of Horse Racing Fairness and Safety Authority Kentucky regulating veterinarians and Churchill Downs veterinarians meet Tuesday to investigate why 12 horses were fatally injured in the past few weeks at the historic racetrack and recommend a moratorium on racing there. decided whether.
The agency’s chief executive, Lisa Lazarus, convened an “emergency veterinarian summit” in Lexington, Kentucky, to review autopsies of deceased cases, toxicology reports, and veterinarian and trainer records. Seven of those occurred ahead of this month’s Kentucky Derby. The death casts a shadow over Triple Crown season, a few weeks each spring when casual sports fans turn their attention to horse racing.
In addition, officials asked Dennis Moore, a longtime California racetrack superintendent, to study the racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and provide an independent analysis of the racing suitability of the dirt and turf courses. .
“None of the jockeys or trainers have ever said they believed Baba was a factor in the fatalities,” Lazarus said. Most of the fatalities occurred after the horse broke down during the race.
Lazarus said the procedures Kentucky veterinarians follow to ensure horses are fit to race will be reviewed, and veterinarian records will be scrutinized for illegal or abused drugs. He said authorities would increase surveillance and vigilance against trainers and apply “very strict scrutiny to horses of concern in terms of testing”.
A review of each horse’s veterinary diagnosis and medication history was led by Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, the agency’s head of horse safety and welfare.
“Basically, we’re trying to get a holistic snapshot of the horse’s history in the month leading up to the injury,” Lazarus said. “We have to turn each leaf inside out and look under every stone.”
He said a recommendation from the summit would reach her agent by Wednesday evening on whether and how Churchill should continue the race.
“Everyone is trying their best to figure out what’s going on and stop it,” Lazarus said.
Lazarus said authorities could not force Churchill Downs to cancel the race, but they could ban Churchill Downs from transmitting race broadcasts to other courses and internet betting sites for betting. acknowledged that there is Churchill will receive a portion of that wager, but it will be expensive.
“My strong view is that if I recommend Churchill Downs to close racing, it will accept that recommendation,” Lazarus said.
Horse racing troubles have raised tensions among officials as they question how long America’s oldest sport can keep its social licenses renewed.
This authority was established by Congress and is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission to ensure the health and safety of horse racing competitors (humans and horses). Its main responsibility is to eradicate doping and abuse in Thoroughbred racing.
The agency’s Racecourse Safety Program began on July 1, 2022. Its anti-doping program went into effect May 22, two days after Bob Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes, marking the return of one of America’s most accomplished and controversial trainers. to the triple crown race. The win came hours after Baffert received a two-year suspension from the Derby, the pinnacle of Derby racing, for a doping violation, and his horse was on the undercard at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore. It was brought in after another one died.
Earlier that week, The New York Times reported that Forte, last year’s two-year-old champion and favorite to win the 2023 Kentucky Derby until he suffered a scrape the morning of the race, had failed a post-race drug test in New York. revealed that it was 8 months ago.
The stallion, trained by trainer Todd Pletcher, tested positive for meloxicam, a potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to manage pain and swelling after the Hopeful Stakes. The drug is widely prescribed to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but it is not approved for use in training racehorses in the United States.
New York regulators suspended Pletcher, a Hall of Fame trainer, for 10 days, fined him $1,000 and disqualified him from Forte.
In 2019, the sports world was rocked when 30 horses died in six months at Santa Anita Park outside Los Angeles. The news made headlines across the country and drew the scrutiny of California legislators and animal rights activists.
In response, state and horse racing authorities tightened regulations on the use of equestrian crops and medicines on horses. Training of trainers and jockeys. Track your safety. Treatment policy for injured horses. Twelve horses died in Santa Anita last year, and the number of Thoroughbred fatalities across California dropped 54% last year to 66 from 144 in 2019.
“Everything is being considered,” Mr. Lazarus said when asked if similar measures could be implemented nationally, not just at Churchill.