New York Times probes horse racing fatalities

by | 03.23.2012 | 7:57am

The rough ride horse racing has experienced in recent weeks due to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for an investigation into the rash of catastrophic injuries at Aqueduct this winter and HBO's cancellation of the horse racing series LUCK due to a third equine fatality is far from over. In fact, it's probably safe to say the worst is yet to come.

This coming week, perhaps as early as Sunday according to sources, the New York Times will begin a multi-part series on equine fatalities in Thoroughbred racing throughout the United States over a three-year period.  Led by three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Walt Bogdanich, with reporting by veteran racing journalist and two-time Eclipse Award winner Joe Drape, the series will rely on statistics compiled by an investigative team using Freedom of Information Act requests and official racing charts from Equibase.

The investigative team has also examined every rules violation related to medication, from overages of therapeutic substances to findings of banned performance enhancing drugs.

States that will look particularly bad from the standpoint of a high equine fatality rate and lax regulation, sources have said, include those where revenue from slot machines or casinos have enhanced purses, especially for horses racing in low-end claiming contests. Those are expected to include New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

However, other major tracks, including Aqueduct and Santa Anita Park (where a synthetic surface was replaced by conventional dirt after complaints from some horsemen and many gamblers) will reflect higher than average rates of catastrophic or fatal injuries, the Paulick Report has been told by a source familiar with the series.

In anticipation of the Times series, The Jockey Club this week released its own findings from the Equine Injury Database over a three-year period, from 2009-2011. That data shows approximately two equine deaths per 1,000 starts. One source told the Paulick Report the New York Times investigation will reveal a higher overall fatality average than that in The Jockey Club database.

Drape is well known in racing circles since joining the New York Times in 1998 to cover the Thoroughbred industry. He is the author of several books, including “The Race for the Triple Crown” and “Black Maestro: The Epic Life of an American Legend” (a biography of jockey Jimmy Winkfield). Drape has also written extensively about college and high school football.

Bogdanich, assistant editor of the New York Times Investigative Desk, has been with the newspaper since 2001, having worked as an investigative producer for “60 Minutes” and ABC News before that. He was also an investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal. His Pulitzer Prizes were for investigative reporting on how poisonous pharmaceutical ingredients from China made their way into the global marketplace; substandard medical labs; and an examination of the American railroad industry (ironically titled “Death on the Tracks.”)

Dara Miles is a third member of the New York Times investigative team that has been examining horse racing fatalities for a number of months.

  • Rider717

    Try this on for a second:  blessing in disguise?  Do you think the NYT will uncover anything most industry watchers/horse racing enthusiasts don’t already know?  What if the outcome is more transparency; more oversight; elimination of drugs; safe racing surfaces; enforced regulations; all the changes we know need to happen?  A wound festers and cannot heal if covered up.  Exposing the dark side of racing may be its salvation. The choices are not only between racing as it is now and no racing.  A third choice is racing as it should be.  Maybe I’m too optimistic. 

  • Gfpowell

    Great comment Rider. There are many people in this industry like myself who are fed up with these issues that never change! What’s worse is that when us insiders speak out about it we are deemed “bad for racing,” and our livelihood is jeopardized. Ever notice how big name trainers almost never speakout about TB breakdowns, TBs going to slaughter, medication issues, repeated violations with the violators still training, etc? These are very real issues that our industry needs to address but our Hall if Fame Trainers are hardly an example to look up to so perhaps these investigations will bring positive change!

  • The_Knight_Sky

    Transparency on the backstretches of US tracks please.

    Administering veterinarian(s) should be listed in the past performances.

  • I sure pray someone firgures out why this is happening. Was winter too dry & warm in New York, for the dirt surface ?? Is it only the dirt track having the breakdowns or does the turf have the same problems as well ??
    I heard my favorite filly, Awesome Feather is heading to Aqueduct in April. I wish she would stay in Florida or race somewhere other than Aqueduct, until this problem is corrected. I couldn’t bear to see her injured.

  • mpm101

    The fatalities in NY this winter were on the Inner track at Aquaduct which is no longer in use. The main track has long been considered one of the best and safest in the country. You are comparing apples to oranges.


