Electronic Foal Paper Initiative Progresses

Move is viewed as way to decrease number of scratches and increase field size.

Changes in Kentucky racing regulations that would permit horses to be entered without having their actual foal papers on file at the racetrack where they are racing have been approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s rules committee.

An outgrowth of the Electronic Foal Paper Initiative, the regulation approved Sept. 30 will be considered by the KHRC at its Oct. 26 meeting.

A KHRC committee chaired by commissioner Frank L. Jones began looking into electronic transfer of foal (or registration) papers more than a year ago after John Veitch, state senior steward, outlined problems associated with the current system.

Generally, all racetracks require a horse’s registration (or foal) papers be on file before the horse is permitted to race. Most of the time, the physical papers accompany a horse when it moves from track to track and/or when there is an ownership change. However, due to logistical issues with movement of the papers, sometimes the papers are not on file or arrive late, necessitating late scratches and loss of pari-mutuel handle due to smaller fields, according to Veitch.

With the information contained in the foal papers already stored electronically on a secured database that is accessible by racetrack racing office personnel, the Electronic Foal Paper Initiative replaces the physical transfer of papers, making for a more efficient and cost-effective way of transferring the same information.

Susan Speckert, general counsel of the KHRC, explained that an owner or trainer would still have the ability to turn in the actual foal papers when a horse is sent to another track to race. But she said some horsemen and racing offices would find it more efficient if they were permitted to have the same information accessed electronically. Also, under the proposed regulation, stewards would have the authority to request the actual foal papers even if they were accessible electronically.

Although horses registered in North America through The Jockey Club are required to have a lip tattoo that coincides with the horse’s registration number that is included on the registration papers, most foreign countries do not require tattoos and some use electronic chips as a way of identifying a horse.

Under the electronic foal paper regulation in Kentucky, foreign horses would be permitted to race in graded stakes without having a lip tattoo if the horse identifier could verify the horse’s identification by other means. The primary way to identify a non-tattooed horse would be comparing the horse’s markings with those on its foal papers.