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  1. #1
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    Default AP article today on race track deaths

    I'm a lurker here -- usually I'm on the Driving forum. For some time I've been following discussions on this board regarding race track safety, and I'd be interested in your thoughts on this article, which appeared in newspapers all over the country. In some it was in the sports section; in our local Clarion Ledger it was in the A section:

    AP: 5,000 horse deaths since 2003
    Associated Press
    Article Launched: 06/15/2008 01:37:15 AM PDT


    LEXINGTON, Ky. - Thoroughbred racetracks in the United States reported more than three horse deaths a day last year and 5,000 since 2003, and the vast majority were put down after suffering devastating injuries on the track, according to an Associated Press survey.

    Countless other deaths went unreported because of lax record-keeping, the AP found in the broadest such review to date.

    The catastrophic breakdown of filly Eight Belles at the Kentucky Derby last month made the fragility of a half-ton horse vivid for the millions watching, but the AP found that such injuries occur regularly in every racing state. Tracks in California and New York, which rank first and sixth in thoroughbred races, combine to average more than one thoroughbred death for every day of the year.

    Questions about breeding, medication, synthetic surfaces vs. dirt and other safety issues have dogged the industry for some time, and a congressional panel has asked key players in the sport to testify this week about its direction, particularly the influence of steroids.

    The AP compiled its figures from responses to open-records inquiries sent to the organizations that govern the sport in the 29 states identified by Equibase Co., a clearinghouse for race results, as having had at least 1,000 thoroughbreds start a race last year. Arkansas, Michigan and Nebraska said their organizations don't track fatalities, and only one of Florida's three main thoroughbred tracks provided numbers.

    There were wide differences among the other states in what types of deaths are monitored and how far back records go.
    "Nobody really knows how big of a problem it is," said Rick Arthur, California's equine medical director. "They just know it's a big problem."

    California officials became alarmed in 2005 when the number of thoroughbred racing deaths spiked by nearly 50 percent from just two years earlier. Last year, 314 horses - 261 of them thoroughbreds - died at California's tracks, including those hurt in training or barn accidents, and a few that suffered other injuries or medical complications.

    "Just seeing the totals and the recurrent theme, it's eye-opening," said Bon Smith, assistant director of the California Horse Racing Board.

    Beginning this year, California has mandated that all its major tracks replace their dirt surface with a synthetic mixture found in some studies to be safer for horses and jockeys.

    While California's thoroughbred fatalities are nearly triple those reported by any other state, its warm weather and bounty of tracks make it the nation's busiest racing state. And it has received high praise across the industry for the way it tracks deaths; every death that occurs on the public grounds of a California racetrack is recorded in detail, largely through veterinary reports.

    Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the sport gets a bad rap for what he believes it does best - take care of the animals.

    "There isn't a trainer worth his salt that doesn't look into this 24 hours a day," Lukas said. "I'll guarantee you that if any one of those purists who feel like it's an abusive sport would spend two weeks in my barn, they'd walk away a different person and have a greater appreciation for the care. Animals don't have a say in it, but when they get to this level, they have a pretty good deal going."



  2. #2
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    Default I was flamed for saying this

    thank you for posting this, I read it about 2 hours ago. When 8 Belles died, I reiterated what I had seen for years, and I was flamed by all of the denial experts, who said these breakdowns did not occur!!! It's like the politicians who think that if they keep denying things, it will become truth.
    The real truth is that more horses die daily that the "3 a day reported deaths", because some break down in training, and some make it back to the barn and are quietly put down. and don't even think of the ones, crippled or not, that get shipped to new holland and elsewhere.
    and please note that the ap article mentioned "devastating injuries", which I was also flamed for stating.
    I love racing, but I want sound horses raced w/o drugs and living long lives, and then being rehomed if they aren't big studs or broodmares (and the broodmares rehomed when they are barren instead of being "filly mignon").
    This means NOT breeding so many inferior horses, and letting horses mature, and gasp, running them over grass and for distance, not for speed.
    of course, the denials will start here.
    Like I said after 8 Belles, this happens daily at the track. more than 3x a day, as the ap investigation states.
    Last edited by cloudyandcallie; Jun. 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM. Reason: oops mature not manure



  3. #3
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    Default

    I would liike to have more information, like what percentage that is from all the horse running each day.

    I know, I know, ANY death is terrible, but we drive cars every day and some people won't come home.
    There are x number of fatal wrecks every day, not even counting the injuries.

    Life is risky and we can either live it and do our best or sit tight and not move and hope the sky won't fall.

    I was involved in racing for some 12 years, on and off and happen to hear of a fatal breakdown that happened to someone as scary and very rare, but never knew one first hand, so it is not THAT common, or it was not until 1984, when we quit racing.

