Commentary: Junk Horse Science and the New York Times

by | 04.24.2012 | 6:49am

In the interest of presenting different perspectives on issues of importance to the Thoroughbred industry, the following commentary was submitted by Mel Moser, who examined the recent article in the New York Times on horse racing (“Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys: Death and Disarray at America's Racetracks”) and the statistics supporting the article.


Moser is a retired attorney who has been an avid fan and horseplayer for more than 40 years. He is president of the Horseplayers' Coalition and member of the NHC Players' Committee. – Ray Paulick

In the early summer of 1872, West Coast photographer Eadward Muybridge undertook the complex task of proving that for centuries, artists' and sculptors' depictions of horses were all wrong. Five years and $50,000 later, Muybridge had overcome technical obstacles to produce a photograph he believed proved that a galloping horse's legs are gathered together, not splayed, at the moment when it lifts all of its hooves off the ground and becomes airborne.

Members of the press were skeptical and some refused publication on the ground that Muybridge had engaged in the almost universal pre-photoshop method of manually retouching the negative to eliminate minor defects.

Undaunted, in less than a year Muybridge figured out a way to improve upon his photographic evidence by arranging a series of trip wires across a racetrack so that the racemare Sallie Gardner would trigger 24 separate cameras placed 27 inches apart as she ran by at a controlled speed of 36 miles per hour. Leaving nothing to chance, this time Muybridge invited members of the press to witness both the taking and development of the photographs, and in short order made the original negatives available for onsite inspection.

Muybridge was thus able to prove his original contention conclusively, and his fast motion photographs played a pivotal role in the eventual development of movies. And to this day, “Sallie Gardner at a Gallop” is a shorthand description of the well known phenomenon of observation bias, which includes both observing what isn't there, and observing only what one expects to observe, instead of letting data, and conclusions based on data, speak for themselves.

The science pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction over the last 134 years that many scientists are convinced that some reporters are either ignorant of basic scientific concepts or contemptuous of science itself. Both shortcomings are on full display in the New York Times article “Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys.”

Turf writer Andy Beyer was the first to point out, in an article in the Washington Post, that it was fundamentally dishonest for the Times to lump together statistics from the entirely different sports of Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing in order to produce “a carnage-laden front page story.” Or, as reporters say, if it bleeds, it leads.

Beyer's charge must have struck a chord, as his piece elicited a published letter response from Times' Investigations Editor Matt Purdy. Purdy's letter justifies the decision on the grounds that: (1) Races for both breeds are “almost always governed by the same state racing commissions and operate under the same rules”; and (2) The Jockey Club's injury database includes Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.

Of course, the fact that the FDA regulates and maintains databases for bottled water and heart valves has no bearing on the question of whether it makes sense to combine statistics for such disparate items.

More to the point, the Times' authors took the exact opposite approach to fatality statistics in England where, the authors claim, “breakdown rates are half of what they are in the United States…”

Far fewer races take place in England each year, and all are conducted on turf or artificial surfaces, whereas the majority of races in the U.S. are run on dirt. In contrast to the state-by state system in the U.S., English racing is regulated by a single entity, the British Horseracing Authority, which dictates medication rules, maintains an all-inclusive database, and publishes annual reports on horse fatalities. What the BHA annual reports show is that over the last 15 years, the number of fatalities has fluctuated about 33%, from a high of more than 3 per thousand races in 1997 to a low of 2 per thousand races in 2011.

More importantly, if one compares the number of breakdowns reported in the admittedly incomplete Jockey Club Equine Injury Database to the BHA's annual reports for the 2009 to 2011 period covered in the Times' article, the fatality rate in England was actually higher than it was in the U.S.

It's not disclosed in the article, but the only possible way for the Times' reporters to have reached the conclusion that breakdown rates are lower in England was to exclude all fatality statistics for English jump races, which make up close to a quarter of the annual total and, like Quarter Horse racing in the United States, result in a much higher percentage of injuries and fatalities. And the most logical reason for excluding jump racing is that it is an entirely different sport, even though, like Quarter Horse racing in the U.S., English jump racing is subject to the same medication and other rules and regulations as flat racing, and is governed by the same regulatory authority as flat racing.

