04/02/2012 3:35PM

New York adopts rule that allows cancelling of claim if horse dies ontrack


The New York State Racing and Wagering Board passed a rule on Monday that will void a claim for any horse that is euthanized on the track. The rule, passed on an emergency basis, will go into effect immediately.

With the adoption of the rule, New York becomes the second state to pass a rule allowing for the voiding of a claim for a horse that is injured during a race and subsequently euthanized – as long as the horse is euthanized before being removed from the track. California passed an identical rule last year.

Racing board officials contended in a release and in a notice posted last week that the adoption of the rule will reduce incentives for trainers to run unsound horses in claiming races. The rule is being adopted in the midst of an investigation into the deaths of 21 horses during Aqueduct’s current meet. Six of the 21 horses were subjects of claims, and the majority of the fatalities occurred in races that offered claiming prices of $15,000 or less.

“This rule change emphasizes the fact that claiming races cannot be dumping grounds for unsound horses,” said the racing board’s chairman, John Sabini, in a release. “The tradition of authorizing claims even when a horse dies is no longer acceptable.”

The deaths of the horses at Aqueduct came at a time when the track significantly raised its purses because of payments to its purse fund from a casino located on the track’s grounds. Because of the jump in purses, claiming activity soared. During the first 74 days of the meet, 451 horses were claimed, for an average of 6.1 horses per day.

To respond to concern over the number of horses that had died during the meet, Aqueduct’s operator, the New York Racing Association, decided to raise the bottom-level claiming price from $7,500 to $10,000. The change will go into effect as of Wednesday.

Although claiming rules require the voiding of a claim for a number of administrative reasons, such as the improper spelling of a horse’s name, claims have generally been upheld throughout U.S. racing history regardless of what happens on the racetrack, with the responsibility for the horse immediately passing to the new owner at the moment the gate opens.

However, many states are now contemplating exceptions to those rules. In Kentucky, for example, the state racing commission passed regulations last year that allow a new owner to void a claim if the claimed horse tests positive for a prohibited drug after the race.

The spate of injuries at Aqueduct have occurred against a backdrop of renewed scrutiny over injuries suffered by horses at U.S. racetracks. The concerns have been amplified by the publication of an article in the March 25 edition of the New York Times examining deaths at U.S. racetracks. The article was the first in what it is expected to be a three- or four-part series.

The New York board passed the rule on the same day that it launched two databases that will allow the public to search for rulings against licensees and injuries suffered by horses, jockeys, and drivers at the state’s Thoroughbred and harness tracks. The injury database includes information on injuries and fatalities that occurred during both racing and training, and it can be searched by horse name, incident type, breed, location, date, trainer, jockey/driver, weather, and by entering in a brief description of the incident, the board said.

Teri Blaser More than 1 year ago
I think that voiding a claim should include horses that are injured (and have to be pulled up) or that die on the track without being euthanized. The horse should be in the same condition coming off the track as it was going onto the track. That does not mean that the horse has to be in perfect, sound condition, because at the claiming level there might be unknown problems but if the horse is deemed fit for racing then that is what the claimer should get.
Paul Wright More than 1 year ago
NY Racing is so messed up. PJ Campo needs to go! Another father son class combo!
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Such a code of practice should be applied at all racetracks, and Commission Vets should be much more discerning. I applaud Mr. Sabini for insisting upon complete transparency, because if this doesn't happen there will be Federal intervention and the next thing will be Federally controlled Vets only, on each racetrack's payroll, as they have in Hong Kong. As for David Jacobson...all I can say is ' like father, like son '..As the late Frank Merrill once told me...' nothing like a few drops to move 'em up ', and he wasn't talking about some magic potion!
avlamal More than 1 year ago
pick4win More than 1 year ago
'The Jail' period has been around for decades and protects horse players from seeing a horse 'dropped' days after a claim and leaves you scratching your head 'why'? Mr Jacobson own a piece of almost every horse he claims and it took him a few years to get his ship righted. He must be doing something right.
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
You know how he does it? Your choice is you don't pay any fees but get only 40% or so or he asks you for a piece of the horse. and your locked in with him. There should be a rule that trainers can't own unless your a small owner/trainer (up to maybe 5 horses). It's a conflict of interest. People go for it because they feel it defrays costs and if the trainers involved he do more to help you win but it's a bad practice. Also everythings done under a vail of secrecy so you cant even watch your horse train.
Tony More than 1 year ago
This needed to be done a very long time ago, it is only too bad that it took a disaster (21 breakdowns) to wake people up. A horse should have to pull up sound for a claim to be considered official. Jamming horses needs to stop, and this new rule will protect far more than the would be owner of a claimed horse.
Robin Cardoza More than 1 year ago
This new law will put the track vet under a lot of pressure. I feel sorry for the people who have to make the decision in such short time of what to do.
john More than 1 year ago
Robin, if you've ever seen one of these beautiful athletes ever snap a front leg in two, there's not a whole lot of decision making to do. The vet's watchful eye should be of use during the saddling process and while these horses are warming up before the race. But then again, one has to know what to look for and that's where the challenge and decision making come in. Way to many lame and unsound horses are being run daily!
Robin Cardoza More than 1 year ago
Yes, I have seen my share of track injuries in person. Snapped legs and fractured sesamoids are two completely different things as are other injuries. I'm talking about the injuries that may or may not be fatal and having a few minutes to determine whether to put down on track or not is a lot of pressure if you ask me. The way this rule is now, its put down on track, not due to an injury suffered in the race. There is a lot of room for ifs......
pick4win More than 1 year ago
Great, they can meet to pass a law to change claiming rules, why couldn't they also consider allowing horse betting on Palm and Easter Sundays? Separation of Church and State is not a new concept. If I can gamble on fake slots at a Racino or buy New York State lottery tickets on Palm and Easter Sundays, why can't I gamble on horses if I so choose? Plain stupidity from New York State, but what else is new?
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
You're shouting at the wrong bunch... State Laws and Rules of Racing are made by two different and separate bodies. Now consider this. Racing Secretaries are hard-pressed to fill fields anyhow. Take a coupla days off.
pick4win More than 1 year ago
Wasn't shouting at all, just expressing an opinion that many NYers share. They are changed in NY by the same people since it's 'racing law'. If you haven't seen the races in NY lately, we have no horse shortage, the races are full. It not the matter of taking a 'day off' - its that NYS will allow slots and it's own gaming action but not horse racing. You missed the point I guess.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
The word rule is used 4 times in the first 4 sentences of the DRF article that explained this rule change. This rule is about protecting the racehorse and I'm all for it, no matter what day of the week it is... In another rule change they also raised the bottom from 75 hundred to 10 thousand. The key words in the article are "dumping ground." Let's all watch and hope these rule changes help...
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
Right. Actually they should close for a couple months but they wont because of simulcasting and the backstretch workers. It used to be nice getting a breat and when they came back it felt like opening day of baseball. I always thought in the back of my mind that if there wasn't such a boondoggle getting the casino open (10 years thanks to the greedy and incompetant New York politicians) NYRA could've took over Gulfstream before Stronach and had the best of everything. They could've dumped Aqueduct and run Gulfstream in it's place. Just a dream but would've put NYRA on the top of the heap for sure.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Yeah man... The Florida outfits were back and the new season was open. The inner at Big A has never any good for racing. There is no more opening day.