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Monday, May 23, 2016

HBPA Provides Assistance to Horsemen Affected by EHV-1 Outbreak

Horse racing, by its very nature, is a game of chance, where the best horse may not always win due to a slow break from the gate or traffic on the turn. The sometimes unpredictable outcome of a race is part of what makes the sport popular. Handicappers and horsemen know almost anything can happen on the track, but outside of the race, unpredictable events can be devastating to owners and trainers of racehorses.

Such was the case with a tornado that hit the backside of Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma earlier this year and the restrictions at tracks in Iowa and Nebraska due to an outbreak of Equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) that originated in New Mexico. Luckily for horsemen in Oklahoma, Iowa and Nebraska, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and its state affiliates stood ready to assist those affected.

At Fonner Park in Nebraska and Prairie Meadows in Iowa, numerous horsemen were impacted by restrictions on horses shipping in and out of those facilities as a precaution to prevent the potential spread of EHV-1. While those restrictions worked well to protect horses at both tracks, some horsemen endured hardships. Both the Nebraska HBPA and Iowa HBPA, together with the National HBPA, provided financial assistance to member horsemen to help lessen the impact of these unexpected events. Similar assistance was provided to horsemen affected by the tornado in Oklahoma.

“We are very happy that Fonner Park and Prairie Meadows now have the ‘all clear’ and things are back to normal, but those were some tough weeks for horsemen,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. “The motto of the HBPA has always been ‘Horsemen Helping Horsemen,’ and this was just another example of that and one of the benefits of HBPA membership. Even though horsemen compete against each other every day on the track, there is also a sense of family among horsemen around North America, and we are glad to be able to provide assistance to horsemen in times of need like this.”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Registration Now Open for NHBPA Summer Convention in Vancouver

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre
The National HBPA’s Summer Convention will head north to picturesque British Columbia, Canada, for a gathering on July 13-17 in Vancouver at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. Registration is now open at http://nationalhbpa.com/convention/

Hosted by the British Columbia HBPA, the event will include an extra day compared to most previous summer conventions. The extended agenda will allow for a variety of topics to be covered in the meetings and forums, and as always the convention will conclude with a full board meeting of the NHBPA Board of Directors.

Outside of the meetings, attendees will enjoy an afternoon at the races at Hastings Race Course and a unique dinner cruise.

Along with online registration, the NHBPA website also includes information about hotel rates, transportation and a detailed agenda. 

United States citizens are reminded that a valid passport is needed for travel to Canada.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Nebraska State Vet Releases Quarantine at Fonner Park

Nebraska State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes has released the quarantine issued for Fonner Park in Grand Island after three confirmed cases of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) were detected there last month.

“The horses at Fonner Parker were quarantined for 21 days where they were monitored closely.  During that time, no further cases were confirmed so the quarantine has been lifted,” said Dr. Hughes.  “We continue to ask horse owners and facility managers to take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease by remaining vigilant and following strict biosecurity measures.”

EHM is the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) and cases of the disease have been confirmed in several locations around the country this year.

The disease is spread through direct or indirect contact with infected horses, so Dr. Hughes encourages operators of horse shows and exhibitions to review their biosecurity plans and minimize the opportunity for horses to have direct or indirect contact with each other. Indirect contact includes the use of shared water and feed sources, as well as the use of shared equipment. In addition, Dr. Hughes said he recommends horse owners planning to travel to shows and exhibitions contact the venue prior to transporting their horses to inquire about entrance requirements for the event.

Biosecurity measures horse owners should take at their own operations include requiring individuals to wash their hands before and after contact with each horse, disinfecting boots and changing clothes that come into contact with horses other than their own.

“If possible, horse owners should avoid contact with other people’s horses, and isolate horses returning from shows or exhibitions for 3 to 4 weeks,” said Dr. Hughes. “Owners who will be co-mingling their horses also should consider contacting their veterinarian to discuss their horses’ current vaccination status and weigh the benefits of vaccination.”

EHM symptoms include: fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable.

EHV Restrictions Lifted at Prairie Meadows

With the May 10 lifting of preventative measures instituted to protect Iowa horses from the outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus elsewhere, the Iowa HBPA applauds the cooperation between the horsemen, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino and regulatory officials.

The Iowa division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association appreciates the inconveniences and trying 21 days owners, trainers and their employees faced while about 130 horses were in isolation, the payoff being that not a single positive was called at Prairie Meadows. With everyone working together, an EHV-1/EHM threat that originated in other states was nipped at the bud by quick and decisive action before a threat could possibly morph into a devastating problem for horsemen and racetrack alike.

“The Iowa HBPA says ‘thank you!’ to all our members and their employees during these last couple of weeks during the restrictions for working with us,” said Leroy Gessmann, president of the Iowa HBPA and the National HBPA. “And also ‘thank you!’ to Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, the state veterinarians and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“Some have criticized the response as knee jerk or an overreaction. But the overall response by horsemen was an understanding that this action was necessary to prevent a potentially crippling outbreak from occurring here. All officials worked with the HBPA as we tried to balance horsemen’s needs to continue to train, work, break horses from the gates with the importance of having protocols in place to keep non-exposed horses from being contaminated by potentially exposed horses.”

The airborne EVI-1 strain of Equine Herpes Virus is highly contagious and can cause different diseases in horses, the majority affecting the respiratory system. It can also develop into the neurological disease myeloencephalopathy, known as EHM. EVI-1 can be spread through contaminated water buckets, feed tubs, grooming tools, track, clothing and human touch, and as such requires rigid bio-security protocols.

When EVH-1/EHM became an issue at New Mexico’s Sunland Park in January, Iowa officials and the HBPA began discussions on how to handle the situation should a case present itself. The decision was made to be aggressive and proactive in order to prevent an outbreak here.

Those measures were put into effect April 18 when one horse was euthanized and two others tested positive for EHV-1/EHM at Nebraska’s Fonner Park after horses exposed to those index cases had shipped into Prairie Meadows. Among those pressing for such diligence were HBPA board members directly impacted by the aggressive measures.

