LEXINGTON, Ky. (Thursday, March 19, 2015) – The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino has earned reaccreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. Located outside of El Paso in Sunland Park, N.M., adjacent to Texas and the Mexican state of Chihuahua, the 56-year-old racetrack hosts its biggest day of racing Sunday with seven stakes highlighted by the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G2), offering 85 points (50-20-10-5) toward Kentucky Derby qualification as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series.
Last year’s Sunland Derby card attracted a record on-track crowd of 18,642. Among the supporting stakes Sunday is the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, worth 85 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
“We are proud to be among a select group of racetracks fully accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance,” said Sunland Park Director of Racing Operations Dustin Dix. “Sunland Park is more committed than ever to protecting horsemen and the public from those that would seek an edge by venturing outside the rules. For this weekend’s Sunland Derby and Sunland Park Oaks we are enacting some of the most stringent protocols in racing, including a secured pre-race detention barn and pre-race testing on every entrant.”
Sunland Park received its initial Alliance accreditation in 2011. All accreditations and reaccreditations carry an effective period of two years.
“Sunland Park has done an extraordinary job of working with the New Mexico Racing Commission to make the safety of horses and riders and the integrity of the sport top priorities at its track in New Mexico,” said Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the NTRA and acting head of the Alliance. “We commend Sunland for making great strides since their initial accreditation with the implementation of a number of best practices track-wide.”
Sunland Park is a subsidiary of owner Stan Fulton’s My Way Holdings. Since adding slot machines, average daily purses at Sunland Park have gone from $30,000 per day during the 1998-99 season to more than $240,000 per day at the current meet.
In areas intended to create a safer racing environment, best practices in use at Sunland Park include an on-site substance abuse and addiction treatment program; utilization of the Uniform National Trainers Test (adopted by the New Mexico State Racing Commission); and notification of House Rules in the Condition Book.
In areas of equine drug testing and penalties, best practices identified include out-of-competition testing for blood and/or gene doping agents; frozen storage and retroactive “supertesting” of suspect plasma or urine samples; and use of an official testing laboratory (The University of California-Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory) that is fully accredited by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC); and proper security assessment and training.
Regarding the health and safety of jockeys, best practices recognized include adherence to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) model rules pertaining to the scale of weights and jockey qualifications.
The accreditation of Sunland Park was the culmination of a lengthy process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Sunland 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; Dr. Ron Jensen, DVM, former equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board; Mike Kilpack, security and integrity consultant and past chairman of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators; and Mike Ziegler, former executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
Sunland Park is one of 23 racing facilities currently fully accredited by the Alliance. The others are Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, Calder Casino and Race Course, Canterbury Park, Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino, Indiana Grand, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Laurel Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Monmouth Park, Pimlico Race Course, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Race Course, Suffolk Downs, Turfway Park and Woodbine.
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 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 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, NTRA.com, the Eclipse Awards, the National Handicapping Championship, NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program, and HORSE PAC, a federal political action committee. 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).