In 2016, Animal Wellness Action president Wayne Pacelle and I committed to making federal legislation that would end doping in American horseracing one of our top priorities. For me, it was the top priority, and it has been ever since.
At the time the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was first introduced, we felt it stood the best chance to pass of any equine protection legislation. We’d been beating our heads against the wall over the PAST Act that would end the soring of gaited horses and the SAFE Act to end slaughter, which has been kicked around for more than a decade. And we were right, as HISA was enacted in December 2020 and takes effect this July.
Working with industry partners like The Jockey Club, the New York Racing Association, and Water, Hay, Oats Alliance, we forged a team that was very successful in lobbying during nearly 1,000 meetings on Capitol Hill in the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity.
One of the very first coalition backers I met was a man named Chris McCarron, a Hall of Fame jockey who has won the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and The Belmont, twice each. He’s likely the winningest Thoroughbred jockey of all time, and the man has guts. He understands and agrees that the welfare of the horse must come first, and he’s not afraid to say it.
Long retired, but considered a pioneer in my book, we joined in countless discussions about ending doping, slaughter, and whipping in American horse racing, and McCarron is one of the few jockeys who has been willing to stand up publicly, and speak out on these issues. He brings tremendous credibility to the cause, and he’s in it for the right reasons.
As the call to post comes at the running of the 148th Kentucky Derby this Saturday, we must remember that the welfare and safety of the equine athletes in this field must come first, and Chris McCarron has joined host Joseph Grove, a native and lifelong resident of Louisville, and me to discuss the importance of that sentiment.