  • Nucky Thompson

    These are not just ordinary Joes that are reporting on this. We better be well prepared for the Drapes of Wrath. 

  • ManuelB

    I also agree with this comment. Exposure of the seamier side of racing, by reputable journalists and based on independent analysis of data, should help convince law makers that the current system is broken. Especially so for the equine athletes that make this business go and that the industry treats as disposable assets. Get rid of drugs, control the veterinarians, provide more information for the betting public about the health of the horses. All of these initiatives should help.

  • Michael Fisher

    I hope they look at Bowie training Center.  For it surely should be shut down.

  • Gene

    Happy reading Mr. McErlean!!

  • Grim Reaper

    Read Ray’s post thoroughly.

    The NYT article could give horse racing its biggest black eye ever.  Not the industry has ever been capable of viewing itself with any sense of reality.  The article will go much further than horse fatalities and into the corruption that has runs amok in almost every track.  Track ownership and horsemen’s associations will be given a hard look at.  Look for the first article to start at a small track back west, and then coming roaring to back East.  Pennsylvania, one of the worst, will be hit hard.  Heads, and if not eventually, the industry, could roll. 
    This is a long overdue.

  • Rider717

    Reaper, the NYT won’t give the industry a black eye.  That black eye is self-inflicted.  You’re right though that the industry cannot examine nor police itself.  It will take outside scrutiny to clean things up.  Bring it on if it means reform. 

  • Big Red

    No doubt this is going to be ugly. It will be like shooting ducks in a pond (sorry PETA, it’s just a saying). The best thing racing can do now is to plead guility to the to the isssues which are brought on by this publication and propose the steps that WILL be taken to correct the things which we know are to be true. We in the industry know what our dirty laundry smells like. FIX IT !!!!

  • mike

    NYRA clueless! A debiltating slow surface caused premature exhaustion in the horses. leading to mis-steps, gait changes and is directly linked to breakdowns. NYRA was informed about the despicable surface, did NOTHING!

  • Gfpowell

    I love the racehorse throughout its lifespan. I especially love training, racing, and ensuring their aftercare. So I was saddened by all the deaths at Aqueduct and any death for that matter. I grew up in the stable area @ Woodbine with Dad a trainer and Mom assisting. It was RARE for the vet to come to the barn and breakdowns were VERY RARE. I’m convinced that medication(therapeutuc or otherwise) has been weakening and eroding the TBs muscoskeleton system to the point where it is in the breed and getting worse while predisposing the TB to problems and breakdowns. It has set us down into a cycle of weak foals, problems, medicate, race, medicate, and then breed! Our TB has become a walking time bomb that keeps ticking until we eliminate medication!

  • Peg S

    I wish it was with all these goals in mind. However, I am more concerned that Cuomo has an agenda here as well.

  • Tony

    The liberal NYT’s with it’s agenda and dislike of horse racing will probes horse racing fatalities.

    hahahahaha,good luck with that one

  • Tony

    The liberal NYT’s with it’s agenda and dislike of horse racing will probe horse racing fatalities.

    hahahahaha,good luck with that one

  • Trooper7

    Are you aware of the several deliberate erroneous reports thqat have appeared in the Times.  For example, Jason Blair and his problems at the Times.  Or more recently the non news news regarding Goldman Sacs.  I am going to read these articles, but I am not going to accept everything as fact, especially reporting coming from a newspaper with such a questionable past.

  • Trooper7

    Tony, way to go.  Reading these posts today I get the sense that many here don’t know the Times all that well.

  • Trooper7

    Peg, your concern is well placed.  Cuomo is not the knight in shining armor that will save horse racing.  Thank you for your cautionary statement.

  • Harry Buchanan

    New York greed and very bad management hopefully will come to light. New York should have gone to 4 day per week racing (Thurs-Sunday) months ago. They did not have enough horses to run 5 days but the suits so greedy and gullible forced trainers to run horses who were not sound just to fill races. Even then this winter at Aqueduct was the worst in history of New York racing. Five day racing with 4-5 horses in most races and heavy favorites winning at a 50% clip. Just ridiculous. Racing downfalls are due to atrocious management which has turned horse racing into a joke. I love the sport and it really hurts to see what is happening to a great sport because of greedy management. Everybody connected to NYRA needs to be replaced and start over at least in my opinion.

