Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr.

NTRA Safety Alliance Re-Approves Fair Grounds

New Orleans track becomes the 12th to earn re-accreditation following full review.

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans has earned re-accreditation from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Safety and Integrity Alliance, it was announced Dec. 3.

The re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility during its current live meeting. Fair Grounds received its initial Alliance accreditation in December 2009. All accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.

Fair Grounds is the 12th Alliance-approved racetrack to earn re-accreditation. Keeneland Race Course received re-accreditation from the Alliance in April of this year; Churchill Downs and Pimlico Race Course each earned re-accreditation in June; Arlington Park, Hollywood Park, and Belmont Park each earned re-accreditation in July; Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Saratoga Race Course, Turfway Park, and Calder Casino and Race Course were re-accredited in September; and Santa Anita Park was re-accredited in October.

The re-accreditation of Fair Grounds was the culmination of a lengthy certification process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Fair Grounds 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 Celeste Kunz, VMD; Mike Kilpack of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators (ORI); racing official Richard Lewis; and Mike Ziegler, executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.

“Fair Grounds, like all of the CDI tracks, has been a strong supporter of the Alliance, and this re-accreditation report is a clear example of that dedication,” said Ziegler.  “We wish to salute everyone at Fair Grounds for their outstanding cooperation in advancing so many of the Alliance’s goals and objectives.”

Fair Grounds is one of 20 racing facilities currently fully accredited by the Alliance.

"I'm extremely proud to receive this Alliance re-accreditation on behalf of everyone here who worked so hard to make it possible,” said Eric Halstrom, vice president and general manager for racing at Fair Grounds. “The integrity of the racing product and the safety of all its equine and human participants come before everything else in terms of our priorities.”

Formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, the Alliance includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization. Alliance certification standards cover six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing and penalties; safety research; and wagering security.