While there was not a quarantine at Prairie Meadows, approximately 130 horses in five different barns were placed in isolation, their temperatures monitored daily and with separate training hours. Those horses could not be transported to another barn and no other horses were allowed in the barns. The measures were to end after 21 days if no horses tested positive or showed symptoms of equine herpes. Those 21 days are now up without incidence.

Prairie Meadows’ 2016 thoroughbred meet opened as scheduled on April 28.

“Everyone involved knew this was the appropriate course of action to be taken to ensure racing continued,” Gessmann said. “We are now no longer under any restrictions at Prairie Meadows. This is due to the combined efforts of all involved. We are tremendously thankful for everyone’s assistance, patience and understanding that while nothing about the restrictions was perfect regarding training, racing or simply coming in and out of your own barn, we have been successful in not having a single positive called at our track.

“To our members, we wish everyone the best of racing luck.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

AHC Announces Speakers for 2016 Issues Forum

The American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum on June 14, sponsored by Luitpold Animal Health, in Washington, DC will feature several Members of Congress in line with the theme of “Putting More Horsepower in Congress.” Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is confirmed as the leadoff speaker. Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has also been invited.

“We would be very fortunate to have the chairmen of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees address us,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “The $102 billion equine industry is an important sector of the agriculture community, not only when horses are in their breeding life, but also when they move into their racing, showing, work, or recreation careers. The equine world is still regulated by the US Department of Agriculture in terms of disease control, import/export, interstate movement, and research. The Congressional agriculture committees are important to the horse industry.”

The Issues Forum will also feature a special panel, which will include representatives of the U.S. Equestrian Federation and The Jockey Club, to update the industry on their plans to require the microchipping of horses beginning in 2017. Speaking will be Mary Babick, Vice President of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association, Summer Stoffel, who serves on the USEF Horse Recording & ID Task Force Committee, and Matt Iuliano, Executive Vice President and Executive Director of The Jockey Club. Each has been intimately involved in their organizations move to requiring microchipping. “This should be a real opportunity for attending organizations to learn first-hand about their plans, how they will affect their members, and how they might want to prepare for the new requirements,” said Hickey.

This year’s National Issues Forum will be held on Tuesday, June 14, during the AHC’s annual convention. The convention will run from June 12 to 15 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC.

The AHC convention will also feature the inaugural meeting of executive directors of national equine organizations. Organized by Julie Broadway, the new president of the AHC, and David Foley, executive director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, this meeting will allow the top staff of horse associations to join together to discuss internal, administrative-type issues that each may face in their day-to-day operations. Such issues might include membership retention, dealing with volunteers, and management. This meeting will feature two speakers from the American Society of Association Executives to talk about their peer group formation experience and benefits

The AHC annual meeting will also include the meetings of all the AHC’s committees. This year each committee will be asked to address how its members can get their organizations more involved in grassroots lobbying on legislation and regulations within their jurisdiction. In other words how AHC committees and horse organizations can “Put More Horsepower in Congress.”

Complete information on these Forums and the entire AHC annual meeting, including registration and hotel information, can be found on the AHC’s website, www.horsecouncil.org/ahc-events/ or by contacting the AHC.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards launched in USA

The Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA) are launched by Godolphin in partnership with the National HBPA, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and The Jockey Club. The awards are open to anyone working in horse racing and breeding across the USA in order to recognize and reward the dedicated, hard-working people who are the backbone of the industry and play an invaluable role in caring for our equine athletes.

Speaking ahead of the launch, John Ferguson, Chief Executive and Racing Manager for Godolphin, said: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin are proud and honored to be able to launch the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards in America. We speak of our equine athletes at length but it is also important to ensure that those individuals who make up the fabric of the sport and work tirelessly behind the scenes get the merit they deserve. We look forward to watching this initiative become a significant event in the racing and breeding calendar this year and in the years to come.”

Trainers Kiaran McLaughlin and Bob Baffert, owners Maggi Moss and Sol Kumin, breeder and owner John Phillips, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron and former jockey and broadcast racing analyst Donna Brothers, have all agreed to take on ambassadorial roles in support of the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards.

The TIEA ceremony will be held on opening day of Keeneland’s fall meet, October 7, with recognition given to a total of 13 individuals in five different categories: Leadership Award Farm, Leadership Award Racing, Dedication to Breeding Award, Dedication to Racing Award and a Thoroughbred Industry Community Award.

In addition to a commemorative trophy for the winners, three individual awards in each category will be distributed for first place ($10,000), second place ($2,500) and third place ($2,500) in the first four categories respectively, with a single first-place award given in the fifth. On top of this, farm and racing employees associated with each award recipient will receive monetary recognition. Total prize money for the five awards will be $115,000.

The nominating process for the awards will open on Monday, May 9th and close Monday, August 1st. Please visit www.godolphinusawards.com for more information and to nominate online beginning Monday, May 9th.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Trainers' Kids Share Kentucky Derby 142 on Twitter with @KyHBPA

Horse trainers’ kids might be the ultimate insiders in a Kentucky Derby camp, and they’ll be sharing their up-close-and-personal experiences, insights, hopes and even handicapping on @KyHBPA, the Twitter feed of Kentucky’s largest horsemen’s group, during Derby Week.

In a venture overseen by Hall of Fame turf journalist Jennie Rees and Bailey Romans, daughter of trainer Dale Romans, at least 14 sons and daughters of Kentucky Derby trainers will be tweeting on the @KyHBPA account and with the hashtag #KYDerbyKids. More are expected to be added in the next few days, including some owners’ children or grandchildren.

“It will bring a new eye to horse racing, a more behind-the-scene look at what goes on,” said Bailey Romans, whose dad has Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass winner Brody’s Cause in the world’s most famous race. “Everything is about the day of the race — the Kentucky Derby is the greatest two minutes in sports — but there’s more that goes into it than just those two minutes. This will give people an opportunity to see the work involved in making these horses champions.”

The Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association is donating $100 to the charity of choice for all the #KyDerbyKids participants. More information on the Derby horsemen’s kids, their charity and the project will be posted on the Kentucky HBPA’s Facebook page.

The #KyDerbyKids venture is expected to expand in accordance with its participants’ suggestions. For instance, at the suggestion of Bailey Romans, there will be video features of kids interviewing their dads, surely asking questions no reporter would think or know to ask, and quite possibly getting answers no trainer would tell the media.

“This is a unique way to bring the passion of the Kentucky Derby and horse racing to teenagers and young adults, actually to people of all ages,” said Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA. “The Kentucky horsemen are proud to sponsor this terrific endeavor and showcase the amazing sons and daughters of our Derby horsemen. What better way than through social media.”

Other kids, friends or family connected to Kentucky Derby or Oaks horses are welcome to join in by tagging their tweets @KyHBPA and #KYDerbyKids.

#KyDerbyKids (trainer dad) horse(s)*
Ashley Amoss (Tom Amoss) Mo Tom
Hayley Amoss (Tom Amoss) Mo Tom
Keith Asmussen (Steve Asmussen) Gun Runner, Creator
Colby Casse (Mark Casse) Fellowship
Blake Cox (Brad Cox) Dazzling Gem
Bryson Cox (Brad Cox) Dazzling Gem
Bailey Desormeaux (Keith Desormeaux) Exaggerator
Erin McLaughlin (Kiaran McLaughlin) Mohaymen
Chance Moquett (Ron Moquett) Whitmore
Hannah Pletcher (Todd Pletcher) Destin, Outwork
Blayne Prochaska (Scott Blasi) Gun Runner, Creator
Bailey Romans (Dale Romans) Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine
Wes Stewart (Dallas Stewart) Tom’s Ready
Tess Von Hemel (Donnie K. Von Hemel) Suddenbreakingnews
 *More expected
                                             
For more information, contact Jennie Rees at tracksidejennie@gmail.com

About the Kentucky HBPA: The Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association is one of the country’s largest thoroughbred horsemen’s groups, representing more than 6,000 owners and trainers. As an affiliate of the National HBPA that represents 30,000 horsemen in the United States and Canada, the Kentucky HBPA’s responsibilities have greatly expanded as the racing industry has become more complex. In addition to its original general benevolence mission, the HBPA is the leading force for horsemen in negotiating contracts with tracks as well as the advancement of the sport through safety and integrity initiatives, promoting racing and assisting in the development of aftercare programs for retired racehorses.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Nutrition, Biosecurity and Respiratory Health to Be Addressed at Welfare & Safety Summit VII

The seventh Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit will feature a rich mix of updates on previous Summit topics such as racing surfaces, rider safety and equine injuries as well as discussions of new topics that are essential to the welfare of racehorses, including nutrition, biosecurity, and respiratory health.

The summit, which is organized and underwritten by Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club and will be hosted by Keeneland Association on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, will be open to the public and streamed live on jockeyclub.com and grayson-jockeyclub.org.

Those interested in attending the summit can register for free at grayson-jockeyclub.org/WelfareSafety.

The event will again be emceed by Donna Barton Brothers, former jockey and current NBC racing analyst. Brothers is on the advisory board for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the author of Inside Track, an informative guide to horse racing.

Other new topics include an update from the AAEP racing committee, a progress report on biomarker research, and discussions regarding compounded medications, nutraceuticals, lameness, the importance of the physical inspection, and use of the riding crop.

“We are very excited about the topics we have lined up for this year’s Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit,” said Edward L. Bowen, president of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. “The first six summits resulted in meaningful improvements in horse and jockey welfare, and by focusing on such timely, important issues this summit is on target to do the same.”

“We are pleased to once again be able to host such a great event and make it open to the public who can attend in person and available through live streaming to those who can’t be here,” said Bill Thomason, Keeneland president and CEO. “Keeneland has always been an advocate for horse and rider safety, and hosting this welfare and safety summit is one of our commitments to making the industry safer for both.”

Almost 1,500 individuals from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, France, Sweden, and Spain watched the live stream of the sixth Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, and approximately 200 people attended.

The first Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit was held in October 2006; subsequent summits were held in March 2008, June 2010, October 2012, July 2014, and July 2015.

“I attend all of the summits and find them to be one of the most educational events of the year,” said John F. Wayne, executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission. “I strongly encourage all commissions, industry organizations and others willing to commit to the safety of our equine and human athletes to attend this event.”

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Ramon Dominguez and Steve Asmussen Elected to Hall of Fame

Champion racehorses Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, multiple Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez and multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in the contemporary category. The electees will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion.

Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro—Lotta Kim, by Roar) was named Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2009 and posted a career record of 13-5-0 from 19 starts and earned $3,506,730. Bred in Kentucky by original owner Dolphus Morrison, Rachel Alexandra was trained by Hal Wiggins until a private sale to Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick following her 20¼-length victory in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks. From then on, she was trained by fellow 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Asmussen. After being ridden by Brian Hernandez early in her career, Rachel Alexandra was piloted by Hall of Famer Calvin Borel for her final 14 career starts.

As a 2-year-old in 2008, Rachel Alexandra broke her maiden in her second career start at Churchill Downs, added an allowance win at Keeneland and returned to Churchill to conclude her season with a win in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes (setting a stakes record) in her first pairing with Borel. She posted a record of 3-2-0 from six starts and earnings of $201,440 as a juvenile.

As a 3-year-old in 2009, Rachel Alexandra delivered a perfect record in eight starts. She won at seven different tracks that year, starting with a victory in the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park. She then won the Fair Grounds Oaks and Fantasy Stakes prior to her 20¼-length win in the Kentucky Oaks. Asmussen and her new ownership then entered Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, in which she became the first filly to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown since 1924 when she defeated Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. Rachel Alexandra then romped by 19¼ lengths in the Mother Goose, defeated Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird in the Haskell Invitational by six lengths and topped older males in a dramatic Woodward victory at Saratoga to conclude her undefeated campaign. Her sophomore ledger was 8-0-0 from eight starts with earnings of $2,746,914. She was named Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Filly.

