HISA’s statement announcing an “Emergency Summit” on the Churchill deaths was, of course, the same rhetoric we’ve heard ad nauseum for years now. Every time the industry comes under intense scrutiny for what is perceived to be a spate of killing (remember, Churchill averages 25 kills annually; at 12 thus far, right on course), the powers that be come out and reassure that nothing is more important than the welfare of their “athletes,” that no stone is being left unturned, that all safety protocols are being reevaluated, that full necropsies and in-depth analyses of the deaths are being conducted.
They promise more vets for morning training, more thorough pre-race exams, state-of-the-art imaging equipment, closer monitoring of the “at-risk,” tighter drug rules, transparent medical records, continuing ed for trainers, etc. And most prominently, as here, they trot out their track-surface gurus who speak in highly technical language about “cushion depth” and “moisture content.” To the public, it all sounds so very impressive – which is precisely the idea. Meanwhile, the horses continue to die.
As for the “summit” itself, one quote from HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus stood out. On the possibility of suspending racing at Churchill (or anywhere else), Lazarus, according to BloodHorse, would not make such a decision lightly, saying, “There are a lot of people who count on racing to survive for their livelihood.” And there it is: jobs, money. To the racing people, that’s all that really matters.