All three Triple Crown host racetracks are now fully accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance.
The NTRA announced May 10 Pimlico Race Course, which received provisional accreditation a year ago, is now fully accredited. Pimlico will host the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), second leg of the Triple Crown, May 15.
Pimlico is the 17th track to be fully accredited since the program began a little more than a year ago.
In 2009 the alliance said it “deemed deficient” six practices, all of which were addressed. Many involved working with the Maryland Racing Commission to upgrade and adopt regulations.
The MRC has adopted rules on the cushioned riding crop; pre-race sampling for alkalinizing agents, commonly referred to as milkshakes; out-of-competition testing; and frozen-sample testing. The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico, submitted to an independent security analysis May 6-7, and provided the alliance with written documentation of all protocols tied to the code of standards.
The other two Triple Crown tracks—Belmont Park and Churchill Downs—were fully accredited in 2009.
“We are pleased to grant Pimlico full accreditation following the many positive steps it has taken since last year’s provisional accreditation,” alliance executive director Mike Ziegler said in a statement. “In many instances, Pimlico had to go beyond the confines of its facility and lobby the Maryland Racing Commission for rules that would allow it to comply with the alliance’s rigorous code of standards.”
“It was our goal to affirm Pimlico’s rightful place among tracks which have already undergone and passed this rigorous process,” MJC president Tom Chuckas said. “We believe Pimlico and the entire Maryland racing community is now the better for it.”
The alliance offers two-year accreditation. NTRA members get a discount on the cost of the inspection and related work.
The NTRA is currently awaiting word from MI Developments, new owner of the MJC, on whether its tracks will renew membership in the NTRA. The week of May 3, NTRA officials learned via letter that Churchill Downs Inc. had dropped out, at least for this year.