The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., has earned re-accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. The re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Keeneland received its initial Alliance accreditation in April 2009. All accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.

The re-accreditation of Keeneland was the culmination of a lengthy process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Keeneland hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. The on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility, with special attention paid to areas that were newly added to the Alliance’s Code of Standards in 2012 and 2013. Such areas containing new or more stringent requirements include the establishment of an injury review committee; starting-gate-removal protocols; recording and storage of racing surface data; regulatory veterinarian protocols and procedures; and post parade/starting gate scratch protocols. Interviews were also conducted with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards and fans. The inspection team was comprised of Ronald Jensen, DVM; racing official Richard Lewis; Mike Kilpack of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators (ORI); and Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.

During the latest Alliance inspection of Keeneland, best practices were identified in many areas including: Participation in the Equine Injury Database; Pre-race and post-race veterinary examination protocols of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) regulatory veterinarians; Veterinarians’ List protocols of the  KHRC regulatory veterinarians; Toe grab regulation and enforcement; Cushion crop regulation and enforcement; Safety vest regulation and enforcement; Starting gate padding and protocols for its manning and removal; Equine ambulance equipment and protocols; Participation in research programs geared toward the betterment of racing; Racing surface maintenance and data collection protocols; Protocols in place in case of catastrophic injury; Infectious disease management and prevention protocols; Fire safety preparedness; Paddock safety policies; Ensuring practicing veterinarians are on the grounds when horses are present; TC02 regulation and testing procedures; The KHRC out of competition testing program; Barn area security plan; Procedures in place to enact gate scratches of horses; Rider medical care and ambulance support; Mandatory participation in the Jockey Health Information System; Fund-raising for disabled riders and retired racehorses; Wagering security programs geared toward incident prevention and investigation; and, the track’s compliance program .

“It’s abundantly clear that Keeneland is committed to the health and safety of the human and equine athlete,” said Ziegler.  “I truly believe that safety is a top priority in this organization, as demonstrated by their efforts in all areas of the Alliance standards.”

“On behalf of Keeneland, we are very pleased to have earned re-accreditation from the Alliance, as we greatly support the NTRA’s efforts in this endeavor,” said Bill Thomason, President and CEO of Keeneland Association. “Keeneland is proud of our longtime commitment to incorporating the highest standards of safety and integrity at our facility.”

Keeneland is one of 24 racing facilities currently fully accredited by the Alliance. Others are Aqueduct Racetrack, Arlington Park, Belmont Park, Betfair Hollywood Park, Calder Casino and Race Course, Canterbury Park, Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Fairplex Park, Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Kentucky Downs, Monmouth Park, Pimlico Race Course, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Race Course, Suffolk Downs, Sunland Park, Turfway Park and Woodbine.

The Alliance, formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization. Alliance certification standards cover six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing and penalties; safety research; and wagering security. Within those six categories, specific standards focus on areas including:

  • Systematic reporting of equine injuries
  • Aftercare of racehorses
  • Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations
  • Post-mortem examinations
  • Health and safety of jockeys
  • Riding crops and their use
  • Horse shoes and hoof care
  • Safety research
  • Safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers
  • Exogenous Anabolic Steroids
  • Alkalinizing agents (TCO2)
  • On-track emergency medical care for humans and equines
  • Out-of-competition testing
  • Freezing and retrospective testing of post-race samples
  • Continuing education
  • Security assessment and training
  • Totalizator technology and “stop wagering” protocols
  • Wagering incident investigation

The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance is a standing organization whose purpose is to establish standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Corporate partners of the Alliance include Pfizer Animal Health, FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at