As the Thoroughbred industry seeks to build on and create new programs to deal with horses that can no longer race, it could learn lessons from Greyhound racing, which has a history of successful adoption programs and first-hand knowledge of the power of animal-rights groups.
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.
A Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory designed to enhance surface safety for horses and riders is being launched with the financial support of a broad industry coalition, it was announced April 17 by the laboratory's coordinators Dr. Mick Peterson and Dr. Wayne McIlwraith.
The accreditation of Churchill Downs by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance is being called a major accomplishment by the officials involved, but they also acknowledge it's just the beginning. Safety and integrity standards will change, and compliance will be reviewed at least every two years.
At a press conference April 9 at Churchill Downs, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced that the Louisville racetrack has been fully accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance following a comprehensive review of racing operations at the facility.
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.
British-based Betfair Group, which announced Jan. 27 it had completed its acquisition of TV Games Network from Macrovision for $50 million in cash consideration, is hopeful its new holding helps it make inroads in the United States market, which it has courted for years.
A week after announcing a major safety and integrity initiative for horse racing, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors said it has launched a national search for an executive director to spearhead the endeavor.
Following the Oct. 15 unveiling of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Safety and Integrity Alliance, four of the organization's principle figures were on hand to further explain their roles and the details of the equine health and safety reform plan, which will be implemented gradually over the next two years.
Blogging and other Web-related topics were given some of the highest priority during the Sept. 22 sessions of the well-attended National Thoroughbred Racing Association Marketing Summit at Las Vegas' Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa.
After a three-year hiatus, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Marketing Summit was brought to the forefront of a growing list of necessary steps toward creating a better industry. The three day conference, held Sept. 21-23 at the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, covered a variety of topics, from reaching new generations of fans, to discussing updates on several NTRA programs and initiatives.
Support for a proposed national strategic plan for equine welfare and safety and other reforms will be sought Sept. 12 when the National Thoroughbred Racing Association brings together industry representatives for discussion and -- it hopes -- commitment to action.
Legislation that would eliminate the automatic 25% federal withholding on pari-mutuel winnings of $5,000 or more on wagers of at least 300-1 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives July 29.
Wagering has dropped 11% on North American Thoroughbred racing since the end of the Triple Crown series -- at least by one indicator -- a disturbing trend that can likely be attributed to a variety of factors.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association is formulating a "strategic plan" for equine health and safety and will seek support from various industry organizations when the document is released, probably in early fall.
Pinnacle Race Course, the new Thoroughbred racetrack located near Detroit, Mich., has become a member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association pending final NTRA board approval, it was announced July 15. Pinnacle will open its inaugural meet July 18.
Pari-mutuel handle took a hit but purses gained a bit in the second quarter of 2008, according to the "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" for United States and Canadian pari-mutuel wagering on U.S. Thoroughbred racing.
Drugged equines, grisly catastrophic breakdowns, greedy breeders, damaged racehorses with nowhere to go, inaction and confusion, and industry leaders more concerned with holding onto power than doing the right thing -- a congressional subcommittee heard it all June 19 during a hearing in Washington, D.C.
Members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives voted May 22 to override a presidential veto of the 2007 Farm Bill exercised by George W. Bush. As a result, the 2007 Farm Bill is now law and it includes the Equine Equity Act, a provision that amends the depreciation schedule for racehorses to a uniform three years.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association is prepared for "every potential outcome" on Preakness Stakes (gr. I) day, but no matter the result, developments in the area of equine health and welfare in the coming weeks and months are of the utmost importance, the organization's president and chief executive officer said.
At a news conference held in the press box at Pimlico Race Course May 16, a check for $500,000 was presented by NetJets to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. On hand at the event were jockeys John Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys' Guild; top rider Edgar Prado; disabled rider Jackie Fires; and Alex Waldrop, president of NTRA Charities.
In the wake of the tragedy that followed the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Eight Belles' fatal breakdown, alarming statistics reflecting the percentage of those who would support a horse racing ban were revealed by a Gallup poll.
A Kentucky Derby Day promotion facilitated by NetJets, the Jockeys' Guild, Churchill Downs, and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association has raised $500,000 to benefit the NTRA Charities - Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Jockey John Velazquez will present the gift to representatives of the fund the morning of May 16 at Pimlico Race Course.
Since late January, Pfizer Animal Health and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) have joined forces to help fund laminitis research through the NTRA Charities - Barbaro Memorial Fund. Pfizer Animal Health displays, featuring "Riding with Barbaro" awareness bracelets, will appear in select veterinary clinics and retail outlets across the country and at major equine events. Due to the strong response thus far, Pfizer Animal Health will be expanding its number of display locations and manufacturing thousands of additional bracelets for public distribution.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association continues to coordinate equine health and safety initiatives in response to the death of the filly Eight Belles, and on May 9 called for "urgency" and an end to the "status quo."
House and Senate conferees for the 2007 farm bill announced May 8 they had approved a final version of the bill, which includes legislative language to amend the depreciation schedule for race horses. The final version of the farm bill is expected to pass both houses and be sent to the president for approval.
Because lack of growth appears to be one of the many issues plaguing the horse industry, the Kentucky International Equine Summit in Lexington hosted an April 28 seminar to tackle the topic and seek solutions.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced April 22 the formation of the Horseplayers' Coalition, a consortium of horseplayers whose common objective is to seek legislative and regulatory solutions to tax and business issues that impact racing fans and pari-mutuel racetracks.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Equibase Company April 21 released the "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" for North American pari-mutuel wagering on U.S. Thoroughbred racing during the first quarter of 2008, as well as for U.S. purses and race days, with prior-year, first-quarter comparisons.
The ongoing process of regulating anabolic steroids in racehorses may have turned a corner March 25 when the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium made changes to its model rule. State regulators, however, remain concerned about funding for increased testing.
By Rep. Ed Whitfield - Three years ago, Congress examined the explosion of steroid use plaguing Major League Baseball. The integrity of the game was called into question and a dark cloud was cast over America's favorite pastime.
The second Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, slated for March 17-18 at Keeneland, will be a time of learning new approaches to solving industry issues, as well as continuing the discussion of progress on topics brought up at the first meeting in October 2006.
By Alex Waldrop - On Feb. 27, I appeared before a Congressional Subcommittee for a hearing entitled, "Drugs in Sports: Compromising the Health of Athletes and Undermining the Integrity of Competition."
U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky opened a Feb. 27 congressional hearing on the use of steroids in sports by claiming leaders of horse racing have repeatedly failed on promises to self-regulate medication issues.
National Thoroughbred Racing Association president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop has been asked to testify in Washington, D.C., during a hearing titled "Drugs in Sports: Compromising the Health of Athletes and Undermining the Integrity of Competition."
The Kentucky Horse Park, longtime home of the late John Henry, has been honored with the 2007 Special Eclipse Award, presented by the National Turf Writers Association, Daily Racing Form, and the NTRA.
Two projects focusing on the equine disease laminitis will be launched soon using funds raised by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in memory of the late 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro. The projects, at more than $100,000, will be conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University.
Preliminary recommendations aimed at self-regulation for the equine auction industry were unveiled by the Sales Integrity Task Force during a public forum held at the Keeneland sales pavilion Oct. 15, but the driving force behind Kentucky legislation seeking reform in the public selling arena quickly voiced displeasure with the suggestions.
A public forum on preliminary recommendations by the Sales Integrity Task Force to the Kentucky legislature on auction transparency issues will be held at the Keeneland sale pavilion Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. EDT.