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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Breeders’ Cup Media Staff – The Breeders’ Cup will once again conduct the 2021 World Championships under industry-leading equine safety and integrity protocols. Breeders’ Cup always strives to conduct best-in-class racing under the safest possible conditions to the benefit of horses, riders, participants, fans and bettors. Additionally, health and safety protocols will be in place to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 during the World Championships taking place Nov. 5 and 6 at Del Mar.

Additional resources detailing Breeders’ Cup’s health and safety protocols for the 2021 World Championships can be found here.


Breeders’ Cup observes the most stringent medication practices and restrictions, pre- and post-race testing protocols, equine security and surveillance measures, veterinary exam requirements, injury management protocols and racing surface testing in the industry.  

All Breeders’ Cup runners are subject to: 

  • Randomized out-of-competition (OOC) testing, which began around the world in June and concluded on Monday, November 1, resulting in the collection of over 300 blood and hair samples; 
  • Expanded veterinary scrutiny in-stall and during training at Del Mar, Santa Anita and San Luis Rey Training Center;
  • Mandatory trot up observations of every horse prior to being permitted to enter a racing surface;
  • Comprehensive veterinary exams including diagnostics, if required, beginning Monday, October 25;  
  • Surveillance following a mandatory equine security check-in on Tuesday, November 2; 
  • An additional round of testing for performance enhancing medications and prohibited substances on all horses entered in a Championship race starting Tuesday, November 2, along with additional randomized onsite testing over the following days for a total of approximately 500 blood, hair and urine samples collected from all Breeders’ Cup runners prior to the World Championships; and 
  • Extensive post-race testing of the first four finishers as well as any other runner that did not perform as expected and others designated by the Stewards. 

The Breeders’ Cup’s world-class veterinary team led by Dr. Will Farmer and Dr. Deborah Lamparater will work in conjunction with CHRB Equine Medical Director Dr. Jeff Blea and other official veterinarians to oversee and implement the comprehensive veterinary exam protocols. These include observing all potential Breeders’ Cup runners in the stabling area, on the track and in their stalls leading up to the event in addition to a mandatory pre-race evaluation on Tuesday, Nov. 2 to ensure every runner is fit to race. 

Moving forward, Breeders’ Cup eagerly awaits the full implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act in July 2022. The new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority will ensure consistent, transparent and expeditious processes for testing, adjudication and the enforcement of uniform equine safety standards under the oversight of the Federal Trade Commission.


Breeders’ Cup has once again retained world-renowned racing surface experts, including Racetrack Safety Program Director Mick Peterson, Del Mar turf course superintendent Leif Dickinson and Del Mar racetrack superintendent Dennis Moore, to oversee testing and track maintenance in conjunction with Del Mar’s expert racing surface team. Together, they will ensure consistency in both surfaces, measuring moisture content and footing across the surfaces and providing participants with real-time updates on track and turf conditions. 


The Breeders’ Cup and Del Mar Racetrack have worked closely with local public health officials and infectious disease experts to implement health and safety protocols that will be in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 during the World Championships. The health and safety of fans, participants, athletes and the local community is Breeders’ Cup’s top priority.

Breeders’ Cup and Del Mar have consulted with top experts to ensure the protocols in place are effective in mitigating the risk of COVID-19. Breeders’ Cup works closely with Dr. Richard Greenberg – former Chief of Infectious Disease of the University of Kentucky and former employee of the Center for Disease Control – and Del Mar has been working closely with its medical advisor – Scripps Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ghazala Sharieff – and San Diego County public health officials, including Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten and Chief Resiliency Officer Gary Johnston.

Protocols for attending the 2021 World Championships include:

  • Unvaccinated individuals must wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when in close proximity to others. Face coverings should fully cover the mouth and nose and fit snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps.
  • Guests entering the facility or placing a bet are to practice physical distancing.
  • Guests are to refrain from congregating inside the grandstand and follow all posted signage and floor decals as well as any direction from Del Mar Thoroughbred Club & Breeders’ Cup staff.
  • Del Mar Thoroughbred Club & Breeders’ Cup staff have implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitization procedures throughout the facility.
  • Hand-sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the grandstand and additional staff will be on-site for cleaning high-touch areas.
  • Media and guests with tickets located on the 6th Floor (Il Palio Restaurant and Skyroom Suite Dining) will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours. 
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