Focus On The Care Of The Racehorse In Racing And Training
Keeneland’s commitment to the safety and welfare of the equine athlete is further reflected in a far-reaching program that touches all aspects of racing and training:
State-of-the-Art Barn Surveillance System
Keeneland employs a state-of-the-art camera surveillance system in every barn on its grounds that is monitored 24 hours a day by the track’s security team. This comprehensive system increases the capacity of security to immediately respond to any needs (i.e., fire, loose horse, water issues) that arise in the shedrow or barn area.
Outriders act as the police officers of the race track. These experienced horse people are positioned around the track every day to carefully monitor training and racing: acting as first responders when a horse and rider need assistance; enforcing appropriate rider etiquette as it pertains to safety on the race track and ensuring certified safety helmets and vests are worn by every rider.
Race Track Warning System
Keeneland uses a dual lights and siren warning system which is activated to alert riders in the event of a loose horse during training, a failure to remove the starting gate during a race or other incident that might require halting a race.
State-of-the-Art Equine Ambulances
Two specially designed, state-of-the-art equine ambulances are stationed just off the race track and are able to quickly reach a horse that is injured or needs a precautionary ride back to its barn.
These ambulances feature a hydraulic system that allows the rear of the vehicle to lower to the ground so the horse can more easily walk aboard. Padded walls can be adjusted to hold the horse comfortably in place during transport. Traveling on each ambulance are a veterinarian and three members of Keeneland’s track maintenance crew.
Keeneland also leverages the expertise of its security team to provide immediate transport to nearby, world-renowned equine veterinary facilities such as Hagyard Equine Medical Institute or Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital for further comprehensive care as required.
Starting Gate Safety
Keeneland starter Jeff Powell and his crew take a thoughtful approach to operating the starting gate on race days and they work in tandem with the Keeneland racing staff and equine safety team to ensure the well-being of horse and rider. This collaboration is a further extension of Keeneland’s commitment to putting the horse first.
Keeneland has two 14-stall starting gates (one functions as a back-up gate in case of a malfunction). Both are lined with thick rubber padding that protects horses and riders from injury while they are in the gate.
Walkways to the track through the Paddock, Walking Ring and Tunnel as well as in the Winner’s Circle are made of rubber pavers. The pavers reduce slippage and are more forgiving on horses’ hooves than harder surfaces.
Keeneland Safety Committee
Keeneland has established a safety committee that meets weekly during race meets (and as necessary during the off-season) to discuss concerns, find solutions and create and review protocols. The Safety Committee comprises Keeneland management and staff representing racing, track maintenance, mutuels, security, communications, broadcast, outriders, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Jockeys’ Guild.