(Churchill Downs’ President Kevin Flanery speaks at the press conference announcing the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition / Photo by Gene McLean
From the Thoroughbred Safety Alliance Media Team:
On Wednesday, Dec. 18, the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition Steering Committee met in New York City to discuss next steps on advancing safety in Thoroughbred racing. The committee gathered to progress reforms and formalize membership efforts.
The initial medication, organizational and operational reforms unveiled last month continue to gain traction within the Thoroughbred racing community. Members have been busy advocating for support and implementation at tracks – and with state regulatory bodies – throughout the country. One recent success includes last week’s passage of enhanced safety and medication reforms by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission just last week after strong support from and ongoing dialogue with coalition members Churchill Downs Incorporated and Keeneland Association Inc.
The Thoroughbred Safety Coalition Steering Committee reached a consensus to explore and implement additional safety measures to include the following:
- Data driven decision making: Coalition members will use advanced data collection and analysis to identify at-risk horses. These horses will receive added scrutiny prior to races, up to and including pre-race examinations performed by independent veterinarians.
- Use of diagnostic methodologies: The coalition will advocate for its members to use state of the art diagnostic technology. Coalition member Santa Anita Park recently debuted a new PET scan machine to better diagnose ailments among its equine athletes. Other coalition members applaud Santa Anita for making this investment and agree that incorporating preventative diagnostic testing into mainstream practices will help move the sport into the 21st century. In the future, data collected from PET scans and other methodologies will be utilized to help further identify at-risk horses.
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy: As with any medical treatments, the use of this technique should have strict protocols. The coalition will draft and implement a policy that could mandate up to 30 days on the vet’s list, as well as require treatment take place at a central location at each race track, if this treatment is used.
- Minimum Thoroughbred workout standards: The coalition will expand the standards for minimum workout requirements to enable horses to be eligible to race. While these standards are currently in place in some regions, such as California and New York, there is an opportunity to standardize and strengthen guidelines among a broader set of race tracks and jurisdictions.
- Increased licensing requirements for trainers: The coalition will work collectively and with other industry stakeholders to establish an enhanced proficiency standard for licensing to include continuing education for horsemen.
The Thoroughbred Safety Coalition will continue to drive reforms across the Thoroughbred community to ensure the sport’s athletes are participating under the safest conditions.
Since its launch, the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition is heartened by the overwhelming show of support from others within the Thoroughbred racing community, many of whom have asked to join as members or volunteer their support in various ways. Yesterday, the Steering Committee voted to add four new members to the coalition: the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), Kentucky Thoroughbred Association (KTA) and the University of Kentucky. The coalition is excited to have them officially join its efforts.
“On behalf of our broad-based membership, the NTRA Board of Directors in October unanimously voted to make a sizeable contribution to the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition. We look forward to supporting the coalition’s mission in any way we possibly can,” said NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop.
“Our passion for horses is at the forefront of our mission and we are pleased to partner with the coalition in advancing the safety of equine athletes,” said Dan Metzger, President of TOBA.
“The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association looks forward to collaborating with the coalition as we strive to do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of Thoroughbred horses and those who care for them,” said Chauncey Morris, Executive Director of KTA
“The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is proud to join the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition as the horse racing industry takes new steps to reconfirm its commitment to the safety of its equine and human athletes. We look forward to supporting the coalition’s reform efforts with our ongoing research on safety, anchored by programs in drug testing and race track surfaces,” said Nancy Cox, Dean of the college.
The coalition welcomes all organizations and individuals who are interested in joining the coalition’s safety efforts and looks forward to growing membership in the coming weeks.
The next Steering Committee meeting will be held at the end of January.
About the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition
The Thoroughbred Safety Coalition is an industry-led effort to advance safety measures in Thoroughbred racing. At the forefront of these reforms is the safety and well-being of our human and equine athletes. The coalition will serve as an advocate and trusted voice of horse racing as we work to address safety concerns, increase accountability and transparency, and adapt our sport to benefit all for generations to come. Coalition Steering Committee members include Breeders’ Cup Limited, Churchill Downs Incorporated, Keeneland Association Inc., the New York Racing Association Inc., Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and The Stronach Group. To learn more about the coalition’s efforts, visit thoroughbredsafetycoalition.com.
For all media inquiries, please contact [email protected].