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Congress Wants Info on Breakdowns, Drugs

Members of Congress are seeking information on breakdowns and equine drug use.

A congressional subcommittee has demanded information from state racing commissions about racehorse breakdowns, drug use, and breeding.

The United States House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection sent a letter to the Lexington-based Association of Racing Commissioners International, which represents state racing commissions in 44 jurisdictions.

The committee, which includes U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, cited concerns that “leading officials in the sport” have failed to tackle long-standing concerns over the welfare of the Thoroughbred horse. The committee cited the breakdown of the filly Eight Belles after the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), saying it shows the “Thoroughbred breed has become increasingly fragile.”

The committee demanded answers by June 2, the week of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The Louisville Courier-Journal reported the letter on its Web site May 23.

The subcommittee is expected to hold a hearing on the issues, similar to those it has held on jockey health and welfare in the Thoroughbred industry. The AP report also indicated Congress may look at the Interstate Horseracing Act, which authorizes simulcasts across state lines.

The panel has jurisdiction over the commercial practices of sports and gambling. It has previously investigated steroid use in baseball.

The death of Eight Belles has spurred debate about the medical condition of horses.