(Chester Thomas / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the National HBPA:

The National HBPA applauds the non-profit Liberty Justice Center for representing racehorse owners and trainers across the country in the federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.
The lawsuit, National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association v. Black, was filed on March 15, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. To read the lawsuit and information about this case, visit: https://libertyjusticecenter.org/media/horse-racing/
The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is North America’s largest thoroughbred horsemen’s group. The Liberty Justice Center is a national public-interest law firm that defends constitutional rights.
Statements regarding the legal challenge to HISA:
Said Peter Ecabert, General Counsel, National HBPA: “The National HBPA has been very vocal in its opposition for HISA, including for the fundamental constitutional flaws the lawsuit addresses.
“This is not some last-ditch, Hail Mary effort to prevent legislation we opposed from taking effect. This is about our core mission, ‘Horsemen Helping Horsemen.’ We must do our due diligence to make sure that such a complete restructuring of our industry is not only in its best interests but also is constitutional. Throughout the shameful process of this march to pass this legislation, there was a high degree of HISA’s supporters simply telling owners and trainers to ‘trust us’ without addressing our legitimate concerns. The bill was passed without proper vetting and gives to a private authority broad government powers over our industry with little or no oversight. This legislation was ramrodded through without anyone knowing the costs of creating and maintaining this additional bureaucracy and who would pay for it.
“Not doing our due diligence now could very well have disastrous consequences in the near and long-term future for horse racing, including for owners, trainers and horseplayers. When a bad law is passed, you’re stuck with it. You can’t just run to your state racing commission and explain that real-life consequences hadn’t been anticipated.”
Bill Walmsley, President of the Arkansas HBPA and former President of the National HBPA, former Arkansas Court of Appeals judge, former Arkansas State Senator and founding board member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association: “There’s a real concern among Thoroughbred horse owners that this could put us out of business. By passing HISA, Congress picked winners and losers and put well-connected owners in charge of horse racing across the country. There was no serious debate or discussion about the costs, let alone the legality of creating a private group to control horse racing.”
Chester Thomas, whose Allied Racing is one of the nation’s top stables and who finished third in the 2020 Kentucky Derby with Mr. Big News, said he welcomes the lawsuit and shedding light on how HISA was passed with virtually no Senate scrutiny or oversight.
“HISA only got passed by sneaky, underhanded manipulation of the political system,” said Thomas, the Hanson, Ky., entrepreneur who is a member of the Louisiana, Indiana, Arkansas, Mountaineer and Oklahoma HBPA affiliates that joined the suit. “The elites pushing this ill-advised bill knew that it could not get passed on its merits. By using typical ‘pork barrel’ 101 politics, they snuck it into the COVID relief bill — assuring its passage by not allowing senators who strongly disagreed with its blatant flaws the opportunity to debate the bill and basically daring them to vote against the stimulus package needed to help millions of Americans in this pandemic. Most Americans have no idea that this even occurred, and I can assure you that virtually no one knows what is in the bill or how it will impact them. This is a disservice to our American democratic process.”
Ron Moquett, trainer and co-owner of 2020 sprint champion and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore and Arkansas HBPA board member: “We’re going in blind with this legislation with a new bureaucracy created at an undetermined cost and undetermined who will have to foot the bill. There are just too many questions. My job is to take care of horses and the people who help me take care of horses. I don’t see how this does any of that. I definitely agree there are some things we should do to better the industry. But this legislation takes you down a bunch of back, curvy roads where you don’t know where you’re going. Change for the sake of change does not solve problems and is likely to create new ones.”
Staton Flurry, co-owner of 2020 Kentucky Oaks (and Saturday’s Grade 2 Azeri Stakes) winner Shedaresthedevil and Arkansas HBPA board member:
“We don’t need a federal agency — especially one created by a power grab — taking control of our industry and circumventing the regulatory authority long set in place through state racing commissions. We most certainly do not need a governing authority built on perception and more concerned with window dressing than the actual health and welfare of our horses. The fact is that great strides for the betterment of racing and the welfare of our horses have been made. It’s vital that horsemen and veterinarians have due process and continue to be involved in the regulatory system’s checks and balances. Does racing have issues? Yes. Is a federal overreach the way to fix them? No. My fear is that irreparable damage will be done to learn that the hard way.”
Arkansas HBPA President and former Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Bill Walmsley (above and right), the longtime president of the Arkansas HBPA. Oaklawn Park photo. At left, Peter Ecabert, General Counsel for the National HBPA.
Chester Thomas leading in his horse Mr. Money after that colt won Churchill Downs’ 2020 Ack Ack Stakes. Coady Photography
Horse owner Chester Thomas, whose Allied Racing finished 13th in North America in 2020 purse earnings. Coady Photography
Ron Moquett, trainer and co-owner of 2020 male sprint champion Whitmore, hoisted the trophy after the gelding captured the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland last November. Coady Photography
Ron Moquett at Oaklawn Park. Coady Photography
Staton Flurry with the Kentucky Oaks trophy after Shedaresthedevil, whom he co-owns, won America’s most important race for 3-year-old fillies last year at Churchill Downs. Coady Photography
Staton Flurry at Oaklawn. Coady Photography