Equine Health, Security Protocols for Ky. Derby Outlined
The track outlined protocols in the areas of safety and welfare for both horses and jockeys, racing integrity, medication, and patron safety, and pointed to key features of the "Safety from Start to Finish" program.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Last week Churchill Downs re-emphasized its annual enhanced security measures for horses competing in Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, as well as ongoing safety and integrity measures included in its "Safety from Start to Finish" program.
The track outlined protocols appearing below in the areas of safety and welfare for both horses and jockeys, racing integrity, medication, and patron safety, and pointed to key features of the "Safety from Start to Finish" program.
"Integrity and maximizing the safety and welfare of our athletes are of great importance to us, and it's imperative to reaffirm our lasting and comprehensive commitments to these very real and important issues," said Kevin Flanery, president of the Louisville, Ky., racetrack. "When it comes to integrity and making racing safer for every race, every day, we remain optimistic that the bar will continue to be raised by all stakeholders."
In addition to all other applicable state laws and track policies, Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) will require the following protocols be followed for horses competing in the Kentucky Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks (taking place Friday):
Equine Safety and Welfare
- KHRC veterinarians will closely monitor and observe Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants before, during, and after training in their stalls beginning on Monday, April 28;
- A KHRC veterinarian will be present trackside at all times when horses have access to the track;
- Pre-race exams will be performed by KHRC veterinarians starting at 6 a.m. EDT on race day. In-stall exams include a general health evaluation and palpation and flexion of the legs. Veterinarians will also observe horses out of their stalls, at a trot, to further assess soundness and fitness to race;
- A team of seven KHRC veterinarians and volunteers from Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, Ky., will be positioned around the racetrack should there be a need for an immediate response. Additionally, three KHRC veterinarians will be in the paddock when horses are saddled for the Kentucky Derby (two for all other races);
- Three state-of-the-art Kimzey equine ambulances will be at Churchill Downs on race day, positioned at the one-mile chute, quarter pole, and the backstretch for immediate response; and
- A board-certified veterinary surgeon and board-certified anesthesiologist will be present should there be a need for immediate critical care response. Additionally, a triage facility, with X ray equipment, will be available on the backstretch for patient evaluation;
Jockey Safety and Welfare
- Immediate online access to jockey medical histories for emergency medical personnel; and
- Injured jockeys that require external medical evaluation will be transported by ambulance to the designated hospital directly from the incident; there will be no ambulance transfers.
- Horses participating in the Kentucky Derby shall be on the grounds no later than 8 a.m. EDT on April 30—more than 82 hours before the race—and shall remain on the grounds until after the running of the race, pending an unforeseeable emergency;
- Kentucky Derby participants will have 24-hour barn security by Jefferson County Sheriffs starting at 8 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 30 through 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 3;
- Horses shall stay in their assigned barns and stalls on the grounds, which will be monitored at all times by Jefferson Country Sheriffs and additional security personnel;
- Entry-exit logs will be maintained by security personnel starting at 8 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 30. All persons—including grooms, veterinarians, trainers, assistant trainers, farriers, owners, and other connections—must have a valid KHRC license before permission is granted to enter a stall, engage in contact with the horse or perform any service for the horse. Such persons will be logged in by security personnel with the reason for their visit;
- All equipment, feed, hay bales, etc., are subject to search and seizure, as provided by law, by both Churchill Downs Racetrack and the KHRC;
- Horses participating in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks will be escorted with security personnel to the paddock. When schooling, they will receive priority for paddock schooling;
- Horse identification will be performed by two Churchill Downs racetrack horse identifiers at the barn on Thursday, May 1, and again on race day in the saddling paddock; and
- All jockeys will be subjected to magnetic wand scans prior to the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, and other random races.
