Yesterday, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) released a statement regarding a resumption of racing at Belmont Park. Besides the blatant kissing up to an unimpressed Governor Cuomo, the theme was safety:
“NYRA joins the entire racing community in applauding Governor Cuomo’s steady leadership throughout this unprecedented public health crisis. We recognize that decisions about large scale events are rightly left to our elected leaders and public health officials. At the same time, horseracing is in a unique position as a sport that can be safely staged without attendees.
“NYRA held races at Aqueduct Racetrack safely and securely under these conditions through March 15. Our experience during this period of time, as well as our ability to continue the training operation at Belmont Park throughout the pandemic, informs the strict safety protocols that we currently have in place at Belmont Park and would seek to implement at Saratoga Race Course.
“As such, NYRA is seeking to resume live racing at Belmont Park in the absence of fans and we have prepared operating plans that follow the same model for Saratoga. These plans prioritize the health and safety of employees, horsemen and the backstretch community and include a broad array of risk mitigation strategies developed according to the most updated heath guidance.
“By closing to the public, layering additional health and safety protocols to our ongoing practices, and reducing the number of employees on-property, NYRA is in a position to provide a small sense of normalcy for fans across the country who can watch on television and online. … This is a delicate balance, and one that must always prioritize health and safety. [W]e are committed to taking every step possible to keep our communities safe while providing entertainment and contributing to the New York economy as we collectively begin the return to a new normal.”
Conspicuous by its absence, of course, was any mention of the health and safety of their horses. Surprised? Shouldn’t be. Here are the kill totals for the three NYRA tracks – Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga – from 2009-2019:
Aqueduct, 225 dead racehorses
Belmont, 452 dead racehorses
Saratoga, 155 dead racehorses
That’s 832 animals sacrificed for “entertainment” in a little over a decade. Thus far this year (with an obvious asterisk), 14 more horses have perished – 3 at Aqueduct, 11 at Belmont – and Belmont has yet to even run a race.
Horseracing: safe and happy for all but the horses.