Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Keeneland and Churchill Downs

Every week Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to recognize those doing good in the horse world. This week we recognize Keeneland and Churchill Downs, which are reinforcing their commitment to safety with racing and training reforms.

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With the spotlight on the horse racing industry, many tracks are taking steps to further ensure the safety of the horses. Keeneland and Churchill Downs are two such tracks. On Thursday, February 7, the tracks jointly announced major changes in training and racing policies in order to strengthen safety protocols. The reforms include mandatory veterinary inspections before workouts and race entry as well as enhanced reporting and transparency requirements for trainers and attending veterinarians when it comes to the fitness of the horses to work and race.

These reforms also apply to horses stabled at Keeneland’s The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington and the Churchill Downs Training Center in Louisville.

In a significant step to promote integrity in racing, Keeneland and Churchill Downs will ban the race-day use of Lasix in all 2-year-old races under the International Medication Protocol authority granted in 810 KAR 8:050 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations beginning with Keeneland’s 2020 Spring Meet and following at Churchill Downs Racetrack’s 2020 Spring Meet. Kentucky’s Thoroughbred race tracks supported sweeping medication reforms, including the Lasix ban, adopted by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) in late 2019.

Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason and Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said in a joint statement, “These meaningful reforms further advance our commitment to create the safest possible environment for racing and training. Race tracks, horsemen and the veterinary community share a responsibility for the welfare of our human and equine athletes and to promote the sport for generations of fans to come.”

Changes will go into effectg with the opening of the stable areas at Keeneland and Churchill Downs. Trainers and attending veterinarians must agree to the following conditions in order to participate in the racing programs at either track:

  • A trainer is not permitted to enter a horse in any race unless the horse has been found fit to race by the attending veterinarian during the three days immediately prior to entry, and
  • A trainer is not permitted to work a horse unless the horse has been found fit to work by the attending veterinarian during the five days immediately before the work.

Trainers and attending veterinarians are obligated to inform the equine medical director at the appropriate race track and the KHRC of any changes in a horse’s fitness after an examination has been conducted.

Additionally, all horses at Keeneland and Churchill Downs will be subject to veterinary inspections by the tracks’ respective equine medical directors and to veterinary monitoring.

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected] Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.