Five facts you won’t read in the NYT article says Alex Waldrop (US)

Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), retorts to Joe Drape’s article in the New York Times in the following email:

March 24, 2009

Dear Vivian,

You may have seen this morning’s edition of the New York Times that included Joe Drape’s commentary on the current state of safety and integrity reforms within Thoroughbred racing and breeding. Unfortunately, his commentary contained errors and exaggerations and ignored irrefutable facts that did not support his premise. I have written a Letter to the Editor – but I also wanted to speak with you directly about what the NTRA and the industry have been doing over the past 10 months, when we united to implement meaningful reform in the area of safety and integrity. Although we have more work to do, we are proud that:

1. Anabolic steroids have been effectively banned in racing states representing 99.96 percent of Thoroughbred pari-mutuel handle.

2. Nearly 80 racetracks are participating in a new national injury reporting system that will provide comprehensive data leading to a safer racing environment.

3. National standards have been adopted with regard to horse shoe and hoof care that will lead to fewer equine injuries and greater health and safety for both horse and rider.

4. More than 55 racetracks – representing more than 90 percent of the Thoroughbred pari-mutuel handle in the U.S. – as well as owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, virtually every major horsemen’s organization, veterinarians and regulators, and even fans, have pledged their support of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.

5. Through an accreditation system similar to that utilized in industries like healthcare and education, members are instituting uniform policies relating to injury reporting; medication; testing and penalties; safety research; a safer racing environment; and aftercare of retired racehorses. Specific reforms involve pre- and post-race veterinarian exams, out-of-competition testing, security and testing protocols, and use of the riding crop, among others. We are just getting the accreditation process underway with the Triple Crown tracks, Delaware Park, Keeneland and Hollywood Park currently slated to be the first tracks accredited this Spring (See my previous blogs “All Aboard” and “The Code” on this topic). The accreditation process is time consuming, and ongoing compliance with the reforms will be very demanding. Real change does not occur overnight.

Through this blog I have strived to keep you updated on the industry’s progress while also providing a vehicle for two-way communication. You have helped create a process that has led to a greater degree of transparency and better end result and for that I thank you.

Up until now, I’ve asked you to comment on issues relating to my blog. Today, I am asking you to read my response to the Times and to use these e-mail contacts (webmail customers use: and and Twitter (@joedrape) to let Mr. Drape know if you agree with all or portions of what I wrote.

This movement toward reform has succeeded to this point based on the collaborative efforts of industry participants including customers and fans like you. The next several months will be vitally important to the industry as media re-visit the events of last year’s Triple Crown. We do not doubt Mr. Drape’s sincerity and concern for the safety of our equine and human athletes and we welcome any suggestions and constructive criticism. All we ask is that he and others get the facts right.

Thanks in advance for helping me set the record straight and for everything you do for our game.



Alex Waldrop
President & CEO, NTRA

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