Thoroughbred Safety Committee Update
Matt F. Iuliano
Matt F. Iuliano — Executive Vice President and Executive Director, The Jockey Club

Matt F. Iuliano:
Good morning, the Thoroughbred Safety Committee is organized to review every facet of the equine health, breeding practices, medication, the rules of racing, and track surfaces. The committee's charge is to recommend actions to be taken by the industry to improve the health and safety of Thoroughbreds.

In the execution of this mandate, the committee sources testimony from ministry stakeholders, original research, and statistical analyses of databases at The Jockey Club. The committee has issued 20 recommendations today ranging from building safety-related databases to promoting safer racing equipment, to best practices, to drug testing, enforcement, and lab standards. The committee and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation’s Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit work hand in hand to identify areas of interest, and dig into the facts to develop action plans aimed at improving racing’s safety record.

Throughout the entire process, actions are guided by the rubric of keeping sound conclusions from good science. We recently completed our sixth summit, and we are again grateful to Keeneland who allowed us the use of their sales pavilion, and the full complement of their IT professionals to host and webcast this one-day event. This year we had an audience of 200 in attendance, with another 1,500 logging in online from seven different countries.

And we look forward to our continued collaboration with the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, who are instrumental in incorporating the recommendations of the safety committee and the conclusions from the summits into the code of standards for racetrack accreditation.

At this year's summit, we heard a number of reports that shared a common theme spotlighting the importance of data and analytics in supporting everyday decisions that affect our athletes.

For example, Dr. Tim Parkin and Dr. Carl Mattacola provided updates regarding the Equine Injury Database and the Jockey Injury Database. These are two initiatives provided by The Jockey Club to support the safety planning and mitigation efforts. In a moment, my colleague Kristin Leshney will provide us with more details from the Equine Injury Database including steps we are taking to implement the results into racing and regulatory operations.

Dr. Mick Peterson, from the Racing Services Testing Laboratory, provided updates on his progress toward racing detailed maintenance, and racetrack surface information. The surfaces lab is another initiative tracing its roots to the first summit in 2006.

We also heard from the University of Kentucky's Dr. Laura Kennedy who presented a compelling case for development of a centralized database for veterinary professionals to standardize the results of pathology reports following racetrack fatalities.

We've already begun planning for 2016, and it's a free conference that's open to the public. We look forward to seeing each of you there next year. So this year the safety committee is recommending two new actions to improve the health and safety of the Thoroughbred racehorse. Information derived from detailed laboratory analyses from each racing injury is invaluable when reviewing the events and circumstances with the horse's connections and related stakeholders.

To continuously improve the information yield from injuries, the need for a centralized database to standardize the collection, storage and analysis of pathology data was identified. To meet this need The Jockey Club has authorized development of a comprehensive nationalized database to meet this important national objective to enhance safety planning and mitigation efforts.

The official veterinarian’s list is a valuable tool to give horses with medical issues a temporary spell from racing to promote their rest and recovery. To provide further assurances that horses are fit to return to competition, the committee recommends all horses returning to competition are tested pursuant to existing racing medication rules and subject to penalty in the event of violation.

In addition, the committee recommends that all medical records, therapeutic treatments and diagnoses of horses placed on the vets list are thoroughly reviewed by regulatory officials before returning to training or competition. To give us a little further insight into the Equine Injury Database, I'm pleased to introduce my colleague, Kristin Leshney.

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