The New York state agency that oversees horse racing in the state of New York has made a monumental decision by limiting the amount of prize money offered in races involving “cheap” horses. This has come from the backdrop of horse deaths as a result of being forced to compete in races that are above their physical strength, and state of health all because of the prize money offered.
The New York state Racing and wagering board in a statement said that racetracks have been limited not to offer more than twice the amount assigned to horses competing in any race.
“We (the board) are taking significant actions today with an aim of addressing significant challenges affecting horse racing”, said John D. Sabini, the chairman of the Racing and wagering board. He further added so say that there are serious and valid concerns on the safety of racehorses and its riders. Sabini also observed that this will provide a more equal and safer playing field involving thoroughbred racing in the state of New York. By eliminating the enticement given to owners and trainers who put underperforming horses resulting in them being pushed beyond their endurance limit.
The chairman also said that the board is considering the ban of the drug lasix use in race days. This drug is meant to boost bleeding of racing horses, and has and is being used in many racing stables in the United States, and other countries for many decades.
The board makes this announcement on the same day that New York Times published a report that investigated how richer purses have motivated trainers to run unsound horses which had led to the death of thirty horses in aqueduct.
New York state governor had recently appointed a task force for the purpose of investigating factors that cause horse’s deaths in racing such as the track conditions, pre-race inspections, and the role of drugs in injuries and deaths in horses. According to the governor, it is important to create measures that are safe for horses, enjoyable to the patrons, and ultimately restore integrity to sports racing.
There has been an upsurge of revenue in casinos offering racing bets, this has made horse owners to push their horses to the limit. Records indicate that revenues from the recently opened Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct had increased to $130,000 per day at the New York Racing association track. At the aqueduct, where death horses have been reported, horses with an assigned value of $7500 had competed in a race with an assigned value of $40,000. In the race, two horses that broke down and had to be euthanized had been given medication before the race.
Stefan Friedman, the spokesman for Resorts World casino says that such reports are very disturbing and shows that reforms are long-overdue.
The new rules advocated falls short of the ones recommended by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The Association had called for more curtailment of the purse prize with an aim of protecting the welfare of horses that are involved in racing week-in-week out in the United States.
In 2008, at the Kentucky Derby horse, a horse name Eight Belled broke two ankles in live television, and had to be euthanized. This led congress to call for stakeholders in the race horse Industry to make horse racing safer, but nothing much was realized. Unsatisfied by the slow pace of reforms in the Industry, republican congressmen Joe Pitts, and Ed Whitfield co-sponsored interstate horseracing improvement Act of 2011 whose aim was to ban all drugs in horse’s system on the race day.