The Daily Racing Form's Steven Crist adds his voice to the varied industry reaction concerning last weekend's New York Times story on horse racing. Crist says the Times' “overreaching conclusions” are based on flawed statistical analysis exemplified best by the finding that Saratoga Race Course, “one of the safest tracks in the world,” had an incident rate above the national average, according to the Times' analysis. Crist writes:
“The Times resorted to brewing its own statistics because of the lack of reliable historical data. Racing indeed has until recently been negligent in keeping such records. Yet an error of this magnitude regarding the premier race meet in American racing calls the accuracy of the entire analytical undertaking into question.”
“Even if these rates were correct, they exist in a vacuum without a comparison point to 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Nobody knows if the situation is the same, better or worse than at any other time in history, but that is an inconvenient fact in the broader narrative The Times has been trying to tell for almost a decade now: that the sport is barbaric and its participants are crooked and uncaring.”
Still, Crist says the response from the industry so far has been “disappointingly timid”:
“A statement from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association called it “sobering,” a particularly poor word choice implying that the industry has been drunkenly turning a blind eye to the familiar issues the article addressed. The statement concluded with an odd internal call for all industry participants to “consider all options for enacting nationwide reform in a more comprehensive, lasting way,” which many will read as an invitation to Federal intervention.”
“Racing should react more swiftly and forcefully to these assaults on its very existence and do a better job of explaining the efforts it is making to improve the sport and take care of its horses. It's pretty clear that if racing doesn't stand up for itself, nobody else will.”
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