Updated on 01/11/2013 7:06PM

Aqueduct: Racing Board orders necropsies be performed following all fatal breakdowns


As a reaction to the recent rash of equine fatalities at Aqueduct, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board has mandated a necropsy be performed on each horse that suffers a racing-related fatality during Aqueduct’s inner-track meet.

The mandate began Thursday with the breakdown of Pleasantfriday, the fourth fatality since Aqueduct’s inner-track meet opened on Dec. 12.

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board ordered a necropsy on Pleasantfriday and Gulltopper, who broke down fatally on Dec. 6 over the main track. Gulltopper was one of four fatalities that occurred during Aqueduct’s main-track meeting, which ran from Nov. 3 through Dec. 9.

“Necropsies for two horses that have died at Aqueduct – Pleasantfriday and Gulltopper – were ordered by the Board because circumstances of those incidents raised red flags with investigators and required more information,” Lee Park, a spokesperson for the racing and board wrote in an e-mail. “Going forward, the Board is ordering necropsies for all horses that are fatally injured while racing on the inner track at Aqueduct. The Racing and Wagering Board and the forthcoming Gaming Commission will continue to work with NYRA to establish a consistent procedure for the logistics of necropsies as recommended by the Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety.”

The task force was convened by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last spring after there were 21 fatalities during Aqueduct’s 2011-12 inner track meeting. The task force did recommend that the New York State Racing and Wagering Board “should require a complete necropsy . . . of all horses fatally injured at NYRA’s racetracks,” but that recommendation was not formally adopted.

“The Racing and Wagering Board continues to closely monitor and investigate the circumstances of every breakdown at Aqueduct,” Park wrote. “Comprehensive investigative reports for the four equine fatalities from the inner track meet are being completed by Board staff.”

El Macho, racing in a maiden $16,000 claimer on Dec. 13, suffered a fatal breakdown. Last Sunday, Wildcat’s Smile, broke her leg during the running of the Cat Cay Stakes while Bomber Boy, competing in a second-level allowance/optional claimer, was vanned off and euthanized later in the day for a leg fracture.

Thursday, Pleasantfriday, making her second start off a six-month layoff after being claimed for $20,000 by Linda Rice in July, was euthanized after suffering fractures to both sesamoids in her right foreleg.

Typically, according to Park, necropsies ordered by the state are done at Cornell University.

Late Friday afternoon, the New York Racing Association put out a statement that said it "is very concerned with any equine breakdowns during a race or training, and we are constantly examining our procedures."

The statement did not offer any specifics on how NYRA would address the breakdowns, only saying that it "is working to enhance preventative measures, monitoring and reporting with respect to breakdowns; and we are working with Chairman [David] Skorton and our regulators to prevent future fatalities as much as we possibly can."


Kevin Miller More than 1 year ago
I don't like all weather tracks, but I always wondered why the inner track wasn't changed over.
Ivan More than 1 year ago
WELL DONE NEW YORK STATE RACING and WAGERING BOARD! At least you are doing SOMETHING when very few states - if any- are doing ANYTHING at ALL! DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED by the "do as you please blood sucking ticks crowd"....Keep DIGGING - there is so much "MORE to FIND"....
Rob More than 1 year ago
Pleasantfriday was running for the 3rd time in 2 weeks. cant solely blame the racetrack.
Pom De Terre More than 1 year ago
your information is incorrect rob. prior to the breakdown on jan 10, she ran dec. 26, and before that, july 29 at saratoga. get your statistics right before pointing your finger.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Is it the horses or the track? They can do the shock-rebound test easily enough.
Tony Regalbuto More than 1 year ago
I'd like to know what the circumstances were which caused a red flag; hence necessitating an investigation regarding the breakdowns of Pleasantfriday, and Gulltopper!
Paula Esposito More than 1 year ago
Look at Gulltopper's past performance and what happened in his previous race and then the number of breezes in between the two races and the closeness of the last race to being vanned off in the race prior. Also, the comments-choppy gaited but that jock was still persevering. I am so glad that they (NYRA) is doing this. A step in the right direction because it is looking bad again for the public and wait until the NYT gets ahold of this story!!!
BigSkyEquine More than 1 year ago
In jurisdictions worldwide where Lasix is not allowed there are 4X fewer breakdowns. Permissive medication policies facilitate racing unsound horses. The solution to minimize breakdowns is to ban raceday Lasix and all other medications after entries are taken and the race is made. It is poor from to needle horses before they race. All these horses that broke down fatally were injected hours before they ran. As well, most were given several injections after entry time. Permitted drugs allow trainers to exceed the adaptability of racehorses. When drug use is scaled back and eliminated after entries are taken, breakdowns will diminish. Until then, expect more breakdowns.
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
I'm all in favor of doing everything possible to prevent breakdowns, but I'm not sure what useful information a necropsy will provide. Will a necropsy show whether a fracture involved a pre-existing injury or not?. Surely the new damage would cover up any signs from before? I guess they will do a tox screen and find out if any drugs were involved... but I suspect these breakdowns at Aqueduct are being caused by an unsafe track surface.Otherwise, why were these same horses not breaking down at Belmont or wherever else they raced last? I'm not saying they shouldn't do the necropsies, just I don't quite understand what useful information will be found. RIP, Bomber Boy. I made some money on you.
Miranda Hein More than 1 year ago
About Time. This should be the standard nationwide. This would go a long way toward cleaning up the bottom end of the business where most of the real problems are.
Justin More than 1 year ago
This is long over due and should be done at every track in America.