A comprehensive collection of Thoroughbred racing organizations in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic has endorsed a plan to put in place best practices at racetracks and better monitor racehorse injuries as part of an effort to reduce breakdowns.
The plan, which was approved by the organizations at a meeting on March 21 after a year-long process, has similarities to a list of recommendations that were developed by a task force convened in New York in 2012 after a string of fatalities at Aqueduct Racetrack. A member of that task force, Alan Foreman, a Maryland attorney who has been heavily involved in racing organizations for three decades, shepherded the mid-Atlantic plan through the approval process.
The plan was endorsed by 29 organizations in six states, including Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The endorsing organizations represent racing commissions, breeders’ groups, horsemen’s organizations, and racetracks.
The plan, which contains broad principles rather than a highly specific list of action items, calls for the groups to adhere to “evidence-based” practices in an effort to reduce catastrophic injuries. It also mandates that the groups share information about injuries and coordinate efforts to identify risk factors that may be unique to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic horse populations. Horses in the area are frequently shipped among the tracks in the region.
“We need to focus on protecting our horses, and there’s only one way to do it – collaboratively, collectively, and comprehensively,” said Foreman. “We all have to contribute.”
The adoption of the plan coincides with an industry-wide review of medication practices and management of racehorse injuries spurred on by a spate on breakdowns at Santa Anita Park in Southern California this winter. However, Foreman said that the timing of the approval of the plan was entirely coincidental to that review, considering that meetings to develop the plan began early last year and that the March meeting to approve it was scheduled in January of this year.
Foreman formed a Mid-Atlantic-based breakaway horsemen’s group called the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association in 1994 after groups in the area expressed dissatisfaction with the leadership of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Since then, the group has acted largely in the interests of rank-and-file horsemen in the Mid-Atlantic area, but the group has also expanded its circle of influence to include racing regulators and breeders’ organizations in an attempt to unify the region under a single set of rules, with some success.
Foreman acknowledged that the plan endorsed last week contains items that have already been implemented in many of the Mid-Atlantic states, but he also said that the plan will codify the strategic direction for all Thoroughbred constituencies in the region and act as a foundation for the implementation of other practices and protocols.
“The important thing is that we now have a way to move forward as a region, and we have a set of principles to do that,” he said.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
Visit DRF.com for additional news, notes, wagering information, and more.