The Jockey Club's board of stewards voted Aug. 9 to change certain provisions of the Principal Rules and Requirements of the American Stud Book and, as a result, microchips will become a requirement for registration for foals of 2017 and later.
The microchips will be used in conjunction with official markings to provide an effective means of confirming the identity of Thoroughbreds for the duration of their lives.
Beginning with foals born in 2017, a microchip will be provided with all registration application and genetic sampling kits. In 2016, owners will have the option to request free microchips with registration and genetic sampling kits when they report the birth of a live foal. There will be no increase in registration fees.
"The advancement to DNA typing 14 years ago is a good example of where technology improved reliability and efficiency," said Rick Bailey, registrar for The Jockey Club, during the 63rd Annual Round Table Conference. "Microchip should be the same for Thoroughbred identification."
Microchips are a compulsory component of Thoroughbred registration in several countries, including Great Britain, France, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand.
"Microchips are a fast, safe, and effective measure for enhancing the identification of Thoroughbred racehorses and have proven successful in other countries around the world," said Matt Iuliano, executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club. "When coupled with official written markings, the use of microchips will improve the efficiency and reliability of the identification process throughout the life of every Thoroughbred."
The microchip in an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) device operates by receiving a radio wave signal from a microchip reader. The chip then transmits its number to the scanner. The interaction between the chip and scanner takes less than a second, allowing quick identification.
Software is available, according to Bailey, to display data about the horse based on the reading of the microchip. This data may include pedigree, racing performance or even health records.
"It will improve the delivery of instant information," he said.
"We have microchipped Juddmonte's U.S.-bred foals that are bound to race in Europe for years, and it is both easy and safe," said Garrett O'Rourke, manager of Juddmonte Farms near Lexington. "The practicality that microchipping can bring to Thoroughbred identification makes it an essential. The possibilities it may open up to better manage our horses is very exciting."
The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans, and farms, among others. Additional information is available at jockeyclub.com.