In an effort to cut down on the number of scratches that occur because a horse’s foal papers are not on file at a track where it is scheduled to run, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved a plan to test a system in which the papers are maintained electronically.
On June 9, the commission approved a recommendation from a committee chaired by horse owner Frank Jones to test the electronic foal paper concept during the Churchill Downs fall meet. The committee made the recommendation after meeting with representatives of The Jockey Club and InCompass, Kentucky racetracks, and horse identifiers.
“We are attempting to take advantage of today’s electronic technology,” Jones said.
“Foal papers would not be transferred as in the past,” said chief state steward John Veitch.
Veitch and Jones said there are some logistical issues to be worked out before the electronic foal paper system can be implemented, but none that would preclude it from going forward. Among them are establishing a secure database that can be accessed by qualified personnel, who would have the ability to update and maintain the information such as ownership changes; handling tattoo identification before each horse starts, a procedure that relies upon confirming the tattoo number to the information on the foal papers; a method for handling purchases, sales, and claims; and method of interaction with other jurisdictions and the shipping of horses in and out of Kentucky.
The commission, which hopes the trial will be successful and other states will adapt the procedures, had previously heard Veitch and others discuss the problems associated with the requirement that the horse’s actual foal papers must be on file before the horse can compete.
“We would never have to scratch a horse because the foal papers are not on file,” said Veitch, who noted the high cost of scratches on the amount of handle at a track and the inconvenience to bettors. He said there were 37 such scratches at Kentucky tracks in 2008.