The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced Wednesday that Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, has earned re-accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. The re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Churchill Downs received its initial Alliance accreditation in April 2009. All accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.
Churchill Downs is the second Alliance-accredited racetrack to earn a re-accreditation. Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, received re-accreditation from the Alliance last month.
The re-accreditation of Churchill Downs was the culmination of a lengthy certification process that began with the track's completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Churchill Downs hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. The on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility, with special attention paid to areas that were newly added to the Alliance's Code of Standards in 2010 and 2011.
Such areas containing new or more stringent requirements include wagering security, injury reporting, post-mortem veterinary inspections, jockey health and safety, paddock safety, aftercare/transitioning of retired racehorses and cross-jurisdictional sharing of vet's list data. Interviews were also conducted with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards and fans. The inspection team was comprised of Jennifer Durenberger, DVM; racing official Richard Lewis; Mike Kilpack of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators (ORI); and Mike Ziegler, executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
During the latest Alliance inspection of Churchill Downs, best practices were identified in areas including jockey health care and medical support; pre-race veterinary inspections; cross-jurisdictional sharing of veterinarian's list data; equine ambulance protocols and procedures; catastrophic injury planning and procedures; paddock safety; fire safety; TCO2 testing; and wagering security, including stop-wagering protocols.
"Churchill Downs was the first-ever accredited facility in 2009, and it is readily apparent that the management and staff at Churchill Downs regard the health and safety of the human and equine athletes competing as a top priority," Ziegler said.
"Churchill Downs is proud to be re-accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance and to be recognized for a number of industry-wide best practices," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. "Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our competitors and the integrity of our racing product."
Churchill Downs is one of 20 racing facilities to receive full accreditation. Others are Keeneland, Belmont Park, Delaware Park, Hollywood Park, Monmouth Park, Arlington Park, Saratoga, Calder, Turfway Park, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Oak Tree at Santa Anita/Santa Anita Park, Fair Grounds, Aqueduct, Golden Gate Fields, Woodbine, Pimlico, Canterbury Park, Sunland Park and, most recently, Finger Lakes.
The Alliance, formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen's organization. Alliance certification standards cover six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing and penalties; safety research; and wagering security.
Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at www.NTRAalliance.com.