Edited press release
At a press conference April 9 at Churchill Downs, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced that the Louisville racetrack has been fully accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance following a comprehensive review of racing operations at the facility. Churchill Downs is the first track to be so designated by the Alliance.
The accreditation of Churchill Downs was the culmination of a lengthy certification process that began with Churchill’s completion of a 48-page written application. Churchill Downs then hosted several meetings with Alliance officials and met with the Alliance’s independent monitorTommy G. Thompson, a former governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Health and Human Services secretary. The on-site review was led by Jennifer Durenberger, DVM; racing official Richard J. Lewis; and Mike Ziegler, executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. Thompson also attended and observed the on-site review.
“Churchill Downs has taken a leadership role in this unified, unprecedented effort by our industry to establish and implement a universal Code of Standards,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “Accreditation represents a public acknowledgement that Churchill Downs is adhering to a standard of excellence that we believe the general public, regulators, horsemen and others will embrace.”
“Churchill Downs is committed to human and equine safety, every day, in every race,” said Churchill Downs, Inc. president and CEO Robert L. Evans. “We are focused on providing the safest possible experience for everyone involved in competition at Churchill Downs. We are pleased that our efforts have received the full support of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance and led to our accreditation in advance of the 2009 Churchill Downs Spring Meet and Kentucky Derby 135.”
All other CDI-owned racetracks will apply for accreditation, beginning with Arlington Park in suburban Chicago and Miami’s Calder Race Course—both of which have race meetings opening in the spring. The Fair Grounds in Louisiana will undertake the accreditation process this fall.
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 focus on areas including:
--Systematic reporting of equine injuries
--Retraining programs for racehorses in transition to second careers
--Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations for racehorses
--Post-mortem examinations of catastrophically injured horses
--Safety equipment and procedures
--Drug testing programs
--On-track emergency medical care for human and equine athletes
--Freezing and retrospective testing of post race samples
--Security assessment and training
The accreditation program initially will focus on human and equine safety, but will be expanded to cover additional areas, including wagering security.
“I applaud Churchill Downs and the Alliance for their efforts to improve the safety and integrity of horse racing,” said Thompson, who will provide public progress reports on the Alliance. “The entire industry needs to embrace the Alliance Code of Standards and enact the reforms it prescribes with a sense of urgency.”
Pimlico Race Course, Belmont Park, Delaware Park and Hollywood Park—which also have race meetings beginning in the spring—are among the other racetracks that will soon undergo Alliance review.