Churchill Downs Incorporated Racetracks Maintain Focus on Safety as Spring Racing Seasons Begin
CDI Racetracks to Renew Accreditation through NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance
Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI” or “the Company”) (NASDAQ: CHDN) today re-emphasized the ongoing safety initiatives its four racetracks have in place as part of the Company’s Safety from Start to Finish program. The Company will continue to highlight these safety and integrity measures as three CDI tracks – Arlington Park, Calder Casino & Race Course and Churchill Downs Racetrack – begin their spring racing seasons in late April and early May and as Churchill Downs hosts the 137th renewals of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks sports and entertainment events May 6-7 in Louisville, Ky.
CDI’s Safety from Start to Finish program was launched in March 2009 and was designed to offer a comprehensive approach to improving the safety of the horses and human beings who work, train and compete at CDI racing venues. Key features of the program include
- Independent, standardized third-party testing and monitoring of track surfaces;
- “Supertesting” of all winning horses for more than 100 performance-enhancing drugs for every race;
- Age restrictions requiring Thoroughbreds to be at least 24 calendar months of age before becoming eligible to race;
- The banning of steroids;
- The prohibition of “milkshaking”, which results in excessive levels of total carbon dioxide in Thoroughbred racehorses;
- Prohibiting the transport of horses from CDI facilities for slaughter;
- Permanent revocation of stall privileges for any owner or trainer who sells a horse for slaughter that was previously stabled at a CDI track;
- The banning of unsafe horseshoes, including front shoe toe grabs longer than two millimeters;
- The use of low-impact riding whips with limited usage rules;
- The presence of on-site medical personnel, equipment, and state-of-the-art equine ambulances;
- Immediate online access to jockey medical histories for emergency medical personnel;
- $1 million in catastrophic injury insurance coverage for jockeys;
- Mandatory and uniform reporting of equine injuries to the Equine Injury Database System, thereby assisting in the compilation of statistics and trends to improve safety conditions around the country;
- Professionally designed and installed safety rails on the inside of the dirt courses;
- Mandatory usage by all jockeys, exercise riders and other on-track personnel of safety vests and safety helmets that meet internationally acknowledged quality standards;
- 3/8-inch foam padding on all parts of the starting gates;
- Inspection of all horses by regulatory veterinarians prior to and following all races;
- Review of security procedures around the barns and other racetrack backstretch areas; and
- Continued maintenance of protocols for the treatment of horses that have been injured during racing or training, to ensure the most humane treatment possible.
CDI tracks will continue to work with Dr. Mick Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine who is widely considered the world’s foremost racing surfaces researcher, to routinely examine and test their respective racing surfaces for safety and consistency. CDI has worked with Dr. Peterson to evaluate its racing surfaces since launching the Safety from Start to Finish program two years ago.
Additionally, all four CDI tracks are working with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s (“NTRA”) Safety and Integrity Alliance to extend their accreditation with the Alliance for another two-year period. Churchill Downs was the first U.S. racetrack to be accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance in April 2009.
“Horses will make more than 30,000 starts in races at CDI’s four tracks this year, and nothing is more important to our Company than the safety of those horses, their jockeys and the employees who work collaboratively to deliver each live racing program at our venues,” said CDI President & Chief Operating Officer William C. Carstanjen. “With Kentucky Derby Week and the start of our 2011 spring race meets just around the corner, it’s important to remind everyone who visits our facilities, including the thousands of horsemen and women and employees who spend their working days with us, that safety in all aspects of our business operations is of utmost importance. We are pleased to be working again with the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance and the racing regulators in the states where we operate to ensure that our facilities provide safe environments for all who frequent them – and to ensure the Thoroughbred industry as a whole continues to make safety and integrity a top priority.”
Through the Safety from Start to Finish program, CDI also raises money and awareness for racehorse retirement and aftercare programs. Over the last decade, CDI and its employees have contributed more than $270,000 to nonprofit organizations who help care for and find new homes and careers for retired racehorses.
Calder Casino & Race Course hosts its season opener on April 25. Churchill Downs kicks off its 137th Spring Meet on April 30 with the track’s first-ever “Opening Night” event. Arlington Park debuts its 2011 racing season, themed “Entertainment Extravaganza,” on May 6 just in time for the Kentucky Oaks and the Chicago area’s largest Derby party on May 7. Meanwhile, pending the approval of racing dates, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will resume live racing this fall with its annual Quarter Horse Meet.
Additional information about CDI’s Safety from Start to Finish program can be found online at www.churchilldowns.com/safety.