Data on racehorse deaths available online
Concerned about reports of the death of a racehorse at the Saratoga Race Course this year, a reader wrote in to ask if there was any information about how often these deaths occur and why.
Actually, the New York State Gaming Commission maintains an up-to-date list of all equine deaths at race courses around the state.
When I checked today (Monday, August 4), the site had been updated four minutes earlier and was repeatedly updated throughout the day.
Visit the Gaming Commission's website, gaming.ny.gov, go to Resources, and click on "Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database."
There, you can search for incidents, including deaths, dating back to 2009. Searches are available by the name of the horse, trainer or jockey; the name of the race track; the year or a specific date; and the type of racing (thoroughbred or harness). Click the box, "Equine Deaths Only," to get just a listing of the deaths (exclusive of nonfatal injuries and illnesses).
For example, I plugged in 2014 and got a list of 66 deaths at racetracks in New York, in chronological order, so far this year. That includes thoroughbred and harness tracks.
The list provides the horse's name, the type of incident, the race track where it occurred and the date. If you click on "Incident Type," you can get a brief explanation of what happened.
I then went back and plugged in Saratoga Race Course, the flat track. The site listed five deaths this year. The latest listed was Sir William Bruce, who died after the fifth race on Saturday.
I also checked Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, the harness track attached to the nearby racino. It has had no equine deaths this year; it had two last year.
As far as transparency, this is about as much as you can ask for. It's online, it's up to date almost to the minute, it's easily searchable through multiple topic areas, and it provides some details. It doesn't provide full access to the official reports of the horses' deaths, though.
If you're interested in more information, check out the website yourself.