- The KHRC is conducting out-of-competition blood samples of all horses competing in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, as well as a sample of most participants (more than 50%) in undercard graded stakes, before and after entries are taken and sending them to LGC Science in Lexington, Ky., for immediate testing. The KHRC is coordinating with other jurisdictions to obtain out-of-competition samples from horses that are not stabled in Kentucky;
- A full daily veterinarian's record of all medications and treatments given to horses from Monday, April 28, through the race shall be provided to the KHRC for complete review;
- Trainers shall submit a list of treating veterinarians to the stewards no later than 8 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 30;
- Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians. Materials used for medication administrations will be retained by the KHRC for possible testing;
- Veterinarians will not be permitted in the stalls of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants within 24 hours of the race unless accompanied by a KHRC investigator;
- No medication treatments are permitted (beyond Lasix for specifically designated horses) within 24 hours of the race. In the event of a medical emergency, the stewards will authorize treatment and the horse will be scratched;
- Lasix administration will take place in the horses' own stalls by a KHRC veterinarian. Syringes will be preserved by the KHRC for possible testing; and
- Five teams of KHRC veterinarians will perform TCO2 (total carbon dioxide testing, a.k.a. "milkshake") screenings and testing 30 minutes prior to the horses' scheduled departure for the paddock.
- A total of 34 emergency medical technicians (EMTs, 17 teams of two), 10 nurses, and six doctors (four on Oaks Day) will be on-site;
- There will be five first-aid stations located around the facility at Gate 1, Gate 15, Jockey Club Suites, Finish Line Suites, and in the infield;
- A minimum of 12 ambulances (an EMT and paramedic in each ambulance) will be onsite. Several others will be on standby within the area for immediate response if necessary; and
- Thirty-four federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and public safety partners will be onsite to further the level of security for all patrons in attendance.
The aforementioned measures coincide with Churchill Downs' "Safety from Start to Finish" program that was launched by Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) in March 2009 to formalize its comprehensive approach to continually improve the safety of the horses and human beings who work, train, and compete at all CDI racing venues. Key features of the program include:
- Independent, standardized third-party engineering analysis, testing, and monitoring of track surfaces;
- Post-race drug testing performed by a Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) accredited laboratory; each sample is analyzed for more than 1,500 substances;
- Age restrictions requiring Thoroughbreds to be at least 24 calendar months of age before becoming eligible to race;
- The banning of steroids;
- The prohibition of milkshaking;
- Prohibiting the transport of horses from CDI facilities for slaughter;
- Permanent revocation of stall and competition privileges for any owner or trainer who sells a horse stabled at a CDI track for slaughter;
- Revocation of stall and competition privileges for any owner or trainer convicted of animal abuse;
- The banning of unsafe horseshoes, including front shoe toe grabs longer than two millimeters;
- The use of low-impact riding whips with restricted usage rules;
- The presence of on-site medical personnel, equipment, and state-of-the-art equine ambulances;
- Immediate online access to jockey medical histories for emergency medical personnel;
- $1 million in catastrophic injury insurance coverage per accident for jockeys paid for by CDI;
- Mandatory and uniform reporting of equine injuries to The Jockey Club's national Equine Injury Database System, thereby assisting in the compilation of comprehensive data and facilitating statistical analysis to improve safety around the country;
- Professionally designed and installed safety rails on the inside of the dirt course;
- Mandatory usage by all jockeys, exercise riders, and other on-track personnel of safety vests and safety helmets that meet internationally acknowledged quality standards;
- Three-eighths-inch foam padding on all parts of the starting gates;
- Inspection of all horses by regulatory veterinarians prior to and following all races;
- Review of security procedures around the barns and other racetrack backstretch areas;
- Protocols for the treatment of horses that have been injured during racing or training, to ensure the most humane treatment possible;
- Encouraging anyone that suspects any wrongdoing or witnesses improper conduct at all CDI tracks to speak up immediately via the independent and national office of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau's Integrity at email@example.com; and
- Certification by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Safety & Integrity Alliance program of all four CDI tracks.
CDI tracks will continue to work with Mick Peterson, PhD, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine who is widely considered the world's foremost racing surfaces researcher, to routinely conduct engineering analyses and tests of their respective racing surfaces for safety and consistency. CDI has worked with Peterson to evaluate its racing surfaces since formally launching the "Safety from Start to Finish" program.
Through the "Safety from Start to Finish" program, CDI and its employees also raise money and awareness for nonprofit aftercare programs that help care for and find new homes and careers for retired racehorses.
Additional information about CDI's "Safety from Start to Finish" program is available online.
Originally published on BloodHorse.com.
About the Author
The Blood-Horse is the leading weekly publication devoted to international Thoroughbred racing and breeding. Since 1916, the staff of The Blood-Horse has served the Thoroughbred community with the highest standards of journalistic excellence to provide comprehensive and timely editorial coverage and analysis.