Rachel Alexandra returned as a 4-year-old in 2010 and finished second in her first two starts, the New Orleans Ladies Stakes and the La Troienne. She then won the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap and the Lady’s Secret Stakes before finishing second in the Personal Ensign, her final career start. She finished the season with a record of 2-3-0 from five starts and earnings of $558,376.

Zenyatta (Street Cry—Vertigineux, by Kris S.), who posted a career mark of 19-1-0 from 20 starts and earnings of $7,304,580, was named Horse of the Year in 2010 and won a total of four Eclipse Awards in her career. Bred in Kentucky by Maverick Production, Ltd., Zenyatta was a $60,000 purchase by Jerry and Ann Moss at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sales. Trained throughout her career by John Shirreffs and ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith in 17 of her 20 starts, Zenyatta was named Champion Older Female in 2008, 2009 and 2010 along with her 2010 Horse of the Year honor.

Zenyatta arrived at the races late in 2007 as a 3-year-old, winning both of her starts at Hollywood Park. From that point on, she competed exclusively in graded stakes events, winning 17 consecutive such races to run her record to wins 19 without a defeat. At 4, Zenyatta won the El Encino Stakes, Apple Blossom Handicap, Milady Handicap, Vanity Handicap, Clement L. Hirsch Handicap, Lady’s Secret Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. She finished the season with a record of 7-0-0 from seven starts and earnings of $2,090,580, winning the first of three consecutive Eclipse Awards as Champion Older Female.

In 2009, at age 5, Zenyatta repeated in the Milady, Hirsch and Lady’s Secret and defeated the likes of Gio Ponti, Summer Bird, Twice Over and Colonel John to become the first filly or mare to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and earn her second straight Eclipse for Champion Older Female with a record of 5-0-0 from five starts and earnings of $3,330,000.

As a 6-year-old in 2010, Zenyatta won the Santa Margarita Invitational, her second Apple Blossom, and third Vanity, Hirsch and Lady’s Secret. She was undefeated in 19 career races before suffering her lone defeat to Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in what was her final career start. With a record of 5-1-0 from six starts and earnings of $1,830,000, she was named Horse of the Year and earned her third consecutive Champion Older Female award. Overall, Zenyatta won a total of 17 graded stakes, including 13 Grade 1s.

Dominguez, 39, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, won 4,985 races (23 percent) and $191,620,277 in his career and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He led all North American riders in earnings each of those years, setting a record of $25,639,432 in 2012. Dominguez led all jockeys in wins in 2001 and 2003 and was second in wins on seven other occasions. He won a total of 20 individual meet riding titles on the New York Racing Association circuit, including a record 68 wins at Saratoga in 2012.

The overall leading rider in New York in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Dominguez won a total of 44 Grade 1 races in his career, including 25 from 2010 through 2012. He won three Breeders’ Cup races: the 2004 Turf (Better Talk Now), 2011 Juvenile (Hansen) and 2012 Turf (Little Mike). Dominguez was the regular rider of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace and his other top mounts included champions Gio Ponti and Hansen, as well as Alpha, Stay Thirsty, Fabulous Strike, Eight Belles, Better Talk Now, Haynesfield and Bluegrass Cat. Dominguez won multiple editions of the Man o’ War, Manhattan Handicap, Beldame, Remsen and Arlington Million, as well as single runnings of the Travers, Sword Dancer, Wood Memorial, Hollywood Derby, Suburban Handicap, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Apple Blossom and Woodward, among others.

Prior to settling in New York, Dominguez was the leading rider at Delaware Park from 2004 through 2007 and won multiple meet titles at Laurel Park and Pimlico in Maryland. He won a total of 160 graded stakes and currently ranks 17th all time in earnings and 32nd in wins.

Asmussen, 50, a native of Gettysburg, S.D., ranks second all time in career wins (7,286 through April 21) and fourth in earnings ($241,026,551) in a training career that began in 1986 after a brief stint as a jockey. The Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer in 2008 and 2009, Asmussen has led all North American trainers in wins nine times and earnings three times. He has ranked in the top 10 in both wins and earnings every year since 2000. In 2004, Asmussen won 555 races to surpass the single-year record of 496 that had been held by Jack Van Berg since 1976. Asmussen broke his own record in 2008 with 621 wins and topped it once again with 650 wins in 2009.

Asmussen trained Curlin to Horse of the Year honors in 2007 and 2008 and Rachel Alexandra to the Horse of the Year title in 2009. With Curlin, Asmussen won the Preakness, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup, Woodward, Stephen Foster, Arkansas Derby, Rebel and two editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He won a third Jockey Club Gold Cup with Haynesfield. Asmussen’s key wins with Rachel Alexandra included the Preakness, Woodward, Haskell Invitational and Mother Goose. Asmussen has also trained the champions Kodiak Kowboy, My Miss Aurelia and Untapable.

Asmussen has five Breeders’ Cup victories: the 2007 Classic (Curlin), 2011 Turf Sprint (Regally Ready), 2011 Juvenile Fillies (My Miss Aurelia), 2012 Dirt Mile (Tapizar) and 2014 Distaff (Untapable). Other major wins include multiple editions of the Kentucky Oaks, Saratoga Special, Mother Goose, Woody Stephens, Woodward, Dwyer, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Cotillion, Frizette and Schuylerville, as well as single runnings of the Spinaway, Futurity, Cigar Mile, Vosburgh, Ballerina, Test, Apple Blossom and Pimlico Special, among others.

Asmussen earned his record 17th leading trainer title at Churchill Downs in the 2015 fall meeting. He has won 13 training titles at Fair Grounds, 11 at Remington Park, 11 at Lone Star Park, eight at Sam Houston and six at Oaklawn Park. He was the first trainer to surpass 1,000 wins at Lone Star. Asmussen has won a total of 190 graded stakes. He has two prospects for this year’s Kentucky Derby in Gun Runner (winner of the Louisiana Derby) and Creator (winner of the Arkansas Derby).

