The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association is hoping its network of members in various states is effective at lobbying regulators to adopt recommendations for rules in the area of equine health and safety.
TOBA earlier this year formed the TOBA Thoroughbred Action Committee, which is “looking at many of the issues facing the sport” since the breakdown of the filly Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), TOBA president Dan Metzger said July 7. The committee has met about four times, including a nine-hour meeting July 3.
Metzger acknowledged there is some overlap with The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee, which was formed the week after the Derby, but said it will complement other industry efforts. TOBA chairman Bill Casner was the impetus behind forming the committee earlier this year, Metzger said.
“We’ve been working at our own speed, but our meetings have been close (time-wise) to those of The Jockey Club committee,” Metzger said. “Obviously, there has been a lot of crossover. This group is very determined that any recommendations it makes in cooperation with The Jockey Club get put into action.”
Tom Ludt, chairman of the TOBA Thoroughbred Action Committee and a member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, said representatives of The Jockey Club committee were invited to attend the July 3 meeting. He said TOBA’s focus is on getting recommendations implemented state by state.
“The way it’s done on the state level, it can be time-consuming the way rules are written,” Ludt said in regard to regulatory changes. “We need to get TOBA members by state and identify them to assist us in getting the process going.”
Ludt said adoption of “house rules” by racetracks could help expedite regulation for things such as toe grabs and whips. In the past, tracks have adopted house medication rules.
Other members of the 12-person TOBA committee are Casner, Roy Jackson, Reynolds Bell Jr., Duncan Taylor, and Richard Mandella, all of whom are affiliated with TOBA; racetrack executives Steve Sexton of Churchill Downs Inc., Nick Nicholson of Keeneland, and Steve Duncker of the New York Racing Association; former jockey Chris McCarron; California Horse Racing Board chairman Richard Shapiro; and Dr. Rob Holland.
Ludt said he and Shapiro could particularly assist in the adoption of rules in Kentucky and California, respectively.
Equine health and safety will be the main topic of discussion at The Jockey Club Round Table Conference Aug. 17 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The Jockey Club committee is expected to release more recommendations at that time.