Belmont Park has become the sixth racetrack to earn re-accreditation from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Safety and Integrity Alliance.
The re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Belmont Park received its initial Alliance accreditation in April 2009. All accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.
The re-accreditation of Belmont Park was the culmination of a certification process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Belmont Park hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. The on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility, with special attention paid to areas that were newly added to the Alliance’s Code of Standards in 2010 and 2011. Such areas containing new or more stringent requirements include wagering security, injury reporting, post-mortem veterinary inspections, jockey health and safety, paddock safety, aftercare/transitioning of retired racehorses, and cross-jurisdictional sharing of vet’s list data. Interviews were also conducted with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards, and fans.
The inspection team was comprised of Dr. Ron Jensen, DVM; Mike Kilpack of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators; racing official Richard Lewis; and Mike Ziegler, executive eirector of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance
During the latest Alliance inspection of Belmont Park, best practices were identified in areas including pre-race and post-race examination protocols; regulation and use of cushioned riding crops; equine ambulance equipment and procedures; substance abuse programs; participation in safety research; safety training and continuing education programs; planning and procedures in cases of catastrophic injuries; paddock safety protocols; regulation and testing for alkalinizing substances and anabolic steroids; regulation of shock wave therapy; out-of-competition testing protocols; requirements for licensing for jockeys; ambulance and medical support for riders; and for wagering integrity areas including stop wagering protocols and maintaining integrity of the wagering pools
“Throughout the accreditation process, we found the people involved at Belmont Park are dedicated to safety and integrity,” Ziegler said. “The list of best practices is long, clearly exemplifying that they are committed to the safety and welfare of their human and equine athletes and offering an integrity-based racing product.”
“There is nothing more important to the success of horseracing than ensuring the safety of our participants and the integrity of our product,” said Charles Hayward, president and CEO of the New York Racing Association, which operates Belmont. “The accreditation process gives us an opportunity to review our operations and make sure we are doing all we can in these areas.”
Belmont is one of 19 racing facilities to receive full accreditation. Others are Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Arlington Park, Hollywood Park, Monmouth Park, Saratoga Race Course, Calder Race Course, Turfway Park, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Oak Tree at Santa Anita/Santa Anita Park, Fair Grounds, Aqueduct Racetrack, Pimlico Race Course, Golden Gate Fields, Woodbine, Canterbury Park, Sunland Park, and Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack.