Summit attendees address racehorse welfare, safety issues

Summit attendees address racehorse welfare, safety issues

Apr 01, 2008
By staff

Lexington, Ky. — The Thoroughbred racing industry will look for ways to attract and retain more regulatory veterinarians, improve track surfaces to reduce injuries and develop a research and development plan for drug testing.

Those were among several objectives adopted at the second Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit March 17 and 18 at the Keeneland Association facilities in Lexington.

The complete list of objectives aims to address seven key issues impacting the health of horses and the careers of Thoroughbred racehorses.

The meeting of 62 members of the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry was sponsored by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the Jockey Club. Panelists provided updates on strategic plans and actions that arose during the first summit in October 2006.

Attendees identified these seven points of concern:

Track surfaces, marketing of the racing product, catastrophic injuries, medication and laboratories, industry education, welfare of the Thoroughbred and implementation and regulation.

To deal with those issues, the group agreed to pursue these objectives:

  • Coordinate all research on equine injuries and/or fatalities on all racing surfaces in all jurisdictions and publicize the results
  • Create a program with incentives to attract and keep regulatory veterinarians
  • Create a national media strategy focusing on industry health and safety
  • Create a research and development model for all racing surfaces
  • Continue to support research to improve the design and use of racetrack maintenance equipment
  • Establish a central laboratory for timely analysis of track-surface materials for better monitoring of track stability and to provide a ready resource for track superintendents
  • Establish uniform reporting of daily maintenance of racetrack surfaces
  • Promote the establishment of necropsy programs in all jurisdictions and support the training of qualified observers
  • Promote the standardization of pre-race exam protocols
  • Coordinate a blue-ribbon panel on equine racing fatalities
  • Analyze the drug-testing infrastructure to identify cost efficiencies
  • Develop a research and development program for drug testing
  • Establish national equestrian drug-testing laboratory standards and accreditation protocols, including a research and development program
  • Establish uniform regulation of medication use in sales horses
  • Expand the Groom Elite program on a national basis to provide training, certification and continuing education for all backstretch workers responsible for the care and welfare of racehorses.

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation allocated nearly $1.3 million to underwrite 24 research projects this year, including 14 new projects and the continuation of 10 two-year projects started in 2007. The research involves Thoroughbreds and all other breeds and uses of horses.