TRPB provides update on digital tattoo program

Posted: Oct. 3, 2019

The Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau said it has conducted technician training in 25 states and five Canadian provinces, and that more than 900 Thoroughbreds have received digital tattoos, in advance of a new system scheduled for full implantation Jan. 1, 2020.

“Effective Jan 1, 2020, all Thoroughbred horses that have not previously been TRPB lip-tattooed must have a digital tattoo for race-day identification,” said J. Curtis Linnell, executive vice president of the TRPB. “This digital tattoo indicates that the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau has confirmed the identity of the horse and uploaded updated digital photographs to the breed registry database at The Jockey Club.” \

The TRPB provides authentication of identity for every Thoroughbred racing jurisdiction in the United States and Canada. The transition to the TRPB digital tattoo was preceded by a requirement by The Jockey Club which calls for any Thoroughbred foaled in 2017 or after to be microchipped prior to being registered.

In essence, the digital tattoo is an electronic validation of the identity of a horse performed by a TRPB technician. The technician uses a scanner to read the horse’s microchip and that microchip number hyperlinks to electronic registration information consisting of high-resolution digital photos of the horse and its markings.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International passed a model rule regarding digital tattoos. The model rule states, effective Jan. 1, 2020, the racing secretary shall ensure that the registration certificates for all Thoroughbred horses that were foaled in 2017 or thereafter have a digital tattoo prior to entry in a race.

“With racing commissions, we want to make sure that they have rules in place that specifically reference the digital tattoo for identification to avoid scratching horses from a race come Jan. 1,” Linnell said. “As for racing associations, we are encouraging all of them to make sure racing office personnel understand the digital tattoo certification and are planning and preparing to incorporate digital tattoos for horse identification.”

Linnell said the current practice of branding horses on the inside lip will be discontinued at the end of 2019. He also said the new system has received encouraging responses when TRPB personnel and TRPB technicians have met with racing officials, regulators, horse identification employees and other industry officials over the course of the past two years.

“For the most part, they seem excited about digital tattoos,” Linnell said. “They realize it will provide a more efficient and effective system of identification.”

The technician training has been held in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. The training has also been conducted in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

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