The contemporary electees were chosen from a nationwide voting panel comprised of 188 racing writers, broadcasters, industry officials and historians from a group of 10 finalists selected by the Hall of Fame’s 16-member Nominating Committee.

Results of the Hall of Fame’s Historic Review and Pillars of the Turf categories will be announced in May.

Breeders' Cup to Return to Churchill Downs in 2018

The Breeders’ Cup, one of Thoroughbred horse racing’s most prestigious international events, has today announced that it will return to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky in 2018. As part of the company’s ongoing strategy to maintain a three-year out host site plan, Breeders’ Cup will work closely with Churchill Downs and the local Louisville community to drive excitement and anticipation for the event over the next few years.

One of the world’s most iconic and recognized tracks, Churchill Downs last hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2011. The return to Louisville reflects the Breeders’ Cup commitment to bring the event to the country’s best racetracks and to combine the sport’s best racing with best-in-class dining, hospitality and entertainment.

“We are thrilled to announce our return to Louisville,” said Breeders’ Cup President and CEO, Craig Fravel. “Churchill Downs’ ongoing, significant investment in their facility to enhance the experience for participants and fans aligns perfectly with our desire to conduct one of the best racing events in the world, and we’re looking forward to another landmark event in 2018.”

The 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held on Friday, November 2 and Saturday, November 3, 2018 and televised live by NBC Sports Group.

Since 2011, Churchill Downs has invested more than $67 million in the facility to further elevate the experience for all fans and participants, while also introducing new, in-demand luxury seating and entertainment options. The improvements include Clubhouse enhancements, Winner’s Circle Suites, Grandstand Terrace & Rooftop Garden, The Mansion and the installation of the world’s largest 4,000 Ultra High Definition Big Board.

“We are excited that the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be returning in 2018 to Churchill Downs Racetrack, the city of Louisville and Kentucky,” said Bill Carstanjen, Chief Executive Officer, Churchill Downs Incorporated. “Fan support for the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs has been spectacular in the eight previous visits and our track has been the scene of many of the most important performances in the event’s history. I’m confident the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to Churchill Downs will be an unforgettable event.”

The 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be the ninth time that the event will be hosted at Churchill Downs which, at that time, will be tied with Santa Anita Park in California for the most ever held at one venue. In years past, largely in part to the incredible support of the Louisville community and Kentucky residents, Churchill Downs has hosted the largest Breeders’ Cup’s crowds, including a record-breaking two-day attendance figure of 114,353 in 2010, which also set a two-day on-track handle record of $22,515,318 and a total two-day handle record of $173,857,697. In 2018 these numbers have the potential to reach all-time highs as interest in the Breeders’ Cup continues to grow.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Registration Opens for Third Thoroughbred Owner Conference at Santa Anita

OwnerView, the Thoroughbred owner resource developed by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), announced that registration is open for the third edition of the Thoroughbred Owner Conference being held at Santa Anita Park, October 31 - November 3, 2016, the same week as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Like its two predecessors, the upcoming conference is designed educate, inform and entertain new, prospective and current Thoroughbred owners through a series of panels and social events.

This conference’s panels include business considerations for racehorse ownership, Breeders’ Cup winning owners, jockeys, trainers, and racehorses in Hollywood. Among the panelists are Bob Baffert, Richard Mandella, Art Sherman, Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Laffit Pincay Jr., Dean Reeves, Barbara Banke, and John Amerman.

As an added bonus, on behalf of the Breeders’ Cup, registration will include one Grandstand Reserved seating ticket for both Breeders’ Cup World Championships racing days on November 4 and 5.

“On behalf of The Jockey Club and TOBA, we are thrilled to be aligning the Thoroughbred Owner Conference with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships,” remarked Gary Falter, project manager for OwnerView. “This event provides the opportunity to learn more about ownership and network with other owners and industry participants and executives from around the country in a fabulous setting.”

“The Breeders’ Cup World Championships attracts the best Thoroughbreds from around the world, and we’re delighted that attendees from the Thoroughbred Owner Conference will have the opportunity to experience our sport on two of its greatest days with thousands of other fans,” said Craig R. Fravel, president and chief executive officer of Breeders’ Cup Ltd.

“The Stronach Group is proud to host the Thoroughbred Owner Conference at Santa Anita,” said Keith Brackpool, chairman of Santa Anita Park. “There is nothing that comes close to the thrill of owning a winning horse, especially one who wins here at Santa Anita. We look forward to sharing this beautiful venue with the participants who comprise one of racing’s most important constituencies.”

The owner conference social events include:
·The Breeders’ Cup Post-Position Draw & Reception on Monday, October 31
·Breeders’ Cup Breakfast Marquee near Clockers Corner on November 1
·Conference Dinner & Reception on November 1
·Lunch on November 1 & 2
·A reception featuring Racing Syndicates from across the U.S. on November 2
·Tour opportunities at the Rose Bowl stadium and Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden on November 3 along with an afternoon of lunch and live racing
·Reserved seating for both days of championship racing, November 4 & 5

Registrations are being taken for the full conference at $750/person. For spouses and partners who are interested in attending just the social events, a registration for social events is available at $400/person. Both types of registrations include the Breeders’ Cup tickets.

Additional information and registration forms are available at: ownerview.com/event/conference.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tornado at Will Rogers Downs Illustrates Importance of NHBPA's Disaster Coverage

Tornado damage at Will Rogers Downs (photo courtesy TRAO)
The recent tornado damage to the barn area at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla., illustrates the benefit for racetracks and training centers to participate in the National HBPA’s fire and disaster insurance policy.

Because of its size, the umbrella policy allows racing and training facilities to acquire the coverage at an affordable rate as a benefit to their owners and trainers. As a result of Will Rogers Downs participating in the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association’s group plan, insurance will pay for the financial losses incurred by affected trainers and horse owners. The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma is an HBPA affiliate; however, non-HBPA affiliated tracks and training facilities also can participate in the disaster insurance.

