NYRA Equine Injury Rate Remains Below National Average

NYRA Equine Injury Rate Remains Below National Average

The fatality rate at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park (seen here), and Saratoga Race Course in 2015 was 1.1 per 1,000 starts.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

For a third consecutive year, the number of catastrophic equine injuries at New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks remained continued below the national average, reported March 22 by The Jockey Club.

The fatality rate at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, Belmont Park in Elmont, and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, in 2015 was 1.1 per 1,000 starts. The national average in 2015 was 1.62 fatalities per 1,000 starts.

Since 2013, under the direction of a new reorganization Board of Directors and a new executive management team led by President and CEO Christopher K. Kay, NYRA has implemented a number of proactive safety initiatives, including the creation of its first safety steward, a "Horse Watch" detail, 24/7 horse security coverage, workout requirements, out-of-competition testing, and inspections of trainers' barns and veterinarians' vehicles for unauthorized substances. Safety protocol implementation was led by Martin Panza, NYRA's senior vice-president of racing operations, and in cooperation with Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

In 2012, prior to the reorganization of the Board of Directors by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the implementation of the current management team, NYRA’s catastrophic injury rate was 2.2 per 1,000 starts.

"We have worked diligently to improve equine safety throughout every component of our operations," stated Kay. "We continue to work with NYRA's Safety Steward, Hugh Gallagher, and Martin Panza, as well as our Horse Watch detail, our Equine Safety Committee board members, the state's Gaming Commission, and the state's Equine Medical Director to ensure the safety of our equine athletes and their riders."

All three NYRA tracks are accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance. Under the direction of Glen Kozak, NYRA's vice president of racing surfaces and facilities, NYRA tracks have earned "best practice" ratings in virtually every primary area examined by the alliance.

Additionally, NYRA has supported New York state’s adoption of the Association of Racing Commissioners International model rules governing medications and penalties. It will continue to support the New York State Gaming Commission as it institutes these rules, which include progressive penalties for multiple medication violations and threshold limits for more than two dozen medications.

Additionally, the NYRA Board has expressed its support for national regulation of medications and penalties.

"The New York Racing Association remains vigilant in its efforts to promote equine safety," said Panza. "We continuously review all available avenues to proactively safeguard the integrity and safety of racing operations at all three of our racetracks. This includes securing outside, independent review of the track surface, close consultations with state regulators, and continued dialogue with jockeys, trainers, and owners. "

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