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State moves toward racehorse safety reforms

By Rick Seltzer


New York’s governor is pushing for new racehorse safety measures following a task force’s suggestions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is recommending an overhaul of the New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) veterinary practices, new restrictions on medications, and new rules for claiming races. He is also recommending a new equine medical director position within NYRA, which regulates racing in the state.

In addition, the state will create an anonymous equine-safety hotline allowing jockeys to report concerns about horses’ health.

The moves come after the New York Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety delivered a report on a series of deaths at the winter meeting of the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. The task force reviewed the deaths, looked at their causes, and suggested ways to prevent equine breakdowns at facilities NYRA operates.

“As we bring accountability and responsible business practices to horseracing, these recommendations will be an integral part of a new and improved racing product,” Cuomo said in a news release. “I have requested the Racing and Wagering Board to promptly adopt the changes identified by the task force to create a safety-conscious environment for racehorses.”

The task force found that several factors combined to cause the Aqueduct deaths. They included the use of corticosteroids, inconsistencies in pre-race inspections, inconsistencies in veterinary procedures, and increased purses that created an incentive for stakeholders to run below-standard horses.


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