In short, the Times' article used one standard to reach its decision to include Quarter Horse statistics in the U.S., which inflated the number of fatalities and injuries, and used an entirely different and contradictory standard to exclude jump race statistics, which reduced the numbers in England, and then compared the two as if they were equivalent. Standing alone, that in and of itself is misleading enough to raise serious questions about the Times' approach and conclusions.

But it is now clear beyond argument that there's an even bigger and more fundamental problem with the database that Times' co-author Joe Drape, who has covered racing for 13 years, recently described on NPR as “the foundation” for the article. The main body of the article does not make it clear that the accuracy of the Times' analysis depends on a brand new statistical measurement that was created by the Times and making its debut in the article.

Rather, the only way for an online reader to discern the critical importance of the Times' newly created statistic was to follow a link that does not appear to have been included in most reprints of the article, and which explains that what the article refers to and measures isn't actual breakdowns, but “incidents,” which were defined to include all instances where a chart caller used the words broke down, lame, or vanned off.

As even casual handicappers know, one often sees such comments in the past performances of horses which are entered to race in the future, so it is simply factually wrong to equate them with a breakdown or injury. In fact, based on an exhaustive search for horses with such comments which returned to race, Frank Angst of the Thoroughbred Times has demonstrated that the actual incident rate is: (a) 34.8% lower for Thoroughbreds alone; and (b) 14.6% lower even if Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses are combined.

Faced with such data, the Times is no longer even trying to defend its inflated and indefensible numbers, arguing instead that they knew the Jockey Club's numbers were incomplete so, in the words of Assistant Editor Walt Bogdanich:  “We were working in an area where there wasn't a good database and we tried to come up with one…”

An understandable, and perhaps even commendable goal, but one of the things that has always been thought to distinguish the Times is scrupulous fact-checking and editing, and a good motive is no excuse for the publication of grossly inaccurate data.

The article's use of anecdotal evidence is every bit as bad, particularly given that their basic premise is fundamentally flawed. Without citing or referencing any scientific evidence to support their claim, the authors assert that “legal therapeutic (emphasis added) drugs-pain medicine in particular-pose the greatest threat to horse and rider.” However, the only relevant statistic for the only pain medication mentioned in the article directly contradicts their assertion. If what they're claiming is true, then Virginia's fatality rate would have been expected to have gone down instead of staying the same over the more than two-year period since regulators reduced the permissible level of race day phenlybutazone, i.e., bute, from five to two grams.

There have been countless scientific and peer reviewed studies of bute which are readily available. As leading veterinarian Dr. Lawrence Soma noted in his comprehensive review of the scientific literature: (1) It is the opinion “of many veterinarians that [bute] would allow a horse to compete with mild chronic arthritic changes, but did not possess sufficient anti-inflammatory activity to allow a horse with a serious injury to compete.” and (2) “Results from performance studies suggested that [bute] had no clear effect on the performance of normal, healthy horses.”

The Times' authors also cite an unidentified California study and their own examination of an unspecified number of Pennsylvania necropsies to support the proposition that horses that broke down during racing had existing “problems.” However, as Dr. Rick Arthur explained, some percentage of unidentified problems in California was microscopic in nature. As a result, in addition to not knowing what was being studied or what the actual numbers show, the reader is left to speculate on whether and how it would even be possible to identify microscopic problems in advance and if so, how microscopic problems could have contributed, if at all, to fatal breakdowns.

A fair article would have made clear that there is no relationship between the microscopic and other problems found in the unidentified California study and what one or more of the authors learned when some of the underlying data for Pennsylvania was actually reviewed. The article does not even claim that the Pennsylvania review led to the conclusion that a majority of horses that suffered fatal injuries there had existing problems, but instead reports on a small number of anecdotal situations, which for the most part have nothing to do with horse fatalities.

