Anne M. Eberhardt

Pimlico Gets 'Provisional' Accreditation

Pimlico will have to wait a bit for full accreditation from the safety alliance.

Pimlico Race Course has received “provisional” accreditation from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance because not all documents tied to an inspection were submitted. The documents deal with drug-testing and compliance standards; officials said there are no safety issues at the track.

Pimlico will host the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), second leg of the Triple Crown, May 16. The NTRA said the provisional status was granted after an on-site review of racing operations at the Maryland track.

Pimlico was found to be in compliance with the majority of standards set forth in the alliance code, NTRA officials said. Full accreditation was withheld “pending further upgrades and advocacy and submission of written protocols in specific areas that include out-of-competition testing, frozen sample testing, and establishment of ongoing compliance standards,” the alliance said.

Racing at Pimlico is conducted with high levels of safety and integrity in place in actual practice,” Dr. Ronald Jensen, who was part of the Pimlico inspection team, said in a statement. “The veterinary team at Pimlico appears to perform their duties well even though they have not yet provided written documentation of specific standard operating procedures relating to these duties.”

Racing official Richard J. Lewis and alliance executive director Mike Ziegler took part in the inspection.

Provisional accreditation is granted when a facility meets substantially all conditions for certification except for specifically identified standards. When Pimlico satisfies all unmet conditions in the specified time frame, it can receive full accreditation.

Failure to satisfy all unmet conditions in the specified time frame could result in a revocation of provisional accreditation, alliance officials said.

“In order to conform to the high standards of the alliance, Pimlico needs to provide written protocols, modify some existing practices, and advocate for changes to Maryland’s rules of racing so as to achieve a higher degree of uniformity with other tracks that have received full accreditation,” Ziegler said. “We anticipate that several areas in question will be addressed very quickly by Pimlico, while others will take longer due to necessary regulatory approvals.

“We have received assurances from Pimlico, Maryland horsemen, and the Maryland Racing Commission that they will work together to achieve full compliance with the alliance code of standards within the specified time frames.”

Gary W. Thompson of the Washington, D.C., law firm Akin Gump served as an observer of the on-site inspection at Pimlico. Thompson has experience assisting organizations as they implement compliance programs to ensure adherence to specific standards.

Tommy Thompson, former four-term governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and a partner in Akin Gump, serves as independent monitor of the alliance.

Thus far, Churchill Downs and Keeneland have received full accreditation from the alliance. Churchill was accredited before the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

There have been indications that Belmont Park, home of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), third leg of the Triple Crown, will apply for accreditation before the June 6 event is held.