By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – Lawyers will ask a federal appeals court to vacate its ruling that a law designed to make horse racing safer was unconstitutional after changes to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act were adopted on Thursday.
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) was created by Congress in 2020 to replace the state-by-state patchwork of regulations with national rules following a series of high-profile doping scandals and horse deaths.
It was challenged in court by various horse racing associations and officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia who argued HISA, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), had insufficient oversight.
A federal appeals court in Louisiana ruled last month that the law was “facially unconstitutional”.
However, an amendment that provides greater federal oversight of HISA was included in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on Thursday.
Pratik Shah, an attorney representing HISA, said in a filing to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that the Louisiana panel’s opinion “must be vacated” following the legislative change to HISA’s operative language.
Shah said a formal motion to vacate the ruling would be filed on Jan. 3.
The law’s backers say there should be no interruption to the implementation of HISA’s rules, including the anticipated launch of its anti-doping and medication control program.
Supporters say the law is necessary to protect horses, jockeys and the sport as a whole, which they argue could fall out of favor with the public permanently if horses continue to die in training and competition.