(UPDATE) Thoroughbred deaths investigation results released

By Lombardo David
Friday, September 28, 2012

The state task force appointed to investigate 21 thoroughbred fatalities at the Aqueduct Racetrack's inner track from December 2011 to March 2012 delivered a thick semi-glossy report at the state Capitol today.

The report describes the deaths as the product of a perfect storm of events, but doesn't blame one particular factor more than another. In releasing the report, New York State Director of Operations Howard Glaser first highlighted the fact that the New York Racing Association's veterinarians report to the corporation's racing office.

NYRA Board of Directors member John Hendrickson said this veterinary structure was flawed because the racing office's main objective is to fill fields for races and not the safety of the horses.

As a result of the report, the state will create an independent structure for NYRA's veterinary operation, establish an anonymous reporting system for jockeys, amend drug-testing rules and implement emergency rules changing when certain drugs can be administered.

The full text of the report is available below.

Hendrickson, who stressed that even one horse death is too many, said the changes will lead to a cleaner and safer racing industry in New York. "Sounds like a great day for racing and an even better day for our horses," he said.
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The four-member task force consisted of retired jockey Jerry Bailey, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association Chairman and CEO Alan Foreman, New Jersey Equine Clinic hospital director Dr. Scott Palmer and Kentucky Horse Racing Commission medical director Dr. Mary Scollay.

UPDATE 6:51 p.m.: Here are some reactions to the report and its recommendations.

James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club,said the recommendations will enhance the safety of thoroughbred racing.

“We hope that this task force’s recommendations are enacted quickly, not only in New York but throughout the country, for the sake of our athletes and the integrity of our sport," Gagliano said. “The Jockey Club stands ready to assist all regulatory authorities and racing associations as they implement the changes outlined in the task force’s report.”

New York State Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini described the recommendations as "sweeping" reforms.

"The measures will be fully implemented by the Racing and Wagering Board," Sabini said. "The Board will hold a special meeting within the next two weeks to enact several emergency rules in accordance with the Task Force's recommendations."

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