State Officials Reviewing Horse Ambulance Delay At Penn National

by | 11.28.2017 | 1:29pm
Hollywood Casino at Penn National in Grantville, Pa.

The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission said it is reviewing a Nov. 17 incident at Penn National racetrack in Grantville, Pa., in which it took a reported eight minutes for the horse ambulance to arrive so that a stricken horse could be treated and, ultimately, euthanized.

Aspic, a 6-year-old mare bred, owned and trained by Candice M. Smith and ridden by Jacqueline Davis, suffered a catastrophic injury and fell while racing in third position in the six-furlong allowance race for registered Pennsylvania-breds. A second horse, Hygh Life, lost her rider, Kaylia Albright, trying to avoid the fallen horse but was not apparently injured. Neither rider suffered major injuries although Davis suffered contusions in the leg and collarbone area and was sidelined for 10 days.

Footnotes in the originally published race chart from Equibase, the Thoroughbred industry's official database, stated: “Aspic chased the pace on the outside, broke down at the three-eighths pole and was euthanized after the ambulance took about eight minutes to arrive.”

Penn National officials have not said why there was a delay in the horse ambulance's arrival but indicated there are protocols in place for handling catastrophic injuries. Dr. Jerry Pack, association veterinarian for Penn National, normally would be stationed with the horse ambulance in the backstretch chute, but was not on duty Nov. 17 and a substitute veterinarian was working in his place, according to a source. A second veterinarian, employed by the racing commission, is typically on duty during racing as well.

Tom Chuckas, director of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission's Thoroughbred bureau, confirmed in an email that the commission is “reviewing” the incident but did not say whether any subsequent report would be made public.

The Equibase chart footnotes, meanwhile, were edited to delete the phrase “after the ambulance took about eight minutes to arrive.”

Jason Wilson, president and chief operating officer of Equibase said: “Horse ambulance response times are not included in chart footnotes. The reported horse ambulance response time in the sixth race at Penn National on November 17, 2017 should not have been included in the chart footnotes and it was subsequently removed.”

Equibase is owned by a conglomerate of racetracks, including Penn National, and The Jockey Club.

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