The Stronach Group is one of U.S. Racing’s major powers, with five Thoroughbred tracks under its umbrella, including marquee venues Santa Anita, Gulfstream, and Pimlico. This week (which is not yet done) has been, to put it generously, a public relations nightmare. Thursday, horses were killed in consecutive races at Stronach-owned Laurel. And yesterday, two were killed in the same Gulfstream race. This, to the company that fancies itself the industry leader in safety.
With the current crisis playing out in Maryland – racing canceled indefinitely – Stronach is engaged in a media battle with the horsemen, with each blaming the other for Thursday’s disaster and aftermath. The horsemen say the track isn’t safe. Stronach, after “a comprehensive battery of tests,” says its experts have advised “that there are no issues…it is safe to race and train.” The truth, of course, is that death is an inevitable part of horseracing. And although Stronach keeps hyping its “safety record,” it took the remarkable step of acknowledging this fact in a statement last night: “[W]e all know that catastrophic injuries will not be eliminated completely….”
Exactly. And now that that – again, that a certain number of horses will always die (for $2 bets, remember) no matter what new “protocols” are implemented – has been established, isn’t it time for a bit of soul-searching, America? End this madness.