The sport of horseracing is receiving a lot of negative press. Based on the narrative of mainstream media, it seems like injuries are at an all-time high. However, reporters fail to mention that the safety of the sport has improved over the past several years. These improvements can be contributed in part to proactive programs instituted by The Jockey Club. The Jockey Club is the breed registry for all Thoroughbreds born in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Despite the negativity, The Jockey Club, along with breeders, owners and trainers, are supporting the welfare of on-track and off-track Thoroughbreds throughout North America.
This what the media does not want you to know about The Jockey Club:
- The Jockey Club is committed to aftercare.
The Jockey Club advocates for lifetime care of Thoroughbreds after they retire from racing and breeding. The support begins at registration. The Jockey Club Retirement Checkoff Program enables owners to financially assist five charities while completing the Application for Foal Registration. Three of the five charities are the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, and Thoroughbred Charities of America, which are non-profit organizations that support rehoming and retraining off-track Thoroughbreds. The Jockey Club Registry website also hosts Thoroughbred Connect, a voluntary program that assists owners in rehoming Thoroughbreds. Additionally, The Jockey Club supports the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses, United Horse Coalition and American Horse Council.
2. The Jockey Club promotes the use of Thoroughbreds in a multitude of disciplines.
In order to further encourage the retraining of Thoroughbreds, The Jockey Club launched the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.) in 2011. The program promotes the use of Thoroughbreds in a multitude of disciplines. Registering for a T.I.P. number is free, easy and allows off-track Thoroughbred owners to earn points toward great prizes. The program offers awards for open horse shows, recreational riding and a championship show at the Kentucky Horse Park. In 2019, the T.I.P. Championship Show divisions included Hunters, Jumpers, English Pleasure, Dressage, Western Dressage and Western Pleasure. Horses can also earn points for awards in Eventing, Polo, Barrel Racing and Western Performance. If you own a registered Thoroughbred, you can apply for a T.I.P. number here!
3. The Jockey Club is determined to improve the integrity of horseracing.
The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities is an international forum that strives to develop best practices and international regulations in horseracing. The Jockey Club holds key positions on several boards of the forum. The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and The Jockey Club collaborate on Horse Racing Reform, a website that rallies support for medication and integrity initiatives. Additionally, The Jockey Club supports the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity. You can sign the petition to protect horses and reform racing here.
4. The Jockey Club is dedicated to advancing the education of industry professionals.
The Jockey Club created the Advanced Horsemanship Program to improve the overall horsemanship skills of horseracing professionals. It is a free online educational database. The Advanced Horsemanship Program is designed to support continuing education requirements for those licensed to participate in horseracing. The Jockey Club also sponsors Groom Elite and offers substantial scholarships to equine students.
5. The Jockey Club assists veterinarians in monitoring the health of racehorses.
The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee reviews every facet of equine health in order to recommend actions to improve the health of racehorses. Additionally, tracks across the country utilize the organization’s Pre-Race Veterinary Exam software. The program allows veterinarians to monitor horses throughout their entire racing careers. The goal is to provide an accurate medical history on every horse in every race. This enables veterinarians to determine which ailments should be watched carefully. The program assists veterinarians in making decisions on whether to allow horses to race or not.
6. The Jockey Club records injuries in order to improve the safety of horseracing.
The Jockey Club launched the Equine Injury Database (EID) in 2008. The EID is funded entirely by The Jockey Club and was developed along with leading regulatory veterinarians. It is the first national database to record injuries occurring during racing and training. The EID aims to identify the frequency, types and outcomes of racing injuries. Another objective of the EID is to recognize indications for horses at increased risk injury in order to prevent more injuries. The data collected by the EID are instrumental in improving the safety of the sport. Since the initiation of the EID, fatality rates at participating race tracks have dropped from 2.00 to 1.68. Anyone can view the EID’s annual reports here.
7. Horses registered with The Jockey Club are outnumbered by the thousands in kill pens.
Thoroughbreds are vastly outnumbered in North America. The Jockey Club registers about 20,000 foals per year while the most popular breed organization, the American Quarter Horse Association, registers over 70,000 foals per year. Other popular breed organizations such as the American Paint Horse Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club and the Arabian Horse Association register anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 foals each per year. There are many other smaller breed organizations that register thousands of foals and even more unregistered horses.
A recent article by USA TODAY claimed that approximately 7,500 Thoroughbreds are slaughtered in North America each year. If that is true, Thoroughbreds would make up about 7% of the total horses being sent to slaughter. While slaughter is clearly an issue that involves the entire equine industry, The Jockey Club is taking active steps toward minimizing the number of registered Thoroughbreds going to slaughter, which is more than most other breed organizations are doing.
As of 2017, The Jockey Club is requiring all registered foals to be microchipped. They also offer free microchip and tattoo services to identify Thoroughbreds after their racing careers. This system allows Thoroughbred horses to be easily identified in critical situations. Many tracks around the United States will ban owners or trainers that are caught knowingly selling a horse for slaughter. Furthermore, The Jockey Club supports numerous rescue organizations in the United States and Canada. Although there is still room for improvement, the organization has made major leaps in ensuring the safety of its horses.
If you would like to purchase or adopt an off-track Thoroughbred to retrain for a second career, you can search the listings of accredited aftercare organizations in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Aliance’s Directory. If you need more inspiration on what Thoroughbreds can accomplish in second careers visit the Retired Racehorse Project.