Top US horse tracks move toward national standards

Top US horse tracks move toward national standards

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WAVE) - Owners of some of the top tracks in the country are banding together to make horse racing safer.

Founding members of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition are: Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Breeders’ Cup, the New York Racing Association, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and The Stronach Group.

Collectively, the founders own 17 facilities in 7 states including the Triple Crown venues of Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont.

According to a press release, the group represents “more than 85% of graded stakes racing in America.”

“Thoroughbred racing is steeped in tradition,” Drew Fleming, Breeders’ Cup Limited President and CEO said, “and we want the sport to live on for generations to come, and that is only possible with all of us working together to ensure that the safety and well-being of our athletes is our top priority.”

At a Lexington press conference Tuesday, representatives said they are committing to uniform standards for safety, medication and operations.

They also emphasize integrity and transparency.

“We're going to make sure that we can do everything we can to consolidate and coordinate all of those efforts to provide those implementable things that are going to have an immediate impact with what we need to do to earn that trust of the public that's so necessary for all of us right now,” Bill Thomason, Keeneland President and CEO said.

This comes after a year when 36 horses died from injuries at California's Santa Anita race track.

That led to intense scrutiny on all tracks, including concerns about deaths at Keeneland and Churchill Downs.

On Monday, California Senator Diane Feinstein signed on as a co-sponsor of the Horseracing Integrity Act.

That legislation would create an independent national board to oversee horse racing medical standards.

The industry however wants to prove it can regulate itself.

“This is not just a commitment on paper,” Churchill Downs racetrack President Kevin Flanery said. “These are real reforms that can be and will be implemented. We have an obligation to ensure that we hold one another accountable. And if any of our coalition members are violating these rules, that be bring them into conformance. We have an obligation to insure that thoroughbred racing is safe for everyone who participates.”

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