When I last wrote about the Jockey Club’s “Equine Injury Database” (EID), I pointed out, among other things, how grossly misleading it is. Today, I build on that a bit: In 2017, according to the EID, Saratoga Race Course, one of the minority of tracks that make fatalities public, incurred six deaths. Anyone at all familiar with this site knows that 2017 was an all-time – all-time meaning from 2009, the year the NYS Gaming Commission began disclosing deaths and, not coincidentally (outcry after Eight Belles), the first year of the EID – high for Saratoga, 21 dead horses. So, what gives?
For starters, the Jockey Club only reports raceday kills. The 11 racehorses felled in morning practice? Not applicable, says the JC. The two young, awaiting-next-race horses who died, likely very painfully, of colic? Disregarded. So, that’s 13 dead horses who didn’t merit a mention in the database. Fine. We already knew that. But at this point you may notice that 21 minus 13 leaves 8; the JC says 6. So, again, what gives?
Here are the 21 dead at Saratoga ’17:
Lakalas, May 28, “collapsed and died after breezing”
Queen B, July 6, “fractured leg…ambulanced to clinic – euthanized”
Wanztbwicked, July 22, “suspensory rupture – euthanized on track”
Angels Seven, July 28 (racing), “fractured leg – euthanized on the track”
Howard Beach, July 29, “fractured leg…euthanized”
Positive Waves, July 29, “fractured cannon [and] sesamoids – euthanized”
Brooklyn Major, July 31 (racing), “collapsed and died after the finish of the race”
Marshall Plan, August 2, “fractured condylar – euthanized”
Fall Colors, August 3 (racing), “horse fell…died on track from trauma”
Munjaz, August 3 (racing), “took bad step…vanned off – euthanized”
Lakeside Sunset, August 5, “fractured leg – euthanized”
Unbroken Chain, August 6 (racing), “suffered a fatal musculoskeletal injury”
Duquesne Whistle, August 7, “was euthanized for abdomen colic”
Sweetneida, August 11 (racing), “took bad step, fractured sesamoids – euthanized”
Meteoroid, August 16 (racing), “[multiple] fractures – euthanized on track”
Sayonara Rose, August 17 (racing), “was euthanized on the track for leg fracture”
Travelin Soldier, August 19, “fractured leg – euthanized”
That Mr. P, August 26, “being treated for acute colic without resolution – euthanized”
Aggie’s Honor, August 31, “fractured cannon – euthanized”
Somekindasexy, September 18, “fractured both sesamoids – euthanized”
Roberta Brooks, October 14, “fractured cannon – euthanized”
Now, I can only surmise that the two missing from the Jockey Club’s accounting are the two who perished in steeplechase races. Yet, both (Fall Colors and Meteoroid) were Thoroughbreds, both, obviously, died on those same hallowed Saratoga grounds, both races pari-mutuel. In other words, there was no rational reason to exclude them. Except that doing so – along with excluding training kills – helps make the Saratoga kill-ratio better, and hence the Jockey Club’s (industry’s) overall national ratio.
And this was no isolated incident:
2016 – the Gaming Commission lists 6 Saratoga racing kills; the EID, 5
2015 – the Gaming Commission lists 3 Saratoga racing kills; the EID, 2
2014 – the Gaming Commission lists 8 Saratoga racing kills; the EID, 6
The evidence is clear: The Jockey Club is not only under-reporting all kills/deaths – no training, no stall – but it is also under-reporting racing kills, rendering (again) its vaunted “Equine Injury Database” worthless. Read my Killed Lists instead.