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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Horses And Jockeys Face Dangers On Race Tracks

In this May 20, 2006 file photo, Barbaro is held by jockey Edgar Prado and a track worker after injuring his leg at the start of the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes. Barbaro was euthanized in 2007 after complications from his breakdown at the Preakness. (AP)

In this May 20, 2006 file photo, Barbaro is held by jockey Edgar Prado and a track worker after injuring his leg at the start of the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes. Barbaro was euthanized in 2007 after complications from his breakdown at the Preakness. (AP)

Even casual horse racing fans know that horses, like 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, are sometimes injured, even fatally, during their races.

But injuries and deaths to horses and their jockeys are becoming increasingly common around the country, particularly in smaller, less lucrative races.

The numbers tell a chilling story: on average 24 horses die at American tracks every week.

The culprit, according to New York Times reporter Joe Drape, is a racing culture mired in performance-enhancing and pain-killing drugs, combined with lax state regulations.

Drape writes:

But an investigation by The New York Times has found that industry practices continue to put animal and rider at risk. A computer analysis of data from more than 150,000 races, along with injury reports, drug test results and interviews, shows an industry still mired in a culture of drugs and lax regulation and a fatal breakdown rate that remains far worse than in most of the world.

And as a fan, it’s been hard to see.

“I’m in a tough spot, anyone who likes the sport is in a tough spot,” Drape told Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Guest:

  • Joe Drape, New York Times reporter

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  • Haydog67

    Along with a change in drug use to reduce injuries (death), the age that training under saddle begins needs to change. Racing a horse that is under three years old is stupid because the horse is immature. Demanding and exspecting underdeveloped cannon bone, brain, heart, lungs, muscles, tendons, legaments and attitude of young horses to withstand the strain of racing without damage is stupid and cruel.
    JD El Centro Ca

    • BHumane

      I agree with Haydog67, and the concern on immature horses. Years ago I worked with racing Standardbreds. About this time, every year, one of our elder barn managers would comment on how risky and foolish the TB racing industry was for putting these tremendous physical demands on the immature Thoroughbreds.  I’ll bet he’s still saying it.

  • guest

    Thank you for reporting on this important issue. 

  • Dgogan

    The original story in the NY Times, as well as conversations like this are creating awareness to the side of racing the general
    public doesn’t see. Our local track here in Phoenix was listed as one of
    the nationwide tracks with a high incident of injuries/deaths.
    Conversations, questions, and emotions from all sides have spurred a closer look into what is going on and why. As an owner of an ex-racehorse and a Board member/foster for  After The Homestretch Arizona where we rescue racehorses I’m glad to see this information coming forward.  And, I absolutely agree with Haydog67′s comments.  Thank you for keeping this conversation alive, as well as continuing to educate the public.  It is an important issue.  Lives literally depend on positive changes taking place.

  • Lavada

    This has been a problem for years basically ignored by the media.
    Just more of the “bread and circuses” for the masses at any expense.

     “We’ve turned into this nation of overfed clowns, riding around in clown cars, eating clown food, watching clown shows. We’ve become a nation of cringing, craven f*ckups.”  James Howard Kunstler, author of “The Long Emergency”

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