By: Tom LaMarra/THA
Two West Virginia racetracks have submitted applications for accreditation through the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, which in part encourages best practices and adoption of national model rules.
Officials at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort just before Christmas told the West Virginia Racing Commission they had completed the applications. The WVRC in the summer of 2016 became the first regulatory agency in the United States to mandate that its Thoroughbred tracks apply for accreditation through the alliance.
Twenty-three racetracks are accredited under the program, which focuses on the following: injury reported and prevention; creating a safer racing and training environment; uniform medication, drug testing, and penalties; safety and health of jockeys; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; and wagering security.
The alliance’s code of standards was updated for 2017 to include a January 2019 deadline for total compliance with the National Uniform Medication Program as well as implementation of best practices for test-barn chain of custody and related procedures.
West Virginia, as part of an earlier initiative among Mid-Atlantic and Northeast racetracks, horsemen’s groups and regulators that facilitated uniformity in medication and testing, has fully adopted NUMP. Horses regularly ship to and from Charles Town in particular to race in neighboring Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Because of statutory requirements, changes and updates in model rules must be submitted to and approved by the West Virginia legislature on a yearly basis. In that regard, WVRC officials Dec. 20 said they are in the process of compiling a list of model rule changes and NTRA safety standards that will be submitted to lawmakers as part of the 2017 legislative process.
West Virginia also plans to continue building upon an out-of-competition testing program it began for its graded stakes in 2016.
WVRC Executive Director Joe Moore said staff is working to “finesse the budget” to free up funds for out-of-competition testing in 2017. The Association of Racing Commissioners International Dec. 9 approved an expanded and more stringent national model rule for out-of-competition testing.