Breeders' Cup Outlines Comprehensive Safety and Integrity Measures in Place for 2023 World Championships


Edited Press Release

The Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park will be conducted according to industry-leading safety and integrity protocols to ensure the wellbeing of all human and equine athletes. As previously announced, Breeders' Cup introduced an enhanced pre-screening protocol in the lead-up to this year's World Championships, upholding its ongoing commitment to putting safety first.

This year also marks the first time the Breeders' Cup World Championships will run under the full jurisdiction of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), including the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program, which took effect in May.

Breeders' Cup runners are subject to strict anti-doping and medication control requirements, including out-of-competition, pre-race, and post-race testing administered by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU). Additional safety and integrity protocols include equine security and surveillance measures, enhanced veterinary exam procedures, injury management protocols and racing surface maintenance and testing in the leadup to the event.

Early Preparations: Out-of-Competition Testing, Veterinary Coordination & Racing Surface Oversight

Beginning in July 2023, a list of potential Breeders' Cup contenders was developed. The list included a combination of graded stakes winners, Challenge Series winners, and other horses on the possible starter list. HIWU then performed out-of-competition (OOC) testing for banned substances on those potential contenders. Blood samples were taken by HIWU-trained collection personnel and sent for testing to HIWU-accredited labs. Breeders' Cup OOC testing administered by HIWU concluded Oct. 30 and resulted in the collection of 226 samples.

The Breeders Cup Veterinary Team also began holding coordination meetings with counterparts from 1/ST Racing, HISA, HIWU and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) in July. Through a regular cadence of meetings in the ensuing months, the group outlined veterinary exam schedules, OOC testing, safety and medication regulations, injury management and diagnostic tool implementation.

Dr. Mick Peterson, Program Director of the University of Kentucky Racetrack Safety Program, has worked in collaboration with 1/ST Racing Track Consultant Dennis Moore throughout the year. Both surface experts have also consulted with HISA's new Track Surfaces Advisory Group throughout their evaluation and maintenance operations of the racing surfaces at Santa Anita Park.

Safety & Integrity Protocols: October through World Championships Week

The five-member Breeders' Cup Veterinary Review Team completed its initial phase of enhanced pre-screening protocols on Oct. 23. This included:

  • The assessment of veterinary and treatment records as well as training and racing patterns associated with more than 200 potential contenders;
  • Physical examinations conducted by veterinarians in relevant racing jurisdictions around the world; and
  • The use of advanced diagnostic tools in the event additional scrutiny was required.

Attending veterinarians for all potential Breeders' Cup runners were required to submit 30-day treatment records–a nationwide requirement under HISA that will inform the Breeders' Cup Veterinary Review Team's second review–upon pre-entry. 24-hour surveillance began following the mandatory equine security check-in at 10:00 pm PT on Sunday, Oct. 29 for international runners and 11:00 am PT on Tuesday, Oct. 31 for domestic runners. All horses entered in a Breeders' Cup race underwent an additional round of HIWU-administered pre-race blood testing for banned substances on Tuesday, Oct. 31, with results set to be returned by race day.

Additionally, every Breeders' Cup runner is subject to:

  • Comprehensive onsite veterinary exams, including jog exams and the use of diagnostic technology as needed, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 25;
  • Random physical examination at the determination of the Breeders' Cup Veterinary Team;
  • In-stall and on-track veterinary oversight during training and schooling;
  • Mandatory jog-up veterinary exams before exiting any racing or training surface at Santa Anita Park starting Friday, Oct. 27;
  • Pre-race veterinary examinations in the barn and veterinary monitoring of horses in the paddock and during warm-up on race day;
  • Extensive post-race testing of the first four finishers as well as any runner that does not perform as expected and other runners as designated by the stewards; and
  • Observation of all other finishers cooling out as they exit the racetrack to determine if any need aid.

Throughout the week leading up to the World Championships, Dr. Mick Peterson's team has been conducting various checks to evaluate all track surfaces. Additionally, TurfTrax software has been employed to measure the condition of the turf track. These results are posted daily for horsemen and the media.

Additional resources detailing Breeders' Cup's health and safety protocols for the 2023 World Championships can be found here and downloaded here.

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