NY’s “Standard That Should Be Emulated Across the Country”: 760 Kills Since 2013

On November 9, the board of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA), a trade group “representing the interests of [NYS] owners and trainers,” issued a statement heralding its support for Mitch McConnell’s “Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020.” In a section dubbed “New York’s Standard,” the board writes:

“After our own breakdown crisis in 2011/2012, New York has significantly changed our safety culture. Working together with NYRA and the Gaming Commission, our trainers and NYTHA have created a standard that we feel should be emulated across the country. First off, it’s the right thing to do. But we should not ignore the business case – NYRA, NYTHA and all of our members should demand other jurisdictions implement key safety and medication protocols. When other jurisdictions ignore best practices, it not only puts New York at a competitive disadvantage, but can negatively affect the reputation of the entire industry.”

Well, I’ll give them this: They’re an uncannily confident bunch. To put out a statement like that in the face of easily accessible facts takes, well, you know. Yesterday at Aqueduct, yet another horse was killed. In the 9th race, 2-year-old Thursday, says the chartwriter, “suffered an injury with five and a half furlongs remaining and was vanned off.” According to the Daily Racing Form, Thursday broke a pair of sesamoids and was euthanized. She is the fifth horse killed at “The Big A” in just the past eight days. And now, more of those pesky facts:

This year (covid-contracted, remember), 79 horses have died at the three NYRA tracks (Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga); 10 more have died at Finger Lakes, leaving NY’s Thoroughbred owners and trainers with 89 kills on the year. 89. Since their supposed epiphany – “[we’ve] significantly changed our safety culture” – in 2012, here are the death totals (racing, training, stall) for New York’s four Thoroughbred racetracks:

2013: 110
2014: 113
2015: 83
2016: 94
2017: 105
2018: 83
2019: 83
2020: 89 (and counting)

That’s 760 dead horses since NY got its act together and “created a standard that should be emulated across the country.” 760 dead horses since they figured out what is “the right thing to do.” Vile. (Even if NYTHA, which technically only represents the three NYRA tracks, wants to exclude Finger Lakes, they’d still be left with 556 carcasses – 70 per year – to answer for.)

(Please note, the 760 does not represent a full and accurate reckoning: The Gaming Commission only counts horses who die at the track; there are plenty of others who are euthanized – for racing/training injuries or just plain cumulative degradation – back at the trainer’s/owner’s farm or shortly after being acquired by a rescue.)

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  1. They’re all so freaking obvious. The name of the game is NOT “Kill as Few as Possible.” Oh, no. Too humane for their bloody greed spectacle they call a sport; it’s “Kill Them Off-Site so We Won’t Report Them.”
    These monsters then have the audacity to brag about their “Safety Successes,” when they’re in fact forcing catastrophically injured animals to SUFFER MORE AND LONGER before being euthanized.

    How’s that for Integrity, sports fans? Further torture and torment dying animals just to stay off Patrick’s list. Way to go, horse racing.

  2. On top of all this crap, they celebrate trainers like the Rices, Rudy Rodriguez, and ALLOW repeat perennial killers, the ENGELHARTS, at their tracks! The NYRA Breakdown Database shows the same trainers over and over again, and yet no one in the New York racing scene seems to take issue with that. Talk about not looking good for their industry, and instead they vomit out press releases like this.

  3. Regardless of how many horses they have killed, the point is they kill horses!
    So, going by that “standard” as a measurement to emulate, I would say that all of the horse racetracks in the United States and all the foreign countries that have horseracing are emulating them very well. They all kill horses!!!! There is money involved in many different ways and many different levels. What a thing to be proud of; to kill horses no matter what, and for money. It takes a certain kind of person to be able and willing to abuse horses to literal death. It takes evil, vile, demented, unscrupulous and greedy people to cause harm and suffering to horses so that degenerate people may place bets on them.

  4. Kelly, Dancin Nicky…98 lengths!!! behind the second to last finisher. Why did that jockey torture him like that!!!!! #CRIMINAL

  5. Peggy, “Thursday”….the 2 yr.old chestnut filly,who just died , in the race at Aqueduct, had Unbridled Song as her grand sire!!!!!!! Will it EVER end? Wasn’t poor Eight Belles enough?,as far as the Unbridled sire line?

  6. Blatant liars and they know it – or they’ve lied for so long they believe their own lies. Unreal. Stay Fond was silently begging for help at NY tracks. Scratches. Voided claim. Cheaper races. Like was said to me by a friend who has her own rescued racehorses and understands this industry, Stay Fond was sent out to die…at a New York track.

    • Obviously the horse was not fit to race. But as I was told, decisions are left to the “trainer”. Where were the vets in this ? They knew Stay Fond should not be racing as did the stewards et al. They all facilitated the killing.
      In this game Stay Fond is just one more dead horse just like the horse getting knocked in the head in his stall – no big deal.

    • You’re so right Joy. Watching this poor mare’s race replay from the day her claim was voided, it’s obvious that she was off in her right front while walking back to the winners circle. Everyone failed her, from Linda Rice, who knew she was off, to the vets, to the racing office, to the new owner and trainer. Huge miserable failure on everyone’s parts.
      When I was still involved in racing, an acquaintance of mine, who knows Linda Rice, offered to obtain some of Linda’s castoffs so that I could continue to race them at lower tier tracks. Thank god I never took them up on that offer, because if this would have been the fate of a horse in my possession after coming from her barn, I probably would have had a mental breakdown.
      But I’m sure Oscar and his owner didn’t bat an eye, and were probably even pissed that the money they shelled out for this mare was a waste to them after she snapped her clearly unsound leg.

      • Great point, Peggy – regarding the “castoffs”.

        From an individual (in an article on a pro-racing site) who boasts about being in the “business” for 40 years with experience as a “hotwalker, groom, foreman and assistant for so many trainers that he lost count of them all”, THIS…

        “I know what it is to take care of a horse that, after a race, he can’t stand and eat from a feed tub. You actually had to put the feed tub on the ground because he was so sore. Being at a lot of cheap tracks, you get horses that nobody wants from the big tracks.”

  7. Stay Fond’s sad helpless cry for help and mercy makes me sad beyond words. This happens everyday in this brutal torturous industry.

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