  • John Scheinman

    I like that, Knight Sky. Nobody appears to want to commit the proper funding and oversight necessary to have a clean backstretch. It’s a Wild West show back there at many places. Racing is so lethargic and nobody trusts or works with anybody, and now, to boot, we have owners of major tracks who really don’t want to be in the business of racing, and Frank Stronach, who is in the twilight of his great but often damaging run. We can’t wind up disintegrating like boxing has done; we have to promote and take a chance on effective innovation, while also working in the spirit of cooperation between tracks, horsemen, fans, etc. I know there are instigators out there trying to sway the conversation for the good, but, as I’ve learned firsthand, even the best ideas bubbling up from the bottom or middle will elicit nodding approval of their necessity, and then everyone goes back to sleep.

  • Barbara

    Yikes. Bogdanich. I thought it was just going to be Drape, who often uses convenient truths and leaves out the rest. But this is going to be the beginning of the end, or federal intervention, whichever comes faster. And racing does not have a defense. It will be a do not pass jail card.

  • Stanley inman

    There is a god,
    all this noise many of us have been making is about to deliver this sport’s Arab Spring.
    Christmas is coming early
    Santa’s bag is full of

  • Nick Kling


    New York racing dates are set by the NYS Racing and Wagering Board, not NYRA.  NYRA could have applied for reduced dates, but the odds of getting that past the OTB corporations was somewhere between slim, none, and slim left town.

    The OTBs handle far more on bad Aqueduct racing than they do on Gulfstream, or any other track.  You can look it up.

  • Joe

    The industry has been playing with fire for far too long. Racing will rip what it sowed but continue to blame the messenger.

  • 15, 20 years tops. last one turn off the lights. 

  • FourCats

    Judgement on this series should be reserved until it is published.  I would applaud an article that is fair and balance.  One that doesn’t sugar-coat the facts, but also doesn’t take them out of proportion or context.

    However, in my experience with media stories, they often look to grab readership by half-truths and negative stereotypes.  For instance, Mr. Paulick’s article says that he has a source that said “the New York Times investigation will reveal a higher overall fatality average than that in The Jockey Club database”.  If so, an ethical article by the NYT would explain why they have such a discrepancy.

    I also have to question the timing.  Is it really a coincidence that this series is coming immediately after the LUCK cancellation and barely a month prior to the Kentucky Derby?
    And what are the actual qualifications of the investigative team?  I’m sure that they can write.  But do they have anybody on their team with veterinary experience?  Racehorse owning or training experience?  Racetrack management experience?  Are they going to tell us in the story what the team’s qualifications are? 

  • stillriledup

     John, when you say “racing” is so lethargic, who do you actually mean by racing? Do you have specific people in mind, or do you just mean racing as a whole? To me, “Racing” is Stronach, Churchill and NYRA. That’s pretty much “racing”. and if those “big 3” don’t really want to help out “racing” than we’re pretty much stuck with what we have.

    The people in racing with the money, are just in this game for the gambling part of it. They don’t want to spend money to ‘clean up’ the sport and here’s why. Here’s the question we all need answered. If “racing” went out and spent all this money, cleaned up the sport, cleaned up the ‘wild west’ show on the backstretches of America and actually deeply cared about horse racing and its future, would the betting handle increase enough to make it worth their financial while?

    I dont’ know if there’s any proof that it will. Is Joe Blow going to bet more money because retired racehorses have homes? Is Joe Blow going to raise his betting handle because Joe Groom has great living quarters on the backside?

    We scream from the highest mountain that racing needs to be cleaned up, but those who do the loudest scream never address the question: Who’s going to pay for it and is that financial investment likely to be recouped in some other way?

  • sittin’ chilly

     Who informed NYRA or complained? I’m no fan of NYRA but we ran there all winter and the track was fine.

