The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that Kentucky Downs has earned re-accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. The all-turf European-style racecourse in Franklin, Ky., concluded a record-breaking 21st season Wednesday, setting new marks in all-sources handle and purse distribution.

Kentucky Downs’ re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Kentucky Downs received its initial Alliance accreditation in 2011. All accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.

During the latest Alliance inspection of Kentucky Downs, best practices were identified in virtually every primary area of focus for the Alliance.

“Kentucky Downs received exemplary marks upon the track’s first review in 2011 and has successfully maintained very high standards since then,” said Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.

In the area of injury reporting and prevention, best practices identified included pre-race veterinary examinations and post-mortem veterinary examinations.

In areas intended to create a safer racing environment, best practices cited included starting gate padding and protocols for gate manning and removal; and regulatory veterinary practices and procedures.

Regarding the health and safety of jockeys, best practices recognized included jockey disability support.

In the area of equine drug testing and penalties, best practices identified included exogenous anabolic steroids regulation and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium accreditation of the track’s official testing laboratory, HFL Sports Science in Lexington, Ky.

“Earning our re-accreditation is the perfect cap to an outstanding season,” said track president Corey Johnsen. “The safety of our racing participants drives virtually every decision we make at Kentucky Downs. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on turf course maintenance and other improvements. This re-accreditation affirms that the resources we invested will protect the well-being of human and equine athletes.”

The re-accreditation of Kentucky Downs was the culmination of a lengthy process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued through 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 Ron Jensen, DVM, former equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board; Jim Gates, consultant and former general manager of Churchill Downs; Mike Kilpack, security and integrity consultant and past chairman of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators (ORI); and Ziegler.

Kentucky Downs 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, Keeneland, Laurel Park, 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