08/24/2012 10:10AM

Aqueduct injury task force set to report to governor’s staff

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – A task force that has produced a report examining a spike in catastrophic injuries suffered by horses running at Aqueduct earlier this year will meet with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff on Tuesday to present the report’s findings, according to two officials with knowledge of the plans.

The report, which contains recommendations on how to address ontrack injuries, will likely be released within several days of the meeting, the officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the report, which was ordered to be conducted by Cuomo in the midst of a spate of highly public attacks on racing by the sport’s critics.

Cuomo’s representatives have not returned repeated phone calls over the past week concerning the report.

Cuomo’s office requested that the task force share the report prior to its release, according to the officials. Cuomo’s office also will determine the time and manner in which the report is provided to the media and public, the officials said.

The task force was appointed by Aqueduct’s operator, the New York Racing Association, in mid-March. Since its formation, the task force has examined the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 18 horses that suffered catastrophic injuries while racing during Aqueduct’s inner-track meeting, a number that was roughly twice the rate of catastrophic injuries at previous Aqueduct meets.

Officials involved with the report have declined to provide details about the investigation or the report’s recommendations.

Earlier this year, Cuomo reached an agreement with NYRA requiring the association to disband its 25-member board and replace it with a 17-member board controlled by state appointees. The board is expected to be disbanded and reconstituted after the Saratoga meet ends in early September. The new board will be in control of NYRA for three years, during a time in which the state legislature, supported by Cuomo, is expected to push for an expansion of casino gambling.

The report was prepared by Jerry Bailey, the Hall of Fame jockey and television commentator; Alan Foreman, chairman and chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; Dr. Scott Palmer, an equine surgeon who is the chairman of the American Association of Equine Practitioners; and Dr. Mary Scollay, the equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.