The New York Racing Association (NYRA) and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board (NYSRWB) recently adopted new regulations recommended by a Task Force of experts after 21 horses died or were euthanized at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, N.Y., during the NYRA winter meet of 2011 (held Nov. 30, 2011, to March 18, 2012). Most of deaths were due to musculoskeletal injuries.
In a letter dated March 14, 2012, from the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to NYRA President Charles Haywood, NYRA was advised to "hire a qualified independent investigator or team of investigators to review the circumstances involving these breakdowns, analyze the cause or causes and recommend any necessary action to [prevent] equine breakdowns at NYRA facilities."
A four-member Task Force of respected industry experts was appointed on March 22, 2012, at the NYSRWB's direction. The Task Force members were:
- Scott Palmer, VMD, DABVP, of New Jersey Equine Clinic and chairman of the AAEP Racing Committee
- Mary Scollay, DVM, equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission
- Alan Foreman, attorney, chairman and CEO of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association
- Jerry Bailey, retired jockey, inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Jockey Hall of Fame.
According to the official Report, issued Sept. 28, 2012, by the New York Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety, "The incidence of racing fatalities was approximately double that recorded in the previous two years, and well exceeded the North American average for racing fatalities. This unusual cluster of injuries generated widespread public and industry concern."1
What the Task Force investigated
To try to rectify the governor's concerns, the Task Force's mandate included the following (see "What the Task Force investigated" for a more detailed list):
- Investigating the causes of the 21 horses' deaths at Aqueduct's meet
- Examining the condition of Aqueduct's inner track
- Reviewing and making recommendations on policies relating to public disclosures, necropsies, track conditions and pre-race examinations
- Examining the rules and practices relating to claiming procedures, veterinary procedures and drug use in horses.