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Governor Rick Scott Signs Race-Day Medication Law; Florida Takes Step Toward National Uniformity

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 239 relating to Medication and Testing of Racing Animals today, June 2, 2015.  Effective July 1, 2015, the bill will dramatically change Chapter 550.2415, Florida Statutes, which has governed the use of Florida Thoroughbred race-day medication for more than 25 years.

The product of strong advocacy by the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective AssociationFlorida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the Jockey Club, a national Thoroughbred racing governance organization, HB 239 requires the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to adopt rules regarding the use and allowed levels of medications, drugs, and naturally occurring substances in racing animals, as listed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

“Indeed, Florida was known throughout the horse racing industry as ‘the obstructionist state’ in the efforts toward national uniformity,” explained FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling, a Board member of the Racing and Medication Testing Consortium and a national authority on race-day medication who has testified on the issue before Congress.  “The fact is that any change required an act of the Legislature.  Even though pari-mutuel issues are notoriously contentious in Florida, this is one area where everyone agreed.”

“The consensus on HB 239 represents the interests of nearly 10,000 Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse owners, trainers and racehorse breeders who conduct business in Florida.  It’s an timely statement on the importance of professional horsemen’s associations in the legislative, regulatory and racing operations process.” said FHBPA President Bill White.  “We are sincerely appreciative to State Representatives Heather Fitzhagen and Charlie Stone, as well as their Senate colleagues Jack Latvala and Eleanor Sobel for their forward thinking in protecting our valuable racing animals.”

To read a legislative summary of HB 239, click here.

For a horsemen’s explanation of the bill’s provisions, click here.