The Jockey Club Announces Plan To Trace Retired Runners With Unknown Status - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

The Jockey Club Announces Plan To Trace Retired Runners With Unknown Status

Kristin Werner speaks at the Seventy-First Annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing presented by The Jockey Club at the Saratoga City Center Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The Jockey Club Photo

The Jockey Club will begin a project to trace recently-retired horses as part of an attempt to improve traceability of first exit from racing. Kristin Werner, senior counsel to The Jockey Club, outlined the organization's coming efforts at today's Round Table.

The breed registry will reach out to last known racing connections for horses foaled in 2017 or earlier who have started in the past decade and whose status is not on record. This refers to horses that are not actively racing or breeding, were not officially registered as retired from racing, were not exported, do not have a Thoroughbred Incentive Program number and have not been reported dead.

Werner said the program will work to identify and exclude horses that have been adopted through a Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-accredited organization.

“Owners are reminded that they can, at any time and free of charge, update ownership information with The Jockey Club through Interactive Registration and should report deaths to the registry in a timely manner,” Werner noted.

Physical registration papers have been replaced with digital foal certificates starting with foals born in 2018 or after. These foal crops were also required to be microchipped rather than have lip tattoos applied to improve traceability since tattoos can become difficult to read as the horse ages. The Jockey Club will contact the digital certificate managers for horses whose status is unknown to find out where they are, although Werner did not detail what the group will do with that information. The registry's online system will also trigger a prompt in its software that will go to certificate managers for horses born in 2018 and after whose status isn't officially registered with the organization. The prompt will include an explanation about why it was triggered and ask the user to select a response indicating the horse's status.

“When they have submitted a response, the certificate manager will be sent a message related to their selection, including how to transfer the digital certificate or complete the Transferred as Retired from Racing process, or aftercare resources for those horses consigned to non-racing auctions or sales,” said Werner. “In addition to collecting the data, the database will include a reporting function to monitor failures to reply and analyze the responses to assist with aftercare efforts.”

The breed registry has also made the process of transferring a horse as retired from racing digital. While it previously required that a seller and buyer submit a notarized signature in hard copy along with the physical foal registration papers, digital signature verification enables those transfers to happen online. This registration status means that someone cannot buy a horse at the track under the auspices of transitioning the horse to a second career and then put it back into training to race.

“Though much progress has been made in the area of Thoroughbred aftercare, we continue to see Thoroughbreds at low-end auctions, in kill pens, and in cruelty or neglect situations,” she said. “This population includes horses that do not enter the breeding or racing population, horses retired from racing, horses retired from breeding, and horses exiting the sport horse and recreational riding population.”

Kill pens and “bail pens” purport to offer time-sensitive sales of horses to the general public before the horses are allegedly shipped across the Canadian or Mexican borders for the purposes of slaughter. Pens will set tight deadlines for sales and provide no opportunity for veterinary or other inspection of horses before they're allegedly shipped. (It remains unclear how many of these pens do indeed send horses over the border, as horse exports for slaughter have dropped significantly in the past 10 to 15 years.) Thoroughbreds often command higher prices than other breeds when sold via online bail pen groups because they're easily identified and can be traced back to a racing or breeding record, resulting in higher social media engagement on their sale posts. We've reported extensively on the bail pen economy. Read previous coverage here.

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