“In the case of an emergency, the National HBPA and HBPA affiliates are always standing ready to help,” said Eric Hamelback, the NHBPA’s CEO. “One benefit of being a National HBPA member, as Oklahoma and Will Rogers Downs will find out, is the fire and disaster policy that can be acquired through us for racetrack and training facilities.

“Natural disasters strike with little warning. Having the benefit of this fire and disaster policy gives you some piece of mind.”

 The Will Rogers backstretch was extensively damaged, including the destruction of half of two 36-stall barns, when a tornado hit the area March 30. No humans were injured, with two horses suffering injuries, one relatively minor and the other saved but quite possibly through racing, according to Danielle Barber, executive director of the Oklahoma horsemen’s association.

Barber said several trainers lost all their tack and feed, with the extent of damage still to be determined while safety considerations prevent going back into the barns. With those trainers having relatively small operations, that remains a significant financial hit.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Barber, who praised Will Rogers track team for working quickly to minimize potential injury to horses. “Those guys in that barn only have between five and 10 horses. That’s what they do for a living. If they (horses) are all gone, it would be hard to start back. You hope it never happens to you. But if it does, you hope you’re covered.”

Will Rogers’ mixed meet of thoroughbreds and quarter horses runs through May. 21. Racing resumed Monday.

For information on how to help the affected Will Rogers horsemen through donations of barn and horse supplies, call the National HBPA’s Lexington office at (859) 259-0451 or email Hamelback at ehamelback@hbpa.org.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Statement from Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA, on the passing of Ogden Mills Phipps

Statement from Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA, on the passing of Ogden Mills Phipps:

Today is a day of sorrow expressed by the entire Thoroughbred racing world. Mr. Phipps and his family are icons within the sport, and at this time of grieving we all should reflect on the influence he had on our industry.

The National HBPA and its members truly appreciate what Mr. Phipps has done for this industry. As the great Henry Ford once said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are ‘going’ to do.” Mr. Phipps had, even in times of disagreement, the utmost respect for every participant in racing, and he built a reputation and a legacy which will have a long lasting effect on future generations. 

The National HBPA and its members send our sincere condolences to his entire family.

Longtime Jockey Club Chairman Ogden Mills Phipps Dies

Ogden Mills (Dinny) Phipps, a prominent American financier, Thoroughbred owner and breeder, and former longtime chairman of The Jockey Club, died Wednesday night April 6, 2016, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He was 75 years old.

Under his direction, Phipps Stable campaigned numerous winners of prestigious American Thoroughbred races, including Orb, the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner that was owned in partnership with his cousin Stuart S. Janney III.

Phipps was the great grandson of Henry Phipps, the partner of the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie; the grandson of Henry Carnegie Phipps and Gladys Livingston Mills Phipps; and the son of Lillian Bostwick Phipps, who died in 1987, and Ogden Phipps, who passed away in 2002. He was predeceased in 2007 by his sister, Cynthia Phipps.

Between 1976 and 1994, Phipps served as Chairman of the Board of Bessemer Trust, the private bank and investment advisor established by the Phipps family in 1907. He was also chairman of Bessemer Securities Corporation from 1982 until 1994. He continued to serve on the two Bessemer boards until he retired in 2015.

He served on the board of the King Ranch from 1996 until 2004 and also served on the Board of Governors for New York-Presbyterian Hospitals Inc.

A New York native and more recently a resident of Palm Beach, Fla., Phipps was Chairman and CEO of the New York Racing Association Inc. from 1976 to 1983. He was elected chairman of The Jockey Club in February 1983 and served in that capacity until he retired in August 2015 to become Honorary Chairman.

His tenure as Chairman of The Jockey Club is the longest in the history of the organization, which was created in 1894. Stuart S. Janney III was elected to succeed Phipps as chairman of The Jockey Club in August 2015.

The Jockey Club’s primary responsibility is to maintain The American Stud Book and ensure the integrity and welfare of the Thoroughbred breed in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

The organization, directly or through its subsidiaries, also provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms, among others.

Phipps attended Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass., and Yale University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963. He was an accomplished athlete and will be inducted into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame this summer (as his father was previously). He was also an avid golfer and outdoorsman.

He held a variety of board positions in the Thoroughbred industry, including with Breeders’ Cup Ltd., Blood-Horse, National Thoroughbred Racing Association Inc., the Equibase Management Committee, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, and the wholly owned subsidiaries of The Jockey Club.

Phipps owned and raced Successor, the champion juvenile colt of 1966; Rhythm, the champion 2-year-old colt of 1989; Inside Information, the champion older filly or mare of 1995; Storm Flag Flying, the 2-year-old filly champion of 2002; and Smuggler, the 3-year-old filly champion of 2005.

Other stakes winners bred and/or owned by Phipps include Adjudicating, Awe Inspiring, Boisterous, Dancing Forever, Dispute, Duty Dance, Educated Risk, Imagining, Intrepid Hero, Majestic Light, Mining, Mr. Speaker, Persistently, Pleasant Home, Point of Entry, Time for a Change, and Time Tested.

Phipps called Rhythm’s triumph in the 1990 Travers Stakes, come-from-behind victories by Personal Ensign in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Storm Flag Flying in the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Inside Information’s six stakes victories in 1995, and Orb’s Kentucky Derby win in 2013 his most memorable moments in Thoroughbred racing.

He was honored with numerous awards for his contributions to the sport throughout the years.

In 1978, Phipps received an Eclipse Award of Merit and was honored by the New York Turf Writers’ Association in recognition of his successful effort to have the takeout on wagers at NYRA tracks reduced.

In subsequent years, he received the Industry Service Award from the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Ogden Phipps Outstanding Breeder Award from the New York Turf Writers’ Association, TOBA’s “national breeder of the year,” the Earle Mack Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Champion Award for his outstanding efforts and influence on Thoroughbred racehorse welfare, and was the honored guest of the Thoroughbred Club of America’s Annual Testimonial Dinner.

