04/25/2012 2:51PM

Horsemen to testify at congressional hearing

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LEXINGTON – Ken McPeek, one of two trainers who have are scheduled to give testimony to a federal congressional hearing on Monday, said on Wednesday that he plans to ask legislators to consider the needs of horsemen if the federal government passes a bill to regulate the sport.

“The sport needs change,” McPeek said on Wednesday from Keeneland. “I don’t know if it needs to be dramatic change, but it does need gradual change, and that has to be done with horsemen in mind.”

The hearing, scheduled by a House subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is scheduled to be held in an auditorium at a Pennsylvania high school in Kennett Square. The chairman of the subcommittee is Joe Pitts, a Republican Pennsylvania representative. According to the subcommittee’s office, the hearing is being held to discuss health and safety issues affecting horses and jockeys.

McPeek said he was asked to provide testimony by Arthur Hancock, the owner of Stone Farm, who is also scheduled to testify. Both McPeek and Hancock have signed a petition pushed by a number of high-profile owners in support of legislation that would ban the use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide and put regulation of the sport under the federal government. Another witness scheduled to testify, George Strawbridge, has also signed the petition.

McPeek said that the hearing planners are expected to provide him on Thursday with questions “to consider” during his testimony. He said he had not yet prepared his testimony for the panel.

The other trainer scheduled to appear before the panel is Glenn Thompson, who has trained in New Jersey for the past 32 years. Last year, Thompson self-published a book alleging widespread doping among rival trainers, though the book did not provide names of the alleged cheaters or how their horses were eluding post-race drug tests.

A total of nine individuals are on the witness list for the Monday hearing. The others are Gretchen Jackson, the owner of the late Barbaro; Dr. Kathryn Papp, a Pennsylvania veterinarian; Gregory Ferraro, a professor at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, which conducts the California Horse Racing Board’s post-mortem program for horses that suffer catastrophic injuries; and Dr. Cornelius Uboh, the director of West Chester University’s Equine Toxicology and Research Center, which conducts drug testing for several racing jurisdictions, including Pennsylvania.