There have been a number of horses with one eye, like Casseleria and Pollard's Vision, which retired to stud after successful racing careers. Nor, as many scientific studies demonstrate, is it uncommon for horses to compete for a long time and retire sound after a successful operation which includes the use of screws to fix a broken bone, such as undefeated champion Personal Ensign, who competed with five screws in her left hind pastern. And it is even harder to imagine how stomach ulcers, which are common in horses and ironically can be treated therapeutically, could possibly contribute to a fatal breakdown.

Since the Times' article, a number of prominent owners and regulatory groups have either called for a complete race day ban on all therapeutic medications, or are considering limited bans on specific medications for certain classes of horses. For the most part, their not entirely unreasonable thinking is based on the idea that scientific truth doesn't matter, because public perception is the only reality that counts and, according to a recent study by McKinsey & Co., medication issues are among the reasons the public has an unfavorable view of racing. In contrast, leading trainer Dale Romans has taken the position that in light of the attendance and handle records set at Gulfstream's recent meet, and record crowds at Keeneland, the public perception argument doesn't hold up.

To the extent that public perception is being influenced by misleading and inaccurate information, it's no doubt frustrating to the trainers, veterinarians and backstretch workers who have devoted their lives to the safety and welfare of the horses in their care. However, when all is said and done, even after considering what science is able to tell us, a fair interpretation is that many of the questions surrounding the issue of race day medication are still largely a matter of opinion.

Mine is that as a result of the many mistakes and misstatements in the article, the New York Times has forfeited any claim it might have had to be an objective and honest voice in the debate.

  • Horsedoc2

    Yep – we get it.  The story was biased and flawed, based on terrible record keeping methods by a “highly regulated industry”.  I haven’t seen anyone dispute the Iowa numbers that shows a statistically significant increase in catastrophic injuries after raising the allowable Bute level from 2 to 5 micrograms in 2007.  I haven’t found anyone that knows anything about this industry to dispute that the actual injury numbers are HIGHER than what the article estimated – as many career ending and some life ending injuries do not get vanned off or pulled up.  Yep – we get it.  Let’s bury our heads in the sand even deeper and pretend there isn’t a problem.  Who reads the New York Times anyway?…

  • BuckyinKentucky

    Horsedoc2: you’re right we do not need the Times or any paper that distorts the facts.
    It appears to be a well written thoughtful story written by Mr. Moser.
    Free of self-serving hyperbole.

  • Elktonstable

    Thank you for this article, factual, thorough and clearly demonstrative of the point which is; the NY Times has descended to comic book status and should not be taken seriously by anyone except tabloid readers. I wonder if aliens are playing some sort of hidden role in all this?

  • Tinky

    The author’s well-supported criticisms of the NY Times are welcomed. Unfortunately, he then immediately resorts to precisely the kind of lazy, arguably misleading thinking for which he lambasted the “Paper of record”:

    “…leading trainer Dale Romans has taken the position that in light of the attendance and handle records set at Gulfstream’s recent meet, and record crowds at Keeneland, the public perception argument doesn’t hold up.”

    Really? How scientific. Is the author not aware of the significant drop in handle in recent years? Is he not aware of the exodus of big bettors, who, as a group, make up a disproportionate percentage of overall handle? Is he certain that promiscuous use of medications is not one of the contributing reasons for the decline?

  • Michtay14

    It seems to me that many non-horse publications get it wrong when it comes to any horse related sport, and NYT is no exception (The latest being ABC’s take on dressage..what a joke). I tend to ignore anything that isn’t in an equine publication, because everyone else rarely gets it right. Mr. Mosher raises some very interesting points.  But my great hope is that we not use the exposure of NYT’s inaccuracies as a crutch…we need to do everything we can to make our sport safer for the horses and jockeys.

  • MaryAnn Myers
  • Ray, thank you for posting this rebuttal to the New York Times article. I thought Moser mentioning the old journalistic saying, “If it bleeds, it leads,” to be a telling insight into why the Times article was published. 

    Moser’s comeback is carefully written and researched, but so scholarly that few will read it. I wish the Times would follow their sensational doom and gloom story with research covering the extraordinary number of groups that work to protect the horse, find homes for retired racehorses, and fight the abusers that would wreck this wonderful industry. 

