NYS Senate passes Addabbo legislation increasing protections for active and retired racehorses

One week after the NYS Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering and the Domestic Animal Welfare Committee held a public hearing on the welfare of racehorses, the Senate passed two bills sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. to increase protections for racehorses. The first bill (S.1974-A) establishes the Commission on Retired Racehorses and the second bill (S.6142) authorizes the NYS Gaming Commission to participate in the Mid-Atlantic Interstate Equine Testing Drug Compact.

“As chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and a member of the Domestic Animal Welfare Committee, I recognize the importance of protecting active and retired thoroughbreds,” said Addabbo. “With Aqueduct Raceway in my district, I appreciate how important the racing industry is to our state’s economy so by working to reduce racehorse injuries and fatalities, and ensuring that they receive appropriate and compassionate care when their racing days are over, we can create a more positive overall racing industry,” Addabbo added.

Addabbo’s bill (S.1974-A) will give the Commission on Retired Racehorses oversight on the treatment and handling of retired racehorses while maintaining a registry of retired racehorse owners. The definition of “retired race horses” includes thoroughbred and standardbred horses registered in NY and no longer engaged in racing. New owners of retired racehorses must notify the Commission within 72 hours of any change in ownership or upon the death of a former racehorse, as certified by a veterinarian. Violations are subject to civil penalties not to exceed $500. Currently, once a racehorse becomes unprofitable for owners, there is little oversight on handling of retired horses and many get sold to international slaughterhouses for human consumption despite having drugs and medications in their systems not meant for human consumption.

New York is the largest racing jurisdiction within the Mid-Atlantic region that also includes New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Addabbo’s bill (S.6142) will promote, streamline and allow for uniform adoption of model Thoroughbred industry medication rules and standards, enhance equine drug testing, and standardize the ability to maintain the integrity of racing by protecting the health, safety and welfare of the horse and rider. The Compact Commission will only propose the adoption of rules that have been studied, considered, proposed and adopted by the national Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, which is the racing industry’s “scientific arm” and the Association of Racing Commissioners International. All Thoroughbred industry stakeholders will participate in the rules development process. This legislation was signed into law in Maryland and Delaware.

Both bills passed by the Senate were delivered to the Assembly where they are being considered.