As horseracing dashes toward the year-end drama of the Breeders' Cup Championship Series at Keeneland Race Track, there are truly significant developments for the future of Thoroughbred racing happening quietly right in Lexington, Kentucky. Founded in November 2019, the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition has extended its list of prospective guidelines intended to promote equine safety in training and racing.
The coalition is comprised of many major Thoroughbred racing interests. These include the Breeders' Cup, Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Del Mar, the New York Racing Associations, and The Stronach Group. The goal of this coalition is to foster common Thoroughbred training and racing practices across the nation. This is in light of the reality that racing in each of the 38 states where it occurs is controlled by state racing commissions. While the commission cannot regulate the industry nationally, it can set policies and guidelines that may become industry defaults.
One of the earlier major steps taken by the coalition was the institution of the "Accountability" tab on its website. This page is designed, among other things, to list the actions of individual tracks and organizations toward enhancing the safety of Thoroughbred training and race. The page went live in May 2020 and continues to post safety developments at tracks.
The most recent advances proposed by the coalition came about on October 22, when an additional series of suggested guidelines were presented. These proposed changes touch upon a wide variety of racing and training practices. Among the eight suggested changes are certain veterinarian and training practices, including strengthening requirements to remove horses from Veterinarian's list, creating a waiver system for horses coming off long layoffs, banning external treatments of horses within a day of a race, and banning the chemical clenbuterol.
Concerning tracks, the coalition has recommended establishing a track early warning system, modifying horse entrances to the tracks, and strengthening racing eligibility requirements. The coalition also recommends working with state commissions regarding prohibited and therapeutic substances.
All of the TSC coalition members except Churchill Downs have expressed support for the Horseracing Integrity Act. The act contains new federally mandated laws that would regulate drug testing and anti-doping in horseracing across the nation. At this point, state laws regulate these practices, and they are enforced by state racing commissions.
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