Nutraceuticals in American Horseracing: Removing the Substantive Blinkers from National Racing Legislation

33 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2017

See all articles by Conor Crawford

Conor Crawford

University of Virginia - School of Law, Alumnus

Date Written: 2016


American horseracing is governed by thirty-eight independent state racing jurisdictions. The lack of one coordinated rulebook has been especially problematic with respect to controlled substances. Industry leaders and legal scholars ubiquitously decry American racing’s “drug addiction.” The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act and Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 respond to this charge by purporting to regulate drugs and medication under federal auspices. This Note contends, however, that the bills’ blinkered focus on drugs problematically ignores nutraceuticals: a class of pharmaceutical-food supplements that poses a greater existential threat to horseracing.

In a 1996 Federal Register notice, the FDA announced that the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which created the first regulatory guidelines for human supplements, did not apply to animals. Although supplements that are incorporated into animal feeds must be “generally recognized as safe,” there is presently no regulatory oversight of the synthesized herbs, powders, and tablets that comprise the market for animal nutraceuticals.

Nutraceuticals are pervasive in horseracing. While some are beneficial, more often, nutraceuticals jeopardize equine safety and the sport’s integrity by producing physiological effects similar to drugs. Nutraceuticals also threaten to displace medications, like furosemide, an anti-bleeding agent, that are FDA approved. This Note proposes that national racing legislation be amended to regulate nutraceuticals according to the same testing and efficacy requirements as drugs. Doing so will mark the first attempt to regulate nutraceuticals for any animal and cast the ‘Sport of Kings’ in a rarified light: as an exemplar for animal welfare.

Suggested Citation

Crawford, Conor, Nutraceuticals in American Horseracing: Removing the Substantive Blinkers from National Racing Legislation (2016). 23 Animal Law Review 163 (2016), Available at SSRN:

Conor Crawford (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - School of Law, Alumnus ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
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