The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Saratoga Race Course, home to one of the world’s most prestigious annual race meets, has earned reaccreditation from the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance.
Located in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the 155-year-old racetrack kicks off a 40-day stand Friday and, after opening weekend, continues Wednesdays to Mondays, plus a Labor Day holiday card on Closing Day, Sept. 3. The meet features 69 stakes races – 37 of them graded – worth $18.8 million in purses. Travers Day on Aug. 25 includes six Grade 1 events, topped by the 149th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, for top 3-year-olds. There are Grade 1 races every Saturday of the season and 18 overall.
The reaccreditation of Saratoga – operated by the New York Racing Association (NYRA) – was the culmination of a lengthy process that began with the track’s completion of an extensive written application and continued as the track hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. An on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing operations. Interviews were conducted with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, horsemen, veterinarians, stewards and regulators.
The August 2017 on-site inspection was conducted by Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, veterinary and regulatory consultant, Chief Examining Veterinarian at the New York Racing Association since October 2017; Jim Gates, racetrack operations consultant, former general manager of Churchill Downs; Mike Kilpack, security and integrity consultant, past chairman of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators; and Steve Koch, executive director of the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance.
Alliance certification standards address an extensive list of safety and integrity concerns within six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication and testing; jockey health and welfare; and wagering security.
“The New York Racing Association is continuously striving to create a safe environment for our equine and human athletes,” said NYRA Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza. “We greatly appreciate the help that the NTRA provides in making us aware of best practices allowing NYRA to excel in this arena. Integrity is the foundation of our sport and NYRA couldn’t find a better partner in this than the NTRA through the accreditation program.”
Saratoga is one of three racetracks that make up the NYRA franchise along with Aqueduct Racetrack and Belmont Park. All NYRA racetracks have been accredited since 2009, the Alliance’s first year. Accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.
Saratoga is one of 23 racing facilities fully accredited by the Alliance that together host 96 percent of Grade 1 stakes and generate more than 75 percent of North American pari-mutuel handle. The other accredited racetracks are Aqueduct Racetrack, Arlington Park, Belmont Park, Canterbury Park, Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Indiana Grand, Kentucky Downs, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Monmouth Park, Pimlico Race Course, Santa Anita Park, Suffolk Downs, Sunland Park, Turfway Park, and Woodbine.
The NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance is a standing organization establishing standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Corporate partners of the Alliance include Insurance Office of America and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at NTRAalliance.com.