By: Frank Angst

Using the recent accreditation of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance as an example, NTRA president Alex Waldrop said the industry can work with regulators to improve the sport.

Speaking during the Thoroughbred racing committee meeting at the Association of Racing Commissioners International conference March 23 in New Orleans, Waldrop announced the accreditation of the Crescent City track. Waldrop said the industry and regulators can work together to improve in areas like safety of equine and human participants, and integrity in the wagering product.

He noted that Louisiana regulations currently do not require third-party administration of race-day furosemide and the state allows race-day use of adjunct bleeder medications. Those rules are not up to Alliance standards, whichlike the National Uniform Medication Programcall for third-party furosemide administration and prohibition of the adjuncts.

Waldrop said Fair Grounds will now work to have regulators change those policies.

“We accredited Fair Grounds, but we accredited them with the understanding that they would advocate, over the next two years, with their regulators to see that that gets accomplished,” Waldrop said. “It’s not to be combative or accusatory. We’re not putting out a press release trying to embarrass anybody, but we are going to ask Fair Grounds to work day in and day out to try to find a way to overcome these challenges.”

Waldrop believes that track advocacy can help regulators move forward on the policies the industry wants.

“We constructively engage with regulators at every turn, not to confront or be combative, but to say to regulators, ‘This is where the industry wants to go’,” Waldrop said. “It’s the racetrack saying, ‘I want to be regulated like everyone else in this industry. I want uniformity for my participants—the horsemen who go from state to state and track to track. Uniformity is important for them, and that helps me attract horses and run a better business’.”

Waldrop said the Alliance has been an important tool for bringing changes in the areas of safety and integrity, and because those changes are in line with RCI’s model rules, they encourage uniformity.

“(The industry has) lots of ideas about how to make racing safer. What we decided was there has to be a movement toward implementation,” Waldrop said. “We can talk a good game, but we’ve had trouble implementing that game on a state-by-state basis.”

Waldrop said, with bettors playing tracks throughout the country and more casual fans turning in to watch the sport’s biggest events, horse racing has to realize that no track and no state is an island. A safety or integrity issue at any track can reflect poorly on the entire sport.