Last August, at the conclusion of The Jockey Club’s annual Round Table Conference, Janney, on behalf of the Board of Stewards, presented Phipps with The Jockey Club Medal, a medal Phipps had presented to 16 others previously for exceptional contributions to the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry.

In making the presentation, Janney said, “He’s not much for fanfare, particularly any that focuses on him, but he richly deserves accolades for the time and effort he’s devoted to the Thoroughbred industry in general and The Jockey Club in particular over a long period of time.”

Throughout his tenure, Phipps remained deeply committed to The Jockey Club’s two charitable organizations, which helped horses and people (Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation); both have raised and distributed millions of dollars.

He never hesitated to lend The Jockey Club’s support to any initiative that he felt would help the sport, particularly with regard to matters of integrity, equine welfare, and marketing.

His motivation for spending so much of his time and energy on racing issues was embodied in two sentences from a keynote address he delivered in Paris in October 2014 at the meeting of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities:

“Quite simply, I see it as a way of giving back to a sport that has provided me with so much enjoyment. That was probably passed on to me from my dad, and I try to instill that sense of responsibility and commitment in my kids.”

Phipps is survived by his wife of 46 years, Andrea; children Kayce, Kelley, Lilly, Daisy, Samantha, and Ogden; and 24 grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation or The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation. Both are located at The Jockey Club, 40 E. 52nd Street (15th floor), New York, NY 10022.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

RCI Adds Town Hall Meetings at Keeneland, Remington and Lone Star

The Association of Racing Commissioners International has scheduled three additional town hall meetings in an effort to unify the racing industry and develop a consensus path to improve the policing of the sport and advance uniform regulatory policies.

The next public meeting will take place at 10:30 a.m., April 7 at Keeneland. Those interested in attending are asked to pre-register. There is no charge.

Previous meetings have been held at Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park. The ARCI is also working with existing organizations to conduct meetings. During March the association conducted sessions in conjunction with the Organization of Racing Investigators, as well as the "Mid-Atlantic Group" that has effectively pursued uniform regulatory policies in its region.

Additional town hall meetings are being planned for Lone Star Park April 18 and at Remington Park April 19.

Click here to register for the Lone Star Park meeting.

Click here to register for the Remington Park meeting.

The ARCI effort is comprised of public meetings, private group discussions, webinar meetings, and an online survey for those unable to participate in person. Organizations interested in co-hosting a webinar or in-person meeting should contact the ARCI office at 859-224-7070.

Details will be posted as they become available on the ARCI website.

Claiming Crown Set for Gulfstream Park through 2018

Gulfstream Park, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) announced today the $1.1 million Claiming Crown will continue to be held at Gulfstream through 2018.

This December will mark the fifth consecutive year that the Claiming Crown will be held at Gulfstream Park. It will also mark the 18th consecutive year of the event. The inaugural Claiming Crown was held in suburban Minneapolis at Canterbury Park in 1999. The Claiming Crown had also been held previously at Parx, Fair Grounds and Ellis Park. The event was started to reward the blue-collar horses that provide the backbone of day-to-day racing programs.

Total handle for the Claiming Crown the past two seasons at Gulfstream has topped $10 million.

“We're delighted to secure the Claiming Crown through 2018 and continue growing our partnership with members of the National HBPA and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association,” said P.J. Campo, General Manager of Gulfstream Park and Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group. “We've received incredible support from horsemen throughout North America as well as fans. We're pleased to have the opportunity to continue to grow this event at Gulfstream Park.”

Said Dan Metzger, President of TOBA: “The Claiming Crown has enjoyed unparalleled success since moving to Gulfstream Park and we are thrilled to be able to continue to host the event there for the next three years. Over the last four years, the Claiming Crown has been elevated to a more prominent status on the racing calendar and this agreement solidifies our remarkable partnership with both Gulfstream Park and the Florida HBPA.”

“Members of the National HBPA are very pleased to once again partner with The Stronach Group, Gulfstream Park and the Florida HBPA to host the 2016 Claiming Crown,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. “This event has grown in popularity with both horsemen and handicappers, and together with TOBA we look forward to raising the profile of the Claiming Crown even higher in the years to come.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback's Letter to the Editor in TDN Addresses HR 3084

Eric Hamelback
National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback's Letter to the Editor regarding the Thoroughbred Racing Integrity Act of 2015, or HR 3084, was published in the March 28 edition of Thoroughbred Daily News.

The letter begins:

"The Thoroughbred Racing Integrity Act of 2015, or HR 3084, has recently been brought back into the Turf Media among certain proponents, even though its hopes of passage hover conservatively around 4%. Somehow, despite this, the discussion of medication uniformity via an added layer of bureaucracy to our sport continues to dominate our press. As stated several times within the last few months, the National HBPA, its affiliates and members stand ready to be fully supportive of national medication policies. The distinction between our request and some may say our demands, is that we stand firm to the principle that uniformity must be fair and equitable and based on scientific evidence: a concern which is shared by more than one State Attorney General. It is only with legitimate thresholds that we can ensure a level playing field, while preventing unjust penalties from being applied to innocent horsemen. HR 3084 is being positioned, by some, as the only way to achieve National Uniformity, when the truth is the fastest route to National Uniformity is to get the details within the rules correct. In every case in which the rules have been based on solid reasoning, uniformity across jurisdictions has followed rapidly."

To read the entire letter in TDN, click here.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Horseplayer Judy Wagner Elevated to be New ARCI Chair

(from ARCI news release)The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) has installed Judy Wagner as its new Chair for 2016-2017.

Recently re-appointed to the Louisiana State Racing Commission by Governor John Bel Edwards, Wagner is the first horseplayer to assume the helm of North America’s umbrella group of racing regulatory bodies.  

Mrs. Wagner is the only woman to have won the National Handicapping Championship (2001) and is a member of the National Handicapping Championship’s Hall of Fame. In 2007 she joined the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) National Player’s Committee.

In 2014, Mrs. Wagner was appointed as the first and only horseplayer to the NTRA Board of Directors. In 2015, she was elected to a three-year term.

