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Racing association to get report card by year's end

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association said Thursday it will get a public report card by the end of the year on its efforts to improve horse racing safety.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and the Washington law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, hired last October as independent monitors, notified the NTRA of plans to formally assess the progress of the Safety and Integrity Alliance created last year after fan outrage over the deaths of 2008 Kentucky Derby second-place finisher Eight Belles and 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

"That report will be made available to the public, and I will make myself available to the media and to fans to answer any questions concerning the report," Thompson said. "The basic question I will be seeking to answer is this: Is the Alliance doing what it said it would do?"

No specific date for the report was announced.

The monitors plan to question racetracks, including Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Turfway, that have received accreditation; interview key industry stakeholder groups; get public comment; and examine the entire accreditation process, including inspection reports, according to the letter.

Thompson said he takes the "responsibility to the public and to racing fans very seriously. We fully understand that many are relying on us to assure them of the genuineness and effectiveness of industry efforts to implement safety and integrity reforms."

The industry alliance of tracks and horsemen's groups pledged a roster of voluntary reforms, including:

■ Uniform medication rules for each racing state.

■ A ban on steroids from racing competition.

■ Out-of-competition testing for blood- and gene-doping agents and pre-race testing.

■ Uniform penalties for medication infractions.

■ Mandatory on-track and non-racing injury reporting.

■ Mandatory installation of a protective inner safety rail.

■ Mandatory pre- and post-race security.

■ Adoption of a placement program for Thoroughbreds no longer competing.

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