The Maryland Jockey Club announced today via a text message to horsemen that pre-race exams will become more strict as of today, March 15 at Laurel Park. The message stated:

“Effective immediately, please be advised that, going forward, all pre race exams will be more strict. All trainers are asked to be present for pre-race exams. Please have available any veterinary records in the event of questions or concerns. Additional scrutiny will also be present in the post parade and at the starting gate. If there are any concerns, your horse will be scratched. Thank you for your cooperation.”

Earlier this month, Santa Anita in California, also owned by The Stronach Group, was temporarily closed while the fatalities of 22 horses is under investigation. As of March 8, Stronach’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Ritvo, stated that trainers at Santa Anita must provide 24-hour advanced notice to track officials if they intend to breeze a horse so that track veterinarians can watch the workouts in hopes of identifying “at risk” horses. The track has also hired additional veterinarian staff to assist with morning workouts.

Today, The Stronach Group Chairman and President Belinda Stronach sent out an open letter to the press stating that The Stronach Group “will take the unprecedented step of declaring a zero tolerance for race day medication at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields.” The new mandate includes a complete revision of the current medication policy and is meant to improve safety of the horses and jockeys. These revisions include the following:

  • banning the use of Lasix
  • Increasing the ban on legal therapeutic NSAIDS, joint injections, shockwave therapy and anabolic steroids
  • Complete transparency of all veterinary records
  • Signigicantly increasing out-of-competition testing
  • Increasing the time required for horses to be on-site prior to a race
  • A substantial investment by The Stronach Group in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions
  • Horses in training are only allowed therapeutic medication with a qualified veterinary diagnosis

In addition, cushion crops are now the only style of crop allowed during races at those two tracks.

Also in the press release, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club CEO stated that they have voiced their agreement with these new changes stating, “Del Mar has and will continue to support discussions and implementation of measures that enhance the safety and welfare of our athletes. We are committed to working with Santa Anita, The Stronach Group and other industry stakeholders to continue to improve.”

To read the full statement from The Stronach Group, click here.