At this morning’s Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., The Jockey Club’s President and Chief Operating Officer James L. Gagliano announced that the organization’s board of stewards has committed funding over the next five years to implement many of the wide-ranging recommendations contained in the major industry study entitled, “Driving Sustainable Growth for Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding.”
The study, commissioned by The Jockey Club and conducted in association with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, analyzed the current state and prospective future of Thoroughbred racing and breeding in North America. The findings and recommendations of the study were announced at the Round Table Conference by Dan Singer and Michael Lamb, director and principal, respectively, in McKinsey & Company’s Media and Entertainment Practice.
The nine recommendations outlined in the study focus on:
- Increased television coverage
- A free-to-play website
- Fewer, better races and better scheduling to increase field size and showcase the best product
- Creation of a social game
- Innovative wagering platforms
- Track-integrated ADW
- Racing integrity reforms
- Encouragement of ownership through greater transparency
- Dissemination of best practices from tracks around the country
Gagliano pledged the financial, technological and human resources of The Jockey Club to implement many of these recommendations. He also announced that the organization has continued its relationship with McKinsey & Company, with Singer and Lamb still leading the effort, and will leverage McKinsey’s considerable network of contacts and resources.
“We now have in our possession a comprehensive and clearly defined strategy for growth,” said Gagliano. “When the initiatives you heard about today have progressed from ‘recommendation’ to ‘reality,’ you will see sustainable growth for Thoroughbred racing and breeding.
“We have already begun discussions with television networks and production companies concerning a televised racing series and creation of a free-to-play website and social game. In addition, through our InCompass subsidiary, we’ve begun building a predictive tool that will help racetracks identify more lucrative dates and times for their races.”
While the second half of the two-hour conference focused on the industry study, the first half featured segments devoted to the Thoroughbred Safety Committee and the Equine Injury Database.
Stuart S. Janney III, chairman of the Thoroughbred Safety Committee, announced that The Jockey Club — with input from several other industry organizations — has produced a comprehensive set of reformed racing medication rules designed to establish a new paradigm in U.S. pari-mutuel racing to protect the health and safety of equine athletes and enhance the integrity of the sport.
The 2011 Reformed Racing Medication Rules integrate rules drawn from numerous sources, including individual racing jurisdictions, the Association of Racing Commissioners International, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.
The Reformed Racing Medication Rules were produced in collaboration with RMTC board members Dr. Rick Arthur, Alan Foreman, Ed Martin and Andrew Schweigardt as well as Dr. Rick Sams, Dr. Scott Stanley, Dr. Tom David and Dr. Mary Scollay.
The reformed medication rules include:
- a simplified two category drug classification system consisting of controlled therapeutic medications and prohibited substances,
- regulatory limits and/or administration guidelines for all controlled therapeutic medications,
- a requirement that all drug-testing laboratories are accredited by the RMTC,
- enhanced race-day security measures for in-today horses,
- greater coordination and mutual enforcement of penalties among racing jurisdictions, and
- stricter penalties for prohibited substances and repeat offenders.
Janney also announced two new recommendations from the Thoroughbred Safety Committee pertaining to medication rules and veterinarian compensation.
In regard to medication rules, the committee calls for:
- The immediate adoption by the Association of Racing Commissioners International and United States racing authorities of the proposed Reformed Racing Medication Rules and new penalty structure.
In regard to veterinarian compensation, the committee calls for:
- Veterinary fee structures that properly recognize the value of examinations, diagnostics and professional services independent of the dispensing and administration of medications while maintaining fee neutrality. It further encourages close collaboration and consultation among the trainer, veterinarian and owner in the diagnosis and treatment of the Thoroughbred racehorse.
“Veterinarians have shared their concern that the majority of their revenue is derived from the administration and dispensing of medication while receiving little or no compensation for examinations, diagnostics or other professional serves,” said Janney. “Is it any wonder that our industry is criticized for being overmedicated?
“We agree with the American Association of Equine Practitioners, which addressed this very subject in a white paper, that such a revenue model is fundamentally flawed. Veterinary fee structures should place emphasis upon the value of professional services rather than the administration and dispensing of medication, and further illustrates the importance and need for good communication between the owner, trainer and veterinarian.”
A copy of the entire text of the new recommendations, along with the first 11 recommendations issued by the Thoroughbred Safety Committee, is available at jockeyclub.com/tsc.asp.
During a segment on the Equine Injury Database, Dr. Tim Parkin, an epidemiologist at the University of Glasgow and a consultant to the Equine Injury Database, identified risk factors associated with catastrophic lower limb fracture, based on analyses of more than 1.5 million starts in the database.
Thoroughbreds at the highest risk of catastrophic lower limb fracture were those that:
- Made their first start within the previous nine months, and raced more than 10 times within the last six months before a race, and had not started in a race within the last 15-to-30 days
- Were colts or ridglings over the age of six that made their first career start at age six or older
Parkin added that an extra year of race data will be available for analysis in November, which will enable identification of more subtle injury relationships.
During his closing remarks, The Jockey Club Chairman Ogden Mills Phipps announced that the organization’s stewards have approved certain revisions to the Principal Rules and Requirements of The American Stud Book, including the addition of provisions to deny privileges to individuals determined to have significant medication violations in Thoroughbred racing.
“Consistent with application of rules concerning those found to have mistreated Thoroughbreds, under Rule 19 The Jockey Club may now deny privileges to The American Stud Book to individuals determined to have been either the subject of medication violations involving certain classes of drugs with no legitimate use in racing, or have been determined to have violated medication rules three or more times in a 365-day period,” said Phipps.
The online rule book is available at jockeyclub.com/registry.asp?section=3.
A replay of the Round Table Conference video stream, as well as a PowerPoint presentation and other selected materials from the economic study, is expected to be available at jockeyclub.com late Sunday afternoon. An official transcript of the proceedings will be available at the website on August 17.
The Jockey Club Round Table Conference was first held on July 1, 1953, in The Jockey Club office in New York City. The following year, it was moved to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where it has been held every August since.
The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club 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.