Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Following the recent introduction of a new Digital Tattoo system to identify Thoroughbreds, the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) plans to continue its educational efforts throughout the country to ensure that regulators and operators of small racetracks and fair meets are taking steps to adopt the new process.

“Digital Tattoos are the new standard and every racetrack needs to have this new system in place, including the smaller tracks and fair meets,” said J. Curtis Linnell, the executive vice president of the TRPB. “The major racetracks have successfully incorporated the new Digital Tattoos in their Horse Identification process and we are confident that will be the case with the smaller race meets around the country.”

The TRPB, an investigative agency formed in 1946 by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America to protect the integrity of the sport, provides authentication of identity for every Thoroughbred racing in the United States and Canada.

Effective January 1, 2020, any Thoroughbred that has not been previously lip tattooed and is making its first lifetime start in a recognized pari-mutuel race must have the TRPB Digital Tattoo in order to be correctly identified in the paddock and permitted to race.

The longstanding practice of branding horses on the inside lip was discontinued at the end of 2019; however, horses that already have a lip tattoo will be permitted to compete for the rest of their racing career.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) has already passed a model rule regarding Digital Tattoos. The model rule states that, effective January 1, 2020, the racing secretary shall ensure that the registration certificates for all Thoroughbred horses that were foaled in 2018 or thereafter have a Digital Tattoo prior to entry in a race.

In essence, the Digital Tattoo is an electronic validation of the identity of a horse performed by a trained TRPB technician. The technician uses a scanner to read the horse's microchip that hyperlinks to electronic registration information. After fully examining the markings and foal photos contained in the horse's electronic record, the technician confirms the identity of the horse and uploads a selection of digital pictures documenting the horse's markings to The Jockey Club's database.

The TRPB technician will then place a digital stamp on the electronic certificate of registration.

This Digital Tattoo will indicate that the TRPB has verified the identity of the horse and uploaded updated digital photographs to the breed registry's database.

For additional information regarding the Digital Tattoo, please click here for FAQ's or contact TRPB at

The TRPB currently has 45 tattoo technicians operating throughout the United States and Canada who are fully trained in Digital Tattooing and are prepared to scan, photograph and certify Thoroughbreds for authoritative identification.

To arrange to have a Thoroughbred digitally tattooed, horsemen should contact the TRPB at 410-398- 2261 extension 248 or via email at



Contact: Emma Smith, TRPB, 410-398-2261 x248