(Edited press release)
At a press conference April 17 at Keeneland, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced that the Lexington racetrack has been fully accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance following a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Keeneland is the second track to be so designated by the Alliance. Churchill Downs was accredited last week.
The accreditation of Keeneland was the culmination of a lengthy certification process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application. Keeneland then hosted several meetings with Alliance officials and met twice with the Alliance’s independent monitor, former Wisconsin Gov. and U.S. Health and human services secretary, Tommy Thompson.
The on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility, and interviews with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards, regulators and customers. It was led by Dr. Ronald Jensen; racing regulator Frank Lamb; and Mike Ziegler, executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. Portions of the review were also observed by Thompson.
Attending an April 17 press conference were Thompson, Ziegler, NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop; and Keeneland president and CEO Nick Nicholson.
“I am extremely pleased to announce that Keeneland, one of the nation’s showpiece racetracks, has been accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance,” said Waldrop. “Keeneland has deftly managed to both preserve its historic traditions and stay on the cutting edge of a variety of technological advances, including those pertaining to the safety of its human and equine athletes.”
“Our inspection team was highly impressed by the facility as we reviewed it during the current race meeting,” said Ziegler. Among the notable strengths cited by Ziegler were Keeneland’s racetrack surface monitoring equipment, its jockey injury data base, and its pre-race veterinary examination procedure, which enables a horse’s history to be shared among multiple racing jurisdictions. “Keeneland is not only in compliance with the current Alliance Code of Standards, it has exceeded standards in several areas,” Ziegler said.
“The safety of the human and equine athletes along with the integrity of the sport and business have been and always will be central to Keeneland’s operation,” said Nicholson. “Through the inspection process, we are pleased to know that Keeneland meets, and in many cases exceeds, the rigid standards set forth by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.”
The Alliance, formed last October with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization.
The accreditation program initially will focus on human and equine safety, but will be expanded to cover additional areas, including wagering security.
Pimlico Race Course, Belmont Park, Delaware Park and Hollywood Park—which also have race meetings beginning in the spring—are among the other racetracks that will soon undergo Alliance review.