The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced that Laurel Park in Laurel, Md., has been fully accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance and that Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore has been re-accredited by the Alliance following a complete review of all racing operations at the two Maryland Jockey Club facilities.
The accreditation of Laurel Park followed a lengthy certification process that began with the track's completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Laurel hosted several meetings with Alliance officials, according to an NTRA release. An initial on-site review in January included inspections of all facets of the racing facility, and interviews with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards, and fans.
The inspection team was comprised of Dr. Mary Scollay, Mike Kilpack of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators, racing official Richard Lewis, and Mike Ziegler, executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
An additional on-site inspection of Laurel—conducted without advance notice—took place March 20-21. During this follow-up inspection, revised racing protocols at Laurel were confirmed as being in compliance with the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance Code of Standards.
The re-accreditation of Pimlico involved a similar process as that of Laurel Park—with an inspection team made up of Dr. Ron Jensen, Kilpack, Lewis, and Ziegler.
"We have worked closely with Laurel Park and Pimlico, its horsemen, and the Maryland Racing Commission throughout this process at both Maryland Jockey Club facilities," Ziegler said in a statement. "In order to achieve accreditation, the MJC and the Maryland Racing Commission have instituted significant improvements in a number of areas that positively impact the health and safety of both its human and equine athletes. These areas include pre-race exam protocols, track surface maintenance data collection, the post-mortem program, increased reporting to the Equine Injury Database, vet's list protocols, out-of-competition testing and the expected incorporation of the Uniform National Trainers Test into the current Maryland trainers test.
"With respect to medication rules, the MJC, the Maryland horsemen, and the Maryland Racing Commission are among the nation's leaders in the mission to strengthen and standardize industry medication rules and penalties. The MJC also maintains a first-rate, in-house human healthcare program that is well funded by a mandatory $25 per start fee."
"The Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Racing Commission are to be congratulated for working together to achieve accreditation and meet or exceed industry standards," said Scollay, equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and an NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance veterinarian inspector.
"The management and staff at the two MJC tracks have committed considerable time, effort, and resources to achieve this accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance," said Alan Foreman, chairman and CEO of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "The track and the Maryland Racing Commission will also go beyond Alliance requirements by bringing in outside expertise to ensure that all racing surfaces at Laurel and Pimlico are conducive to the safest racing possible."
"Laurel Park is pleased to be an accredited member of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance for the first time," said Tom Chuckas, MJC president. "Pimlico's re-accreditation is also extremely important to us as we strive to improve all safety operations at our racing facilities. We worked hard with the Maryland Racing Commission to improve standards and thank them for their assistance."