NYRA announces formation of Safety and Integrity Team

Posted: Feb. 20, 2020

The New York Racing Association Feb. 20 announced that longtime employees Juan Dominguez and Tim Kelly will serve new roles as NYRA Safety Stewards as part of a four-person Safety and Integrity Team dedicated to enhancing existing safety protocols at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

Dominguez and Kelly will complement a unit that includes current Safety Steward Hugh Gallagher and Jean Claude Jaramillo, NYRA’s Equine Investigator Specialist. The team will consult and advise stakeholders on matters relating to overall safety and integrity, including a focus on the health and welfare of equine athletes, jockeys and exercise riders.

The Safety and Integrity Team will specifically focus on maintaining and expanding best practices during morning training, afternoon racing, and in the barn areas at NYRA tracks in coordination with the New York State Gaming Commission.

“The addition of Juan and Tim will bolster and reinforce our commitment to safety and integrity as key members of a strong team,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. “Each of these four individuals bring a unique perspective and skill set to the job. This will allow us to have more boots on the ground and increase coverage at all three facilities to ensure a safer working environment, as well as further enhancing the integrity of the sport.”

Dominguez joined NYRA in 2000 and is in his fifth decade in racing overall in different capacities, including trainer, jockey agent, investigator and, since 2017, an alternate steward. A graduate of both SUNY Old Westbury, with a degree in marketing, and the New York State Police Academy’s investigative school, Dominguez has been entrusted with many important assignments during his NYRA tenure, with duties including a role as a coordinator and liaison between the security, racing, and administrative staffs, as well as overseeing safety issues on the backstretch, including management of NYRA’s retention barn, in addition to maintenance and facility concerns.

From 1991-2000, Dominguez’s work as a jockey agent helped develop relationships with riders, owners and trainers. In 2000, he transitioned to an investigator position while working as a New York State Peace Officer and served as lead investigator overseeing NYRA’s security barn and completed numerous investigations working with the FBI, New York State Police, Homeland Security, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, and the Thoroughbred Racing Protection Bureau.

Dominguez was also heavily involved in signature event days for the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, investigating and enforcing compliance at the Breeders’ Cup, Pegasus World Cup, Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.

Kelly has served as NYRA’s Clerk of Scales since 2005 before joining the Safety and Integrity Team. For the last 15 years, he oversaw all activity related to the jockeys’ room across all three NYRA tracks.

With more than 35 years of experience in the racing industry, Kelly earned a reputation as an accomplished trainer with 314 career wins to his credit from 1984-2001, including six graded stakes victories, among them Imbibe’s 1989 Peter Pan triumph.

Kelly joined the NYRA racing office as a Lasix coordinator in 2001 before moving on to roles as placing and patrol judge before starting as an alternate steward in 2007. He is a graduate of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program.

Sal Russo, who previously served as Assistant Clerk of Scales, has been promoted to Clerk of Scales.

Gallagher joined NYRA in April 2014 to fill the newly created position of Safety Steward, among the first of its kind in the country at the time. A longtime steward, Gallagher has officiated races in his home state of Maryland, as well as Illinois, New Jersey, Florida and other jurisdictions.

A former chairman of ROAP, Gallagher is a respected authority on racing safety and integrity. He has spoken at ROAP continuing education seminars and taught at the University of Louisville and delivered a Lead Presentation at the 2016 International Stewards Conference in Mumbai, India. He has served on the Board of Directors for ARCI, as well as a vice chair of the Model Rules Committee and is currently on the Equine Safety Board.

Jaramillo, who joined NYRA in 2011, is the Vice Chair of the Organization of Racing Investigators, which was established in 1991 to address issues within the pari-mutuel racing industry regarding integrity and overall health of the sport. As an Equine Investigator Specialist, Jaramillo probes alleged violations of house rules, laws and rules by licensed horsemen, vendors, employees and other NYSGC licensees and NYRA badge permit holders. His duties also extend to investigating alleged violations including, but not limited to, mistreatment, neglect of race horses, equine medication violations, and other improper activities.

The Safety and Integrity Team’s responsibilities, among others, include:

  • Monitoring and observing daily backside activities
  • Follow-up on leads which may involve the inappropriate or illegal use of medications, such as permitted and prohibited drugs which may affect racing performance
  • Make recommendations to the NYRA, New York State and Jockey Club Stewards to ensure the integrity of racing and compliance with horse racing laws and regulations
  • Conduct safety checks during training hours
  • Assisting stewards during formal hearings
  • Assisting NYRA investigators with the barn inspections on medication positives and with internal investigations
  • Monitoring training to ensure that exercise riders, outriders, and pony riders observe all rules
  • Help assure proper horse ambulance protocol for quick response during training and racing
  • Monitoring the horses leaving and entering the backside enclosure
  • Assisting NYRA Veterinarians with out-of-competition testing
  • Investigating selected horse fatalities