  • Personally. I don’t think the liberal lamestream media are solely at fault for the public’s perception of racing’s problems. Everyone knows it’s that socialist in the Whitehouse.  Let’s not gloss over the contributions of Cher and that Elton John dude, either.  Don’t forget it was the outside agitators who caused all the trouble in Mississippi in the 60’s

  • Meyer1127

    Please stop with the justifing what is wrong with this industry.
    Any time a negative report comes out everybody wants to prove it completely biased.
    Well wake up and smell the ROSES.
    The majority of what is written maybe overblown but the underlying facts are correct.
    QH to TB racing is still racing the same muscles ,tendons, bones are used to cover the ground.Anything put into an animal to override pain,discomfort,or to cover up the use of such is the same in what ever label the horses breed carries.
    Instead of jumping up and down about numbers why not clean the mess up so there will be no need in the future for these reports and Federal Hearings on them.
    If as much press was given to the Ending of slaughter and transportation of horse for slaughter beccauswe of the over breeeding of all of them maybe something good would happen to all horses.The driving force in all of this is MONEY.
    Money made on the back of animals who have no Voice in the matter of the way they are handled or killed. They just try to do what is ask of them.

  • Jimbo

    This rebuttal seems very weak to me.

  • kyle

    I don’t want to get back into The Times thing. I always thought the emotional dishonesty of the piece was the real issue and the real danger. But that does bring me to the issue of public perception. I’m not happy with the sloppiness with which that issue is being discussed. There are two distinct groups – the betting and the general public – and we should not conflate the attitudes of the two. The “real” public perception problem when it comes to bettors and/or potential bettors is that racing is an unbeatable game. That has to do with takeout. Drugs, not even illegal drugs, have little or nothing to do with the problem among this group – certainly not in the micro. In the macro, well….if horses make fewer starts, if field size suffers because of that, if stars come and go more quickly, and if a relatively few super or factory trainers tend to dominate the game….that can and has had a negative impact on the game. That’s reality; that’s concrete; that’s not perception. That’s just the game, gradually, becoming less bettable. So, when we debate the role of raceday medication as it affects betting we should be careful about how we talk about public perception. And don’t give the defenders of the status quo an easy position to defend.
    Now, when we talk about the second group the issue is more clear vis a vis perception. The question becomes effect. Does it matter that those who aren’t going to put money through the windows have a negative, generally ill-informed, opinion of the game? If The Times’ piece proves anything I think it proves that it does. Government, even in this age of corporate and interest group ownership, can still be moved, especially on issues of limited impact, by public opinion. And because racing is yoked in goverment oversight and regulation, and more and more dependent on the slots money they’ve been given access to through legislation – like it or not – the perception among the vast uninformed has to be taken seriously. That’s not to say it should be acquiesced to, or not challenged where the game is solidly in the right. But it is to say, the Dale Romans, the Steven Crists, cannot ignore that segment of the population when THEY talk about public perception.

  • Jimculpepper

    Just because there’s a lot of bulls in the horse pasture doesn’t  mean that they are not ALL full of Bull fit.  The use of tabloid headlines as a source for “creative writing” is ancient history, so is highlighting the stupidty of our critics to conceal our own idiocy.

  • Caroline

    Actually, what the BHA data shows that the fatality rate has fallen from 3 per thousand STARTERS (not races, and not even starts) to 2 per thousand STARTERS from 1997 to 2011. Further, while the fatality rate does fluctuate, it clearly trends downwards. Very poor showing by the author… 

  • SteveG

    There’s junk horse science & then there’s junk horse science.

    The epitome of junk horse science is that virtually every racing horse is administered furosemide throughout their careers irrespective of sympotomology.

    Where is the supporting science for such wholesale, indiscriminate medical practice?

