05/14/2009 12:00AM

NTRA safety panel seeks more from Pimlico


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Safety and Integrity Alliance stopped short of giving full accreditation to Pimlico Race Course, the site of Saturday's Preakness Stakes, after an on-site inspection and review of the track's documentation and procedures, according to a release from the organization issued late Thursday.

Instead, the alliance - which was formed last year to address concerns about the safety of racehorses at U.S. racetracks - said that Pimlico had been granted provisional accreditation "pending further upgrades and advocacy and submission of written protocols in specific areas," according to a release from the group. If Pimlico satisfies the conditions set forth by the alliance, according to the release, it will be granted full accreditation.

Keith Chamblin, the senior vice president of communications for the NTRA, said that Pimlico would need to provide the additional documentation within 30 days to be considered for full accreditation. In addition, Pimlico would need to "advocate" for changes to Maryland's racing laws regarding the characteristics of regulation whips and press the Maryland racing commission to begin conducting out-of-competition testing and to freeze postrace samples within the next 30 days.

The rule-making process in many states can take months, and Chamblin said that full accreditation will be reserved unless and until the state makes the changes that would bring Pimlico into compliance. Chamblin said that officials of the state's horsemen's group and the Maryland Racing Commission had pledged to work with Pimlico to put the new policies in place.

Two tracks, Churchill and Keeneland, have so far received full accreditation from the NTRA. The NTRA has been eager to accredit the tracks associated with the Triple Crown due to the criticism of racing accompanying the high-profile breakdown last year of the filly Eight Belles after her second-place finish in the Derby.

The accreditation process requires tracks to fill out a 48-page application and submit to an on-site inspection. As some of the conditions of accreditation, tracks are required to participate in ongoing national studies, enforce specific rules on equipment, and comply with rules for veterinary examinations and drug testing.