EDITORIAL: Public can help monitor safety in horse racing


As we round the first turn of the Saratoga racing season, it’s a good time to remind people about the dangers of horse racing.

While the industry and the government have taken strides to address the health issues in the industry, particularly those relating to administering illegal drugs to the stars of the show, hundreds of racehorses die every year for our entertainment.

But ordinary fans aren’t helpless in monitoring the sport. And this year, they have two ways to hold the industry accountable.

It starts with the new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), an anti-doping law for the industry passed by Congress in 2020 that took effect on July 1 of this year.

Created in response to a growing number of horse racing fatalities and injuries, the act sets up a uniform national standard for thoroughbred racing to replace what had been an inconsistent patchwork of regulations administered state by state.

Several agencies now monitor the industry, including a new independent Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.

Animal rights advocates are watching to make sure the new act is implemented and properly enforced. One way they’re doing that is through a new watchdog website: http://www.hisawatchdog.org/.

The website includes news about the industry, including injuries and deaths at race tracks around the country. It also has links to a blog, a podcast, information about the various laws relating to the industry and links to industry groups, including those focused on safety.

It also has a button you can hit to provide anonymous tips, information and comments about the effectiveness of the new Safety Authority’s enforcement of the HISA law.

The state of New York’s Gaming Commission has long offered real-time information about horse racing injuries and deaths that occur during training and racing at Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct.

The searchable incident database is available at https://breakdown.gaming.ny.gov/, and allows people to search by horse’s name, trainer, jockey, track, year and date. It contains not only information about the current meet, but about injuries and deaths from prior years. In our area, it also covers the harness track at the Saratoga casino.

It might be one of the best and most transparent state government websites available.

The site allows people to monitor racing incidents and gives them the opportunity to sound the alarm about safety issues at the track.

While you’re enjoying the racing season, we also encourage you to make sure it’s being carried out safely, by visiting the watchdog websites, monitoring track activity and educating yourself about the dangers.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

Leave a Reply