Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A mystery in Maryland horse racing.
There is a surging number of deaths after injuries on the track, and state regulators, as well as the Maryland Jockey Club, are taking action to get to the bottom of it.
Mike Hellgren tells us what’s so alarming, and what’s being done.
The majority of deaths were at Laurel Park during just a few weeks of this year. There’s been no conclusive cause, but some blame money.
Ten horses had to be euthanized after racing at Laurel Park during a roughly six week period.
But new findings from state regulators could not determine what killed them, or if there’s a common link, and called for even more review of a track that’s considered one of the country’s safest.
“It’s just a series of unfortunate events. There’s a lot of sub-clinical stuff that goes on that we can’t detect and these things happen. It’s just one of those anomalies,” said trainer Hugh McMahon.
The number of euthanized horses has skyrocketed at Maryland’s thoroughbred tracks–from 10 in 2011, to 20 last year and 18 so far this year.
State regulators found nothing abnormal about the track conditions and the weather was fine on the days the horses were injured.
So what has changed? Some say the addition of slots money fattened purses and gave incentive to run injured or overworked horses in what are called “claiming races.”
It’s one of several things the track’s owner–the Maryland Jockey Club–is looking into.
“Anything is possible right now because we don’t specifically know. There are probably a lot of factors attributed to it,” the club’s president, Tom Chuckas, said. “Truly for all of us here, besides the business side and so on, is the ultimate safety and the welfare of the horse, the jockey and so on, and we have to get it right.”
The Maryland Racing Commission wants uniform guidelines for medication. It also wants the bodies of all horses to be examined so it can better determine what actually killed them.