  • Convene

    The problems in racing are serious enough just on their own. This kind of sensationalism, rampant in so many contexts, does nothing to help. All it does is foster unproductive fights and misinformation. Hey, if you believed much of the media, every young person alive today is either a gun-totin’, drug-dealin’ gangsta – or a misunderstood, underprivileged victim of something. Neither is true – but there’s enough evidence to add phony credence to both attitudes. The truth is somewhere in-between (and a result of something no one seems to want to admit – but that’s an inappropriate discussion here) and, just as with racing’s problems, blindly circulating either assertion as, “the truth,” inhibits the real steps to be taken to solve the problems. Let’s base things on real facts – openly and honestly – and help get racing back to what it should be. For everyone concerned.

  • Cliff

    Thanks for the clarification professor. The heart of the matter from both the Times & the surrounding issues it raised is that nobody is using any hard-and-fast number. They’re using statistics…malleable numbers…filled with guesses and biases. Enough with the starts-per-breakdown-per-incident gobbledeegook. Someone come up with a good number of horses who died as a result of racing or preparing to race. Not a “rate,” but an actual number. It should be a matter of public record in many of the same places the Times looked. Once we have that number, we can then decide whether the sport is safe, needs structural adjustment or, God forbid, federal oversight. My hunch is that number is low, because the game is largely unchanged in the U.S. from the way it has contested 25, 50 and 150 years ago. If it was as unsafe as some would say, it has had plenty of time to be torn down.

  • Caroline

    Too bad Cliff you don’t know how to interpret a number to save your own life. These “statistics” are very simple; you take an absolute number of horses that die over a period of a year, and you divide it by an absolute number of starts or starters over that same year. (Then you multiply by whatever factor of ten you want to in order to express it as a percentage or per thousand whatevers…) This isn’t rocket science Cliff, at least to me. It’s a ratio of two numbers. Hope you’re following along… 

    All US equine fatality statistics – including the narrrowest ones from thoroughbred racing alone, for example from the California necropsy and fatality studies – are quoted per thousand starts. The BHA stats are quoted per starter. I’d love to see the conversion to fatalities per starter in the US so we could get a fair comparison on, for example, the common turf and artificial surfaces. Back to business. The author screwed up horribly in his interpretation of the BHA statistics. Why would I find credible anything else he had to say?  

  • Caroline

    But just in case, here is a picture of the ratios of two numbers from the BHA. Too bad the author didn’t bother to mention the FLAT fatality rate is about 0.6 per thousand starters… for both turf and artificial surfaces. 

  • Caroline

    Pot – meet kettle. 

  • Rachel

    Why would bute have been thought to have an effect on a healthy horse in the first place? This is science? (“Results from performance studies suggested that [bute] had no clear effect on the performance of normal, healthy horses.”)
    I say to heck with it…race the arthritic on bute, race the non-bleeders as well as bleeders on lasix, give the 86% of race horses that develop gastric ulcers omeprazole,  clenbuterol for all, give ’em winstrol to perk up their appetites, calcium and potassium and other electrolytes to replace the depletion caused by furosemide, give them a muscle relaxant if they tie-up..
    I mean, the horse will tell you what it needs, right? …and we’ll all listen….

  • Frank L.

    Tinky —

    This article verifies what
    I have been saying for a very long time — the media controls
    perception. Also this article brings to the surface that articles
    and studies, etc. can be manipulated to show a bias for their agenda,
    to the inexperienced — which fits “YOU”, Tinky, to the tee.

    Most “AGENDA” driven
    articles, like that of the NYT article, manipulate information to
    mislead and misrepresent that very same information — as is proven
    by Mel Moser, the author of this particular piece. Again, these are
    the very same type articles that Tinky references — articles and
    studies that “DO NOT” state the “parameters” used in the
    operation of said studies.As a person with “NO” actual hands
    on barn experience in horse racing Tinky sure does make a lot of
    “subjective” comments that have no “actual” factual base.
    You site Dale Romans comment as unscientific, yet the numbers bear
    him out — then, YOU, subjectively, state the “exodus of big
    bettors”(subjective conjecture) as if fact — name them?

    As one of Obama’s side
    kicks said, “Never let a crisis go to waste”. The immediate
    crisis of horse racing, which is beginning to right itself as
    disposable income returns to gamblers and buyers, will pass if the
    “AGENDA” driven media treated horse racing “fairly”. Yes,
    there are abuser’s, but, abusers exist in “ALL” sports.

