The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has circulated a list of more than 15 compliance standards that could be finalized in early March and serve as the basis for accreditation in the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
The standards were sent to alliance members—55 North American racetracks and horsemen’s groups—to solicit comments. The NTRA said Feb. 25 the compliance standards will be finalized in early March.
The alliance was launched in October 2008 with a goal of identifying uniform standards for equine health and safety, as well as racing integrity. Members will be held accountable for compliance and will be graded accordingly, officials have said.
The alliance will be a work in progress. Thus far, compliance will cover five areas: injury reporting and prevention, creating a safer racing environment, aftercare and transition of retired racehorses, medication and testing, and safety research.
Information sent to members offered a list of standards for compliance:
Systematic reporting of equine injuries
Aftercare of racehorses
Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations
Health and safety of jockeys
Riding crops and their use
Horse shoes and hoof care
Safety research, including racing surfaces
Safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers
Exogenous anabolic steroids
Alkalinizing agents (TCO2 or “milkshakes”)
On-track emergency medical care for humans and equines
Freezing and retrospective testing of post-race samples
Model rules or house rules already have been implemented for many of the categories, while others such as out-of-competition testing and post-mortem exams aren’t performed in many jurisdictions. The model rules have been developed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
NTRA officials reiterated the accreditation program initially will focus on human and equine safety, but will be expanded to cover additional areas, including wagering security.
The accreditation process, headed by Tommy Thompson, formerly governor of Wisconsin and secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, will include a written application to be submitted by the member and an on-site visit by an alliance safety team that will perform inspections and conduct interviews with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards, regulators, and customers, among others.
Thompson, whose official title is independent counsel for the alliance, will provide public progress reports. NTRA officials repeatedly have said those not in compliance will be identified.
Two officials issued statements on the latest developments Feb. 25.
“The safety and integrity standards issued for review are the most ambitious in the history of the industry,” NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop said. “They incorporate recommendations developed by a number of organizations including The Jockey Club, the RMTC, Breeders’ Cup, and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and racetracks like Churchill Downs and Keeneland, as well as input from customers, horsemen, vets, jockeys, and regulators, among others. Every segment of the industry will be asked to advocate on behalf of the alliance and to support its initiatives and members.”
“Much has been accomplished in recent years with respect to safety and integrity in Thoroughbred racing,” alliance executive director Mike Ziegler said. “Our industry is committed like never before to demonstrating through action that the safety of our human and equine athletes, and the overall integrity of our sport, are of paramount importance.”
Ziegler, most recently an official with Youbet.com, was hired earlier this year to fill the position of executive director. The alliance is based in Lexington along with the NTRA.