Microchipping of horses to begin at Maryland tracks

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Dec. 4, 2018

All horses stabled at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course will be microchipped under a process that will begin after Jan. 1, 2019.

The move is similar to one that began in November at Parx Racing at the urging of Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association for identification, integrity and biosecurity purposes. MJC President Sal Sinatra said the New York Racing Association also is considering having all horses on the grounds of its racetrack microchipped.

The Jockey Club in 2016 began a voluntary foal microchipping program and made it mandatory in 2017. So 2-year-0lds that race in 2019 will have been chipped as part of registration protocol.

The California Horse Racing Board in 2017 proposed a requirement that all Thoroughbreds entered to race be microchipping. It went through the customary approval process and takes effect in late December, according to the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

“The game plan is if Parx, Maryland and New York do it, the majority of horses in the Mid-Atlantic region will be chipped,” Sinatra said.

Georganne Hale, Vice President of Racing Development for the MJC, said management has ordered 1,000 microchips from a company used by The Jockey Club and five scanners to read the chips. A veterinarian and the horse identifier will go barn to barn on dark days to chip horses.

There will be no cost to horsemen for the initial round of chipping, Hale said. A schedule for the barn-to-barn chipping will be set at a later date.

“It will help us with knowing which horses are coming in and out of the stable gate,” Hale said.

PTHA officials in late November provided the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission with an update of the microchipping project at Parx and said the process was going smoothly. At Parx, horsemen are notified on a Monday to prepare the necessary paperwork for chipping on a Friday.