Judge tosses lawsuit challenging horseracing integrity act

A federal judge on March 31 dismissed a lawsuit contending that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act represents an unconstitutional delegation of government authority to a private entity. Thoroughbred Daily News was first to report the ruling.

The lawsuit was brought by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and sought to enjoin the enforcement of the federal legislation, which seeks to create uniform national medication and safety rules, testing, and penalties. Its approach is to create a new, industry-funded private organization, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, charged with developing and enforcing the new rules.

The HBPA, which represents horsemen and owners in dozens of states, was largely kept out of the process of crafting the legislation. It has long opposed the near-certain ban on the use of Lasix which will result from the legislation.

But Judge James Wesley Hendrix, of the federal Northern District of Texas, ruled that the delegation of authority falls within current constitutional guidelines.

The HBPA could still choose to appeal the ruling. In addition, there are other pending suits challenging HISA in other jurisdictions.

The HBPA has not issued a comment.

Advocates of the law quickly did, however.

“For those long supporting the passage and implementation of the Act, this is a result we have long anticipated,” Jim Gagliano, President of The Jockey Club, said in a statement. “To HISA Chairman Charlie Scheeler, CEO Lisa Lazarus, and the entire HISA team and its counsel, we express our gratitude for your continued dedication to the cause of equine safety and integrity in our sport. We look forward to HISA beginning the first prong of its programs to enhance our sport on July 1.”

Marty Irby, executive director of the animal rights group Animal Wellness Action, applauded the ruling while also calling for resolution of one thorny issue facing HISA. The Authority has not been able to reach agreement with the US Anti-Doping Agency, which long has been expected to oversee “anti-doping” efforts on behalf of the Authority. Without such an agreement, the drug rules and enforcement remain in limbo.

“It’s time for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to swiftly implement the new law as intended and secure a contract with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to oversee all testing and enforcement so the eradication of doping can begin,” Irby said in a statement.