Thoroughbred Safety Committee issues 2020 recommendations

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: May 12, 2020

The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee May 12 announced three recommendations regarding the health, welfare, and safety of racehorses.

The Jockey Club said the recommendations stemmed from a meeting of the committee March 17. This year’s recommendations are:

  • Increased self-reporting statistics from the Equine Injury Database
  • A mandatory stand-down period for horses in the care of trainers determined to be in possession of or intending to administer illegal substances to racehorses
  • A ban on the presence of clenbuterol in Thoroughbred racehorses and Thoroughbreds consigned for public auction

Regarding the EID, which first published statistics in 2009, the TSC said it urges “all racetracks to provide greater transparency of EID statistics by publishing, at a minimum, the standard reports summarizing racing fatality by surface, distance, age, type of race and condition of the racing surface. Furthermore, The Jockey Club, through its wholly owned subsidiary InCompass Solutions Inc., will create additional statistical summaries in the suite of EID reports to include racing fatality by other criteria such as level of purse, frequency of start, and days between starts to further assist racetracks in identifying horses potentially at risk of injury based upon historical trends.

“The Thoroughbred Safety Committee believes that enhanced transparency into risk factors helps foster a culture of accountability and strategic action that ultimately results in fewer injuries.”

The TSC indicated the mandatory stand-down recommendation would prohibit a horse from racing for six months.

“Subject to procedures for making such determinations, any affected Thoroughbred in the care or custody of a trainer or other person determined to be in possession of or evidencing the intent to administer any drug or substance that has not been approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration or considered by the Association of Racing Commissioners International as a Penalty Category ‘A’ substance shall not be allowed to race for a minimum of 180 days,” the TSC said. “These horses should be subject to frequent veterinary and regulatory oversight during the period of suspension.

“Such Thoroughbreds shall be allowed to return to racing only after the horse demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the official veterinarian or the racing veterinarian, that it is sound and in fit physical condition to exert its best effort in a race by performing satisfactorily in a workout after the 180-day stand-down period has expired. Additionally, a blood, urine, and/or other biological test sample taken after such workout shall be free of all prohibited substances before the horse will be allowed to return to racing.”

The current ARCI Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule lists clenbuterol, a bronchodilator, with a recommended withdrawal guideline of 14 days. The American Quarter Horse Association banned use of clenbuterol and albuterol in racing and showing five years ago.

“All Thoroughbred racing regulatory authorities and sales companies immediately adopt regulations or conditions of sales banning the use of clenbuterol in Thoroughbred racehorses and Thoroughbreds consigned for public auction,” the TSC said. “Horses found to have the presence of clenbuterol in blood, urine, or hair samples should not be permitted to race or be sold at public auction for a minimum of 180 days upon confirmation of the finding. Only Thoroughbreds that are free from the presence of clenbuterol in blood, urine, and hair samples should be allowed to race or to sell at public auction.”

“As with most of the world, our industry is facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is also facing challenges from within,” Craig Fravel, Chairman of the TSC and Chief Executive Officer of Racing Operations for The Stronach Group, said in a release. “At this critical time, it is more important than ever that we ensure our industry is taking the best care of its horses and holding stakeholders accountable for their actions.”

Further information on the 2020 recommendations is available here.