface materials analysis and assessment yearly. Data regarding each racetrack’s maintenance procedures should be collected and provided to the regulatory authority.
In addition to the well-being of our horses, we also need to make sure the horse racing infrastructure is as robust, and safe, as possible.
Lastly, along with others in the industry, we are committed to a set of reforms that will help address misunderstanding and lack of trust by some of the non-racing public.
Equine Health and Safety
The Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (PA HBPA) is proud to be an Affiliate of the National HBPA, which operates on behalf of thoroughbred race horse owners, trainers and backstretch personnel throughout the United States and Canada. Based in Grantville, the Pennsylvania HBPA is comprised of a president, board of directors (five owners and five trainers), an executive director and staff, who represent 3,750 members.
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