Angst: Purses a factor in Aqueduct breakdowns?

by | 03.15.2012 | 8:53am

At the Thoroughbred Times, Frank Angst looks at the whether Aqueduct's new purse structure – fueled by casino revenues – is having any effect on the number of horse fatalities at the winter meet.  Since November, Aqueduct has seen 15 fatal breakdowns.  Angst writes:

“In a 2009 AAEP white paper titled “Putting the Horse First: Veterinary Recommendations for the Safety and Welfare of the Thoroughbred Racehorse,” veterinarians advised that purses should not exceed claiming prices by more than 50%. At the lowest claiming levels at the current Aqueduct meeting, purses are more than 500% higher than the tag—ten times over the 50% recommendation.”

“Despite reforms in recent years, including the New York Racing Association's comprehensive safety plan that has aimed to improve safety, the AAEP recommendation on claiming price relative to claiming purse has largely been ignored. Rick Arthur, D.V.M., who participated in the white paper, said the recommendation has not been adopted by any state regulator, track, or racing association.”

“The very simple answer is that the purse becomes more valuable than the horse,” Arthur said in early March. “It creates a negative incentive to look after the long-term welfare of the horse when the purse is so disproportionate to the value of the horse. That's the thinking on it. The recommendation was basically to discourage incentives that would overpower the responsibility to look after the welfare of the horse.”

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