Last year, ahead of Belmont’s Opening Day, the New York Racing Association issued a statement that began:
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced a number of safety initiatives…for the upcoming 25-day spring/summer meet at Belmont Park. … The safety and welfare of horses…competing at NYRA tracks is our highest priority.
Two years ago, ahead of Belmont’s Opening Day, NYRA issued a statement that read, in part:
In addition to accreditation…by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, a variety of initiatives have been put in place since 2013 at all three NYRA racetracks…in areas such as racing surfaces and race-day scrutiny, as well as capital improvements and collaborative efforts…to ensure the safety of all participants. These extensive reforms and commitment to improving the safety of NYRA’s racing operations have led to demonstrably safer races.
Four years ago, in the midst of Saratoga’s 21-kill summer, NYRA released a statement that began:
In addition to the existing industry-leading equine health and safety policies and procedures already in place at NYS racetracks, the NYS Gaming Commission, NYRA and NYTHA are implementing additional actions immediately at Saratoga Race Course, including increased regulatory veterinary presence at the track during training hours, state-of-the-art monitoring of horses and comprehensive trainer education intended to share scientific findings of research into the types of injuries that occur at New York Thoroughbred racetracks and risk and protective factors that can help to prevent injury.
From a statewide regulatory and veterinary affairs perspective, other states look to New York for guidance in shaping their own regulatory and best-practice methods to ensure horse welfare.
State Equine Medical Director Scott Palmer added:
“Our goal is to reduce the number of racehorse deaths and injuries to zero, and we have taken many productive steps toward reaching that goal over the past four years.”
And NYRA Safety Steward Hugh Gallagher:
“There is no issue more important to NYRA than the safety of our equine and human athletes. That is why NYRA has implemented extensive reforms and made significant investments since 2013 to improve track surface conditions, upgrade equipment, provide vets with more authority to monitor thoroughbred health, establish committees to oversee safety measures, and actively seek out advice and guidance from independent experts and scientists.”
Seven years ago, in response to a relatively light 12 dead at Saratoga (for context, Saratoga had 21 kills last year), NYRA issued the following:
Although New York State has made significant progress in reducing injuries and preventing the inappropriate use of medication in racehorses, the job of equine safety is never done. There will be challenges along the way. We are experiencing such a challenge during the 2014 Saratoga meet. A thorough investigation of all of the racing fatalities…is being conducted. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to identify the causes of death in all racing fatalities in New York. As stewards of the racehorse, we have a duty to do all that we can to honor and protect these incredible athletes.
Just this morning, Singapore Trader, five, was killed training at Belmont. He is the 16th dead horse at Belmont in less than four months – this, after 53 killed there last year. In fact, just since 2009 (when the Gaming Commission began disclosing these things), almost 1,000 horses have lost their lives at the three NYRA tracks. Almost 1,000.
“safety and welfare of horses is our highest priority”
“these extensive reforms have led to demonstrably safer races”
“other states look to New York for best-practice methods to ensure horse welfare”
“no issue more important to NYRA than the safety of our equine and human athletes”
“we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to identify the causes of death”
They’re lying. Through their teeth.