    BELIEVE, based on media presentation — any media presentation!!

  • Ridindirty3

    I don’t think I’ve seen anybody mention this… I will…I would love to see the stats on the % of vet scratches vs. breakdown % during the time period when the NYT compiled their data. Has anybody noticed the charts with regard to this info. in NY recently?

  • RayPaulick

     Frank…I have a question for you. Why would I have published this article if I have a bias against Lasix use as you have repeatedly said? Also, did you notice the author of the piece is a gambler, the very group you consistently rail against with your comments.

    You are a piece of work.

  • RayPaulick

    While I’m neither agreeing or disagreeing with the author’s point of view, he states that his use of the BHA numbers (including jump races) is akin to the NY Times blending of Thoroughbred and Quarter horse incidents. I am very impressed by the low fatality rate of flat and all weather racing as published by the BHA. We should strive to be that low or lower in our racing industry.

  • Concerned Observer

    This discussion sounds like it was straight out of the movie “My Cousin Vinny”

    Objection sustained. The entire opening statement, with the exception of “thank
    you” will be stricken from the record. The jury will please disregard
    Counselor’s entire opening statement. And you, Mr. Gambini, you will not use
    that kind of language in my court. Do you understand me?

    G: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    In our case

    “America, please disregard the NY Times Article.”…..

    “yeah, yeah, yeah”

  • Frank L.

    hit the nail on the head Cliff, BUT, that kind of info would
    exonerate racing — remember that IS NOT the point with most all who
    comment on this site. A basic human trait is condemnation — that’s
    why this site is so popular!! People will not be happy until they
    have a “one world government”, then, they can condemn that —
    but it will be too late then!! Sheep being led to the slaughter?
    States Rights going to the wayside by way of sports!!

  • Caroline

    Ray – it would be, if the NY Times hadn’t actually not perfectly blended the two by providing some qualifying statements, something missing from this article. Reader beware? Agreed on the BHA reported flat fatality rates: I think further they might be significantly lower if expressed per thousand starts, as in the US, rather than per thousand starters. Presumably some horses start more than once during any given year…   

  • Caroline

    Not fair, he does… but why not report the numbers accurately and correctly interpret them?  

  • equinedoc

    Ok – the facts.  “Evaluation of catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries in Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses at three Midwestern racetracks.”  Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association Vol 239 No.9, Nov 1 2011.  Beisser, McClure, Soring et al.  Number of starts evaluated at 3 mixed meet tracks n=129,460 between 2000-2006.  Overall incidence of 1.46 CMI’s/1000 race starts.  Total of 139 CMI’s in TBs for a CMI incidence of 1.48 and 50 CMI’s in QHs for a CMI incidence of 1.36.  “Our data indicate that the incidence of CMI’s for both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racehorses is not significantly different.” 

  • Caroline

    This statement is just wrong, for example, given the difference in reporting method (starts vs. starters). And the statement that BHA fatality stats are reported per race is just wrong. Pot meet kettle still stands.  
    “It’s not disclosed in the article, but the only possible way for the Times’ reporters to have reached the conclusion that breakdown rates are lower in England was to exclude all fatality statistics for English jump races, which make up close to a quarter of the annual total and, like Quarter Horse racing in the United States, result in a much higher percentage of injuries and fatalities.” 

  • Ridindirty3

    I don’t understand why you would look at anything from BHA when you’re talking about NYT & USA?

  • Ridindirty3

    Right…less than 2/1000…..that doesn’t seem excessive. There’s only two things better.

  • Caroline

    Because British data was cited in the NYTimes article and in the respondent article we are reading, Ridindirty.

  • Don Reed

    “The author’s point of view…”

    Which author?  Name?

    (I’ve seen quite a few ambiguous pronouns, but relatively few ambiguous nouns.  Next up: The two ambiguous vertiginous movies mentioned elsewhere; are we referring to “Vertigo”?)

    Great article.  Wish racing attracted more authors/researchers like Mel Moser.

  • Don Reed

    How the heck did your comment and mine end up being published twice?

  • Don Reed

    How the heck did this comment not end up attached to Ray Paulick’s comment, as a reply, instead of as a straight comment?

  • Tinky

    How the heck did your salty language (i.e. “How the heck”) get past the Disqus filters?

  • Don Reed

    Only explanation I can think of is that Disqus was invented by the New Jersey Account Wagering brain trust.

  • Cliff

    I know how to make a rate. My question is why make a rate if you have an absolute number of deaths? X number of horses died in Y year out of Z times a race took place.
    And I wasn’t being snotty by calling you professor. I’m pretty sure that’s what you are.
    Point is, all the reporters and commentators are relying on subjectively gathered statistics. The Times made biased choices in their analysis and the above author either misread or misrepresented parts of his analysis. Find credibility in either or none…that’s up to you. Across the board, the numbers are in question, and that’s no way to agitate for change to a 150 year-old sport.

  • Don Reed

    So far, the only word that I’ve used that offends Disqus is “fraud.”

    I curse too much in real life.  This is an attempt to keep it clean, since the other approach (among other things) reinforces cynicism, the Achilles Heel of horseplayers.

  • Ridindirty3

    Yeah….I’m saying it should not have been….other than being horses. Completely unrelated, irrelevant, apples & oranges comparison.

  • Don Reed

    I’ve been so much more sedate since I graduated from charm school, don’t you think?

    This is my 2nd attempt to post the same message.  The first time, I made the boneheaded mistake of using the word itself in trying to state that it is the only word that prompts Disqus to destroy the post. 

    OK.  Have it your way.  The word is, “F—r—a—u—d.”

    Let’s see if Inspector Clousseau at the helm of the Disqus filters catches this one.

  •  or the number of racetracks around the country that has closed shop!! Hey didn’t Andy hype Rachel as comparable to Ruffian when Ruffy had no problem with 12 furlongs and Rachel couldn’t even run 10 furlongs against females?

  • Don Reed

    “The article’s use of anecdotal evidence is every bit as bad, particularly given that their basic premise is fundamentally flawed. Without citing or referencing any scientific evidence to support their claim…”

    Same thing happened just recently; in a Times article, the “reporter” (who wasn’t reporting; he was interviewing himself) made the unsubstantiated sweeping statement that the vast majority of scientists think that global warming has led to the melting of the polar ice caps (I paraphrase, faithfully).

  • Don Reed

    You must be a “yout.”

  • Ridindirty3

     I’ve been calling it Dis-gust.

  • Ridindirty3

    You know…I’ll be very honest with you….I could really use a good a$$-kickin’….but I think I’ll go with the $200!

  • Ridindirty3

    I wish

  • Take that


    The way the NYT put this together reminds me of a criticism their ‘public editor’ at the time – Daniel Okrent – had of Paul Krugman.

    “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults”
    Yes – lots of ‘shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers’ going on here.

  • Suek596

    WTH has your political rant got to do with the article???

    The racing industry has caused it’s own problems regarding public perseption of the sport, as self policing of the industry has done nothing

  • Caroline

    I don’t think the BHA numbers are in question: the author’s interpretation and statements as fact about their computation are being questioned my me. The numbers are not subjective, I’m not sure why you argue that. The numbers expressed as rates are almost exactly what you describe except that the divisor is number of horses starting per year rather than number of races. I agree however that the absolute numbers of fatalities, horses, starts and races could be provided in addition. Nonetheless, I think the reason that the BHA numbers show decline over time is exactly due to agitation for change in a 250+ year old sport…   

  • Frank L.

    Ray —

    This is only one of a very
    few positive articles that you have headlined. Usually, anything
    that is remotely positive is buried in the “other stories”
    section. Further, what about leading U.S. trainers like Baffert,
    Sadler, Mitchell, Mott, Pletcher, and Assmusen, etc., with respect
    to their perception of Lasix. I notice that most all your articles,
    and quotes, are from ALL but the “actual” trainers involved in
    the U.S. 

