Horse racing casualties
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2009:
MELBOURNE, Australia–The Racing Victoria Limited Board
suspended jumps racing for 11 days in May 2009, after seven horses
in two weeks were euthanized due to injuries suffered in jumps
competition of training, including three in two days at the
Warrnambool May Racing Carnival.
Racing minister Rob Hulls lifted the suspension on May 18,
after intensive lobbying by the Victorian Jumps Racing Association.
However, Racing Victoria Ltd. on May 11 suspended four-time Grand
Annual Steeplechase winning rider David “Butch” Londregan, now a
trainer, for threatening in a radio interview to shoot his horses
and send their heads to Hulls.
Among the Warrambool casualties was Pride of Westbury, who
fell at the last hurdle in the Grand Annual on May 6. The longest
thoroughbred race in Australia, the 137-year-old Grand Annual
features 33 jumps–believed to be the most of any horse race
anywhere–over 3.4 miles. Pride of Westbury’s stablemate Hassle was
euthanized due to injuries suffered in a preliminary event. Also
euthanized due to injury in the Grand Annual was Clearview Bay.
Their deaths followed those of Shrogginet, Taken At The
Flood, Wool Zone, and Hanging Rock at other meets. Hanging Rock
had a seemingly insurmountable lead at Yarra Valley on April 26, but
fell at the last hurdle.
Racing Victoria Limited is expected to introduce new rules
for jump racing, including a different starting method, stricter
qualifications for participating horses, and eliminating the last
hurdle of each race, to give tired horses an easier run to the
Five horses died at the April 2009 Grand National in Aintree,
England–the most prestigious of jumping events. Exotic Dancer
placed second in his race on the first day, then died of a heart
attack. Mel In Blue suffered a broken neck. Moscow Catch suffered
an apparent broken neck on the second day. Lilla Sophia was
euthanized due to a broken leg. Hear the Echo and Butler’s Cabin
collapsed after the climactic race on the third day, but Butler’s
Cabin revived after being given oxygen.
Two horses died at Churchill Downs in preliminaries to the
Kentucky Derby–Raspberry Miss, a two-year-old filly who was run
over in a training session on April 27 by Doctor Rap, a
three-year-old colt, and Stormalory, who broke a leg in the
American Turf Stakes race on May 1.
Following the high-profile deaths of 2006 Kentucky Derby
winner Barbaro and 2008 runner-up Eight Belles due to racing
injuries, the Kentucky Derby in 2009 introduced the use of padded
starting gates, required jockeys to use riding crops instead of
whips, banned a type of cleated shoe that has been associated with
injuries, and strengthened enforcement of laws against giving
steroids to horses before they race.