New York Racing
Association, Inc. (NYRA) Chair David Skorton and Anthony Bonomo, Chair
of NYRA’s Equine Health and Safety Committee, announced today the
immediate establishment of the position of
Veterinary Medical Director. The new director will establish the
Mortality Review Board, as recommended in the New York Task Force on
Racehorse Health and Safety report issued September 28, 2012, as well as
make ongoing assessments to improve the health and safety of horses competing at NYRA racetracks.
Additionally, NYRA has
begun to transport all euthanized horses to the College of Veterinary
Medicine at Cornell for complete necropsies.
address the recent catastrophic breakdowns at Aqueduct Racetrack. Four
horses – El Macho (December 13,
Race 1), Bomber Boy (January 6, Race 7), Wildcat’s Smile (January 6,
Race 8) and Pleasantfriday (January 10, Race 5) – were injured and
euthanized since racing began on the inner track on December 12. Racing
on the inner track at Aqueduct is scheduled at this
time to continue through March 30, though an earlier move to the main
track would be considered, weather permitting.
“NYRA is taking immediate steps to try to prevent more catastrophic injuries from occurring,”
said Skorton. “We are establishing a new position, Equine
Veterinary Medical Director, to be in charge of the health and safety of
horses at all NYRA tracks and direct investigations into these
unfortunate events. In addition to these immediate actions,
we will soon be making decisions on several specific operational issues in the interest of equine health and safety.”
“Addressing the problem
of breakdowns at NYRA is our first priority. We will do everything to
protect the jockeys and the horses,” added Bonomo.
department will report to the Equine Veterinary Medical Director, who
will be based on-track at NYRA facilities.
Under newly established
on-track standard operating procedures, complete necropsies will now be
performed at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell by a
board-certified pathologist with medical records
and history from the Equine Veterinary Medical Director
and NYRA attending veterinarians. These necropsy reports will be
incorporated into a new NYRA database that tracks all injuries and
mortalities occurring on NYRA tracks, and will comprise a component
of the investigation of each fatality by NYRA’s new Mortality Review
“The appointment of the
Equine Veterinary Medical Director clears the way to establish a NYRA
Mortality Review Board, one of the key recommendations of the Task
Force,” stated Ellen McClain, NYRA President and
COO. “These new steps will add to a number of
recommendations NYRA has implemented during the three months since the
Task Force released its report. A major step forward is the development
of electronic record keeping. We are aggregating
moisture content, weather data and other maintenance information in a
single database. Working with industry experts, we are developing the
nation’s most sophisticated method of data collection, which will
ultimately enable evaluation of injuries in the context
of track conditions.”
The following additional changes to NYRA policies and operations will be
considered by the NYRA Board at its meeting on January 25:
Reduce the number of racing days in a week during the inner-track season at Aqueduct.
Limit the number of races on a given day during the inner-track season.
Bolster overall security measures related to pre-race security and racing integrity.
Install a synthetic surface for the inner track at Aqueduct for 2013-14 Winter season.
Curtail racing on the inner track at Aqueduct.
NYRA Board will have serious discussions next week to consider all
these important issues that affect the health and safety of our jockeys
and horses,” said Skorton.