At a meeting of the Texas Racing Commission last month, Executive Director Amy Cook, in boasting of what she considers her state’s stellar transparency, revealed two things of note. This, on the reporting of deaths:
“What’s interesting about our statistics, I want to let you know that every state, every entity tracks them differently. [S]ome don’t count horse deaths when they die in the stall…some don’t count horse deaths at training facility workouts, and some don’t count them if they are vanned off and they die within basically a day or two of the live racing event. We count them all, because we think that’s intellectually honest.”
That states have different reporting requirements (not to mention degrees of effort in enforcing said requirements), and that there are massive holes in our data because of that – Louisiana is exhibit A – I’ve made crystal clear from the start. So, the above is just further confirmation. Then, however, it got more interesting.
Ms. Cook: “We’ve had humans [sic] this racing season that drove a horse into a rail at Gillespie – the human caused that. We’ve had humans that weren’t necessarily sober on those horses causing breakdowns.”
One more time: “We’ve had humans that weren’t necessarily sober on those horses causing breakdowns.” Wow.
Later, the commission chair, Robert Pate, said this, supposedly as an argument for Texas (and Louisiana) refusing to comply with HISA:
“And of course, the problem HISA has is…right after they took effect, they had, what was it, 14 animals die at Churchill Downs, of all places. And so their record in terms of safety…is absolutely dismal. … Louisiana and we stood out because we had the lowest injury or death rate [I’m sure this is not true]. And so it’s really a fabulous result, and I appreciate everything…the tracks do to make it safe.”
Cook, of course, agreed: “I credit the entire industry…everyone for really working together to make this the safest state in the nation.” What is the record of Cook’s “safest state in the nation”? She reports that 21 horses have been killed at Texas tracks thus far this year. 21 dead “athletes.” Makes one’s heart swell with pride, huh?