Eight Belles dies in the dirt at Churchill Downs after finishing 2nd in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

Tracks to release racehorse fatality data

Eight Belles dies in the dirt at Churchill Downs after finishing 2nd in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.
Eight Belles breaks down and dies in the dirt at Churchill Downs after finishing 2nd in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

Here we go again. Charts, tables, reports and databases — usually put together in such a way that not even industry people cannot interpret them — contributed to on a voluntary basis which will tell us exactly, what? What the trends are? That’s about as much as we can hope for, but it is far from definitive and most likely never will be.

And that is exactly how the horse racing industry appears to like it and wants to keep it, as the sport crumbles around deaf ears. However, accurate, reliable data would be possible to a higher degree if horse racing had a central governing body like any other professional sport, say with federally backed power to enforce its rules and mandate that factual information is collected from everyone. Guess what? It seems they do not want that either.

What am I raving about? Read on.

Gregory A. Hall writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal reports:

The Jockey Club announced Monday that more than a dozen racetracks — including two in Kentucky — that participate in a horse industry racing fatality database have agreed to release the statistics for their properties.

But the four tracks owned by Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. are not among them.

The Kentucky tracks that agreed to release their data in The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database are Keeneland Race Course in Lexington and Turfway Park in Florence.

A Jockey Club spokesman said Churchill was invited to release the data and declined.

There’s more. Keep reading here >>

11 thoughts on “Tracks to release racehorse fatality data”

  1. The heart attack theory is pure nonsense.

    I also have watched the videos for her horrendous breakdown and there is nothing related to a “heart attack. Everything I have ever read has refuted this.

    It is a moot point and totally sensationalism.

    Anyone who would pay heed to this is nuts.


  2. They told a bald faced lie about Eight Belles dying of a heart attack. I have a slow motion video of that gorgeous filly galloping on two broken ankles. This video was not ‘shopped’ in any way. She collapsed when her Jockey slowed her as the lack of Impulsion that was keeping her ‘airborne’ was gone.

    I call American Horse Racing of any kind abusive, predatory, and in violation of the RICO Act. The entire industry should be shut down and the public has to stop loving this cruelty. It disgusts me.



  3. Every year that I have been following this, I guess about 2004 or 2005, they say 700 to 800 Thoroughbreds die on racecourses. Surely those numbers must vary some, especially when tracks change surfaces and kill a bunch. That’s about the only time racehorse fatalities get any coverage. Or when a horse like Eight Belles breaks down and is euthanized on the track in front of a large television audience on Derby Day. What frustrates me is that horse racing is run all over the world without these problems, and lack of transparency. Not that it is totally unflawed, but at least you have an idea of what is going on. I hope US horse racing crashes and burns. I hate the way it is run, and the loathsome thinking that fuels the cruelty, abuse and dishonesty. If nothing else, the Feds should shut it down because bettors do not get a fair gamble, and that is definitely against the law — in a very big way. But the states loves the revenues; they desperately need them they say. So they want it to go on as it too. It all just needs to stop.


  4. Great post. There is so much I am learning about the racing industry — and you are right — there is a difference between data and information.

    The idea of a governing board one would think would move things forward unless of course it is weighted with the bad players. I don’t follow racing closely but it seems there are some big international players in the big races these days, as far as horses themselves. Did the KY Derby used to be restricted to American owned horses? If not, when did that change? I note that foreign companies were the owners of the horse slaughter businesses that existed in the US not that long ago. Is this the case for the racing industry? Anyway “they” the horse industry/vets/pharmaceutical companies probably all work to keep the palms of Congress well greased. Ugh.

    I guess it is a moot point; lack of safety standards and industry wide regulations can exist regardless of ownership.


  5. The TB racing industry is shrouded in secrecy..

    Even with a database that will provide statistics for fatalities the data will be flawed and misleading. It is well known that any stats that do exist do not include fatalities that occur during training, only those that happen during a race. Training takes more lives than do the races so the data will skew the results in their favor.

    More lies and deception. What else is new?


  6. All you have to do to see what is going on in the racing industry is look the amount of money the National Thoroughbred Racing Association pays lobbyists to donate to and wine and dine the politicians, especially the Senate. One lobbying business called Alpine Group, Inc. was paid $50,000 dollars to do just that, another one was given $9000 and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And this is to stop the anti-slaughter bills from being passed. All of this exchange of crooked dollars has happened every year for the past ten years or every year that a bill to protect the horses was introduced. And you have to look at the tax write offs these breeders get. Every horse that can’t be used in their business or dies or is sold is a write off. Every wore out brood mare that can’t be bred back for next years crop and is hauled to the auction is a write off.
    All of these people win the horses lose every time.


    1. Barb, do you have specific contact information for The Alpine Group? If so please post and I will pick it up and give it to anti-slaughter advocates on social media.

      If you have more lobbyist groups contact information, please post.

      Everything helps.


    2. This is fascinating information and points to a sordid industry similar to the horse slaughter industry in the United States. America’s rotten underside: Congress.


  7. This is a consistent pattern of behavior esp for CDI. Gambing is good but racing is not important enough to discuss and respond about. You never hear back from any official source in racing. Ray Paulick noted this re stewards and enforcement. That tells you what you need to know doesn’t it? The owners of the venues get the benefits and everybody else pays out and frankly, backstretch workers and horses suffer for it all. What does that tell you about slaughter and corruption in that massive industry? Fans notice this and become un-fans. No one has to support that with dollars. What happens to the Thorobreds then? What happens to all of them when racing goes away? Are there enough rescues for all these horses being bred right now? If slaughter doesn’t end before racing ends, we will see slaughter increase. That is my worst fear.

    The AQHA is the same way. That leads to suspicion right there, esp re slaughter. This is all about money and nothing else.

    Anytime there is not a response when horrors occur, it leads to more suspicion and eventually, calls for shutdown and no matter how eventual, horses will suffer. The TB was developed as a racehorse first. Illegal racing exists and that is even worse. These are real concerns since slaughter has not ended yet. This is a devil’s bargain at best.

    We must end slaughter first and force the horse industry to step us or face rigid enforcement which may result in losses. They pay now or they pay later, one way or the other. I think that is where we will see the truth finally emerge and it may be uglier than we think. The horse has to come first or any reform will fail.

    Slaughter is a no-compromise issue since everything else ends with that possible outcome. How can good faith negotiations take place if there is always the option of killing an “inconvenience” we caused? I think we all know the likely outcome there.

    This is all a product of short term thinking for financial gain for a few and the lack of transparency in the industry. This can’t go on this way. The horses always end up as the victims, no matter what. That is the issue–our own dishonesty.


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