  • Gfpowell

    stillrilledup I agree with many things you say, but I also know that just 1% of monies from wagering at just 1 track would translate to 1 million per month (perhaps less @ smaller tracks), but that would save thousands of TBs from slaughter. Also, tracks must get serious about banning trainers AND owners from racing if they knowingly dumped the TB at a slaughter auction. Implementing medical records to follow TBs like a CARFAX would nit take a lot of $$. A memory stick is $15 or even a microchip could contain this information. Also, there is new technology called EYEID which is amazing and inexpensive. With 1 scan of the eye everything pulls up (tattoo #, medical records, PPs). So there are financially viable solutions that Stronach & CD need 2 implement.

  • Guest

    You’re right! The Pentagon Papers were reported by Faux News. 

  • Guest

    aside from the 18 dead horses, I’d concur that the track was fine. 

  • Trooper7

      The Times has been basking in those glory years far to long.  The errors committed in recent years are too many to just give them a pass now.  Bill Keller had to get out in front off the building to admit the piece about McCain was way out of line. 

  • Trooper7

      Very good points Fourcats.  In regards to the database they need to explainfully what they are using and how they came up with their numbers.  I am expecting to see innuendo with a mixture of facts with a dollop of unnamed sources.

  • wallyhorse

    And that’s the problem:

    People have to sometimes put the best interests of the sport above their own interests.  In this case, as I would do it with NYRA:

    The Saturday after Thanksgiving would be the last day of racing until December 26 (day after Christmas).  Then, there would be racing every day during the Christmas-New Years period (including on turf if the course is in halfway decent shape then) through January 1 (in 2013), 2, 3 or 4 depending on where New Year’s falls on the calendar.

    After New Year’s for the rest of January, save for a Monday card on Martin Luther King Day (in 2013 January 15), racing would be on Saturdays and Sundays only.  Mondays (except 1/15, when it would be Tuesday) would be held in reserve in case a card was canceled due to weather.

    In February, save for a Monday card on Presidents Day (in 2013 February 19), racing would be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, again with Mondays (except 2/19, with Tuesday 2/20 that week) held in reserve in case of cancellations.

    March and April would add Thursdays to the mix for the remainder of the Aqueduct season, with the same Thursday-Sunday schedule in effect for the Belmont Spring meet, with racing added on Memorial Day (in 2013 Monday 5/27) and a Monday twilight program (in 2013 on June 10) in place of a program the day following the Belmont Stakes (Belmont Stakes Day would now be 15 races with first post at 11:00 AM).  There also would be a Wednesday-after-the-All-Star Game program that would be twilight and serve as the closing day program of the spring meet, with a full week off (including a weekend) before Saratoga.

    Mondays would be added for the Saratoga meet, with eight-race programs with a 3:00 PM first post on Thursdays and Fridays (nine races opening week) and a 12:30 PM first post on Saturdays (13 races), Sundays (12 races) and Mondays (eight or nine races depending on whether a steeplechase event opens the program).  The lone exceptions would be a 15-race Travers Day program beginning at 10:30 AM that would begin with the New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase (otherwise, all jump races would be on Mondays), and a 13-race closing day program with first post at Noon (no jump race that Monday).

    The fall meets at Belmont and Aqueduct would be the only other times there would be five day weeks, when the availability of two year olds more easily allows for such.  That would be Wednesday-through-Sunday beginning 12 days after the Saratoga meet ends with the Belmont fall meet (a week and a half off following the end of Saratoga).

    My view on this.

  • sittin’ chilly

     Do you have any idea about the physical condition of the horses involved? Of course you don’t. Saucer fractures, slabs, sesamoids… come to the backside and learn something.

  • Bristling

    they moved from the inner track to the outer track, the problem this winter was on the inner track.

  • Bristling

    I blame the two year old sales, pinhookers pound on the poor young horses trying to get them to work way too fast way way too early. And people breed to stallions that were speed speed speed, even if they didn’t stay sound.