A native of Mississippi and former school teacher, Mrs. Wagner fell in love with horse racing and owned horses from 1995 to 2006. She has been a national leader in lobbying Congress on matters pertaining to tax fairness for horseplayers as well as owners and breeders.

Wagner succeeds Arkansas State Racing Commissioner Mark Lamberth as the ARCI Chair.  Lamberth will continue to serve on the ARCI Board and Executive Committee.

The ARCI Board also selected the Chair of the Washington Horse Racing Commission, Jeffry Colliton, as Secretary and Chair-elect. J. Michael Hopkins, long time Executive Director of the Maryland Racing Commission was elected Treasurer.

In addition to automatic representatives from New York, California, New Jersey, Ontario, and Kentucky the following individuals were re-elected to “at-large” positions on the ARCI Board of Directors: Dan Hartman – Colorado Division of Racing Events;  Larry Eliason - South Dakota Commission on Gaming; Tom Sage – Nebraska State Racing Commission;  David Lornergard- Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority; Steve Suttie – Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency; Tom DiPasquale – Minnesota Racing Commission;  John Wayne – Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission; Bill Phillips - West Virginia Racing Commission, and Edward Menton - Mobile County (Alabama) Racing Commission.

Bill White Re-Elected to Second Term as Floirida HBPA President

(from Florida HBPA news release)Re-elected on March 24, 2016 to a second term as President of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association was William P. “Bill” White, who led the organization this past year to defeat what would have been a major overhaul of state pari-mutuel statutes to the detriment of Florida horse racing and breeding operations.

With their supermajority vote propelling him to his second term, the FHBPA Board of Directors recognized White’s unprecedented efforts to galvanize Florida’s Thoroughbred owners and trainers toward a more effective presence in Florida’s tumultuous political scene.  Putting the FHBPA at the head of United Florida Horsemen, a legislative advocacy group, White established a substantial and nationwide coalition of Thoroughbred, American Quarter Horse and Standardbred interests to educate legislators and represent a spectrum of nearly 350,000 Florida and national horsemen.

Traveling the state to ensure a personal presence at industry and governmental meetings, White also worked closely with FHBPA Vice President Tom Cannell and other Board members to revitalize the FHBPA with the hire of Executive Director Glen Berman, and an overhaul of the FHBPA website and communications efforts to entail a move toward electronic membership management and voting procedures.

Known for his powerful “locker room” speeches, University of South Florida masters graduate White honed his oratory gravitas as a high school teacher and sports coach.  But the love of horse racing instilled in him by his grandfather at an early age lured him to the racetrack and he  began training horses full-time in South Florida in 1986.  One of an elite group of Thoroughbred trainers in history who have won 2,000 races, White’s training prowess also earned him induction into the Calder Race Course Hall of Fame.

The FHBPA will finalize its Committee assignments imminently.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Equine Injury Database: Fatal Injuries Decline by 14 Percent

An analysis of data from the Equine Injury Database, comparing 2015 statistics with figures from 2014, has shown a 14 percent decrease in the frequency of fatal injury, it was announced today by The Jockey Club.

Across all surfaces, ages, and distances, the fatality rate dropped from 1.89 per 1,000 starts in 2014 to 1.62 per 1,000 starts in 2015. The overall fatality rate of 1.62 per 1,000 starts is the lowest since the Equine Injury Database started publishing annual statistics in 2009.

Dr. Tim Parkin, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow, who serves as a consultant on the Equine Injury Database, once again performed the analysis.

“We’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of fatalities and that is certainly very encouraging,” Parkin said. “We will continue to examine data and look for trends, but the wide-ranging safety initiatives embraced by tracks, horsemen, and regulators in recent years have very likely played a role in the reduction of injuries and fatalities.”

The fatality rates associated with each racing surface were as follows:
*On turf surfaces, there were 1.22 fatalities per 1,000 starts in 2015, compared to 1.75 in 2014.
*On dirt surfaces, there were 1.78 fatalities per 1,000 starts in 2015, compared to 2.02 in 2014.
*On synthetic surfaces, there were 1.18 fatalities per 1,000 starts in 2015, compared to 1.20 in 2014.

Fatality rates based on distance and age were also released today.

An analysis of 2015 race distance statistics shows that shorter races (less than 6 furlongs) were again associated with higher injury rates versus middle distance races (6 to 8 furlongs) and long races (more than 8 furlongs). This has been consistent each year over the seven-year span.

Two-year-olds continued the trend of having the lowest rate of catastrophic injuries while 3-year-olds had a lower rate of catastrophic injuries than horses 4 years old and older.

The statistics are based on injuries that resulted in fatalities within 72 hours from the date of the race. Summary statistics are subject to change due to a number of considerations, including reporting timeliness.

A graph depicting all updated statistical data pertaining to surface, distance, and age is available at jockeyclub.com/pdfs/eid_7_year_tables.pdf.

“When we first starting collecting data in 2007, we realized that the more data we obtained and analyzed, the more we would learn,” said Dr. Mary Scollay, the equine medical director for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a consultant to the EID. “These improving fatality rates are clear evidence that we can move the needle and that the efforts of so many are truly bearing fruit.”

“This database was created with the goal of improving safety and preventing injuries, and we are now doing that thanks to the participation and cooperation of so many racetracks,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “We applaud all tracks that have contributed data to this project, and we are especially grateful to those who have chosen to make their statistics publicly available on the EID website.”

A list of racetracks participating in the Equine Injury Database and detailed statistics from those tracks that voluntarily publish their results can be found at jockeyclub.com/default.asp?section=Advocacy&area=11.

Throughout the course of 2016, racetracks accounting for 96% of flat racing days are expected to contribute data to the EID.

The Equine Injury Database, conceived at the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation’s first Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, was launched by The Jockey Club in July 2008 and seeks to identify the frequencies, types, and outcomes of racing injuries using a standardized format that generates valid statistics, identifies markers for horses at increased risk of injury, and serves as a data source for research directed at improving safety and preventing injuries.