News Releases

Tuesday, June 17, 2008Contact: Bob Curran Jr. (212) 521-5326
TSC Calls for Elimination of Steroids, a Ban on Toe Grabs,
and Changes for Whip Usage

The Thoroughbred Safety Committee, with endorsements and pledged cooperation from many prominent national organizations in the Thoroughbred industry, today announced that it is recommending the elimination of steroids in race training and racing, a ban on toe grabs, and a series of whip-related reforms, all aimed at improving safety and integrity in Thoroughbred racing.

These are just the first recommendations emanating from the committee, which was formed and announced by The Jockey Club on May 8.

The committee has scheduled additional meetings over the next 60 days to investigate and discuss additional recommendations on other critical issues, including the use of therapeutic medications, illegal drugs and prohibited practices; substantially increased penalties, including lifetime suspensions, for major rule violations; best practices and accreditation standards for drug testing laboratories; more research on the safety factors associated with all racing surfaces — dirt, synthetic and turf; and breeding and training of Thoroughbreds.

The committee will present an update on its activities and additional findings and recommendations at The Jockey Club’s 56th annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing on Sunday, August 17, 2008, at the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

“Steroids, toe grabs and whip issues were all first identified at our Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summits,” said Stuart S. Janney III, chairman of the Thoroughbred Safety Committee. “After closely examining each of them in detail and talking to many individuals with expertise in each area over the past several weeks, we feel strongly that these recommendations and actions will enhance the health and safety of both our equine and human athletes and further ensure the integrity of our sport. Numerous industry organizations have already expressed strong support for these recommendations, and we look forward to collaborating with them to get these changes implemented.”

Copies of the entire text of all three recommendations are attached (as are statements of support from industry organizations), but here are some of the highlights.

In regard to steroids, the committee calls for:

  • The immediate adoption by all North American racing authorities of the RCI Model Rule on Androgenic Anabolic Steroids that was based on Racing Medication and Testing Consortium recommendations, which effectively eliminate the use of all anabolic steroids in the race training and racing of Thoroughbreds.
  • All North American racing authorities to implement the model rule no later than December 31, 2008.

In regard to shoes and hoof care, the committee calls for:

  • An immediate ban on toe grabs other than 2-millimeter wear plates, turn downs, jar caulks, stickers and any other traction devices worn on the front shoes of Thoroughbred horses while racing or training on all racing surfaces.
  • The Association of Racing Commissioners’ International (RCI) and all North American racing authorities to implement this ban by rule as soon as possible, but no later than December 31, 2008, and for all racetracks to consider immediately implementing this ban by “house rule” in the interim.

In regard to use of the whip or riding crop, the committee recommends that:

  • Only riding crops approved by the RCI Model Rules Committee, in consultation with the Jockeys’ Guild, be allowed in flat racing.
  • Several specifications and new rules be initiated, including one regarding mandatory shock-absorbing characteristics, as well as the prohibition of striking a horse with the arm [raised] above shoulder height.
  • Horses be subject to an inspection after each race by a regulatory or track veterinarian who will report his or her findings to the stewards.
  • The Association of Racing Commissioners’ International (RCI) and all North American racing authorities adopt these amendments to the RCI Model Rule on “use of the whip” as soon as possible, but no later than December 31, 2008.

In addition to Janney, the Thoroughbred Safety Committee includes John Barr, James G. (Jimmy) Bell, Dr. Larry Bramlage, Donald R. Dizney, Dell Hancock and Dr. Hiram C. Polk Jr. Each is a member of The Jockey Club.

The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. The Jockey Club fulfills that longstanding commitment by serving the industry through its family of companies and by providing support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives.

Recommendations 6/17/08

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