  • RaceFan44

    Anyone who reads Ray’s website is a fan of the game and that won’t change with what gets reported.  If this story does divulge the sports dirty little secrets it will be very interesting to see who pays attention.  If media outlets beyond the NY Times pick up and run with the story, that can only be good for horse racing.  Horse players won’t stop playing but think about the ratings for the Derby this year.  Let’s say this article digs further into the suspension and violations of Dutrow.  Then imagine he has a horse eligible for the Derby.  That’s a story!  Racing needs to stop shoving controversy under the covers and embrace it!  Look at the Saints bounty system.  Don’t you think the NFL will hype the crap out of the Saints all off/preseason?  They will make their match up the game of week 1!

    My biggest fear is a series like this is published and nobody cares.  That will be a true sign the industry is in bigger trouble than anyone may think

  • dh

    And in the 5th race tonight at Charles Town another horse breaks down. Trained by former Mike Gill trainer Phil Schoenthal. You can’t make this stuff up people.

  • Greyfel

    I don’t think so.

  • Gorethebears

    Losing 15% every year…..go to any otb or racetracks…..very few young fans…..

  • Greyfel

    Excellent points along with others in this conversation. I agree that a lot of people in the game only care about the bottom line. That is true of any business.
    The real question is: will people who have no stake in the money side of racing continue to fight for the welfare of racehorses. I think they will. I think that racing will be cleaned up and reforms made and they will be dragged kicking and protesting all the way to the finish line.

    Animal rights and welfare people will prevail over the almighty dollar.
    If racing doesn’t clean up its game, they will perish, they will be racing in front of empty stands and no one will want to turn their t.v. to the races because no one will want to witness further carnage.

    The stories will continue to be told and eventually it will come down to change and survive or keep on the same course and die a slow death.

  • Greyfel

    The people who work in the business are not the only ones who smell the dirty laundry.

  • Greyfel

    Reform or die is inevitable.

  • Greyfel

    what do you think is wrong with the inner track?

  • Greyfel

    yes, maybe it was a fluke. Perhaps they can run long enough and eat up enough horseflesh to come to some conclusion. Duh.

  • Greyfel

    It would be a wonderful thing to see.

  • Trooper7

    wallyhorse;  very good work.  thanks for this presentation

  • Greyfel

    It could be different. If you look closely you will see that there are a lot more women interested in racing than there were decades ago.

     I think that racing can be saved as a viable sport that makes money and is well regulated for the sake of the horses and jockeys.
    It will take a lot of work but it can be done.

  • Chieftain8

    I find it quite unusual that the great majority of racing thoroughbreds are on either Butazolidin or Lasix or both. Butazolidin is a drug used to reduce musculo-skeletal discomfort and Lasix is used to prevent epistaxsis or bleeding from the respiratory track during physical exertion. Horses are placed on Lasix if there is eveidence of hemorrhage visible at the nostril or upon endoscopic examination of the trachea after exercise. If a horse is treated with Butazolidin it is assumed the horse suffers from a musculo-skeletal problem and if not why would you administer such a drug. I personal doubt that the Thoroughbred breed has been reduced to a population of bleeders and horses afflicted with a musculo-skeletal problem. It has been allowed by the powers that be who have allowed these drugs to be administered without just cause and therefore everyone one is competing on a level playing field. Would you as an informed individual bet your hard earned money on a horse who has a musculo-skeletal problem and has a tendency to bleed from the lung field. Lasix has been shown in  some studies to be a performance enhancing drug and therefore every trainer has through some mysterious way convinced the racing officials that his or her  horse suffers from exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage and thus needs Lasix to perform for the betting public. Isn’t is strange that in Europe the same breed with the same bloodlines perform quite well without either drug. Racehorses for the most part are expendible commodities and it all boils down to the bottom line. As an equine veterinarian I know first hand that many of the horses racing with Lasix and Butazolidin are neither bleeders or suffering from a musculo-skeletal problem. The time has come for the good of racing to seriously look into the abuse of these drugs and eliminate them for the good of the sport. If a horse is a bleeder or has a musculo-skeletal problem, should it be competing? Will the industry fail if these drugs were banned? If the answer is yes then let it fail or fix it. I own part of a very nice G-3 stakes winner and despite the fact he has not bled and is racing sound from what I have been told, he unfortunatley races with the minimum of both Lasix and Butazolidin allowed. In closing so long as the almighty buck rules, the horse will finish second. Just look at how they are treated after their racing careers have ended.. 

  • Tony

    PETA the biggest “slaughterhouse.”  in the world.

    We kill 95% of the animals we come across.

  • Greyfel

     it is a sad commentary on our racing here in the U.S.  Have you voiced your opinion in regards to your part ownership of the G3 horse? I suppose you don’t own enough of a percentage to call the shots.

    Your views are very interesting, particularly since you are a veterinarian. I know it is a cash driven sport, just like football,basketball,hockey and many others. The only difference is that in horseracing we are abusing animals who have no voice. In the other sports, we abuse humans who have a voice, but choose to continue the abuse heaped on them in the name of sport because they are motivated by the allmighty dollar and the lure of fame.
    Horses have no such agenda, but they are participants anyway.

  • Greyfel

    astute observation and probably will pan out like you said.

  • Greyfel

    I would love to see a public forum of some of the Hall of Famers, big buck owners,and some of the more intelligent voices of racing in whatever capacity and jockeys or ex-jockeys.
    The forum would address many of the questions that are put forth on this website and people who are deep in the business could come out on the side of good and reform.

  • Greyfel

    Trooper7, I agree. Wallyhorse, a very intelligent and thoughtful commentary.

  • Geoffrey Clarke

    What is the 1st Ammendment?

  • Gfpowell

    Great idea! Where and when? Lexington KY seems the best place during the Keeneland meet when they are all in town.

  • wallyhorse

    You’re welcome.  To me, such a schedule would make more sense in this era and concentrate live racing on weekends, when it would allow NYRA to frequently card 12 and 13 race programs when more people are available to play horses in the warm weather months while assuring big fields in the cold weather months with an abbreviated race schedule that still has almost year-round racing other than a week off before and after Saratoga and a few weeks off after Thanksgiving.

    A case of “less is more” for sure.

  • George

    An investigating team from the New York Times. How exciting.

  • Greyfel

    Gfpowell, I don’t know, that might be the best time and place but I have no power whatsoever to make anything happen, I can only suggest.
    It will take a mover and shaker to make it happen, one who has a lot of pull and influence.
    Any ideas?

  • RaceFan44

    I am tired of the “I don’t see young people” argument.  Of course there are no young fans at an OTB.  They are betting online! 

  • ManuelB

    That’s what Woodbine does at the beginning of its season. Start with fewer days per week than in the middle of the season.

  • Don Reed

    There are weapons of mass destruction – in Queens!

  • Don Reed

    If it runs in the NY Review of Books, during happy hour, then it’s the Drinks of McGrath.

  • Ned Daly

    Why should we take seriously a daily newspaper that does not cover thoroughbred racing as a sport? Don’t buy the NYT at the newsstand on the hopes of finding today’s entries or yesterday’s results.


    Racing asked for it when they didn’t police themselves to make racing safer for the athletes ( horses) and more equitable for the bettors- the 2 least important part of racing  as far as race track management is concerned- HERE COMES FED OVERSIGHT !!!!!

  • stillriledup

     This is a FANTASTIC point. Where are the high profile thoroughbred trainers to SPEAK OUT? You never hear a peep from any of them. The only time you hear them is when they’re defending themselves for something that they ‘didnt do’.

  • LongTimeEconomist

    The Goldman Sachs piece was an op-ed written by a former GS employee, not by the Times. As much as i disagree with many of the Times’ opinions, I have long held great admiration for the way the facts they print that have been doublechecked.

  • gottafeed

    Chieftain8, have you noticed, on the subject of drug controversies, the deafening silence from AAEP???

