Pennsylvania horse racing’s integrity
Above all else, the Pennsylvania horse racing industry is committed to upholding the integrity of its storied sport. The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission strictly and tirelessly enforces drug and medication standards by conducting routine tests for Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses — on and off the track.
Pennsylvania’s zero tolerance policy was bolstered even further in February 2017 when out-of-competition testing was approved, ensuring that all banned substances that may have slipped through the cracks on non-race days will now be caught. Currently, Pennsylvania is only one of three states to employ out-of-competition testing.
One reason why Pennsylvania’s horse racing testing is so impressive is due to it being the home of PA PETRL Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory — one of the top testing and research facilities in the world. The equipment at the center is so sensitive that it can detect a grain of salt in a 20,000-gallon swimming pool. This level of precision, when paired with effective legislature, has helped Pennsylvania improve its crackdown on horse racing doping.
In August of 2018, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association presented a check for $300,000 to Penn Vet New Bolton Center’s Equine Pharmacology Laboratory. The donation, believed to be one of the highest by a state-bred association in the United States for research purposes, was designed to assist New Bolton in maintaining the integrity of the sport in this multitiered, multi-year project. Ultimately, New Bolton’s goal is to eradicate horse racing’s gene doping problem through potential protein and RNA-based biomarkers, as well as find physiological changes in horses’ musculoskeletal structure through robotics-controlled imaging.
The 2016 Race Horse Industry Reform Act also considerably raised the financial penalties for trainers, veterinarians and owners caught participating in illegal activities.
Additionally, Parx Racing® is the first track in the Mid-Atlantic to require microchipping of all horses stabled in the barn area. This initiative, which has been encouraged by the The Jockey Club since 2016, has many benefits, including identifying horses in the paddock, keeping track of horses at the stable gate and identifying horses after they retire and move on to second careers.
The Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has produced several videos, which underscore the integrity of horse racing, as well as the ongoing dedication to the health and safety of our athletes, both human and equine: