Ogden Mills Phipps:
Thank you, Laura. Matt Iuliano oversees the operation of our Registry and spearheads a variety of industry initiatives that The Jockey Club leads or supports. Today, he’s going to provide a brief recap of our Welfare and Safety Summit and unveil two new recommendations from the Thoroughbred Safety Committee. Matt?
Thank you. Good morning, everyone. The Jockey Club has a long-standing strategic objective to develop and implement plans for improving the health and safety of Thoroughbreds. To that end, we leverage our technology, our staff and our financial resources to bring together experts and incubate ideas into actions aimed at improving racing’s safety record.
I want to briefly describe two such incubators of ideas: The Thoroughbred Safety Committee, and the Grayson-Jockey Club Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit.
The Safety Committee is a standing committee of The Jockey Club that was created in 2008 to review every facet of equine health, including breeding practices, the rules of racing and track surfaces to recommend specific actions for improving the health and safety of Thoroughbreds.
Since its formation, the Safety Committee has issued 18 recommendations, touching all points of the horse from toe grabs and shoeing practices to medication reform and education. Last year, the committee issued recommendations including the formation of the nation’s first electronic treatment records database to improve the ability of racing’s regulators in managing the reporting process that’s currently done with pen and paper. We are hopeful the regulatory community will embrace and widely implement the database to unlock the powerful information this database will contain.
Another major objective was the creation of a grant fund to encourage more out-of-competition testing. The Jockey Club seeded the fund with $500,000 spanning a two year period. To date, only a few states and tracks have taken us up on this offer of unrestricted funding for enhanced testing out-of-competition.
Today I’m pleased to announce two more recommendations: one focusing on integrity, and the other on education. In 2001, the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) instituted a confidential, toll-free hotline to increase awareness of matters adversely affecting the integrity of Thoroughbred racing. The Thoroughbred Safety Committee calls for promotion of the hotline by all North American racing authorities, track security personnel and local law enforcement agents involved in the investigation of racing activities.
To further support this initiative, The Jockey Club is working with the Organization of Racing Investigators to develop a technology platform to facilitate secure and confidential sharing of information vital to investigations.
For several years, stakeholders have consistently called for improvement in horse handling and equine husbandry skills through education. Quite simply, horsemen should be subject to the same standards that doctors, lawyers and other professionals must do on a regular basis to maintain a license. The RCI passed a model rule in 2008 that required all trainers to obtain four hours of continuing education per year, but adoption has languished for a variety of reasons.
To assist the industry in this area, The Jockey Club is working with Remi Belloq and Dixie Hayes of the North American Racing Academy to provide educational content developed from the Summits and Thoroughbred Safety Committee to create a series of online educational courses.
These courses have been rebranded as Advanced Horsemanship and will be also available free of charge on the Grayson website. The website will include a tracking mechanism to ensure trainers receive full credit with the appropriate racing commissions upon completion.
In 2015, we’ll also work with officials in California to develop similar electronic content in support of CHRB’s Racing Safety Program. Today, the Thoroughbred Safety Committee calls for all North American racing authorities to immediately adopt the RCI model rule, which requires trainers to complete at least four hours of continuing education courses.
The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation’s Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit is another incubator that transforms ideas into actions. Launched as an industry think-tank in 2006 and with the support of the Keeneland team, the Summit convenes every other year for two days, bringing together stakeholders and subject matter experts who all share a common goal to enhance the welfare and safety of racehorses.
Some of the more notable accomplishments of the Summit include the first national database for recording injuries that have occurred during training and racing: The Equine Injury Database. It is now in use by 91 racetracks and the National Steeplechase Association.
The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, under the leadership of Dr. Mick Peterson, has provided pioneering insight into the surface characteristics of more than 80 different racing surfaces from around the world.
Thanks to the efforts of the Jockeys’ Guild, Keeneland Association, and the University of Kentucky, the Jockey Injury Database was developed, which is the first national database for recording injuries that occur to our riders.
And many more examples can be found on the Grayson website.
The fifth Summit concluded last month at Keeneland, where 121 participants attended in person, and another 2,652 logged into the webcast from 15 different countries. This represents remarkable growth from the inaugural meeting in 2006, when 49 were in attendance. This year’s Summit featured several examples of how racing is successfully using data derived from data tools that were built from previous Summits.
For example, we heard how New York, California, and Kentucky are using information from the Equine Injury Database to improve the quality of their prerace soundness inspections. More and more tracks are following Glen Kozak’s lead at NYRA and tailoring their track maintenance programs to provide data collected on specific surface materials, drainage characteristics and weather conditions.
Additionally, regulatory authorities are following the lead of Delaware and Massachusetts and mandating review committees to study racing and training injuries to facilitate knowledge transfer and identify horses that are at risk.
Today, we are proud to announce that in conjunction with Keeneland, who has supported the Summit from its inaugural meeting in 2006, we’ll convene the Summit annually, beginning next year. The volume of information available for study, combined with the importance of this information on safety and welfare, is simply too great to maintain the current biennial schedule.
In closing, we want to formally acknowledge and thank our industry colleagues, including the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance, for their assistance in incorporating the results and the recommendations from the Summit and Thoroughbred Safety Committee in the state regulations and track procedures. There have been more than 275 actions that the industry has taken to improve racing and safety records since 2006 alone. These would not have been possible without their support and collaboration. Please visit the timeline at horseracingreform.com for more details. Thank you.