  • Merasmag

    i read the article…as its 2 hard to post comments here and then try to follow-up i’ll just say they could have done a LOT better

  • Trevor

    my god, you people all make me puke. Where will it stop, there are far more horses taken care of, and loved than you all make it out to be. Why horse racing? Why don’t you save the cows, or the chickens or the fish, or the pigs or whatever, do you not think many more are slaughtered daily to feed us humans? I call on a cow slaughter plant, that kills a couple thousand a day to feed us, its for the benefeit of humans, just like horse racing, people like it, and people make a living from it? There is no difference, we eat these other animals, because we want to, we don’t have to, we could all grow vegatables and save the cows and whatever? Lets rescue them all? Horse racing is a spec in the big picture, animals are raised for all kinds of things, and it just so happens that horse racing is on TV or whatever..You think if they filmed and showed cows and chickens being slaughtered that we all should save them, and rescue them? Come on people, wake up? If we have to save animals, lets start with the millions slaughtered daily for us to eat? Or how about hunting, this is done everywhere, I gaurantee we are killing many deer, elk, bears etc.. for pleasure, than the occasional horse that breaks down on a racetrack? You people need to find something to do..

  • charlie

    would you rather have dutrow write it? everybody knows him well.

  • Enio

    What is unconscionable is not just that we haven’t done enough to improve safety, but that we have actually undone safety by removing the safest track Santa Anita has ever had and replacing it with dirt that has produced “higher than average rates of catastrophic or fatal injuries.”

  • C Bea

    Does this not reflect poorly on the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance? Wasn’t that work supposed to help monitor and address issues related to Safety and Integrity proactively? Why did the Aqueduct issue need a reaction rather than ACTION by the NTRA? How is it that Santa Anita’s breakdown issues are not brought up and addressed by the NTRA proactively? Wouldn’t it be great if we could show those outside the industry that we know and we’re already on top of the issues and here’s our evidence? Instead we do a lot of mea culpa’s AGAIN!!!

  • Francis Bush

    This is a fabulous article. The information has been well researched. Data are provided that show which states have had the most fatalities. The issue of medication is wonderfully presented. Let’s hope that the medication data will have a positive effect on track operators, trainers and owners.   

  • Jim

    Maybe the slots money should go towards keeping some of other industry alive.

  • Mary2

     “What’s worse is that when us insiders speak out about it we are deemed ‘bad for racing,’ and our livelihood is jeopardized.”  This is what needs close examination.  Who deems you bad for racing and threatens your livelihood?  The tracks?  Some other trainers?  Please explain.  Because the part(s) of the industry that keep insiders from helping to set things right NEED to be called out and called to account.

  • 1/8shortofamile

    I do not think I would use the word fabulous but it does appear to be very well researched and informative.

  • reality

    We are putting something like that together as we speak. We are doing a live call in show with several industry people. Including a derby winning trainer

  • aggadan

    I thank the times for writing this story.  Lets remember  that there are people riding these horses not monkeys. 1 death whether its a horse or a human is one to many

  • Bdog

    What is someone checks online gambling records?

  • Greyfel

    reality, great, let us know when it will air.

  • Eaglesrest

    Trevor: I’m one of those people who lives on vegs and fruits; no meat, fish or poultry. I know there’s a need (unfortunately) for slaughter but there is NOT a need for it to be so terribly inhumane. People view horse slaughter as even more objectionable because they aren’t raised for human consumption; but neither are they raised to be ill-treated on the track, in steeplechase, rodeos ad infinitum.

    The atrocities the NYT brought into the harsh light of day are as true as they are unacceptable. They happen….every day. It’s a twisted system of economics. Mary is not inaccurate in her comment. I’ve seen, firsthand, people who speak out and, funny thing, they have a hell of a time getting a good trip out of the starting gate afterwards.

    Trainers, jockeys, some owners, track owners/officials are all complicit for their own reasons. Race car drivers are killed, football players are severely injured, etc; those things happen every day as well. But there’s a difference. Those guys, as well as jockeys, are free to do whatever they do, or do not want to do. The horse – a living, breathing creature that experiences pain and terror no differently than we humans – has no choice. The human athlete decides whether or not he wants a needle. The horse simply stands there.

    Racing has turned a blind eye to its ills for far too long. Casinos are not what we needed. We needed an explosion in our fan base. We need people buying programs and hotdogs and DRFs. We need a central governing system and standardized rules and regs and licensing. We’ve come to the end of the road in terms of ignoring and/or covering up. Maybe, as Rider said, we can look forward to much-needed changes industry-wide.

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