Earlier this year, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board launched a public database detailing breakdowns, injuries, and deaths at New York’s racetracks. In June, it was discovered that the database contained erroneous information (I wrote about it here and here), notably that at least two horses that were listed as having been euthanized were at the time still alive. One of them, Giant Ryan, was subsequently put down. The other, Giant Surprise, is standing at stud at Vinery New York.
At that time, the Racing and Wagering Board said that it would implement additional steps in the reporting process to ensure that such mistakes were not repeated.
Yesterday, further inaccuracies and omissions were discovered. Money in Motion, involved in an incident in Wednesday’s eighth race at Saratoga, was listed as having been euthanized, though clicking through for the details of the incident revealed that the horse was unhurt. Trainer Richard Stoklosa confirmed that the horse had not been injured and was fine.
The fallen horse that Money in Motion moved to avoid, Bluember, was euthanized and correctly listed on the database.
On Friday afternoon, Racing and Wagering Board director of communications Lee Park explained that the person inputting the data about Money in Motion checked a box that he shouldn’t have checked, which resulted in Money in Motion being listed as dead.
“The second set of eyes caught it the day after,” said Park. “It was something that we were in the process of checking.”
Lee explained that the Board’s director of investigations, Joel Leveson, oversees all the investigators and checks the accuracy of the database. On Thursday, Leveson was on the Saratoga backstretch checking on the security for the Travers entrants, which led, said Park, to the lag in verifying the database’s accuracy.
An additional challenge this week, said Park, is that many of the Racing and Wagering Board’s staff is working from Saratoga, without full acess to the software available in its Albany office.
Two recent incidents are not yet recorded in the database. In Wednesday’s ninth race, Live for Today was pulled up on the far turn; earlier this week, a horse fatally broke down during training. Neither horse is listed in the database as of this writing.
Park confirmed that both the training breakdown and the injury to Live for Today been reported to the Board but that neither had yet been posted.
“Our investigators aren’t physically watching the races,” he said. “Obviously the stewards are, and when there’s an incident that leads to a euthanization, that’s reported to us by the NYRA vet, who informs Joel or the stewards.
“We try to get the information up as quickly as possible, but that’s why we have the notation that the information is subject to change.”
Despite the recent problems, Park maintains that the database is effective.
“I still think the database is a very useful tool,” he said. “It’s an example of the type of transparency that we’re bringing to the board. The Belmont incident was troubling; I wouldn’t even refer to the one this week as an incident.”
Regarding the incident on August 13 in which the State Racing and Wagering Board steward stopped wagering with several minutes to post, Park said that the matter is still under review.