In The News

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Welfare and Safety Summit III Participants Identify Issues and Objectives


The third Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, held in Lexington, Ky., on June 28 and 29, concluded with the development of objectives in four areas and a discussion of implementation strategies to improve conditions in various facets of the Thoroughbred industry.

The four areas were Racing Equipment and Safety; Racetrack Environment and Training Practices; Education, Licensing and Continuing Education; and Transitioning Thoroughbreds to Second Careers. Among the primary objectives identified were:

  • Establishment of a rider injury database to collect data and develop practices that will reduce injuries
  • Creation of a track liaison position at each racetrack to coordinate aftercare of retired racehorses
  • Formalization of reciprocity of veterinarians', stewards' and starters' lists on a national basis
  • Implementation of advanced safety equipment, including starting gates and safety rails, on a phased basis, depending on data
  • Development of a comprehensive database of track maintenance, training and veterinary records that could be integrated with existing databases pertaining to human and equine safety
  • Creation of veterinary guidelines, in conjunction with the American Association of Equine Practitioners, to determine potential and appropriate second careers for racehorses based on physical condition
  • Establishment of a mechanism to encourage continuing education for people working with Thoroughbreds, including trainers, grooms, farriers, and jockeys, to improve horsemanship and as a means to accreditation

"Safety is a process," said Nick Nicholson, president and CEO of Keeneland Association. "There is never a final victory. We must always be fighting for improvements and innovations that will make our sport safer for all concerned. Our fans expect nothing less. This summit - and the action plans we are drafting this year - has been a catalyst for positive changes and innovation that are making our sport better. It's our job to continue this momentum."

"Like its predecessors, this summit produced a number of safety and soundness objectives that should augment the meaningful changes and reforms that have occurred within the Thoroughbred industry in recent years when they are implemented," said Edward L. Bowen, president of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.

The summit, which was coordinated and underwritten by Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club, and hosted by Keeneland, was held all day Monday and Tuesday morning. Both of Monday's sessions and part of Tuesday's session were open to the public and, for the first time, video-streamed live on The video stream of Monday's session received approximately 900 hits from the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, Germany, Hungary and the United Kingdom.

Monday's morning session included a panel discussion on Racetrack Surfaces, moderated by Ed Bowen, and updates on the following medication and safety initiatives: the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, by executive director Dr. Scot Waterman; the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, by executive director Mike Ziegler; and the Thoroughbred Safety Committee, by committee member Dr. Larry Bramlage. Dr. Tim Parkin, an epidemiologist with the University of Glasgow, and Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, provided an update and statistics from one year of data in the Equine Injury Database to conclude the morning session.

Monday's afternoon session was composed of panel discussions on Racing Equipment and Safety, moderated by Dr. Mick Peterson, executive director, Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory; Racetrack Environment and Safe Training Practices, moderated by Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board; and Transitioning Thoroughbred Racehorses to Second Careers, moderated by Mike Ziegler.

On Tuesday morning, participants assembled into four work groups to focus on specific issues in closed discussions to develop objectives to improve welfare and safety in the industry. There were 68 participants at the summit, representing a prominent cross-section from the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry.

"Summit participants have provided a roadmap for the future by identifying important areas for further analysis by the industry's stakeholders," said Matt Iuliano, executive director and executive vice president of The Jockey Club. "The Jockey Club and our Thoroughbred Safety Committee will once again strive to collaborate with like-minded organizations to implement the recommendations emanating from the summit in a prompt and comprehensive manner."

The summit concluded with a panel discussion concerning implementation of safety and soundness recommendations, moderated by Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club.

The implementation panel included representatives of the National HBPA, Keeneland, Association of Racing Commissioners International, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. All expressed support for the concept and institution of an interstate racing regulatory compact, which has been discussed within the industry in recent months

"We have demonstrated to those who watch our sport closely that we can make reforms as an industry," said Gagliano. "We should be proud of the steady progress we've made but we need to keep at it. We need to use any mechanism we can, whether it's model rules, a regulatory compact, the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance or rules put in place by organizations such as Breeders' Cup or the Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, to effect change."

Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation is the nation's leading private source of equine medical research funding. Since 1983, the foundation has underwritten 270 projects at 37 universities for more than $17.1 million. Additional information is available at

Contact: Bob Curran Jr.
(212) 521-5326