Belmont, after grabbing the NYRA baton from Saratoga, opened yesterday – with a kill. In the 3rd race, Passporttovictory, says Equibase, took some “bad steps” and was “vanned off”; the Gaming Commission confirms the 5-year-old mare dead. But there’s more. Earlier in the Belmont day, Royal Inheritance “collapsed and died while training” – she, too, was but five years old. This makes 24 dead horses at Belmont Park on the year – with almost four full months to go.
Meanwhile, yet another dead horse at Saratoga. Sister Beauty, two, broke down training August 31 – officially, “ambulanced to Rood & Riddle; inoperable fracture – euthanized due to poor prognosis.” That’s 14 dead for the “oldest sports venue in the nation” – right at its historical average. For all three NYRA tracks (including Aqueduct), 42 dead horses thus far in 2019. Juxtapose that with this from NYRA spokesman Patrick McKenna in the Times Union Saratoga recap:
“Safety at all levels is our highest priority. NYRA has a broad-based safety program and employs industry-best equine safety practices at all of our racetracks. These include measures such as the daily inspection and scientific analysis of all racing and training surfaces; examinations of equine athletes who must be cleared by NYRA veterinarians to race and a variety of capital improvements designed to enhance safety.”
Yet again, I implore the NY media to become more cynical. This is a rich, old industry well-schooled in the art of propaganda. But please, just follow the facts: “Demonstrably safer” is a lie, and horses will continue to die, guaranteed.