Tim Sullivan, writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal states:
Of the 25 racetracks that share their casualty counts with the public, only one was more deadly last year than Churchill Downs.
And despite its recent rash of gloomy headlines, it wasn’t Santa Anita.
Only Illinois’ Hawthorne Race Course lost horses at a faster pace than Churchill Downs did in 2018, according to the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database.
Over the past three years, only the boutique meet conducted at California’s Sonoma County Fair exceeded Churchill’s race-related mortality rate.
Unlike its Kentucky colleagues at Keeneland and Turfway Park, Churchill Downs does not publicly disclose its racing fatalities, but a spokesman for the track confirmed figures obtained through a public records request of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Those records show the home of the Kentucky Derby has lost 43 thoroughbreds to racing injuries since 2016, a 2.42 per 1,000-start average that was 50 percent higher than the national average during the same three-year span.
Last year, with 16 fatalities in 5,856 starts, Churchill’s death rate was higher still: 2.73 per 1,000.
Safety of Racehorses Comes in Dead Last
Ruben Hernandez, writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal on this year’s Run for the Roses observes:
To argue that other horses were put danger is an issue that should be taken up with the management of Churchill Downs because 20 horses don’t enter themselves into the race. Based on this logic, one would have to conclude that a field of this size is put in danger once the gates open.
There is no “fix”. Certainly not one that can be done quickly with any type of regulation. The horse has “bolted” so to speak. It will take years of clean breeding to return racehorses to the durability and robustness required. In saying that, it very well may be too late for American bred horses.
US racehorses are suffering catastrophic breakdowns and deaths because of decades long chemical abuse. They are administered a virtual unending list of drugs from the time they are foaled until they reach a racecourse — if they ever arrive there. This over zealous drugging has a debilitating impact which is being passed on from offspring to offspring. Weakness and unsoundness are being bred in.
We are right on the money, but don’t take our word for it. Consider these words:
“Chemical horses produce chemical babies. Performance-enhancing drugs must be banned if we are going to survive as an industry and if thoroughbreds are going to survive as a robust breed.”
– Arthur Hancock
Breeder of Three Kentucky Derby Winners
2008 US Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown, seen winning the Kentucky Derby above, received regularly monthly treatments of Winstrol, an anabolic steroid banned in 10 states—yet in none of the states where the Triple Crown horse races are contested.
Jane Allin writes:
The current state of horse racing in North America is best described as a volatile cocktail fueled by economic greed together with increasingly fragile horses and pervasive drug administration that has transformed this once distinguished “Sport of Kings” into a controversial, much maligned commercial industry rife with abuse and disregard for its athletes.
It all just needs to stop.
The Horse Fund