No Date Yet for D.C. Racing Hearing

A congressional subcomittee is yet to set a date for a hearing on horse racing.

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection continues to maintain it will hold a June hearing on horse racing, but no date had been set as of June 2.

The subcommittee is headed by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois and U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky. Kristin Walker, Whitfield’s press secretary, said June 2 there could be more details the week of June 6.

Traditionally, the names of those asked to testify before Congress are released before a hearing. There has been no indication which Thoroughbred racing industry officials will be asked to testify on issues such as equine medication use, safety, and breeding practices.

Letters requesting information were sent to five industry officials: Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International; Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of The Jockey Club; Frank Stronach, chairman of Magna Entertainment Corp.; Robert Evans, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc.; and Charles Hayward, president and CEO of the New York Racing Association. Officials had until June 2 to submit statistics and comments to the subcommittee.

In a release, Rush and Whitfield indicated the time has come for a look at issues plaguing the racing industry.

“Horse racing is an iconic and exciting cultural event in our country,” Rush said. “The recent tragedy surrounding the untimely death of Eight Belles at the conclusion of this year’s Kentucky Derby raises serious questions about the care and treatment of Eight Belles, and other young fillies like her, and whether adequate preventive measures are in place to prevent similar incidents in the future. The questions my colleagues and I are raising mirror the concerns of horseracing fans throughout the country.”

A necrospy revealed Eight Belles had no previous condition that led to her breakdown. Also, it is widely believed the filly was well taken of by trainer Larry Jones throughout her career.

“For too long, the problems plaguing the sport of kings have flown under much of the public’s radar screen to the detriment of the horses, the jockeys, the fans, and the very integrity of American horseracing,” Whitfield said in a statement. “These industry leaders have the best understanding of these challenges, and their input is critical to any discussion on the future of sport.”

Congress in the past has held hearings into use of steroids in sports and jockey health and welfare issues.