A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction against the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Authority, keeping the agency from implementing racetrack safety and enforcement rules in both West Virginia and Louisiana.
The decision was made by the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Louisiana. The injunction is set to stay in effect until a wider lawsuit arguing against the agency’s constitutionality is resolved.
The suit comes after the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act was passed by Congress in 2020. The act created a private agency that would develop safety programs and make decisions regulating doping and medication in horse racing. In the past, these decisions were made at the state level.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey supports the decision, saying he is also confident the lawsuit challenging the legality of HISA will also be decided in the states’ favor.
“We are glad the judge realized the potential for harm to the horseracing industry in West Virginia was so serious that the injunction was warranted,” Morrisey said in a statement.
Animal rights organizations like Animal Wellness Action disagree, calling the act the “sport’s last chance at survival.”
“It’s a shame to see the federal court side with rogue state operators and officials who continue to help keep doping and animal abuse alive in American horse racing while the bodies of dead horses pile up in Louisiana and West Virginia,” executive director Marty Irby said in a statement. “If these states insist on operating under the status quo, then we will make sure to further highlight every doping incident, death, and scandal in their domains.”
West Virginia has two horse racing venues: the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and the Mountaineer Racetrack & Resort in New Cumberland.