News and STORIES

More Safety Reforms, Purse Hikes Come To Breeders' Cup

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Wednesday March 04, 2020
The 2020 edition of the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Keeneland will adopt six recommendations made by Dr. Larry Bramlage. The decision follows the death of Mongolian Groom in the 2019 edition, and Breeders' Cup announced the news on March 3. 

The organization released a set of reforms that were approved by the Breeders' Cup board during a regular meeting on Feb. 25. The changes are meant to reaffirm their position as a leader within the industry and to promote increased safety measurements. 

On top of the reforms, Breeders' Cup also announced a $4 million increase in purses. The total purses and awards for the two-day World Championships are now at $35 million. 

The Recommendations

According to Bramlage's report released on Jan. 15, the recommendations for the Breeders' Cup include:

  • Pre-identify horses before arrival that have historic indications of concerns that need to be investigated. Subsequent to arrival, horses from this "watch list" should receive particular attention, and the regulatory veterinarians responsible for the final decision on the horse and all other veterinarians on the inspection team should be made aware to observe these horses at every opportunity. 
  • Concentrate the responsibility for individual horse examinations, pairing two examiners, one local regulatory and one regulatory from the horse's home jurisdiction, and charging them with the ultimate responsibility for an individual horse.
  • Improve the quality of the on-track observation opportunity by designating an observation area at least 110 yards long (half a furlong) for "on track" examinations somewhere along the track, requesting all Breeders' Cup horses trot this distance under tack as they enter the racetrack for exercise, no matter what exercise they are scheduled for. 
  • Create an area somewhere in the barn area where the regulatory veterinarians could observe the horses on the "extra scrutiny" list jog in a circle in hand in both directions if they think necessary.
  • Make diagnostic imaging, such as radiographs, nuclear scans, ultrasounds, MRI and PET scans an accepted part of the pre-race exams for selected horses. 
  • Take advantage of all the video footage of the competitors available before the Breeders' Cup. Once horses are designated for "extra scrutiny," a conscious effort should be made to identify and view any existing video footage of the horses to get another assessment of the horse's gait. … When video footage of the horse trotting or "jogging" is created by the track or a wagering interest, it should be utilized by the veterinarians assigned to examine that horse.
The release from Breeders' Cup read, "These process improvements are aimed at refining safety and veterinary evaluation protocols for future events. The report was the first of its kind as the Breeders' Cup leads by example in promoting transparency and accountability in Thoroughbred racing."

Previous Reforms 

Breeders' Cup is also continuing to support the implementation of 19 safety and integrity reforms that were announced in November and December. Those reforms are at the state and/or track level. U.S. tracks that want to host a Breeders' Cup Challenge race and are not members of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition must agree to adopt all 19 reforms. 

According to Drew Fleming, Breeders' Cup president and CEO, "The implementation of the increased safety measures outlined in the Bramlage report for our World Championships, along with the required adoption of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition safety and integrity reforms by racetrack partners hosting Breeders' Cup Challenge races, are the latest steps the Breeders' Cup has taken to strengthen its longstanding commitment to instituting the highest standards in the overall conduct of our racing programs."