    Also, I remember that Kiaran McLaughlin was doing an
    experiment with Lasix use with his two year olds .  Why hasn’t
    any more been reported with respect to his experiment?  I
    believe that was back in January, maybe before!!

    You obviously do NOT understand what I write? I
    define a gambler as a person that gambles the same way every time,
    although losing, blaming others for his losses. Example: Race day
    med’s, Lasix, and trainers. Once med’s are banned the “GAMBLERS”
    will “STILL” lose, blaming someone, or something else for their
    loses. The key to winning is money management, and attitude. I, me,
    again, I, would not classify Mel Moser as a gambler — a bettor,
    yes, a gambler NO!! Gamblers want to make money FAST, they are not
    content to make a little at a time — therefore we have the pick
    4/5/6, all sucker bets, gambler bets. You see, a gambler can hit the
    early daily double for $600 and be broke by the last race — a
    bettor won’t. Winning, like losing, is addictive — habit forming.
    A gambler is “NOT” used to winning, therefore will find, I repeat
    “FIND” a way to lose — if not today, he “WILL” finish the
    job tomorrow.

    I recently seen an older movie “Two for the MONEY”
    with Al Pacino. There is a great scene where he is at “gamblers
    anonymous”, and he defines a gambler — a person who
    subconsciously wants to lose, not satisfied until he does lose!!
    Great movie about sports betting.

  • voiceofreason

    It’s horse racing. No one cares anymore.
    10 people read the article. The same 10 people posting on paulickreport.
    I didn’t read it, because I don’t even care anymore.

  • Stacystark

    Mr. Moser left out a critical fact from the Thoroughbred Times story. The overall rate of injury is much higher today than it was even 10 years ago.
    As a matter of fact the title of the story was
    “Survey Shows INCREASE in Injury Rates”
    Plus, quarter horses are 7/8’s thoroughbred. Being a trainer myself, I can flatly state that the similarities are way more than the differences. Many trainers here train both breeds, many jockeys ride both, they get schooled in the gate by the same gate crew, get the same cards; run on the same medications (!) and even run at the same tracks, on the same day sometimes! They look the same, and, they run the same way, the only major difference is the quarter horse races are shorter most of the time.
    What’s different? Harness racing! (less injury, too but that’s a whole ‘nother story).

  • Stanley inman

    Perceptive observation,
    Give us more;

  • Stanley inman

    This is not about reaching common ground,
    As SteveG asked;
    “where is the supporting science
    for such wholesale indiscriminate medical practice.

    Forget the NYT ‘s, Crist’s, and mr Moser’s Articles;

    Are you suggesting that every 2012 foal in the U.S.
    will need a drug to compete in 2 years?
    I don’t buy it;
    If you do, it is you who have a perception problem.

  • Stanley inman

    My remarks are rhetorical in nature and not specific to the poster, “convene”

  • Milesthedog

    You are correct horses don’t break down and the temperatures are the same as they were 200 years ago. Damn Bised Media.

    Back To The Holek in the sand that encases my head.

  • Barry Irwin

    Here is all one has to know: it costs roughly twice as much to insure a horse for mortality in the United States than Europe.

  • Don Reed

    [In response to RidinDirty3, in case this ends up as a
    “new” comment, instead of being linked to previous comment] – I
    didn’t really have anything to say.  I
    just wanted to see if this reducto ad absurdum Disqus system (shoving the text of
    the replies each time into a thinner & thinner column) will print this with
    one word per line (think: Totem Pole! 
    No, totem poles do NOT come from Poland.  Good try).

  • Don Reed

    Ma & Pop Kettle?  Used to be movie stars, no?

  • Don Reed

    “You gotta problem with nepotism?”

  • AnimalAdvocatesMI

    “Point is, all the reporters and commentators are relying on subjectively gathered statistics.”

    A sad, but true, statement. The stats only take into consideration the horses that were vanned off, broke down, died, etc DURING a race.

    There is no requirement to report the condition of the horses that were vanned off. Nor is there a requirement to report the number of horses that died during training.

    The true number of horses which died as a result of racing are significantly higher than those released by the industry. 

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