Maryland stakeholders broaden injury review protocol

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 22, 2019

Maryland racing industry stakeholders are widening the scope of an Injury Review Board that will collect and analyze information on catastrophic breakdowns.

The plan was discussed Jan. 17 during a meeting of the Safety and Welfare Committee, which falls under the Maryland Racing Commission. Catastrophic injuries will be the focus, though any horse death could be subject to a review.

MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins said the commission has been collecting data on breakdowns for several years, but it would be beneficial to have a larger board regularly examine cases from all perspectives. “We’re expanding the current review process to more of a formal basis. This is effectively immediately,” he said.

Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Daniel, the MRC Equine Welfare and Medical Director and chief state veterinarian, will oversee the board’s activities as part of her duties. Daniel was officially named Equine Welfare and Medical Director in the fall of 2018.

Board representatives will include Hopkins; Dr. Kelly Walsh, a MRC veterinarian; Georganne Hale, Maryland Jockey Club Vice President of Racing Development; MJC racing secretary Chris Merz, David Hayden, a member of the MRC; Chris Bosley, the track superintendent; a representative of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen Association; a steward; and the trainer, jockey and veterinarian associated with the horse being examined.

“We support any group that tries to lessen catastrophic injuries,” MJC President Sal Sinatra said. “As we go forward, this can leave out some anecdotal things. Best practices can be employed through the work of this group.”

(Laurel Park photo by Tom LaMarra)