Evolution You Can Believe In

The NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance has just published a new version of its Code of Standards. Why should you care?  What difference does the Code make?  For that matter, what difference is the Alliance making?  These are all questions I hear from time to time and they deserve straight-forward answers.
First, here is a summary of the more prominent changes.
Injury reporting at accredited tracks will now be expanded to include horses that suffer a fatal injury during training hours.  Previously, accredited tracks only had to report racing-related injuries. This will expand our research data base and give us a clearer picture of the kinds and causes of injuries to racehorses – and to their riders.  
Another important change is the requirement that accredited tracks use a common pre-race examination database so that all accredited tracks will now share pre-race exam data.  This will provide the inspecting vet with more and better data to assist him or her in conducting the best pre-race exam possible.   Knowing what another vet observed (or didn’t observe) in a previous exam will make each subsequent exam more accurate and complete—which, in turn, will lead to safer horses and safer riders.  
To be accredited, tracks will now have to assure that post-mortem examinations are being performed on horses that suffer a fatal injury during training hours.  Again, the goal is a more accurate, complete injury data base.
Another important change to the Code is the requirement that vet lists (the lists of horses not permitted to run due to veterinary issues) be shared among jurisdictions.  This is to prevent an injured horse from being entered to race at another track without going through the required steps for veterinary clearance.  
Another Code change requires accredited tracks to ensure that at least one practicing veterinarian is available at the track during both racing and training hours.
The new Code will also require tracks to make Jockey Health Information Systems participation mandatory.  This assures that in the event of accident or injury, the relevant medical history and information will be readily available to the treating physician.  Given how frequently some jockeys travel, having this information in a common repository makes a lot of sense.  
Last but not least, to be accredited in 2011 and beyond, tracks will have to develop written procedures and protocols for human healthcare.  These will relate primarily to things like ambulance availability, first aid capabilities and overall emergency staffing during racing and training hours.  Horse safety is vital but so is human safety. 

It is axiomatic that the safety of horse and rider and the integrity of our sport are paramount concerns for all participants in racing.  The Alliance Code of Standards is the embodiment of these industry priorities.  Alliance accreditation is proof that an accredited track – and its regulators, jockeys, vets and horsemen - are each complying with the Alliance Code of Standards in all material respects.  But it doesn’t stop there.  

Accreditation is a process. It requires constant monitoring for current compliance with the Code of Standards, and it requires re-accreditation every two years to make sure that the latest safety and integrity upgrades have been implemented.  That’s why the Alliance Code of Standards must be constantly reviewed and revised.

With 19 tracks (accounting for about 70% of nationwide handle) now accredited, and as many as 8-10 new tracks seeking accreditation in 2011, the tide is turning in favor of safety and integrity.  Click here for a recent story in Daily Racing Form about pre-race inspections. Those who embrace Alliance accreditation and the discipline it imposes are changing the business for the better.  Those who don’t believe in accreditation are holding this business back.  What about your local track?  Is it accredited?  If not, ask management why not.  Ask them, “What do you have to lose?”… or perhaps even, “What is preventing you from seeking accreditation?”     

Finally, you may have noticed that we have included no specific changes to the Code related to the Life at Ten situation.  That’s because the issue is still under consideration by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.  If and when needed changes are identified and recommended by the Alliance Advisory Committee, the Alliance will not hesitate to implement those changes by further updating the Code.

Have you read the Life at Ten investigative materials issued by the KHRC?  What do you think of the changes to the Alliance Code?  Let me hear from you.


Leave a Comment:

Zen's Auntie

The changes looked to me like the way it easily could have and indeed should have been all along.  

In fact some made me say "really, its not that way already?" the resounding good sense of the proposals make them sound like terrific new ideas.

The problem I see here is that you cant teach common sense and it is as difficult to enforce and regulate common sense as it is moral character. Both seem to be at task here.

I am not a naysayer and I know the obvious must be stated and the process must be tried. The new code revisions of course, sound like improvement, but it makes you wonder why is the Code in need of this much seemingly obvious revision in 2011 what other glaring holes exist, and how much is lipservice?

17 Mar 2011 5:07 PM

Changing the rules does not mean an automatic enforcement of them.  If so, the Life At Ten debacle would hardly be mentioned.  I believe in what is being done to protect the animals and all associated, but far stricted penalties need to be meted out and ENFORCED.  As it stands now, Ms. Maggii Moss is calling her client JV, a "scapegoat" for the BC fiasco.  Scapegoat?  His admission of the mare's condition was heard by millions and serious enough to prompt TV producers to notify stewards.  Enough with the slap on the wrist- sronger penalties in terms of days and dollars MUST be adhered to if this system is to work.  As an aside, I wonder exactly what Ms. Moss would be saying if SHE were LAT's owner.

18 Mar 2011 1:03 PM

The next step, for the well being of the horses who come off the track to another career, will be for vets in their care to pass on the records to the new owner.  When that can happen, we can be assured that the game as been cleaned up.  

18 Mar 2011 5:06 PM
needler in Virginia

Well said, Auntie. I agree, and have been seeking these answers for years......only to be met with the old saws of "each state has its' own rules" or worse "there's no way we can require things like this". As "big" trainers seem to be paying lip service ONLY to rules, regulations and integrity, and not ALL tracks feel the need to be certified, it appears that racing continues to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Not only do the right noises need to be made, but also racing needs to grow some REALLY big teeth. One single HUGE gorilla is required.......and THAT I don't see happening............EVER. The excuse will be that "there's no way to get everyone to agree", and that's not possible. Nope, you need the gorilla to make the rules and then you just gotta follow 'em. That means you have to take the bitter pill, gut up and follow the rules whether you like 'em or NOT.

I hope for cheers and safe trips, but that hope gets dimmer all the time.

18 Mar 2011 9:43 PM

Good for you guys...maybe, just maybe...

The Life At Ten situation? They want us to forget about it...personally, I think it falls under RICO.

19 Mar 2011 8:00 AM

Uh...just another reason to throw out all the fractured, self-interests kangaroo court jurisdictions and have a NATIONAL entity to regulate the whole sport. It is unbelievable that no one thought to share vet lists. Incomprehensible, when you think about it...

19 Mar 2011 12:59 PM
old timer

Alex - I have an idea that could potentially help keep the many new, young fans who came to racing because of Rachel and Zen engaged in racing. NRTA essentially did nothing to promote them beyond the old guard of fans! How about organizing tours for next spring to see the Queens and their babies? And, maybe visit the Daddies too, and the horse park, to teach a little racing history. Some folks just don't have the resources to fly all over the country to see their favorites. Keep the tours reasonable. Several friends and I went to the Spa to see Rachel but we could never travel to see Zen. This is one small rural NYS area. How many others are there across the country who would love such a tour?

24 Mar 2011 3:17 PM

Recent Posts

More Blogs