KY Commission Urges Electronic Foal Papers

Based on trial run, Kentucky commission recommends national initiative.

Based on trial runs at Churchill Downs and Turfway Park last year, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is endorsing the adoption of an Electronic Foal Paper Initiative nationwide.

In a motion approved April 5, the KHRC is requesting The Jockey Club, Association of Racing Commissioners International, and the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association to consider policies relating to the electronic transfer of foal papers. Each of the three organizations has meetings scheduled in Lexington this month.

A KHRC committee 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, 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, according to KHRC member and horse owner Frank L. Jones, who chaired the committee.

Under the Kentucky trial, horses were allowed to participate without the actual foal papers being on file with the horse identifier if the horse is properly identified to the satisfaction of the stewards. The foals papers, if not already on file, were to be turned in to the stewards within 72 hours to execute any necessary transfers, usually with claimed horses, to keep ownership up to date.

"The procedure has worked well and has been a savings to the owners, trainers, public, tracks and the Commonwealth," Veitch said.

Veitch said racing commission staff had been informed by The Jockey Club that "technology was presently available but little progress has been achieved in forming an ownership registry on a jurisdiction to jurisdiction basis that could be used nationally."

According to Turfway Park racing secretary Richard Leigh, 84 horses ran at the northern Kentucky track during the holiday and winter/spring meet through (March 4) without their foal papers being on file prior to racing. Three horses were claimed during the period in which foal certificates were not on file but which were received on a timely basis.

"To this time, without incident, the electronic foal paper policy has benefited the horsemen, the state and the racing association," Leigh said in a letter to Jones. "It has not been necessary to scratch horses whose foal papers were not on site, which translates to increased field size and increased revenue for all parties."

Churchill Downs racing secretary Ben Huffman said about a dozen horses started without foal papers being on file during the track’s fall meet, and "there weren’t any ownership issues on those that raced without and no horse was claimed without papers. In my opinion, the first meet went smoothly."

While the Kentucky trial was successful, with the racing secretaries and Churchill Downs and Turfway Park endorsing the program, Jones said "it is apparent we now are experiencing out of state interaction roadblocks that can only be resolved by the inclusion of all United States Thoroughbred jurisdictions."

"It is extremely important and useful to our industry," Jones said of the electronic foal paper concept, but "we would have to get national cooperation to make it work."

In other action, the commission met in a closed, executive session before voting to reject a request from trainer Jeffrey Scott Raley for a stay of a one-year suspension he was given by Turfway Park stewards.

Raley was suspended for one year, beginning March 18, after one of his employees was "apprehended in the presence of Mr. Raley with a hypodermic needle and a syringe containing vodka" in the Turfway Park receiving barn Feb. 28. The employee involved, Richard Lawson, was suspended for two years. The horse in the receiving barn at the time of the incident, Spontaneous Diva, was scratched.