(Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA, issued the following statement after the announcement of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition / Photo Courtesy of the National HBPA)
From the National HBPA Media Team:
On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the horse racing industry saw several of the nation’s leading Thoroughbred racetracks and the Breeders’ Cup announce the creation of an effort to unify the industry in enhancing existing protections and working together to develop new reforms to ensure the safety of the sport’s equine and human athletes.
We applaud the group, announced as the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, who seeks to create and implement a series of significant safety, medication, operational and integrity guidelines across Thoroughbred racing to ensure the well-being of horses and jockeys and to increase transparency and accountability.
As CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, I — along with all my members — have always been focused the health and safety of the horse, the safety of the jockey and the safety of all individuals coming into contact with the horse. I firmly believe in being open, honest, transparent and insisting on the highest standards of horsemanship, and the HBPA continually seeks ways to improve the care, health and safety of Thoroughbred racehorses. We owe it to our industry’s athletes to ensure each horse is given the protection and attention they deserve — because two lives depend on us doing so.
Certainly it was made clear from their announcement that the founding members are open to other important organizations providing input and direction toward the coalition efforts. We look forward to working with the coalition members to ensure the safety and integrity of our industry.
The founding members are Churchill Downs Inc., Keeneland Association Inc., the New York Racing Association Inc., Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, The Stronach Group and the Breeders’ Cup Ltd.
“Thoroughbred racing is steeped in tradition and we want the sport to live on for generations to come, and that is only possible with all of us working together to ensure that the safety and well-being of our athletes is our top priority,” Drew Fleming, President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Limited said in the release announcing the coalition.
“Protecting the health and welfare of our athletes is a complicated question that requires a multi-faceted approach. That’s why we are implementing significant measures across the sport — from the quality of our track surfaces to ensuring horses are fit to run each and every time through medication reforms and enhanced veterinary examinations. There is no single solution and we are committed to finding the right answers, wherever that may lead us,” said Bill Thomason, President and CEO of Keeneland Association Inc.
“The Thoroughbred Safety Coalition presents an opportunity for the sport to adopt a set of best practices with a unified approach to equine safety,” said David O’Rourke, CEO and President of NYRA. “We look forward to advancing these efforts, communicating directly with the public and broadening the coalition in the coming weeks and months.”
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