Kentucky Horse Racing Regulators Take New Measure To Improve Equine Safety

Written By Derek Helling on June 16, 2023
horses racing on dirt track will become focus of new safety steward in kentucky

Amid the release of its latest necropsy about a horse that took part in a race at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has announced another measure that aims to prevent such tragedies. The Commission has created a new position with a specific focus on safety protocols.

While the KHRC’s new safety steward could provide an additional level of enforcement, the latest necropsy reports suggest that providing more oversight of existing regulations might not make a massive difference. More answers on what actions Churchill Downs could take to improve equine safety could be forthcoming, though.

KHRC opens up safety steward role

ABC 36 reports that a KHRC press release explains the responsibilities of the agency’s new safety steward. The person will be responsible for enforcing both KHRC and federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) rules at all tracks in the state.

Additionally, the safety steward will conduct random inspections at training centers throughout the state. The safety steward will also inspect tracks and evaluate horses before competitions. Furthermore, that person will ensure the KHRC is updated on all activities.

This is just the latest move emphasizing safety for racehorses that interested parties in Kentucky have undertaken. Earlier this month, KHRC representatives met with officials at Churchill Downs to review a recent spate of fatal horse injuries there.

As a result of that meeting, Churchill Downs said it would have HISA staff conduct additional screenings of horses after racing and collect samples from horses that require euthanasia. Additionally, Churchill Downs would employ Dr. Alina Yale to review horse necropsies on the track.

Churchill Downs had previously announced other changes like a suspension of trainer start bonuses. Just a few days later, Churchill Downs then announced it was moving all racing activity to Ellis Park for an indefinite period.

The break in action at Churchill Downs allows the company to perform a thorough review. An independent assessment by renowned track safety expert Dennis Moore is part of that examination. That might shed more light on the situation as questions remain.

The latest necropsy says horse death was highly unusual

The KHRC has released a mortality report on Bosque Redondo. That horse took part in a race at Churchill Downs on May 13 and then required euthanasia on May 15 due to a leg fracture. Bosque Redondo suffered the injury during that race.

According to WHAS11, veterinarians found no evidence of prohibited substances in Bosque Redondo upon evaluation after the injury. Additionally, Bosque Redondo passed an examination before the race.

Regardless, the attending veterinarians described Bosque Redondo’s injury as highly unusual. It’s possible that Moore’s assessment could shed more light on why such injuries have been occurring. While that won’t bring back any of the horses that have fallen at the track, it will hopefully prevent similar instances in the future.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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