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July 8, 2011


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Ill., has earned re-accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. The re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. Arlington received its initial Alliance accreditation in August 2009. All accreditations and re-accreditations carry an effective period of two years.

Arlington Park is the fourth Alliance-accredited racetrack to earn a re-accreditation and the only race track accredited in the state of Illinois. Keeneland Race Course received re-accreditation from the Alliance in April of this year, and Churchill Downs and Pimlico Race Course each earned re-accreditation last month.

The re-accreditation of Arlington was the culmination of a lengthy certification process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Arlington hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. The on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility, with special attention paid to areas that were newly added to the Alliance’s Code of Standards in 2010 and 2011. Such areas containing new or more stringent requirements include wagering security, injury reporting, post-mortem veterinary inspections, jockey health and safety, paddock safety, aftercare/transitioning of retired racehorses and cross-jurisdictional sharing of vet’s list data. Interviews were also conducted with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards and fans. The inspection team was comprised of Jennifer Durenberger, DVM, JD; Mike Kilpack of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators (ORI); racing official Richard Lewis; and Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. Tommy Thompson, Independent Monitor of the Safety and Integrity Alliance, was an observer at the inspection.

During the latest Alliance inspection of Arlington, best practices were identified in areas including use and inspection of cushioned riding crops and safety vests; padded starting gate; safety research; catastrophic injury planning and procedures; fire safety; paddock safety protocols and procedures; anabolic steroid and out-of-competition testing; security assessment and training; jockey health information; ambulance/medical support; jockey disability support; substance abuse/addiction program; aftercare and transitioning of retired racehorses; and wagering security, including stop-wagering protocols.

“Arlington Park received exemplary ratings in a great many categories,” said Ziegler. “It is clear that Arlington has devoted significant resources to safety and integrity, and that it has built solidly upon its initial accreditation in 2009.”

“Safety is of paramount importance to everyone here at Arlington Park, and we are proud to be recognized for several industry-wide best practices,” said Tony Petrillo, General Manager of Arlington Park. “I would like to acknowledge the Arlington staff for all its work leading up to the rigorous re-accreditation process.”

Arlington is one of 20 racing facilities to receive full accreditation. Others are Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Belmont Park, Delaware Park, Hollywood Park, Monmouth Park, Saratoga Race Course, Calder Race Course, Turfway Park, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Oak Tree at Santa Anita/Santa Anita Park, Fair Grounds, Aqueduct Racetrack, Pimlico Race Course, Golden Gate Fields, Woodbine, Canterbury Park, Sunland Park and, most recently, Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack.

The Alliance, formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization. Alliance certification standards cover six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing and penalties; safety research; and wagering security. Within those six categories, specific standards focus on areas including:

  • Systematic reporting of equine injuries
  • Aftercare of racehorses
  • Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations
  • Post-mortem examinations
  • Health and safety of jockeys
  • Riding crops and their use
  • Horse shoes and hoof care
  • Safety research
  • Safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers
  • Exogenous Anabolic Steroids
  • Alkalinizing agents (TCO2)
  • On-track emergency medical care for humans and equines
  • Out-of-competition testing
  • Freezing and retrospective testing of post race samples
  • Continuing education
  • Security assessment and training
  • Totalizator technology and “stop wagering” protocols
  • Wagering incident investigation

The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance is a standing organization whose purpose is to establish standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at

The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, former four-term Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, serves as independent monitor of the Alliance and will provide public reports on Alliance progress in instituting safety and integrity standards.

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