It's the beginning of Saratoga track season once again, and once again many people are concerned about deaths and injuries of the featured performers -- the horses.
To help people learn more about the injuries and deaths to the horses and to help people keep track of how many horses are affected, the state Gaming Commission maintains a very informative, up-to-date, searchable website for all three of New York's horse-racing tracks, both thoroughbred and harness racing.
But of course, the focus each July and August is on the thoroughbred racing at Saratoga.
So far this year at Saratoga, according to the database, there have been six incidents resulting in the deaths of five horses. Two of those events happened earlier in the year, one happened just before the start of racing, and three have happened since racing officially began last Thursday.
There have been two deaths so far during the current meet, which runs through Sept. 1.
Fight Night died as a result of racing on Friday, falling during its race. It was euthanized on the track. And Total Fidelity fractured its leg during training on Sunday and was euthanized.
Another horse, Impazible Donna, suffered an injury on opening day and was taken off the track in a van after the finish. That incident is still under investigation, according to the database.
The reason why this site is so helpful is because it's easy to search and it's updated almost in real time. So you're not waiting days, or usually even hours, for reports.
The Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database can be accessed by clicking here: www.breakdown.gaming.ny.gov/index.php.
Here's how you use it:
Whether you want to search for an incident regarding a specific horse, a specific race track, a type of incident or a particular date, this site makes it easy. And the data on the site goes all the way back to 2009 so you can compare entire past years with information from the current season.
(Last year, you'll find if you search, there were seven horse deaths at the Saratoga flat track during the meet and another seven in the dates before and after the meet, which ran from July 20-Sept. 3 last year.)
From the main page, fill in as many categories as you want to narrow your search.
For instance, if you want to find out about all the incidents from this year, go to the category for Year, arrow down to "2019," and hit Search. From that, you'll get a list of several categories, including the name of the horse, the name of the track where the incident occurred, the type of incident (equine death, fall of horse, racing injury ...) and date.
To see the most recent incidents first, click the arrow on the Incident Date category to reverse the timeline. To get more details, click on any of the listings related to a particular incident.
This site is a very good example of the government being transparent in sharing information with the public about something of immediate and widespread concern, and the availability of this data has no doubt contributed to some of the changes that have been made to reduce injuries and deaths at the track.
If your're interested in this topic, I urge you to check out the site regularly throughout racing season.