Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Ky., re-emphasized its annual enhanced security measures for horses competing in the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade 1) and ongoing safety and integrity measures included in its “Safety from Start to Finish” program.
In addition to all other applicable state laws and track policies, Churchill Downs Racetrack and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (“KHRC”) have teamed to mandate the following protocols for horses competing in the Kentucky Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks:
EQUINE SAFETY & WELFARE
Churchill Downs and 14 KHRC veterinarians will closely monitor and observe Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants before, during and after training and in their stalls beginning on Monday, April 26;
A Churchill Downs and KHRC veterinarian will be present trackside at all times when horses have access to the track;
Prerace exams will be performed by KHRC veterinarians starting at 6 a.m. ET on race day. In-stall exams include a general health evaluation and palpation and flexion of the horse’s legs. Veterinarians will also observe horses out of their stalls, at a trot, to further assess soundness and fitness to race;
A team of eight KHRC veterinarians will be positioned around the racetrack should there be a need for an immediate response. Additionally, three KHRC veterinarians will be in the paddock when horses are saddled for the Kentucky Derby (two for all other races);
Three state-of-the-art Kimzey Equine Ambulances will be at Churchill Downs on race day, positioned at the one-mile chute, quarter pole and the backstretch for immediate response; and
A board-certified veterinary surgeon and veterinary anesthesiologist will be present should there be a need for immediate critical care response. Additionally, the Equine Medical Center will serve as a triage facility, with x-ray equipment for patient evaluation.
JOCKEY SAFETY & WELFARE
Immediate online access to jockey medical histories for emergency medical personnel;
Injured jockeys that require external medical evaluation will be transported by ambulance to the designated hospital directly from the incident; there will be no ambulance transfers. Also, there will be Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians (“EMTs”), nurses and doctors dedicated to jockey care; and
Formalized concussion policies which includes more thorough jockey education, baseline concussion testing, onsite evaluation after a fall and additional return-to-ride requirements.
Horses participating in the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby shall be on the grounds no later than 11 a.m. ET on Monday, April 26, and Tuesday, April 27, respectively – more than 100 hours before each race – and shall remain on the grounds until after the running of the race, pending an unforeseeable emergency;
Kentucky Derby participants will have 24-hour barn security by Jefferson County Sheriffs starting at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, April 27, through 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 1;
Horses shall stay in their assigned barns and stalls on the grounds, which will be monitored at all times by Jefferson County Sheriffs and additional security personnel;
Entry-exit logs will be maintained by security personnel starting at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, April 27, for all Kentucky Derby horses. All persons – including grooms, veterinarians, trainers, assistant trainers, farriers, owners or other connections – must have a valid KHRC license before permission is granted to enter a stall, engage in contact with the horse or perform any service for the horse. Such persons will be logged in by security personnel with the reason for their visit;
All equipment, feed, hay bales, etc., are subject to search and seizure, as provided by law, by both Churchill Downs Racetrack and the KHRC;
Horses participating in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks will be escorted by security personnel to the paddock. When schooling, they will receive priority for paddock schooling;
Horse identification will be performed by two Churchill Downs Racetrack horse identifiers at the barn on Thursday, April 29, and again on race day in the saddling paddock; and
All jockeys will be subjected to magnetic wand scans prior to the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and other random races.
The KHRC has conducted out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, as well as undercard graded stakes, before entries are taken and will send them to Industrial Laboratories in Wheat Ridge, Colo., for immediate testing. Other jurisdictions, including Arkansas, California, Florida, Maryland and New York, obtained out of competition samples on behalf of the KHRC from horses that are not stabled in Kentucky;
Daily veterinarian’s record of all medications and treatments given to any horse on the grounds must be submitted to the KHRC Chief Veterinarian within 24 hours of administration;
All practicing veterinarians of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses will be identified by KHRC no later than 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 25;
Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians. Materials used for medication administrations may be retained by the KHRC for possible testing;
Veterinarians will not be permitted in the stalls of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants within 24 hours of the race unless accompanied by a KHRC investigator;
No medications are permitted within 24 hours of the race. In the event of a medical emergency, the Stewards will authorize treatment and the horse will be scratched; and
Five teams of KHRC veterinarians will collect blood samples for TCO2 (a.k.a. “milkshake”) and testing 30 minutes prior to the horses’ scheduled departure for the paddock.
