One of the topics highlighted in the recent edition of The Blood-Horse is the lack of information about equine breakdowns during training hours. Tuesday’s Daily Racing Form noted three breakdowns during morning training that day on Hollywood Park’s Cushion track; the item was buried in a longer piece, headlined by a story on Nashoba’s Key. The information about the three horses being euthanized came as the fourth item in the piece, and it raised several questions for me:
–Why was it so hard to find this information? Three horses fatally breaking down on one morning seems fairly extraordinary to me, and I was surprised at how difficult it was to get the information. Any number of Internet searches yielded nothing; I finally got the link from a discussion board.
–Where’s the outcry? My experience has been that whenever there’s one breakdown, much less multiple fatalities, on a dirt track, the cries come out about the danger of dirt. Yet when fatalities occur on synthetic surfaces, the voices are much more muted. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but I didn’t see a single article or blog post questioning the safety of this track surface, or suggesting that the surface be investigated, though some questions were raised by some posters on the forum of Thoroughbred Champions.
In a related story, I noted yesterday that all fatal breakdowns at Woodbine, regardless of when they occur, are mandated to be necropsied at the University of Guelph. As with many other issues, I feel that we have much to learn from our northern neighbors (and yes, my hockey inclinations inform that opinion); why can’t we do this? Why can’t all horses who break down at a racetrack be required to be autopsied so that the cause of death/source of injury can be determined? Seems to me that it would lead to the sort of transparency that is all too often lacking when it comes to the death of horses on the racetrack.