Closing Remarks
Ogden Mills Phipps
Ogden Mills Phipps - Chairman, The Jockey Club

Ogden Mills Phipps:
Thank you, Stuart. I’d like to thank all of today’s speakers, and the attendees and everybody who has been watching on the video stream. We deeply appreciate your interest in our sport and in our conference.

As Stuart just noted, I stated five months ago that The Jockey Club will be carefully assessing the progress and the status of the national medication reform campaign and we’d reach out to federal lawmakers and other supporters of a federal solution if we were not satisfied by the progress.

As you know, and as you’ve heard from several people today, there has been progress recently. We commend those individuals and organizations who have stepped forward to bring Thoroughbred racing more in line with other sports.

The grassroots effort known as Water Hay Oats Alliance, for example, has done important work in their quest to prohibit the use of race‑day medication in horse racing. We look forward to collaborating with the members of that group.

We have been similarly encouraged by the growing adoption of the national medication program, and the work of the RMTC and RCI in support of these rules.

And we’re grateful of all the racetrack owners, such as the Stronach Group, that have made uniform regulatory reform a priority. They have our full support.

I have said on many occasions our horsemen and customers all deserve a level playing field with uniform rules and clean competition.

Last year at this conference we heard some eye‑opening numbers from Rob Green. Seventy-nine percent of our fans consider illegal drug use when they’re betting at certain tracks and states. Seventy-six percent of our fans avoid betting at some tracks and in some states. Seventy-five percent of the committed bettors said they bet less rather than more because of their suspicions about illegal drugs.

If we can reduce these numbers, it goes to reason that wagering, the life blood of our sport, will rebound. How do we achieve this?

We need the national uniform medication policy to be implemented in every racing state.

We need uniformity of rules and greatly improved lab standards.

We need a penalty structure that is strong enough to be a meaningful deterrent, not one that allows a trainer to amass literally dozens of violations over the course of his career and continued training.

And we need to eliminate the use of drugs on all race days.

It was certainly heartening to see all those trainers step forward publicly nine days ago to endorse the elimination of race‑day medication on a gradual basis.

We should all think long and hard when we hear individuals with the experience and accomplishments of this group weigh in on a topic of importance.

The slide behind me summarizes their accomplishments.

At the end of the day it is clear that we need to do more.

Yesterday, the Board of Stewards of The Jockey Club authorized our management team to devote resources and support to develop and implement a national legislative strategy that builds upon the efforts to date, and it takes advantage of the momentum reflected in the recent trainers’ announcement.

To be clear, this broadened strategy will include federal legislation.

We have also instructed The Jockey Club management team to further investigate a relationship with the independent and well‑respected body like USADA.

USADA will bring credibility, integrity, and objectivity to our sport. We look forward to working with Travis Tygart, who is here today, and his colleagues. We understand Travis will be making an address tomorrow at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Beyond the data that Dan Singer shared with you earlier this morning, we also asked McKinsey & Company to analyze the potential cost of a top rate regulatory system in the United States.

Their analysis estimates the incremental cost for an independent centralized body to manage all drug testing and enforcement would be about 2% of the current annual purse distribution in this country.

Here in New York, two percent of the race purse is the fee that is charged from owners purses to fund the horsemen’s organization. As an aside, that amount equates to a little more than what an owner pays for a Lasix shot, and the subsequent electrolyte jug.

The progress we have made on national medication and uniformity has resulted from collaborative efforts and we recognize that future progress will require a critical mass of support.

In addition to what we can do in our nation’s capitol, The Jockey Club will continue to advocate for reform in many places across the country.

That means The Jockey Club will be in Tallahassee again this fall encouraging Florida legislative leaders to pass the amendments necessary to allow for the use of modern instrument testing.

That means The Jockey Club will continue to press the New York State Gaming Commission to regulate medications using thresholds as the rest of the country does and not solely through administration times.

That means The Jockey Club will join our colleagues in Texas to adopt a penalty and lab accreditation provisions for the national uniform medication program.

We fully realize that legislation doesn’t happen overnight. Even when bills become law, implementation takes time.

We also appreciate the perspective of those who firmly believe the pursuit of federal legislation could have unintended consequences, and may open Pandora’s box with the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, which is so vital to the economic health of our industry.

But we believe that this is the correct route to take.

I can assure you we appreciate all these concerns and will proceed cautiously and thoughtfully at all times.

As is the case with initiation created, embraced or supported by The Jockey Club, we’ll do what we think is in the best interest of the industry.

This is and will continue to be a serious, multi‑pronged effort to achieve the reform we need.

I don’t know of any way better to explain our rationale for choosing these diverse tactics including federal regulation, than to repeat what I said in March.

“With the safety of our horses, and the general integrity of the sport all at risk, we cannot afford to wait any longer. “

Beginning immediately, The Jockey Club will reach out to other like‑minded organizations in the industry to devise a strategy and fund its implementation so that Thoroughbred racing will have a true national uniformed medication program that brings both integrity and pride to our sport.

As we leave here today, we shouldn’t be asking ourselves if we can afford to build such a program; we should be asking ourselves if we cannot afford to do it.

Thank you very much. We look forward to seeing you next year.

Back Agenda Next