A total of 33 Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (“EMTs”), 11 nurses and four doctors will be onsite;
There will be five First Aid Stations located around the facility: Executive Gate, first-floor Clubhouse, Jockey Club Suites, Finish Line Suites and Infield;
A minimum of 14 ambulances (an EMT and paramedic in each ambulance) will be onsite. Several others will be on standby within the area for immediate response if necessary; and
More than 30 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and public safety partners will be onsite to further the level of security for all patrons in attendance.
The aforementioned measures coincide with Churchill Downs Racetrack’s “Safety from Start to Finish” program that was launched by Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) in March 2009 to formalize its comprehensive approach to continually improve the safety of the horses and human beings who work, train and compete at all CDI racing venues.
Key features of the “Safety from Start to Finish” program at Churchill Downs Racetrack include:
Independent, standardized third-party engineering analysis, testing and monitoring of track surfaces;
Postrace drug testing performed by a Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (“RMTC”) accredited laboratory; each sample is analyzed for more than 1,500 substances;
The banning of anabolic steroids;
The prohibition of “milkshaking,” which results in excessive levels of total carbon dioxide in Thoroughbred racehorses;
Prohibiting the transport of horses from CDI facilities for slaughter;
Permanent revocation of stall and competition privileges for any owner or trainer who sells a horse for slaughter stabled at a CDI track;
Revocation of stall and competition privileges for any owner or trainer convicted of animal abuse;
The banning of unsafe horseshoes, including front shoe toe grabs longer than two millimeters;
The use of low-impact riding crop with restricted usage rules;
The presence of on-site medical personnel, equipment, and state-of-the-art equine ambulances;
Immediate online access to jockey medical histories for emergency medical personnel;
$1 million in catastrophic injury insurance coverage per accident for jockeys paid for by CDI;
Mandatory and uniform reporting of equine injuries to The Jockey Club’s national Equine Injury Database System, thereby assisting in the compilation of comprehensive data and facilitating statistical analysis to improve safety around the country;
Professionally designed and installed safety rails on the inside of the dirt and turf course;
Mandatory usage by all jockeys, exercise riders, assistant starters and other on-track personnel of safety vests and safety helmets that meet internationally acknowledged quality standards;
3/8-inch foam padding on all parts of the starting gates;
Inspection of all horses by regulatory veterinarians prior to and following all races;
Review of security procedures around the barns and other racetrack backstretch areas;
Protocols for the treatment of horses that have been injured during racing or training, to ensure the most humane treatment possible;
Encouraging anyone that suspects any wrongdoing or witnesses improper conduct at all CDI tracks to speak up immediately via the independent and national office of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau’s Integrity hotline at (410) 398-3647 or firstname.lastname@example.org; and
Certification by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Safety & Integrity Alliance program of all CDI tracks.
There have been several equine safety initiatives that have been implemented at Churchill Downs within the last two years. Below are the changes and how they affect horsemen:
DR. FARMER HIRED AS EQUINE MEDICAL DIRECTOR: Announced in November 2019, Dr. William E. Farmer DVM oversees equine safety and care at all CDI racetracks. Previously, he served as official veterinarian for the California Horse Racing Board and out-of-competition coordinator and consulting veterinarian for Breeders’ Cup Ltd. He is charged with development, implementation of and ensured enforcement of equine health and safety policies for CDI.
INVESTMENT IN STATE-OF-THE-ART EQUINE MEDICAL CENTER: An Equine Medical Center and Quarantine Facility (three new isolated barns) opened in 2020 following an $8 million investment. The Equine Medical Center can be used for every-day equine therapeutic purposes as well as immediate and advanced onsite care in the event of injury. The Quarantine Facility permits horses from other countries to fly direct to Kentucky and eliminate long, taxing van rides when racing at Kentucky venues. It also provides a world-class facility for isolating, monitoring and treating horses who may suffer from contagious equine diseases.
COMMITMENT TO INDUSTRY RESEARCH: Churchill Downs Incorporated committed $100,000 of additional financial support to fund key scientific research projects geared toward improving the safety and welfare of race horses, particularly with respect to improving treatment options for joint and leg injuries.
