Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More than 1,200 horses killed at racetracks in 2008

The rush to improve safety since Eight Belles was euthanized at last year's Kentucky Derby did little to curb the number of horses dying at American racetracks in 2008, The Associated Press found in a national count.

Although many tracks were already implementing safety reforms when the popular filly pulled up lame with two broken legs after finishing second at the Derby in May 2008, her death on racing's biggest stage gave the effort a national face and new momentum.

However, the AP's count found only a slight change in the number of fatalities in 2008 (1,217) compared with 2007 (1,247). That's around 3 percent fewer deaths.

"If it were that easy to change, we would have flipped that switch a long time ago," said Mary Scollay, Kentucky's equine medical director, who is assembling an industrywide database on horse breakdowns, the findings of which haven't been released. "We've learned injuries are very complex in their causes, and there are a number of things that need to be critically evaluated."..." More