A voluntary microchip program for Thoroughbred foals of 2016 has exceeded expectations according to The Jockey Club, which by 2018 will transition to digital certificates for foal registrations.
Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Jim Gagliano made the announcements during the Aug. 14 Jockey Club Round Table Conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The organization had expected about 50% of breeders to take advantage of free microchips this year, but the actual number was about 75%. In 2017 the microchips will be mandatory.
"We envision a day when a scan of the chip will unlock much more information on the horse than just its identity and all of it can be delivered to your PC, tablet, or mobile phone, and maybe even your watch," Gagliano said.
Digital foal certificates, Gagliano said, will allow owners and breeders to "move papers with the touch of a button" and allow other organizations to digitally affix their seals. Currently, foal papers need to be carried from track to track.
Meanwhile, the Thoroughbred Safety Committee, which to date has issued 22 recommendations on the health and safety of horses and jockeys, has devised two more.
The committee is asking regulatory authorities in all jurisdictions to prohibit jockeys from raising their arm above shoulder height when they use a riding crop, and to limit use of the crop to not more than three times in succession until the horse has had an opportunity to respond.
It also is calling for a national uniform veterinarian's list to protect horses' safety and welfare. Gagliano said the committee wants regulators "to better manage and mutually enforce rest periods for horses" appearing on racetrack vet's lists.
InCompass Solutions, a Jockey Club subsidiary, will enhance software to complement the program. Ideally, a racing jurisdiction will be notified when an attempt is made to enter a horse on one state's vet list in another state.
The Jockey Club, in a video tribute at the Round Table, honored former chairman Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps, who died earlier this year. Phipps, a longtime Thoroughbred owner and breeder, served as chairman from 1983-2015, and last year was awarded The Jockey Club Medal.
Stuart Janney III, who took over as chairman, said Phipps was at the forefront of expanding the activities of The Jockey Club, which began as a breed registry but now gets about 85% of its total revenue from commercial subsidiaries.
"From the time he was elected chairman in 1983, Dinny wanted The Jockey Club to be more than a breed registry," Janney said. "He wanted it to help the industry more than it had in the past, whether it was the area of integrity, technology, or marketing of the sport."
Phipps was heavily involved in the organization's charitable arms, the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation. Janney said since April more than $400,000 in donations in Phipps' name have been made to the two charities.