Racing industry prepares for third safety summit

Cross-posted from the Louisville Courier-Journal

Written by GREGORY A. HALL | GHALL@COURIER-JOURNAL.COM

Track personnel try to hold down Eight Belles after the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 3, 2008. Eight Belles was euthanized after breaking both front ankles following a second-place finish to winner Big Brown. (AP Photo/Brian Bohannon)

The first Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit came months after 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro broke a leg in the Preakness Stakes, raising questions about tracking the number and causes of horse injuries.

By the time Eight Belles broke both front legs after her second-place finish in the 2008 Derby, a second summit had been held and an injury reporting database was getting started.

Thoroughbred racing leaders will gather in Lexington, Ky. on Monday and Tuesday for the third summit, where breakdown statistics will be released from the database, which includes more than 80 tracks that account for more than 80 percent of U.S. and Canadian races. Read more here >>

7 thoughts on “Racing industry prepares for third safety summit”

  1. They seem to talk exclusively about track surfaces and certainly with valid reason. What about the “legal” and illegal drugs????…conveniently left out. Pumping drugs whether they be legal, which is questionable in itself, or illegal into young horses whose musculoskeletel structures are not fully mature can only spell disaster, which is what we are currently witnessing in the “Sport of Kings”.

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  2. And will they stop racing them as infants, maybe wait ’til their bones & connective tissue have chance to mature a little before asking them to cripple themselves?

    I don’t got a Stetson; I hope straw will do. And I’ll bring the tequila.

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    1. the thing is they race them as infants because there bone plates are not matured, this causes lower limb injuries and or fractures, but the reason they are raced is because they are more limber and agile

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      1. Sam – my boy the Thoroughbred was raced as a two-year-old and it wreaked his knees. Fortunately, he was allowed to dawdle in pasture for about 18 months after. That may have provided him with the necessary time to heal. He’s been my Friend for more than 17 years & has not once been lame as a result of his earlier injuries.
        He turned 20 in May.
        I often wonder what his life expectancy would have been if our lives had taken a different road.
        A couple of years ago, on a lark, a human friend clocked him at 35 MPH, while he was galloping for the sheer joy of it.
        I understand the WHY of putting young Horses into competition. What I don’t understand is condemning young Horses to crippling or premature death for nothing more important than ENTERTAINMENT.

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    2. Yep, start the horses later, and many of these injuries and deaths would likely be eliminated. When horses race as two-year-olds, they’re obviously started when they’re one. Horses (all breeds) bones don’t set until they’re 4, so, for heaven’s sake, don’t start them under saddle until they’re at least 3.

      The trainers would be much smarter to do gradual groundwork until then, including desensitization at the starting gate and to unfamiliar noises. Maybe the times might be slower, because they won’t be relying on the panic response of those “crazy kids”, but, if they want to avoid tragedy and, ultimately, blame, the whole “racing culture” needs to change.

      As for shoes, many people involved in all horse sports are finding success with barefoot trims. No shoes means stronger feet, because the natural spring and roll of the hoof encourages proper blood flow to the hoof. If a racehorse doesn’t have the hooves for the job, an experienced trainer should know it and the horse shouldn’t be raced. There are plenty of other less physically stressful careers for thoroughbreds.

      By the way, I’d be interested to know whether the Quarterhorse racing industry has ever held this type of summit. They overbreed, ruin, and sent far more horses to slaughter than any other group.

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