Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Del Mar receives Alliance accreditation

Eric Wing,
Special to NTRA.com

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced that the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif., has been fully accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance following a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Del Mar is the 11th racing facility to be so designated by the Alliance. Churchill Downs and Keeneland were accredited in April; Belmont Park received accreditation in May; Delaware Park and Hollywood Park were accredited in June; Monmouth Park was accredited in July; Arlington Park and Saratoga Race Course received accreditation in August; and Calder Race Course and Turfway Park were accredited earlier this month. Pimlico Race Course was granted provisional accreditation in May.

The accreditation of Del Mar was the culmination of a lengthy certification process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Del Mar hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. 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 fans. The inspection team was comprised of Celeste Kunz, DVM; racing industry executive Dan Fick and NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. Observing the inspection was Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.

“Del Mar was reviewed during its recent live meeting,” said Ziegler. “It exceeded prescribed benchmarks on many fronts, with industry-wide best practices established in several areas including post-mortem veterinary examinations, safety research, safety training and continuing education, out-of-competition testing, and testing for alkalinizing substances and exogenous steroids.”

“We are proud to know that Del Mar received high marks in so many different areas,” said Craig Fravel, Executive Vice President of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. “There is no higher priority at Del Mar than the health and safety of our human and equine athletes.”

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.

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 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 monitor of the Alliance and will provide public reports on Alliance progress in instituting safety and integrity standards.

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