01/22/2015 9:24PM

NYRA horsemen, management meet after another fatal breakdown


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Following another equine fatality at Aqueduct Thursday – the 14th in 26 full cards of racing since the inner track opened on Dec. 3 – several horsemen met with New York Racing Association management, the second such meeting in 12 days.

Unlike the meeting held on Jan. 10, this one was attended by Chris Kay, NYRA president and CEO, as well as owners and NYRA board members Anthony Bonomo and Michael Dubb. Ten trainers – most of them on the board of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association – also attended the meeting.

Kay refused to comment on the near-two-hour meeting, which was held in the film theater at Aqueduct following the races.
Bonomo, who is chairman of the NYRA Reorganization Board’s Equine Safety Committee, said it was “a general communications meeting.” No new safety protocols came out of the meeting.

“The gist of the meeting was to talk about the changes that we put in and that the trainers understood it,” Bonomo said. “It was nothing more than a communication meeting. It wasn’t anything special.”

On Friday, a trainer who asked not to be identified said NYRA management indicated that in the wake of these fatalities it “has had to constantly defend NYRA against detractors in Albany and on our own board who want to shut us down.”

When asked after the meeting if NYRA would have to consider stopping racing if these fatalities persist, Bonomo said, “I don’t think we’re at that point.”

Beginning Thursday, NYRA instituted four new policies it hopes will help prevent breakdowns. NYRA cut its weekday cards from nine to eight races; prohibited horses from running back within 14 days of their previous race; created a poor performance list that requires horses beaten 25 lengths or more to have a half-mile workout in 53 seconds or faster before being permitted to race; and raised the bottom-level maiden-claiming price from $12,500 to $16,000.

But, less than three furlongs into Thursday’s first race, Miss Macarena was pulled up and vanned off. She was later euthanized due to a fractured sesamoid in her left foreleg, according to her trainer, Jeremiah Englehart.

Miss Macarena became the 10th horse this meet to suffer a musculoskeletal injury that required the horse to be euthanized that day. Additionally, two horses died as a result of injuries suffered in a spill. One horse died of a cardiovascular collapse. Another horse was euthanized a week after it suffered a torn suspensory after being pulled up in a race.

In the winter of 2011-12, there were 21 equine fatalities during the inner-track meet. In 2013, there were 22 catastrophic injuries for the entire year at NYRA’s three tracks. In 2014, there were 32 equine fatalities, but only 24 that NYRA defined as caused by a catastrophic injury.

“We are doing whatever we think is possible to help stop the breakdowns,” Bonomo said. “I think we’ll be successful like we’ve been in the past. We dealt with this before and we were successful.

“It’s a combined effort from everyone,” Bonomo added. “It’s a work in progress. I think we live in a country where the cars are the safest they’ve ever been but yet we still have people die ... The truth is we are doing everything humanly possible.”

Michael Castellano More than 1 year ago
We should put some reigns and a saddle on some of these NYRA bureaucrats, and make them run on Aqueduct's Winter track. And when they pull all their muscles and joints, fill them with drugs so they can't feel the pain, and make them run some more. They are incompetent and clueless fools who would never stoop to reading the almost universally negative comments that loyal racing folks and fans leave when they have the chance to speak about them and what has happened to the sport. Their only purpose is to make money and milk this industry for every penny until it, along with the horses, dies.
Tim More than 1 year ago
It seems unlikely that the claiming price, racing recency or beaten length rules are the cure for the problem. Is the NYRA saying that all of these fatalities were inexpensive claimers coming back in less than two weeks after getting beaten by 25 lengths? What- career Maiden or 'Non-winners of X' allowance horses don't break down? Perhaps the type of surface they run on is a bigger factor...
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
Again, this is why I don't breed to race in NY any more. How many breakdowns occurred at Both Aqueduct and Saratoga over the last 3 racing seasons. The number is shocking.
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
NYRA is a joke of an organization.
Charlie Stephani More than 1 year ago
What do you expect from NYRA? They create a monster with an out-dated and dangerous track and as usual, do nothing about it. Either put in a poly track or winterize Belmont. Who needs two tracks within a few miles? The whole place is a DUMP! Montauk Charlie
Mark D More than 1 year ago
I hate to say it...but I use this situation as a handicapping advantage. I don't bet high auction priced or very well bred Maidens or NW1 horses at this meet. If the trainer thought their horse was something special...they would simply not be racing at this meet.
Michael Jacob More than 1 year ago
Kay just sits there like a manikin while all this is going on.
stockmann9914 . More than 1 year ago
You want this to stop. Don't show up tommorow!
Rosemarie Cola More than 1 year ago
Speechless. Sorry for the horses that have broke down. Sorry for the horses that will compete at Aqueduct. I wish could come up with the answer, but obviously no one seems to have one either Man fails the horse again.
Kevin Miller More than 1 year ago
The answer is very simple- Do away with race day drugs and have a zero tolerance on all drugs. In about 10 years, the breed will strengthen back up to where it was 30 years ago. Owners have been breeding unfit horses for way too long and it has weakened the breed.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
New York has more fatalities in a month than Kentucky has in a year. Aqueduct needs to install polytrack like they have at Turfway. Turfway used to be notorious for breakdowns. Then they installed poly and now horses rarely breakdown. And the horses running at Turfway aren't as good as the ones running at Aqueduct. A new polytrack surface would fix everything.
Michael Beauregard More than 1 year ago
What they need is a heated track What if geothermal was installed it could be done with large pumps and lots of pipe .
Red Dog More than 1 year ago
In a modern snap and plunge breakdown, a speed racer nearing the finish line collapsed and died with his saddle on. The jockey was a projectile. Later, he retired from the saddle due to injuries sustained. Because the lab work on his three legged ‘brush with death’ mount came back clean, the maimed jockey never sued. The next day, ‘Front Page’ Joe’s editor ordered him to start his hustle by composing an article that highlighted the crippled jockey’s key career wins, stats of note and riding style. The jock was pictured with his family and, Joe, forecasted a bright future after rehabilitation. Starlet maintained that the cause of the snap and plunge breakdown was numbing of the lower extremities by injection. In presenting the industries overview of sudden death from running around a manicured dirt oval, the vet quoted a line from ‘Vinnie’, a made mob rubout gunner from a famous scene in the movie Goodfellas. Jimmie walked outside a Jersey diner to an aluminum phone booth to call and congratulate his friend Tommie whose being ‘made’ ceremony should have just finished. However, Vinnie answered the phone, not Tommie. Jimmie asked "What Happened to Tommie?" Vinnie replied, "He's gone and we couldn't do nothing about it." The Jewish racing commissioner chimed in with: “All breakdowns are an act of God.” www.clockerbob.com