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And They're Off! Standards Help Keep Hoofers on Track with Triple Crown Victory at Stake

It's nearly post time for the 2012 Belmont Stakes, and pre-race excitement has more horsepower than usual as I'll Have Another, ridden by jockey Mario Gutierrez, attempts to take the elusive Triple Crown after wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Horseracing's greatest feat hasn't been achieved since 1978, when Steve Cauthen rode Affirmed into the Triple Crown history books. And as millions of racing fans (or fans for the day) holler at the track or TV while the thoroughbreds make the 1.5-mile sprint, standards help assure the safety and spectacle of the sport.

This year's Belmont field comprises 11 thoroughbreds (as of press time) trained and raced at stables and tracks across the country, from Florida to Kentucky to upstate New York. So transporting these valuable creatures to Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, is a key concern. A number of International Standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) help make horse transport safe and efficient, whether by road or by air.

Horse trailers are the main means of travel as racers make the season's track circuit. To assure transport equipment is up to the task, ISO 3853:1994, Road vehicles - Towing vehicle coupling device to tow caravans or light trailers - Mechanical strength test, specifies a simplified procedure for testing the mechanical strength of coupling devices fitted to towing vehicles for towing caravans or light trailers of categories O1 and O2 (up to 7,700 pounds). If greater distances require air travel, ISO 9469:1991, Air cargo equipment - Unit load devices for transportation of horses, specifies the design and performance for two types of load devices used to get horses safely into planes for transport.

Beyond the glory and $600,000 prize for the winning owner and team, a top finish at Belmont carries tremendous value to the millions betting on the race across the world. To keep things fair while assuring animal safety, all horses running are required to have an on-site blood screening for banned performance enhancers, just like in human sports contests. To help assure the cleanliness and safety of Belmont's veterinary facilities, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has published ANSI/AAMI ST 15883-1:2009, Washer-disinfectors Part 1: General requirements, terms and definitions and tests. This American National Standard (ANS) specifies performance requirements for washer-disinfectors and their accessories intended for use in cleaning and disinfection of re-usable medical devices and other articles used in medical, dental, pharmaceutical, and veterinary practice.

Once the bugle has sounded and the starting gates fly open, horseracing is fast, furious, and potentially dangerous. A set of recent ANS from ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International work to reduce the common risks for riders in the sport of kings. ASTM F1163-04a(2011), Standard Specification for Protective Headgear Used in Horse Sports and Horseback Riding, provides minimum performance criteria and test methods for protective headgear for use in horse sports, including jockey helmets and protective equestrian headgear. ASTM F1937-04(2010), Standard Specification for Body Protectors Used in Horse Sports and Horseback Riding, similarly provides minimum performance criteria and describes test methods for body protection equipment.

The 2004 Belmont Stakes drew a record television audience of 21.9 million viewers cheering on Smarty Jones's attempt at the Triple Crown (he was defeated). As I'll Have Another makes his bid for the title this year, NBC Sports is hoping for an equally massive audience for its international broadcast, and no doubt many millions more will eventually view the race via news replays, web streams, and digital devices. No matter the medium, a new standard from ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) helps to assure that audio-visual data is transmitted efficiently and effectively.

ISO/IEC 14496-10:2012, Information technology - Coding of audio-visual objects - Part 10: Advanced Video Coding, specifies advanced video coding for the coding of audio-visual objects. The standard was developed by ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee (JTC) 1, Subcommittee (SC) 29, Coding of Audio, picture, Multimedia and hypermedia Information, in response to a growing need for higher compression of moving pictures for various applications such as digital storage media, television broadcasting, Internet streaming, and real-time audiovisual communication. The ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to ISO/IEC JTC 1, SC 29, is the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

The Belmont Stakes is sometimes referred to as the "Run for the Carnations" because the winning horse is blanketed with white carnations post-victory. Whether it's I'll Have Another under this year's flower cloak, or another, standards will help make race day rosy for all.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]