PASSAGE OF HORSERACING INTEGRITY AND SAFETY ACT: Churchill Downs Incorporated worked with other industry leaders to pass the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate in December 2020 and signed into law. The bill calls for a phase-in period, and effective July 1, 2022, the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority will be in place and responsible for developing and implementing a horseracing anti-doping and medication program along with a racetrack safety program for covered horses.
ADVOCATED FOR ADDITIONAL EQUINE MEDICATION REFORMS: Churchill Downs advocated with applicable regulatory authorities for increased withdrawal times for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cortico-steroids so that horses can be more adequately evaluated during pre-race veterinary examinations. CDI also continued its strong financial support and advocacy for high quality drug testing as well as the mission of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium to extend its accreditation program to measure not only the capabilities of testing labs but to also verify what testing is being performed.
HORSEMEN-VETERINARIAN AGREEMENT: This must be signed by the trainer and veterinarian and submitted to the Stable Office upon arrival. This agreement will cover all CDI properties and will be in effect until the end of the Turfway Park 2022 meet.
MEDICATION-RESTRICTED RACES: Pursuant to KHRC regulation 810 KAR 8:050 all 2-year-old races and stakes races will be conducted Lasix-free.— 810 KAR 8:050 SECTION 6: (A): A two (2) year old or stakes horse shall not be administered any drug, medication or other substance, including furosemide, with twenty-four (24) hours of the post time of the race in which the horse is entered. Participation by the horse shall not affect the status of the participating horse on the official authorized bleeder medication list. (B): The implementation and enforcement of the prohibition in paragraph (A) of this subsection shall begin on 1): Jan. 1, 2020, for all two (2) year olds; and 2) Jan. 1, 2021, for all horses entered to run in a stakes race, including the races comprising the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and the races designated as graded stakes races by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
SHOCKWAVE THERAPY TREATMENTS: Effective with the opening of the Churchill Downs Racetrack backstretch for the 2021 year, all prescribed shockwave treatments for horses stabled at Churchill Downs Racetrack MUST be administered at the Equine Medical Center. Practicing veterinarians will have access to the Equine Medical Center daily from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. All treatments must be recorded on the Shockwave Treatment Log located at the Equine Medical Center along with a veterinarian’s report submitted to the KHRC. Trainers violating this rule are subject to revocation of their stall privileges.
PRE-ENTRY EXAM: Pursuant to KHRC regulation, all horses must have an exam performed by a trainer’s veterinarian within the three (3) days preceding a race entry. This exam is to be documented by the trainer’s veterinarian and he/she will include their findings on their daily treatment records submitted to the KHRC.
PRE-WORK EXAM: All horses stabled at Churchill Downs Racetrack or Trackside must have an exam performed by a trainer’s veterinarian within the five (5) days preceding a timed workout, per Horsemen-Veterinarian Agreement. This exam is to be documented by a trainer’s veterinarian and turned in to both KHRC and CD Equine Medical Director.
IN-TODAY SIGNAGE: All horses entered to race must be clearly identified starting at 7:30 a.m. on race day with an “In-Today” sign. Trainers should hang these signs on the stall door or adjacent to the stall. This is separate from the KHRC Lasix tag hung following Lasix administration. Extra signs are available in the Stable Office.
ENTRY RESTRICTIONS: All first time starters 4-years-old and older or 3-years old and older with no race within 365 days are required to have an exam and published five furlong work in 1:03 or faster approved by the CDI Equine Medical Director PRIOR to entry. In addition, horses that have not raced within 120 days but less than 365 days must notify the CDI Equine Medical Director PRIOR to entry to schedule an exam.
WAIVER CLAIMING RULE: Allows a trainer to enter a claiming race, but be ineligible to be claimed providing the horse has been laid off and has not started for a minimum of 180 days since its last race, and the horse is entered for a claiming price equal to or greater than the price at which it last started.
CDI tracks continue to work with Dr. Mick Peterson, the director of the Ag Equine Programs at the University of Kentucky’s department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering who is widely considered the world’s foremost racing surfaces researcher, to routinely conduct engineering analyses and tests of their respective racing surfaces for safety and consistency. CDI has worked with Dr. Peterson to evaluate its racing surfaces since formally launching the “Safety from Start to Finish” program in 2009.
Through the “Safety from Start to Finish” program, CDI, its employees and its horsemen raise money and awareness for Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which accredits and funds aftercare programs that help care for and find new homes and careers for retired racehorses.
Churchill Downs Media Office