The accreditation of Keeneland was the culmination of a lengthy certification process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application. Keeneland then hosted several meetings with Alliance officials and met twice with the Alliance’s independent monitor, former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy Thompson. The on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility, and interviews with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards, regulators and customers. It was led by Ronald Jensen, DVM; racing regulator Frank Lamb; and Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. Portions of the review were also observed by Thompson.
“I am extremely pleased to announce that Keeneland, one of the nation’s showpiece racetracks, has been accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance,” said Waldrop. “Keeneland has deftly managed to both preserve its historic traditions and stay on the cutting edge of a variety of technological advances, including those pertaining to the safety of its human and equine athletes.”
“Our inspection team was highly impressed by the facility as we reviewed it during the current race meeting,” said Ziegler. Among the notable strengths cited by Ziegler were Keeneland’s racetrack surface monitoring equipment, its jockey injury data base and its pre-race veterinary examination procedure, which enables a horse’s history to be shared among multiple racing jurisdictions. “Keeneland is not only in compliance with the current Alliance Code of Standards, it has exceeded standards in several areas,” Ziegler said.
“The safety of the human and equine athletes along with the integrity of the sport and business have been and always will be central to Keeneland’s operation,” said Keeneland President and CEO Nick Nicholson. “Through the inspection process, we are pleased to know that Keeneland meets, and in many cases exceeds, the rigid standards set forth by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.”
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
* 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
The accreditation program initially will focus on human and equine safety, but will be expanded to cover additional areas, including wagering security.
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.
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 http://www.NTRAalliance.com.
The Honorable 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.