The holiday break couldn’t have come at a better time for NYRA or New York racing fans, given the events at Aqueduct on Sunday.
In the fifth race, Routine Addendum went down at the top of the stretch. Did he clip heels? Did he break down? Various perspectives offered various answers. As the jockey Sheldon Russell lie on the track, Routine Addendum struggled to get up; regardless of the cause, the colt suffered a catastrophic injury and was euthanized on the track. Russell got up on his own steam and was taken to the hospital to rule out a possible fracture of his left wrist and possible concussion.
One race later: Nika, a McLaughlin $500,000 purchase, broke through the starting gate, right in front of the grandstand, before the start of the race. Jockey Alan Garcia is OK; so too is Nika, who gallops off heartily around the clubhouse turn. It’s routine, we think, and we turn back to work…and then, all of a sudden, it’s not. It’s horrifying, and it’s tragic, and it’s stomach-turning, as Nika spots the gap on the far end of the clubhouse turn, tries to jump the fence, and falls, impaling herself.
She looks OK, though, and from afar appears to be running fine, as she hits the main track and runs the wrong way, then collapses, motionless, dead from loss of blood. “Late scratch” flashes on the screen, most inadequately.
Two races, two dead horses.
I watched reporters, disturbed, work to find out answers; they go to the jocks’ room, they call the vet, they talk to agents. And I think: this is why bloggers are no substitute for reporters, who know their beat, who have done this for a long time, who have credibility based on experience and who can be trusted to take in information and write about it responsibly, especially sensitive information like this.
Bloggers add a dimension to racing that racing needs, no doubt about it. But we cannot, and we should not, be seen as a replacement for the reporters that one by one are disappearing from the racing world. And that was clear to me this afternoon, watching the reporters at work, fulfilling the public trust, looking to find the answers they knew the public would want.