LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A major announcement about a new initiative aimed at keeping horses safe is expected at Keeneland on Tuesday.
LEX 18 has learned a Thoroughbred Safety Coalition is being formed following an increase in horse deaths at tracks around the country, including Keeneland.
“I think the public perception is that horse racing is becoming a brutal sport. The reality is no one wants to see a horse die,” said NBC Sports horseracing reporter Kenny Rice.
The death of Mongolian Groom at the Breeder's Cup just a few weeks ago marked the 37th horse death at Santa Anita Race Track in California since December of 2018.
In 2019, there have been 9 horse deaths at Keeneland, which is a big increase from years past.
“I think the toughest part about it is there's not that one thing that anyone can pinpoint, so there's the dilemma. So there's obviously a problem, I think problems and no one can figure out exactly what it is,” said Rice.
Rice believes medications, breeding, and horse track surfaces all need to be looked at.
That’s something the brand new coalition might be commissioned to do.
“The problem with horse racing has always been that every state has had its own little kingdom "we'll do this, you'll do that" and it doesn't matter. And there's no uniformity on medication and some other issues that have to be addressed now,” said Rice.
While race tracks like Keeneland have already taken action to address the problem, on Tuesday an announcement is expected at Keeneland about the new nationwide Thoroughbred Safety Coalition.
“It needs to happen because the future of the sport is in jeopardy like it never has been before,” said Rice.
Rice says this initiative is a big step for the industry, that also needs to change public perception in order to survive.
“I think to put the emphasis on how good of an athlete the jockeys are, also to show more about the trainers and just the care that they give to the horses. Stories like that need to be told more, and there's just not a whole lot of outlets for that,” said Rice.
LEX 18 will bring you additional details after the press conference on Tuesday.