The Thoroughbred Safety Coalition Steering Committee met in Florida to advance ongoing safety reform initiatives. Coming out of this meeting, the coalition made progress in developing a framework for reform implementation, approved new members and agreed on coalition team expansion.
The coalition is dedicated to furthering and adding to the reforms committed to in 2019, which serve as a necessary baseline that can be implemented in the near-term. Increasing medication withdrawal times, banning the use of bisphosphonates in horses that are training or racing, mandating daily reporting by practicing vets to regulatory officials and creating an electronic veterinary reporting system with a centralized database ensure that regulatory and official veterinarians are able to make informed decisions on whether a horse is fit to race and increase overall transparency.
Ensuring uniform standards across multiple jurisdictions requires detailed policy and rule language. To further this end, the coalition Steering Committee has begun outlining a formal process to evaluate and implement future reforms in the areas of medication, transparency, track surfaces and racing operations. Members are currently meeting with stakeholders and plan to announce additional reforms, including a country-wide standard for riding crop usage and increased medication restrictions, among others.
During the Steering Committee meeting, the group unanimously approved four new members: The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), Dixiana Farm, Mt. Brilliant Farm and Stonestreet Farms. Their membership expands the coalition's representation of the Thoroughbred racing community to include the veterinarians that oversee the care of equine athletes and some of the most prominent breeders in our sport. Their insights will contribute to a more holistic approach to ensuring the safety and welfare of our athletes as the coalition continues its outreach and recruitment efforts.
“As medical professionals who take an oath to care for the welfare of animals, we support the coalition's commitment to the safety of equine athletes,” said Dr. Kathleen Anderson, Past President of AAEP and longtime member of its racing committee. “We are proud to partner with the coalition to look for new and improved ways to strengthen safety measures, while advocating for increased implementation at tracks throughout the country.” Dr. Anderson, along with Dr. Stuart Brown, will serve as the coalition's AAEP liaisons.
“We are passionate about Thoroughbred horses and Thoroughbred racing. We care about and value the horses we raise and can think of no better effort to support their well-being than that of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition,” Bill Shively, Owner of Dixiana Farm.
“Mt. Brilliant Farm has a rich history steeped in Thoroughbred racing. Our passion for horses holds steady throughout the horse's lifetime, from infancy to training and racing to aftercare. We are proud to be a part of this coalition and the ongoing efforts to sustain the sport,” said Greg Goodman, Owner of Mt. Brilliant Farm.
“The Thoroughbred community is united in our devotion to the safety and welfare of our athletes. We are committed to advancing measures that are in the best interest of the horses and those involved in their care,” said Barbara Banke, Owner of Stonestreet Farms.
As the coalition continues to expand, the Steering Committee recognizes the need for dedicated leadership to help advance and guide the coalition's efforts. Current NBC commentator and Chief Operating Officer of Starlight Racing Donna Brothers has agreed to formally join the coalition's leadership team as Strategic Advisor. The former jockey will bring decades of rich experience in multiple facets of the industry to the coalition while continuing her roles at NBC and Starlight Racing.
“I grew up in thoroughbred horse racing and in a family that was indelibly drawn to the horses. Their love of and admiration for them was passed down to me. As a former jockey, I appreciate the sport's increased focus on safety for both horse and rider,” said Donna Brothers. “I'm honored to play a role in the coalition's efforts as we work together to make racing safer for all involved.”
The next Steering Committee meeting will be held in late February.
About the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition
The Thoroughbred Safety Coalition is an industry-led effort to advance safety measures in Thoroughbred racing. At the forefront of these reforms is the safety and well-being of our human and equine athletes. The coalition will serve as an advocate and trusted voice of horse racing as we work to address safety concerns, increase accountability and transparency, and adapt our sport to benefit all for generations to come. Coalition Steering Committee members include Breeders' Cup Limited, Churchill Downs Incorporated, Keeneland Association Inc., the New York Racing Association Inc., Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and The Stronach Group. To learn more about the coalition's efforts, visit thoroughbredsafetycoalition.com.
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