Congress Sets Hearing on Horse Racing

It will be the first such hearing since the June 2008 look at health and safety.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will conduct a hearing on health and safety issues in horse racing April 30 in Pennsylvania, according to an April 23 notice.

The hearing was called by U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. Pitts chairs the committee’s Subcommittee on Health.

A list of speakers could not be immediately confirmed, but Thoroughbred owners and breeders Roy and Gretchen Jackson and George Strawbridge are expected to testify. Pitts’ notice said witnesses will be announced "and are by invitation only."

The hearing will be held in Pitts' district at Unionville High School in Kennett Square, Pa., in the heart of horse and mushroom country. The hearing is titled "A Review of Efforts to Protect the Health of Jockeys and Horses in Horseracing."

The hearing has been in the works for about two weeks but hadn't been made official until the notice. It comes about a month after two members of Congress re-introduced controversial legislation that would ban all race-day medication in racehorses.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT, six days before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) is run at Churchill Downs. The last congressional hearing on horse racing was held in June 2008 and dealt with similar issues, including equine medication.

"In 2008 the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing, and received assurances that the industry was implementing reforms to protect horses and jockeys," the committee said April 24 in a memo. "On April 30 members will review what reforms, if any, have been made in the horse racing industry to protect jockeys, horses, and the integrity of the sport."

The notice said a bipartisan staff meeting is scheduled for April 27 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the hearing.