TOBA Issues Support for Federal Drug Bill

By Tom LaMarra
The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association Nov. 2 said it will become a member of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity and support federal legislation that would allow the United States Anti-Doping Agency oversight of equine medication, drug-testing, and enforcement.

TOBA, headquartered in Lexington, formed a special committee to analyze the bill and surveyed its membership. The organization said 68% of the respondents support federal legislation to create a national independent entity to develop uniform rules, testing, and enforcement in Thoroughbred racing, either in its current form or with some changes.

TOBA said it has focused on improving the legislation, particularly in the governance and review of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Anti-Doping Authority, members of which would be appointed by USADA. TOBA in the months since the legislation was unveiled has asked questions and expressed concerns about the bill, including the need for oversight to ensure the effectiveness of the program, including industry evaluation of performance, accountability, and costs of the regulations.

In a statement, TOBA said its board of trustees "believes that the proposed federal legislation would further the interests of the horse racing and breeding industry in the following respects: uniformity of medication standards and regulations throughout the nation; consistency with other major international racing jurisdictions regarding the use of medications; and the independence of an organization established to ensure fairness and transparency in these matters."

TOBA said there is more to be done to establish an oversight and governance structure to balance independence with accountability to horse racing. The Jockey Club, which is spearheading the effort, has said it is working with industry constituents to address concerns about the legislation.

"As an organization we prefer to be part of the solution to bring about positive industry reforms," TOBA said in a release. "We look forward to working with other members of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity to pursue this new approach to medication regulation."

TOBA and The Jockey Club own Blood-Horse. TOBA is among the industry organizations that have sought clarity on the legislation before joining the coalition. TOBA president Dan Metzger couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

When asked for comment on the development, Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, said: "On behalf of The Jockey Club we are particularly pleased to welcome TOBA to the coalition as our respective organizations often work closely together—and in fact share similar mission statements. Adding the nation's largest group of owners and breeders as supporters of (the federal bill) is a tremendous coup for the coalition."