    We need to know more, if it is statistically part of life, or if there is a problem that can be adressed by changing some we do.

    What I mean is that maybe x number of the general polulation of horses do die each day also from all kinds of causes, or other activities other than racing and those figures of track deaths are part of what happens when you are alive and doing anything, not just because a horse was running in a race.



  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MySparrow View Post
    The catastrophic breakdown of filly Eight Belles at the Kentucky Derby last month made the fragility of a half-ton horse vivid for the millions watching, but the AP found that such injuries occur regularly in every racing state. Tracks in California and New York, which rank first and sixth in thoroughbred races, combine to average more than one thoroughbred death for every day of the year.
    I'd question these figures but will agree that it is too much. California especially due to their having dumbed down the shoeing standards to become licensed there has caused a lot of this.
    Questions about breeding, medication, synthetic surfaces vs. dirt and other safety issues have dogged the industry for some time, and a congressional panel has asked key players in the sport to testify this week about its direction, particularly the influence of steroids.
    This is most welcome and long overdue


    California officials became alarmed in 2005 when the number of thoroughbred racing deaths spiked by nearly 50 percent from just two years earlier. Last year, 314 horses - 261 of them thoroughbreds - died at California's tracks, including those hurt in training or barn accidents, and a few that suffered other injuries or medical complications.
    Bad shoeing due to lowered standards, see above. Major cause.
    "Just seeing the totals and the recurrent theme, it's eye-opening," said Bon Smith, assistant director of the California Horse Racing Board.
    Nobody's fault but their own. Chickens are coming home to roost.
    Beginning this year, California has mandated that all its major tracks replace their dirt surface with a synthetic mixture found in some studies to be safer for horses and jockeys.
    Has not done anything. Is an expensive failure but made a lot of money for people with a financial interest in the stuff.

    Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the sport gets a bad rap for what he believes it does best - take care of the animals.

    "There isn't a trainer worth his salt that doesn't look into this 24 hours a day," Lukas said. "I'll guarantee you that if any one of those purists who feel like it's an abusive sport would spend two weeks in my barn, they'd walk away a different person and have a greater appreciation for the care. Animals don't have a say in it, but when they get to this level, they have a pretty good deal going."
    This is the most laughable of all. DEEWayne commenting about this?
    Do we really want to keep score of how many he's killed? I'd bet California's high numbers are contributed to by his being there.

    The AP really could have found a better guy to talk to.
    George



  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    I would liike to have more information, like what percentage that is from all the horse running each day.
    Around 2 per 1000 starts is what the catastrophic breakdown rate is estimated to be for US racing.
    There were over 400,000 starts in the US in 2006. So there are over 1000 starts a day on average.



  6. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Drvmb1ggl3 View Post
    Around 2 per 1000 starts is what the catastrophic breakdown rate is estimated to be for US racing.
    There were over 400,000 starts in the US in 2006. So there are over 1000 starts a day on average.
    Problem being that the most horrific tend to be to popular horses in graded stakes races on national TV in front of millions of people.

    You'll seldom see an old claimer at some county fair do this. Reason being, the unfortunate fact that any horse who can run fast enough to hurt themselves usually will.
    George



  7. #7
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    Default

    I guess I'm a denial expert weighing in... But, although 3/day sounds like a lot, how does that compare with other disciplines and just horses in the pasture?

    And, yeah, Lukas isn't maybe the best person to interview, but he certainly makes a good point!

    Back to the denial thing... I'm not saying injuries don't happen and we should be happy with the status quo. What I'm saying is: don't take everything you read at face value; knee jerk reactions to articles like this is how Santa Anita got in it's trouble; and, the big one - it's easy to talk about this stuff, but when you see all the facts it's harder to come up with a solution.



  8. #8
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    Default

    Check this one out
    http://hoofcare.blogspot.com/2007/11...racing-on.html

    Presque Isle Downs had similar results upon opening. So much for this stuff being the answer to anybody's prayers.

    No trainer I've talked to wants to run their horses on the stuff.
    George



  9. #9
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    Default

    www.rirdc.gov.au/reports/HOR/US-25A.doc

    This is an extensive study that was paid for by the Australian government on ' Wastage in the Australian Thoroughbred Racing Industry' published 10 years ago.
    Perhaps a similar study is overdue in the USA?



  10. #10
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JHUshoer20 View Post
    Problem being that the most horrific tend to be to popular horses in graded stakes races on national TV in front of millions of people.

    You'll seldom see an old claimer at some county fair do this. Reason being, the unfortunate fact that any horse who can run fast enough to hurt themselves usually will.
    George
    I couldn't disagree with this statement anymore than I already do. I have seen nights at both Charles Town and Penn National where 4 horses broke down in dramatic fashion. That is the supposed allotment for the entire country.
    The perception may be that it only happens in big races that are on tv because those are the only races the majority of the public ever sees.



