Recent Reforms Significantly Enhance Safety Protocols at Kentucky Tracks

Earlier this year, Keeneland announced major changes in racing and training policies to strengthen safety protocols at the track. Reforms included mandatory veterinary inspections prior to workouts and race entry and enhanced reporting and transparency requirements for trainers and attending veterinarians with regard to the fitness of horses to work and race. 

These reforms also apply to horses stabled at Keeneland’s The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington.  

In a significant step to promote integrity in racing, Keeneland banned the race-day use of Lasix in all 2-year-old races beginning with the 2020 Summer Meet. 

The Lasix ban was among a number of sweeping medication reforms in Kentucky that Keeneland supported and which became effective Aug. 25, 2020, as state regulations. 

Following are the reforms:

  • The aforementioned ban on the use of furosemide, commonly known as Lasix, on race day for 2-year-olds. This ban will extend to horses entered in stakes races in 2021.
  • The pre-race window for administration of corticosteroids for intra-articular injections was extended from seven to 14 days pre-race.
  • The pre-race window for administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) was extended from 24 to 48 hours.
  • Stacking pre-race NSAIDs is prohibited – if more than one NSAID is given, the first must be at least 48 hours before the race and the second can be administered no less than four days pre-race.
  • The use of bisphosphonates is prohibited in horses younger than 4 years old. May be used in horses four and older to treat navicular syndrome. The drug may only be administered by a veterinarian and the horse must remain on the Vet’s List for at least six months.
  • Race-day therapies are restricted to nebulizers. Spas, cryotherapies and magnet wave treatments are prohibited. 

Pre-Race/Workout Exams and Maintenance of Medical Records

Requirements for additional veterinary exams and maintenance of a horse’s medical records are further strengthened via state regulation and house rule at Keeneland: 

  • Attending veterinarians are required to examine and certify the medical fitness of a horse within three days of entry in a race.
  • Attending veterinarians must examine and certify the medical fitness of a horse within five days before a timed workout.
  • Trainers and attending veterinarians are obligated to inform the Equine Safety Director and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission of any changes in a horse’s fitness after an examination has been conducted.
  • Trainers are required to have signed horsemen/veterinarian agreements on file with Keeneland.
  • A horse’s medical records must be submitted at the time of entry, including an accurate record of any treatment administered during the prior 14 days.
  • All horses at Keeneland are subject to veterinary inspections by the Equine Safety   Director.