NEW YORK CITY (Friday, July 11, 2014) – Los Alamitos, now running its first Thoroughbred meet in 23 years, has earned accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today. The current eight-day meet that ends Sunday is one of three stands for Thoroughbred racing at the Los Angeles-area track this year, along with the Los Angeles County Fair, Sept. 4-23, and the Winter Meet, Dec. 4-21. By assuming some of the racing dates abandoned by Hollywood Park and Fairplex, the Los Alamitos Racing Association has helped to maintain a year-round circuit for Thoroughbreds in Southern California.
In anticipation of its re-entry to the Thoroughbred game, Los Alamitos invested about $5 million in improvements, including an expansion of the main track to one mile. High-definition monitors line the facility and 200 additional stalls are forthcoming.
“Los Alamitos has made safety a priority for all horses competing here – Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse,” said Brad McKinzie, Vice President and General Manager of the Los Alamitos Racing Association. “We are appreciative of this designation that underscores that commitment.”
Leading 3-year-old California Chrome has been based at Los Alamitos for most of his racing life. The winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes is set to resume serious training there later this month following a post-Triple Crown break. Trainer Art Sherman has repeatedly raved about the Los Alamitos surface and credits it for helping to keep California Chrome sound through 13 races in 14 months.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert also has expressed satisfaction with the surface and told Roger Stein on a recent radio interview: “I send a lot of horses down there (Los Alamitos). When they come over, they’re fit. They get sounder down there. It’s a big plus.”
Los Alamitos’s accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. All accreditations carry an effective period of two years.
Founded by Frank Vessels in 1951, Los Alamitos has long reigned as the world’s premier Quarter Horse track. Prior to this month, the venue last played host to Thoroughbred racing with the Orange County Fair Meet in 1991.
In the area of injury reporting and prevention, best practices identified included pre-race exam protocols; the post-mortem veterinary examination program of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB); establishment of an injury review program; and maintenance of a Veterinarians’ List, which is shared among multiple racing jurisdictions. The Veterinarians’ List protocol set in place by the CHRB is exceptional in that all horses that are required to work for the regulatory veterinarians are subjected to testing and penalties for any overages are identical to post-race testing penalties.
In areas intended to create a safer racing environment, best practices cited at Los Alamitos included regulation of toe grabs, regulation and enforcement for riding crops and helmets, presence of state of the art equine ambulances during racing, a substance abuse and addiction treatment program, data collection and storage to enhance racing surface maintenance and required safety training for all track employees that come in contact with horses.
In the area of equine drug testing and penalties, best practices identified included alkalinizing agent regulation and TCO2 testing procedures; exogenous anabolic steroids regulation and testing protocols; and Racing Medication Testing Consortium (RMTC) accreditation of the track’s official testing laboratory, the University of California, Davis, Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory.
Regarding the health and safety of jockeys, best practices recognized included appropriate standards for licensing jockeys and the presence of a board certified medical doctor during racing.
For aftercare and transition of retired racehorses, Los Alamitos exceeded best-practice criteria through its involvement with CARMA (California Retirement Management Account), an independent nonprofit which receives .3% of winning owner purse earnings and disburses it to farms and organizations caring for retired Thoroughbred racehorses.
Los Alamitos also was commended for best practices in protocols relating to security across several areas, including: stop wagering protocols, public communication procedures and investigation protocols.
The accreditation of Los Alamitos was the culmination of a lengthy process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Los Alamitos hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. An on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility. Interviews were also conducted with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards and fans. The inspection team was comprised of 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); Bryce Peckham, DVM, Kentucky’s former chief state veterinarian; and Mike Ziegler, executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
Los Alamitos is one of 24 racing facilities currently fully accredited by the Alliance. Others are Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont 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, Indiana Grand, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, 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 www.NTRAalliance.com.
About the NTRA
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of more than 80 horse racing interests consisting of leading Thoroughbred racetracks, owners, breeders, trainers, horseplayers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity of horse racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).