The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Sept. 23 that Belmont Park has earned re-accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
Located just outside of New York City, in Elmont, N.Y., the track hosts its biggest day of the current Fall Championship Meet Sept. 28 with six stakes worth $3.4 million, including five grade I events led by the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational.
Belmont's re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Belmont received its initial accreditation in 2009, the alliance's first year. All accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.
During the latest alliance inspection of Belmont, best practices were identified in virtually every primary area of focus for the alliance, officials said.
"As with all of the New York Racing Association tracks, Belmont Park meets or exceeds industry standards in the most critical areas pertaining to safety and integrity," NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance executive director Mike Ziegler said.
In the area of injury reporting and prevention, best practices identified included the reporting of injuries and fatalities and the use of an injury review committee. In areas intended to create a safer racing environment, best practices cited at Belmont included starting gate padding and protocols for gate manning and removal; equine ambulance staffing, equipment, and protocols; rider medical care and ambulance support (especially the Jockey Advocate program); ensuring practicing veterinarians are on the grounds when horses are present; racing surface maintenance protocols; and sufficient security and support personnel for paddock safety.
Regarding the health and safety of jockeys, best practices recognized included the jockey weigh-out/weigh-in procedures, observation of a scale of weights, Jockey Health Information System protocols, and jockey qualification regulation.
In the area of equine drug testing and penalties, best practices identified included exogenous anabolic steroids regulation and shock-wave therapy regulation and protocols. Relating to safety research, best practices were cited for participation in, and funding, a number of research programs geared toward the betterment of racing.
Belmont also was cited for best practices in protocols to conduct due diligence on entities wishing to gain access to wagering pools.
"We are gratified to have received such a favorable report following the alliance's inspection of Belmont Park," NYRA vice president of facilities and racing surfaces Glen Kozak said. "The safety of our racing and the integrity of our operations are at the heart of all we do here.
"We will constantly work to maintain and improve upon our standards on behalf of our Thoroughbreds and of all who participate in and enjoy racing at Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course."