10/28/2009 11:00PM

Santa Anita gets safety accreditation

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The Safety and Integrity Alliance of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association has given Santa Anita Park in Southern California full accreditation, the alliance announced on Thursday.

Santa Anita will host the Breeders' Cup next Friday and Saturday. Since the accreditation program was launched earlier this year, the alliance has placed a priority on reviewing tracks that are expected to be in the public eye. All three tracks that hosted Triple Crown races, for example, were reviewed for accreditation in advance of the races being held.

Santa Anita is the 12th track to receive accreditation under the program, which was launched to address public-perception concerns about the racing industry's commitment to safety and welfare issues. The program requires tracks to meet a series of criteria developed by the alliance in order to be fully accredited. Participation in the program is voluntary, and NTRA officials have said that they expect all 55 of their members tracks to apply for accreditation.

In a release, Mike Ziegler, the executive director of the alliance, said that Santa Anita "exceeded prescribed benchmarks" for the program and had met best-practice criteria established by the alliance in 11 areas.

Other tracks that have received accreditation include Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and Turfway Park in Kentucky; Hollywood Park and Del Mar in California; Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course in New York; Calder Race Course in Florida; Arlington Park in Illinois; Delaware Park in Delaware; and Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Pimlico Race Course received provisional accreditation because it lacked certain written policies, alliance officials have said, and the track will not be re-reviewed until next spring, when it is scheduled to open for live racing.