Changes made in New York could help improve horse safety

July 11, 2019 07:36 PM

Changes made in New York could improve the safety of horses around the country.

Twenty-one horses had fatal breakdowns in about two months at Santa Anita. A similar stretch at Aqueduct several years ago led to major changes at New York tracks.

Trainer Gary Contessa is troubled by all of the horse breakdowns at Santa Anita Park last winter and spring, and encourages them to adopt some of the changes NYRA put in place after a similar spate at Aqueduct in 2012. That's when Charlie Hayward was CEO.

Hayward says the Aqueduct breakdowns led to an investigation which led to some major changes. Veterinarians no longer answer to the racing office.

NYRA now requires all medical records to be transferred when a horse is claimed.

Hayward, who knows racing better than just about anyone encourages Santa Anita to adopt New York's practices because they seem to be working.

In 2018, Aqueduct still had the most breakdowns of the NY tracks, but they were still under the national average of 1.68 per 1,000 starts. Saratoga and Belmont were under one.

Hayward says there's a new first-of-its kind medical imaging machine that's going to be installed at Santa Anita that will able to detect pre-existing conditions in horses' joints. If it works well, expect to see it here.


Mark Mulholland & WNYT Staff

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