Churchill Downs Racetrack today re-emphasized its annual enhanced security measures for horses competing in the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) and ongoing safety and integrity measures included in its “Safety from Start to Finish” program. In addition to all other applicable state laws and track policies, Churchill Downs Racetrack and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (“KHRC”) have teamed to mandate the following protocols for horses competing in the Kentucky Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks:


  • KHRC veterinarians will closely monitor and observe Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants before, during and after training and in their stalls beginning on Saturday, April 30;
  • A KHRC veterinarian will be present trackside at all times when horses have access to the track;
  • Prerace exams will be performed by KHRC veterinarians starting at 6 a.m. ET on race day. In-stall exams include a general health evaluation and palpation and flexion of the forelimbs. Veterinarians will also observe horses out of their stalls, at a trot, to further assess soundness and fitness to race;
  • A team of eight KHRC veterinarians will be positioned around the racetrack should there be a need for an immediate response. Additionally, three KHRC veterinarians will be in the paddock when horses are saddled for the Kentucky Derby (two for all other races);
  • Three state-of-the-art Kimzey Equine Ambulances will be at Churchill Downs on race day, positioned at the one-mile chute, quarter pole and the backstretch for immediate response; and
  • A board-certified veterinary surgeon and veterinary anesthesiologist will be present should there be a need for immediate critical care response. Additionally, a triage facility, with x-ray equipment, will be available on the backstretch for patient evaluation;


  • Immediate online access to jockey medical histories for emergency medical personnel; and
  • Injured jockeys that require external medical evaluation will be transported by ambulance to the designated hospital directly from the incident; there will be no ambulance transfers. Also, there will be Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians (“EMTs”), nurses and doctors dedicated to jockey care;


  • Horses participating in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks shall be on the grounds no later than 11 a.m. ET on Monday, May 2 – more than 120 hours before the race – and shall remain on the grounds until after the running of the race, pending an unforeseeable emergency;
  • Kentucky Derby participants will have 24-hour barn security starting at 11 a.m. ET on Monday, May 2 through 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 7. Additionally, all Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants will will be under 24 hour video surveillance beginning 11am ET on Monday, May 2;
  • Contact logs will be maintained by security personnel starting at 11 a.m. ET on Monday, May 2. All persons – including grooms, veterinarians, trainers, assistant trainers, farriers, owners or other connections – must have a valid KHRC license before permission is granted to enter a stall, engage in contact with the horse or perform any service for the horse. Such persons will be logged in by security personnel with the reason for their visit;
  • All equipment, feed, hay bales, etc., are subject to search and seizure, as provided by law, by both Churchill Downs Racetrack and the KHRC;
  • Horses participating in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks will be escorted by security personnel to the paddock. When schooling, they will receive priority for paddock schooling;
  • Horse identification will be performed by a Churchill Downs Racetrack horse identifier at the barn on Thursday, May 5, and again on race day in the saddling paddock; and
  • All jockeys will be subjected to magnetic wand scans prior to the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and other random races.
  • A KHRC veterinarian will be present at Churchill Downs whenever the racetrack is open for training or racing.


  • The KHRC has conducted out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, as well as a sample of most participants (more than 50 percent) in undercard graded stakes, before entries are taken and will send them to University of Kentucky Equine Analytics Chemistry Lab for immediate testing;
  • Daily veterinarian’s records of all medications and treatments given to horses from Sunday, April 28 through the race shall be provided to the KHRC for complete review;
  • Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians. Materials used for medication administrations may be retained by the KHRC for possible testing;
  • Veterinarians will not be permitted in the stalls of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants within 24 hours of the race unless accompanied by a KHRC investigator;
  • No medications are permitted within 24 hours of the race. In the event of a medical emergency, the Stewards will authorize treatment and the horse will be scratched;
  • Five teams of KHRC veterinarians will collect blood samples for TCO2 (a.k.a. “milkshake”) and testing 30 minutes prior to the horses’ scheduled departure for the paddock.


  • A total of 36 Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (“EMTs”) (18 teams of two), 10 nurses and six doctors (four on Oaks Day) will be onsite;
  • There will be five First Aid Stations located around the facility: Executive Gate (formerly known as Gate 1), first-floor Clubhouse, Jockey Club Suites, Finish Line Suites and Infield;
  • A minimum of 18 ambulances (an EMT and paramedic in each ambulance) will be onsite. Several others will be on standby within the area for immediate response if necessary; and
  • More than 30 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and public safety partners will be onsite to further the level of security for all patrons in attendance.

The aforementioned measures coincide with Churchill Downs Racetrack’s “Safety from Start to Finish” program that was launched by Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) in March 2009 to formalize its comprehensive approach to continually improve the safety of the horses and human beings who work, train and compete at all CDI racing venues.

Key features of the “Safety from Start to Finish” program at Churchill Downs Racetrack include:

  • Independent, standardized third-party engineering analysis, testing and monitoring of track surfaces;
  • Postrace drug testing performed by a Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (“RMTC”) accredited laboratory; each sample is analyzed for more than 1,500 substances;
  • The banning of anabolic steroids;
  • The prohibition of “milkshaking,” which results in excessive levels of total carbon dioxide in Thoroughbred racehorses;
  • Prohibiting the transport of horses from CDI facilities for slaughter;
  • Permanent revocation of stall and competition privileges for any owner or trainer who sells a horse for slaughter stabled at a CDI track;
  • Revocation of stall and competition privileges for any owner or trainer convicted of animal abuse;
  • The banning of unsafe horseshoes, including front shoe toe grabs longer than two millimeters;
  • The use of low-impact riding crop with restricted usage rules;
  • The presence of on-site medical personnel, equipment, and state-of-the-art equine ambulances;
  • Immediate online access to jockey medical histories for emergency medical personnel;
  • $1 million in catastrophic injury insurance coverage per accident for jockeys paid for by CDI;
  • Mandatory and uniform reporting of equine injuries to The Jockey Club’s national Equine Injury Database System, thereby assisting in the compilation of comprehensive data and facilitating statistical analysis to improve safety around the country;
  • Professionally designed and installed safety rails on the inside of the dirt and turf course;
  • Mandatory usage by all jockeys, exercise riders, assistant starters and other on-track personnel of safety vests and safety helmets that meet internationally acknowledged quality standards;
  • 3/8-inch foam padding on all parts of the starting gates;
  • Inspection of all horses by regulatory veterinarians prior to and following all races;
  • Review of security procedures around the barns and other racetrack backstretch areas;
  • Protocols for the treatment of horses that have been injured during racing or training, to ensure the most humane treatment possible;
  • Encouraging anyone that suspects any wrongdoing or witnesses improper conduct at all CDI tracks to speak up immediately via the independent and national office of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau’s Integrity hotline at (866) 847-8772 or [email protected];
  • Certification by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Safety & Integrity Alliance program of all CDI tracks.

CDI tracks will continue to work with Dr. Mick Peterson, the director of the Ag Equine Programs at the University of Kentucky’s department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering who is widely considered the world’s foremost racing surfaces researcher, to routinely conduct engineering analyses and tests of their respective racing surfaces for safety and consistency. CDI has worked with Dr. Peterson to evaluate its racing surfaces since formally launching the “Safety from Start to Finish” program in 2009.

Through the “Safety from Start to Finish” program, CDI, its employees and its horsemen raise money and awareness for Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which accredits and funds aftercare programs that help care for and find new homes and careers for retired racehorses.

Sign up for more information about visiting Churchill Downs
Privacy Policy
Thank you to our sponsor