The 23 deaths at Santa Anita have cast a grim spectre across the horse racing industry, and the fatal injury of Cathedral Reader at Keeneland during Saturday's G1 Madison Stakes may move Kentucky into the same spotlight.
“California racing is having an existential crisis, and I think we all need to look closely and say, 'That could be us,'” Kentucky equine medical director Dr. Mary Scollay told wkyt.com. “We need to think very carefully about what we do, why we do it, and what we can do better.”
Keeneland CEO Bill Thomason promised an investigation into the 4-year-old filly's death.
“As is the law in Kentucky, the horse will be transported to the University of Kentucky Diagnostic Lab for a complete necropsy,” Thomason said in a statement released Saturday. “Keeneland, in full cooperation with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, will perform a full investigation, which includes continued evaluation of race track surface conditions, forensic review of past race performances, veterinary records, and personal interviews with the jockey, trainer and attending veterinarian.”
PETA, which has been actively involved in the situation at Santa Anita, issued a statement putting the Kentucky racing industry “on notice.”
“No horses died during Santa Anita Derby weekend, which seems to show that the track's new rules — while not as strong as PETA would have liked — are a lifesaving step,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president. “Now, all eyes will be on Kentucky, where Churchill Downs — home of the Kentucky Derby — has the second-worst reported death rate for horses in the country.”
Kentucky state representative Adam Koenig Tweeted out the following on Tuesday morning: “We need to do the best we can to keep horses safe and sound. However, our decisions will be evidence-based. We will not be held hostage by an extremist organization who would shut down racing if they could.”
Koenig's district includes the northern Kentucky racetrack Turfway Park.
“I think the message to the industry and the people who have seen this as a way of life for generations is that there is no guarantee it'll be here for future generations,” Scollay continued. “So I think the message to the current stakeholders, myself included, is to do everything we can to improve the safety for these horses and the jockeys.”
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