Former Indiana Horse Racing Commission executive director Joe Gorajec writes in his InsideRacingRegs blog about the mainstream news media's “insatiable” appetite to pounce on every racing or training fatality at Santa Anita, in the wake of the spike in horse deaths at the Arcadia, Calif., track earlier this year.
Santa Anita went from March 31 until May 17 – including thousands of workouts, tens of thousands of routine training runs and 20 racing days – without a single fatality. When one did occur last Friday morning after an unraced Colorado-bred gelding named Commander Coil fractured a shoulder, major media outlets swarmed.
“Another equine fatality at Santa Anita was bound to happen again,” Gorajec writes. “But to go six entire weeks without such a breakdown was extraordinary. …Many in the racing industry thought the respite of fatalities at Santa Anita was a turning point on this issue. Only now do we realize that around every corner lurks another equine fatality and another media storm.
“Welcome to racing's new normal.”
Gorajec then asks and answers the question about how the industry should react, offering the opinion that it must “leave no stone unturned to place the horse racing industry in the best possible light. That means no more whack a mole. It means that we put ourselves in the shoes of the American public and conduct our business in a way that is consistent with THEIR sensibilities and expectations.”
Gorajec, now a consultant whose clients include Horse Racing Reform, an industry initiative led by The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, suggests people who want to make a difference support either the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity or the Water Hay Oats Alliance.
“If we do not make a difference now,” he writes, “will there be an industry worth saving later?”
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