After the heartbreaking and tragic breakdown of Eight Belles at the Kentucky Derby, it became clear that stricter safety measures in all aspects of racing needed to be addressed. Not that the racing industry has ignored the safety of horses and jockeys, but the public outcry and appeal from animal rights organizations after the loss of Eight Belles has led to the establishment of the Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee. They will strive to improve the existing safety measures and ensure that rules and regulations are adhered to.
The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee consists of seven Jockey Club members who are involved in various different aspects of horse racing. They are John Barr, Stuart S. Janney III, Donald R. Dizney, Dr. Hiram C. Polk Jr., Dr. Larry Bramlage, Jimmy G. Bell and Dell Hancock. Together they will strive to research safety on the track and make recommendations to ensure the safety and health of thoroughbred horses.
The Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse summits have laid the platform for the committee, in that they are able to look at previous recommendations and ensure that they are implemented. The committee hopes to gain the support of all the industry members and role players in ensuring that the safety measures are met. In the last few years, breeding programs have been established to increase the quality of breeding and to try and eliminate genetic flaws. But as the committee has mentioned, these programs and safety procedures only assist the horse racing community as a whole if all jurisdictions comply. The work being done by the compliant jurisdictions does not go unnoticed, but to make a visible and positive change in horse racing, the committee needs the support of all jurisdictions and not just a few.
The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee have confirmed that they will be looking into issues such as horse shoeing, breeding practices, track surfaces, medication, the health of thoroughbreds and the rules and regulations of horse racing. More urgently, they will be investigating the circumstances surrounding Eight Belles and her fatal break down. The committee is dedicated to protecting these gracious athletes, and with the full co-operation of the racing industry organizations, trainers, jockeys, breeders and owners, the world of horse racing will be looking towards a safer and better future.