Horse racing continues to make progress in safety

Published 11:51 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023

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In response to Larry McDermott’s recent column about thoroughbred racing I’d like to say, first, in regard to the seven fatalities at Churchill Downs in one week, that was catastrophic. 

In spite of Mr. McDermott’s skepticism, Churchill Downs is certainly taking it very seriously. Why would they not? They are in the horse racing business. What’s bad for racing is bad for them.

He further suggests that valuable horses are raced before they are ready. Training of racehorses is expensive, and it would not be in an owner or trainer’s interest to risk injury unnecessarily, let alone the humane considerations.

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The case of Jason Servis which Mr. McDermott cites is an illustration of those in the racing business engaging in seriously illegal and dangerous practices.

The Federal Government stepping in to regulate racing is a good idea, and it has already been done. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority was passed by Congress and began to be implemented last year. It replaces regulations by the states which varied from one state to the next. The Authority, which operates under the oversight of the Federal Trade Commission, addresses rules against doping as well as medication control and racetrack safety.

Mary Adams runs a wonderful sanctuary at Red Bell Run, and I have no doubt of her knowledge of horses. However, it would not be unreasonable to imagine that her opinion of racing is colored by the fact that the horses she sees are those who retired injured or unsound and not the many who finish racing ready to begin second careers.

Horse racing continues to make progress in safety. Horses do not run as frequently as in years past, and much progress is being made in finding careers for retirees.

The racing business is not an easy way to make a living, and I can say with some confidence that the great majority of those who manage and care for the horses on a daily basis are there because they love horses.


Kelly Murphy

Keeping Time Farm