  11. #11
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    Default

    Agree with Laurie here. Two at Charles Town this week broke down.

    Whats scary about that number is that it doesn't count the morning breakdowns, it doesn't include all tracks, and it certainly doesn't include the tracks that don't even keep statistics on breakdowns.

    Lets also not forget the horses who limp off the track and get shoved in the kill pens. Shouldn't they count too?



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    I couldn't disagree with this statement anymore than I already do. I have seen nights at both Charles Town and Penn National where 4 horses broke down in dramatic fashion. That is the supposed allotment for the entire country.
    The perception may be that it only happens in big races that are on tv because those are the only races the majority of the public ever sees.
    Ok Laurie,
    You've already heard what I blame it on. How about you? You're a trainer. What do you attribute this to?
    George



  13. #13
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    I couldn't disagree with this statement anymore than I already do. I have seen nights at both Charles Town and Penn National where 4 horses broke down in dramatic fashion. That is the supposed allotment for the entire country.
    The perception may be that it only happens in big races that are on tv because those are the only races the majority of the public ever sees.
    I agree with this completely. As previously posted, I attended my first live TB race at Suffolk Downs on 6/1/08 and witnessed a catastrophic breakdown in the third race just before the finish line that required immediate euthanization. I'm talking near complete amputation of a front leg. This was a three year old filly running her first race. Apparently, starting them later isn't the answer. She was also running on grass, so turf won't save them either.

    Almost as disheartening were the fans. Lots of glue factory jokes and such. One guy was swearing his head off because he lost money on the race (the filly had been the favorite) and called the poor horse a stupid f-in nag as she struggled to stand on three legs. I can't think of any other equestrian sport where a fatally injured horse would be ridiculed or made the butt of jokes. Can you?

    Then too, only one poster here even commented on the breakdown. The filly, Malaika (Stravinsky x Cita My Dear by Kris S), wasn't famous so who cares? The AP article is right; $hit like this happens every day and very few in the industry appear to give a damn.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Watts View Post
    www.rirdc.gov.au/reports/HOR/US-25A.doc

    This is an extensive study that was paid for by the Australian government on ' Wastage in the Australian Thoroughbred Racing Industry' published 10 years ago.
    Perhaps a similar study is overdue in the USA?
    Makes me wish Jack Mac was here
    George



  15. #15
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    Default

    Does anyone think that the fact that these breakdowns are making it into the mainstream press will make a difference?



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcloisonne View Post
    I agree with this completely. As previously posted, I attended my first live TB race at Suffolk Downs on 6/1/08 and witnessed a catastrophic breakdown in the third race just before the finish line that required immediate euthanization. I'm talking near complete amputation of a front leg. This was a three year old filly running her first race. Apparently, starting them later isn't the answer. She was also running on grass, so turf won't save them either.

    Almost as disheartening were the fans. Lots of glue factory jokes and such. One guy was swearing his head off because he lost money on the race (the filly had been the favorite) and called the poor horse a stupid f-in nag as she struggled to stand on three legs. I can't think of any other equestrian sport where a fatally injured horse would be ridiculed or made the butt of jokes. Can you?

    Then too, only one poster here even commented on the breakdown. The filly, Malaika (Stravinsky x Cita My Dear by Kris S), wasn't famous so who cares? The AP article is right; $hit like this happens every day and very few in the industry appear to give a damn.
    All things considered try not to think of Sufferin' Downs as a typical track
    George



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MySparrow View Post
    Does anyone think that the fact that these breakdowns are making it into the mainstream press will make a difference?
    Wishful thinking. I do however welcome the exposure of the abuse of drugs. However, I'm not optimistic that that won't blow over as well.
    George



  18. #18
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    NY Times article with very different numbers
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/sp...ts&oref=slogin

    Interesting how different the numbers are. Also interesting that some racing jurisdictions do not even record on track breakdowns.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHUshoer20 View Post
    Ok Laurie,
    You've already heard what I blame it on. How about you? You're a trainer. What do you attribute this to?
    George
    99% is from assholes running a dead sore horse hoping he will make it around one last time. The rest falls into the "shit happens" category.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcloisonne View Post
    Then too, only one poster here even commented on the breakdown. The filly, Malaika (Stravinsky x Cita My Dear by Kris S), wasn't famous so who cares? The AP article is right; $hit like this happens every day and very few in the industry appear to give a damn.
    That is about as correct as saying that eventers couldn't care less about the loss of Teddy, Frodo Baggins, or The Quiet Man.



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