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Hancock: If Not The Drugs, Then What Is Causing Fatal Injuries?

Arthur B. Hancock III, owner of Stone Farm in Paris, Ky.
Courtesy of the Paulick Report

It has been many months since the fatal breakdowns at Santa Anita Park in California. All of this time has passed and there has not been one word about what might have caused these tragedies other than some theories that the race track was not in the best shape because of the rains. Hasn’t it always rained in California and don’t many of us remember times when the track seemed a lot worse than it was this year?

Why don’t we have any answers? Aren’t we all entitled to know what happened to these horses? Why are we being kept in the dark? It seems to be the same old story, business as usual and maintain the status quo at all costs.

Why hasn’t there been an explanation or at least a study done that seeks to find out whether or not there has been a common thread in all of these breakdowns?

How many of those dead horses had been shockwaved? How many of them had had their joints injected? How many of them were on this or that drug, or combination of drugs that are among the 36 “therapeutic” drugs that horses are legally permitted to have?

For the sake of everyone in the horse industry and so that we can all know how to better deal with this terrible crisis, someone must tell us what is happening out there and what just recently happened at Saratoga where another 12 horses died while racing or training (including training injuries sustained before and after the race meet). Where is the transparency?

As regards the causes of this terrible crisis, the question we should all be asking is this: If not the drugs, then what?We should all be asking the question for the sake of the future of our industry … what the hell is going on? Only by understanding the past can we deal with the future.

There should be an accident report on each fatality with the following information available:

1. The medications the horse had been given
2 .The attending veterinarian
3. The trainer
4. The circumstances of the fatality

Whatever the cause, we had better start making wholesale changes everywhere instead of debating the cause and effect of our situation or it won’t be long until we are all out of business. This is a nightmare that won’t go away. Remember, the definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results.

Every individual and every racing commission in America should demand this and everyone who owns a horse should not rest until they have used their influence to insure that the veil of secrecy has been lifted.

Thoroughbred owner and breeder Arthur B. Hancock III is owner of Stone Farm in Paris, Ky., and is a co-founder of the Water Hay Oats Alliance.

CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly stated 12 fatal injuries occurred during the 2019 Saratoga meeting. Eight fatalities occurred during the meet and there were four training fatalities before and after the meet, according to the New York State Gaming Commission database.