(Editor's Note: The following message from Frank Stronach was distributed by the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park, and Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies, and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; XpressBet, an internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horse racing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horse racing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network.)
The Stronach Group has always been committed to ensuring that our horse racing businesses operate with integrity and concern for the health and safety of the horses and the people who work with them. Now, more than ever, we as track operators, horsemen and regulators must come together to do everything we can to prevent any abuse of our thoroughbred athletes. We must also work diligently to ban any individuals engaged in fraudulent or harmful activities from participating in our sport. The goal of these efforts is to achieve the highest standards with respect to the integrity of our sport and the safety of our athletes, both equine and human.
The Stronach Group is supportive of all initiatives that help achieve the goal of horses competing free from the influence of medication. We therefore fully support the horse racing industry's first ever National Uniform Medication Program. The Program seeks to limit the number of therapeutic medications that are needed for the routine treatment of horses and sets medication thresholds and withdrawal time guidelines. The Program also provides penalty recommendations that specifically address repeat medication offenders. In order to be effective, these reforms must be adopted and implemented by all racing states no later than September 1st, 2014. If this deadline is not met, The Stronach Group will work together with other concerned industry stakeholders to begin aggressively lobbying for federal legislation containing the same reforms outlined in the proposed National Uniform Medication Program.
In addition to supporting the key principles of the National Uniform Medication Program, The Stronach Group is committed to implementing the following measures at all of our racetracks aimed at eliminating drug abuse and the mistreatment of horses:
–Creating a strictly regulated pharmacy to dispense all medications prescribed and administered on association property.
–Prohibiting anyone from having any medications in their possession unless those medications have been properly prescribed for a therapeutic treatment program.
–Instituting random spot checks of veterinarians and all personnel that have access to the horse.
–Automatic drug testing for all horses that ship-in to race.
–Establishing a program of random drug testing that can be administered at any time for all horses.
–Banning individuals found guilty of animal abuse from competing.
–Having the right to request all veterinarian records and have them examined by an independent team of veterinarians.
–Creating a shared database of all racing and training fatalities.
–Prohibiting the use of buzzers or other devices designed to manipulate or abuse horses.
–Providing horse ambulances and stalls fitted with special equipment to ensure the safe and humane movement of an injured horse in order to provide immediate care with the ultimate goal of rehabilitation.
We at The Stronach Group are committed to undertaking all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the horses and jockeys; I hope that these proposals will be endorsed by owners, trainers and veterinarians. To assist with the implementation of these proposals, we will immediately begin searching for an Equine Health and Safety Director who will report to a newly established Equine Health and Safety Board. The members of this new board will include owners, trainers, and veterinarians.
We owe it to the horses and the public, as well as to all of the hard-working and honest horsemen in our industry to implement these measures. As racetrack owners, we must continuously implement procedures that will enhance the integrity of this great sport, and look forward to working with all industry stakeholders to help fine-tune these proposals in order to bring about much-needed reform.
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