The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Dec. 16 that Aqueduct has earned re-accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
The re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility during its current, live meeting. Aqueduct received its initial Alliance accreditation in December 2009. All accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.
Aqueduct is the 13th Alliance-accredited racetrack to earn re-accreditation.
The re-accreditation of Aqueduct was the culmination of a lengthy certification process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Aqueduct hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. The on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility, with special attention paid to areas that were newly added to the Alliance’s Code of Standards in 2010 and 2011.
Such areas containing new or more stringent requirements include wagering security, injury reporting, post-mortem veterinary inspections, jockey health and safety, paddock safety, aftercare/transitioning of retired racehorses and cross-jurisdictional sharing of vet’s list data. Interviews were also conducted with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards and fans. The inspection team was comprised of Ronald Jensen, DVM; Mike Kilpack of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators (ORI); racing official Richard Lewis; and Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
During the latest Alliance inspection of Aqueduct, best practices were identified in areas including pre-race veterinary examinations; post-race observation of horses and follow up; use of cushioned riding crop; equine ambulance equipment and staffing; substance abuse and addiction program for licensees via the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST); participation in safety research and continuing education; catastrophic injury protocols and procedures; fire safety planning and procedures; paddock safety protocols; testing procedures for alkalinizing substances; protocols for shock wave therapy administration; the New York out-of-competition testing protocols; rider medical care and ambulance support; and wagering security protocols, including stop wagering device protocols, a policy of excluding guest sites from wagering pools when there are potential security issues, the track’s policy for paying winning tickets when Aqueduct is excluded as a guest pool, timing displays and wagering pool due diligence.
“Aqueduct had a very strong inspection report, which wasn’t surprising given our similar experiences at Belmont Park and Saratoga,” said Ziegler. “It is clear that everyone at NYRA takes both the safety of its competitors and the integrity of its product very seriously.”
“We think it is essential that Aqueduct Racetrack, like Saratoga Race Course and Belmont Park, meets or exceeds the increasingly high benchmarks specified in the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance Code of Standards,” said Charles Hayward, president and CEO of NYRA. “The health and safety of our human and equine athletes is the number-one priority at all three NYRA racetracks.”
Aqueduct Racetrack is one of 20 racing facilities currently fully accredited by the Alliance.