Delaware Park and Pimlico Race Course are the latest racetracks to undergo the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Allliance accreditation process.
Delaware Park in Delaware is to be inspected April 27-28, while Pimlico in Maryland has a site visit scheduled for April 29-30. Both tracks are open for live racing.
On May 16, Pimlico will hold the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), second leg of the Triple Crown. Officials in mid-April indicated there was a good chance Pimlico would be reviewed in advance of the Preakness.
Belmont Park, which hosts the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), third leg of the Crown, June 6, is expected to be reviewed, but the on-site inspection hasn’t been scheduled.
Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 2, received accreditation in April, as did Keeneland.
Heading up the alliance inspection team at Delaware Park are Drs. Jennifer Durenberger and Richard Lewis, and alliance executive director Mike Ziegler. Lewis, Ziegler, and Dr. Ronald Jensen will handle the Pimlico inspection.
The alliance, formed last October with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization. Its objective is to faciliate implementation of regulations; NTRA president Alex Waldrop told state regulators April 18 they are “the teeth of the alliance,” meaning racing commissions must implement the rules.
Keeneland president Nick Nicholson, in an April 18 address to the Association of Racing Commissioners International, said the alliance review team "spent the better part of a week" at the Lexington racetrack. He suggested regulatory agencies be present at any press conferences involving accreditation.
"(Keeneland's accreditation) could not have happened without competent regulation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission," Nicholson said. "It would be impossible for Keeneland to be certified were it not for the racing commission."
Nicholson said the industry "does not need a whitewash," and noted the accreditation process won't be smooth for every track.
"We are likely to have some stories that will be unpleasant," he said. "But whatever bumps along the road that we get, it's worth it."
The alliance projects 30 tracks will undergo the accreditation process this year, and another 30 in 2010.