Ky. Vets Develop Plan to Identify At-Risk Racehorses

An increase in the number of fatal racing injuries in May led Kentucky regulatory veterinarians to devise ways to better identify at-risk horses.

According to statistics compiled by Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) equine medical director Mary Scollay, DVM, there were six catastrophic breakdowns at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, in May. There were only three from January through April at Turfway Park, in Northern Kentucky, and Keeneland, in Lexington.

Kentucky's regulatory veterinarians met to strategize and now "provide deeper scrutiny" of horses when they are entered, including studying past performances, Scollay said. Since the protocol was established in early June, there have been no fatal breakdowns, she said.

Overall, Kentucky has seen a decrease in catastrophic breakdowns in racing since 2007, where there were 40, according to KHRC statistics. There were 36 in 2008, 33 in 2009, 26 in 2010, and 27 in 2011.

Churchill Downs has both dirt and turf surfaces, Keeneland has Polytrack and turf, and Turfway has only a Polytrack surface.

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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