Integrity, medication reform, customer centricity, and new wagering opportunities were all prominent themes at The Jockey Club’s 64th annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing held Sunday, August 14, at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, New York
A video replay of the entire two-hour conference is available on jockeyclub.com and full transcripts will be available by tonight on the same site.
In the keynote address, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, chief executive officer of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, discussed the importance of integrity in his presentation entitled, “The Journey to World Class Racing and Success via Customer Centricity.”
“A key element of integrity in our opinion is to ensure that horses are raced and trained in a prohibited substances-free environment to ensure a level sporting/competition playing field,” he said. “This includes in-training controls, having every starter tested for prohibited substances before the race, plus the usual post-race control.”
Engelbrect-Bresges noted that the organization had invested significantly to upgrade its racing laboratory, including everything from equipment to top-class experienced chemists and technicians. That testing lab is the only accredited lab in Asia for testing top equestrian competitions, including the Hong Kong / Beijing Equestrian Games.
He also encouraged “all leading racing jurisdictions in the world, especially in the U.S., to follow the example of Hong Kong’s medication-free racing.
“I urge everyone in the U.S. to unite and implement what is necessary to safeguard the future of the sport,” he said.
Besides integrity, he said that The Hong Kong Jockey Club was committed to providing world class racing, enhanced facilities, and technology as well as lifestyle events at race meetings.
Jeff Novitzky, the vice president of athletic health and performance for the UFC, emphasized the importance of an effective anti-doping program in sports. He talked about how the UFC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency have changed the sport and how horse racing could follow their lead.
“Trust was at the forefront of my mind when we put this program together because in interviews with athletes, they told me they didn’t trust teammates, opponents or their sport’s governing bodies,” Novitzky said.
“The success of any anti-doping program is not measured by positive tests on the back end, but rather effective deterrents on the front end,” he said. “A comprehensive, robust anti-doping program not only sets a proper example for society, but is also good for a sport, its fans, the business and the bottom line.”
Congressional Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) provided an update on H.R. 3084, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act. The bill is designed to improve the integrity and safety of Thoroughbred horse racing by requiring a uniform anti-doping program to be developed and enforced by an independent anti-doping authority.
“Our inclusive efforts have allowed us to earn endorsements from 17 different stakeholder organizations, which in turn has allowed us to earn the support of more than 50 members of Congress and a growing interest in reform from both sides of the aisle, in both houses of Congress,” Barr said. “But to continue our progress, to actually move legislation forward and achieve our objective, to achieve safety and integrity through national uniform standards, we must continue an open and inclusive discussion about how we can improve the legislation to incorporate as many stakeholders, and members of Congress, as possible. Only with a consensus approach--and an earnest willingness to compromise--will we ultimately enact the reform we need.
“So I issue this call to action to every faction and organization within the Thoroughbred industry: Come together in the months ahead--not just as members of the Coalition for Horseracing Integrity, but also with racetracks, horsemen’s groups and veterinarians--organizations who are not yet part of the coalition, meet with a facilitator if necessary, and find areas of potential compromise, overlapping interests and common cause,” he added.
In subsequent remarks, Tonko mentioned that U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has reiterated her support for medication reform and her commitment to working with the Thoroughbred industry to introduce a Senate version of the bill before the end of the year.
Julie Broadway, president of the American Horse Council, discussed the priorities and accomplishments of the Washington D.C.-based organization and Kip Levin, chief executive officer of Betfair US and TVG, provided an overview of TVG’s foray into exchange wagering and how they are expanding the network.
Christopher K. Kay, president and chief executive officer of the New York Racing Association Inc. (NYRA), discussed NYRA’s wide-ranging initiatives designed to enhance the customer experience at its three racetracks, with emphasis on the organization’s television strategy.
James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, provided a report on the activities of The Jockey Club. Among the highlights of his report:
- The Jockey Club announced that it will be transitioning to the use of digital foal certificates starting with the foal crop of 2018. This change will enable owners and breeders to move and transfer papers electronically.
- The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee issued two new recommendations. The first calls for all regulatory authorities to prohibit jockeys from raising the arm above shoulder height when applying a riding crop and the second encourages reciprocity among racing jurisdictions any time a horse has been placed on a veterinarian’s list to ensure that horses placed on any veterinarian’s list have been fully cleared and removed from that list before returning to competition in any jurisdiction.
The Jockey Club also unveiled a new logo on behalf of the organization and its affiliated companies. The logo was designed by Cornett Integrated Marketing after a review of the organization’s history of logos and trademarks.
Prior to intermission, Stuart S. Janney III, the chairman of The Jockey Club, paid tribute to the late Ogden Mills (Dinny) Phipps, who passed away at the age of 75 in April 2016. Phipps served as chairman of The Jockey Club from 1983 to 2015 and was a recipient of The Jockey Club Medal at last year’s Round Table Conference.
“Dinny devoted his life to this sport and to The Jockey Club in particular, and he cared deeply about our two charitable foundations, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation,” he said.
Janney announced that nearly $400,000 had been donated to those charities in Phipps’ name since April. A short video tribute to Phipps concluded the first half of the program.
The Jockey Club Round Table Conference was first held on July 1, 1953, in The Jockey Club office in New York City. The following year, it was moved to Saratoga Springs, where it has been held every August since.
The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club, directly or through subsidiaries, provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives, and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms. It is a founding member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, and the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity and the architect and sole funding source for America’s Best Racing, the broad-based fan development initiative for Thoroughbred racing. You can follow America’s Best Racing at americasbestracing.net as well as on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram.