Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

Anne M. Eberhardt

Inspection Team to Review Churchill

It will be the first racetrack to be reviewed as part of the Safety Alliance

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Churchill Downs will be the first U.S. racetrack reviewed by an inspection team as part of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance accreditation process. The inspection visit will begin Monday, April 6.

In preparation for the accreditation visit, Churchill Downs completed a 48-page written application that serves as the first step in the accreditation process. The track also hosted several meetings with Alliance officials and met with the Alliance’s independent monitor, former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy Thompson. The on-site visit will include inspections of all facets of the racing facility, and interviews with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards, regulators and customers.

Heading up the Alliance inspection team that will visit Churchill Downs are Jennifer Durenberger, DVM, Richard J. Lewis and Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. 

Durenberger is a commission veterinarian at Santa Anita Park and previously worked as an associate veterinarian for the New York Racing Association from 2003-2008. Lewis is a longtime racing official who served from 1998-2008 as Director of Racing at Bay Meadows. He is also a former trainer on the Northern California circuit.

“The on-site inspection is a key component of Alliance accreditation,” said Ziegler. “A roster of Alliance inspectors is being assembled to conduct the many visits still to come.”

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. Alliance certification standards cover five broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing and penalties; and safety research. Within those five categories, specific standards will focus on areas including:

• Systematic reporting of equine injuries
• Aftercare of racehorses
• Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations
• Post-mortem examinations
• Health and safety of jockeys
• Riding crops and their use
• Horse shoes and hoof care
• Safety research
• Safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers
• Exogenous Anabolic Steroids
• Alkalinizing agents (TCO2)
• On-track emergency medical care for humans and equines
• Out-of-competition testing
• Freezing and retrospective testing of post race samples
• Continuing education
• Security assessment and training

Pimlico Race Course, Belmont Park, Delaware Park, Hollywood Park, Calder Race Course and Arlington Park—all of which have race meetings beginning in the spring—will be among the next tracks to undergo Alliance review.

The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance is a standing organization whose purpose is to establish standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at

Tommy G. Thompson, former four-term Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, serves as independent counsel of the Alliance and will provide public reports on Alliance progress in instituting safety and integrity standards.