LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — We’ve seen a lot of reports recently of horses dying at tracks.
Santa Anita Track in California made national headlines when more than 30 horses died in less than a year.
And though it seems we’re seeing more deaths, Kentucky veterinarians say that isn’t the case.
Dr. Larry Bramhlee at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital says the number of deaths is declining.
Keeneland’s Vice President of Racing and Sales, Bob Elliston, agrees.
“We have taken steps with racing service management, with improvement in medication in policies. We’ve overall seen a decline in them,” says
Dr. Bramhlee says it appears more horses are dying now only because people are more engaged than ever before.
“Increased awareness, increased sensitivity, more people observing the horses,” he says.
This past Spring Meet, Keeneland had three horses die.
Not even a week into the Fall Meet and the track has already had three deaths, and one jockey with a collarbone injury.
“This is unusual to have them this early,” says Elliston.
We told you before the fall meet Keeneland had hired two new staff members to prevent this.
Elliston says two of the horses died on a turf track where injuries are less common.
“I can promise you we’re not gonna stop until we turn up every stone and try to find something, if there is something, and we’re gonna find it,” he says.
Dr. Bruce Howard, chief veterinarian for the Kentucky Racing Commission tests horses before racing, making sure they’re fit to go.
He says the horses at Keeneland passed all their exams.
“If a horse shows us there’s a problem, a potential problem, we scratch the horse and don’t allow them to compete,” says Dr. Howard.
With the latest death, PETA released this statement:
“Two dead horses at Keeneland in only a week show that it’s not just a California issue but an industry-wide disgrace, and it’s not just an “accident” but possibly a crime. When a 3-year-old horse dies in what is only his second race, something must be very wrong with the training and treatment of Thoroughbreds before they ever get to the track. Law enforcement should investigate, all medication and training records should be made public, and all racing in the U.S. should shut down until the industry can stop the carnage.”
Keeneland says it will continue to do everything it can to create a safe environment for the horses.