Congress questions horse racing standards

Thursday, June 19th 2008, 8:16 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

Hearings were held Thursday in Washington D.C. about the safety of the horse racing industry and to see if it needs more regulations. Horse racing is the third largest money making industry in Oklahoma, but Thursday's Congressional hearings brought mixed emotions for state industry leaders.

The horse racing industry as a whole is under a Congressional microscope. After the Kentucky Derby, the second-place finisher had to be euthanized minutes after the race due to an injury.

The tragedy drew national attention and raised questions of industry standards.

Debbie Shauf, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association said she worries the focus is for all the wrong reasons.

"They are focusing on it as if the standard in the industry is to do something wrong or do something bad," Shauf said.

The Congressional hearings covered issues including the use of steroids, using softer tracks to prevent injuries or deaths in the horses and regulating the use of whips. The Oklahoma horse racing commission is also looking into the use of whips.

While Oklahoma and other states set their own rules and regulations on horse racing, Congress wants to see a national entity take a position of leadership. Industry leaders worry a national board would be excessive.

"You always have to worry about people that have the ability control or regulate your business or industry," Shauf said.

Shauf doesn't support a national board of commissioners, but said there should be more uniformity among states in regards to certain industry practices.