The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced March 6 that a comprehensive set of safety and integrity compliance standards has been approved by its board of directors for use by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. The standards serve as the basis for accreditation by the alliance, which began in late March. Adherence to alliance certification standards will be a prerequisite for racetrack accreditation.
Among the first racetracks to go through the newly established accreditation process are the three Triple Crown venues—Churchill Downs, Pimlico Race Course, and Belmont Park. Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the NTRA, said the alliance's compliance standards are the culmination of a collaborative effort among all segments of the horse racing industry.
The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance formed last October with the goal of establishing national uniform standards. Since then, racing industry professionals have been discussing how to implement the alliance's recommendations (see JAVMA, Feb. 15, 2009).
Standards cover five areas: injury reporting and prevention; creation of a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing, and penalties; and safety research.
Those five categories include specific standards on pre- and post-race veterinary examinations, postmortem examinations, horseshoes and hoof care, safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers, use of exogenous anabolic steroids (those not generated by a horse's system), use of alkalinizing agents, on-track emergency medical care for humans and horses, out-of-competition testing, freezing and retrospective testing of post-race samples, continuing education, and security assessment and training.
The accreditation program initially will focus on human and equine safety. The process includes a written application to be submitted by the alliance member and an on-site visit by an alliance safety team that will perform inspections and conduct interviews with veterinarians, track executives, racetrack personnel, owners, trainers, and customers, among others.
Information on the alliance, including the complete compliance standards document, can be found at www.NTRAalliance.com.