How Kentucky Hides Its Dead

I’ve recently begun filing FOIL/Right-to-Know requests with various state racing commissions in an effort to secure the names of the 2014 deceased (above and beyond the ones we already know about). As expected, results have been mixed. Two states – Ohio and Washington – responded with quick transparency. Most, though, I wait on. And then there are two (thus far) that sent back swift rejections:

Minnesota: “In response to your request for information for the names of the racehorses who died or were euthanized at Minnesota racetracks for calendar year 2014 in an email dated 1/14/2015, we are prohibited from sending this information by Minnesota law. Minnesota Statute 156.082 states that veterinary records of a client that are maintained by a state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision are private [italics added] data on individuals or nonpublic data…”

And this from Kentucky, one of Racing’s cornerstone states: “This letter is in response to your Open Records Request… In that request, you seek ‘the names of the racehorses who died or were euthanized at Kentucky racetracks for calendar year 2014.’ The KHRC is not in possession of any documents that would be responsive to your request. You may want to contact the Jockey Club…”

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Juxtapose the above with a much touted recent news item on “Kentucky deliver[ing] its safest year on record” (well, at least since they began keeping track – 2007). A Blood-Horse article says that last year “there were 16 catastrophic breakdowns during races [they conveniently ignore training deaths] at Kentucky Thoroughbred tracks.” In that article, the Commission’s medical director, Mary Scollay, credits the “success” to a “collaborative effort.” In other words, while Dr. Scollay and the rest of the Commission can (shamelessly) tell us that only 16 horses “catastrophically broke down” on Kentucky tracks last year, they can’t tell us who they are – because, you know, they’re “not in possession of [those] documents.”

After I replied by calling their claim dishonest and insulting, I received a follow-up. Although cordial in tone, the Commission still maintains that they know not which horses died on Bluegrass tracks last year. As a consolation, however, they generously provided me a spreadsheet of “race-related fatal injuries” from ’07-’14. Wow.

Kentucky, those 16 (that you’re willing to concede) animals killed in the pursuit of handle cash were individuals – intelligent and sensitive beings with distinct personalities. They deserve more than being lumped into a single nameless, faceless tally. In the end, though, it is an indignity befitting their entire pathetic lives.

8 Comments

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  1. Thank you, Patrick….ONCE AGAIN, THANK YOU.
    I am not one bit surprised by the responses you received from the Minnesota and Kentucky racing entitys. This industry’s lying, deceiving, greedy and compassionless roots run SO DEEP. Thank you for exposing their total LACK of transparency…I can only imagine the mumbling amongst them and the scrambling to send you their ridiculous responses. I hope they suffer even moments of discomfort over this. Considering the blood of the dead racehorses they have on their hands, they SHOULD be experiencing a great deal more than a little anxiety.

  2. Those responses are faulty. The public right tio know is paramount inasmuch as these are public events. They are hiding the truth. Why?

    Proverbs 12:10: A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

  3. Kentucky, as we know, makes billions in the horse business and has very weak laws when it comes to animal welfare. And recently Churchill evicted hundreds of horses from Calder in FL. Most of the trainers and horses with nowhere to go are in the lower ranks of this business. At one point they were given one day to vacate the backstretch. Churchill knows that many of the evicted trainers and workers will lose their jobs, but Churchill also knows that many of the evicted horses will lose their lives.

    Shame on Kentucky, the so called capital of the Thoroughbred industry.

    Boycott the Kentucky Derby !!!

  4. And this from Kentucky, one of Racing’s cornerstone states: “This letter is in response to your Open Records Request… In that request, you seek ‘the names of the racehorses who died or were euthanized at Kentucky racetracks for calendar year 2014.’ The KHRC is not in possession of any documents that would be responsive to your request. You may want to contact the Jockey Club…”
    “not in possession of ANY documents” ……. well any reasonable and objective thinking member of the public would assume that the KHRC has not documented/kept a record of the names of the horses that died/euthanased on their racetracks in the year 2014. It appears that the world famous Kentucky Horse Race Club finds it appropriate not to keep such records despite transparency and disclosure laws.

    Minnesota: “In response to your request for information for the names of the racehorses who died or were euthanized at Minnesota racetracks for calendar year 2014 in an email dated 1/14/2015, we are prohibited from sending this information by Minnesota law. Minnesota Statute 156.082 states that veterinary records of a client that are maintained by a state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision are private [italics added] data on individuals or nonpublic data…”
    “prohibited” unless I’ve got it wrong Patrick asked for the names of the horses that died/euthanased on Minnesota racetracks for the year 2014. One does not need to have the veterinary records. However, under transparency and disclosure laws the Minnesota racing authority is obligated (both legally and morally) to provide the names of the horses that died/euthanased on all Minnesota racetracks for the year 2014.

    Perhaps the world famous Kentucky Horse Race Club and the Minnesota racing authority could give serious consideration to the prudent and law abiding examples of the Ohio and Washington racing authorities.

  5. The Equine Injury Database is administered/owned by the Jockey Club. Dr. Scollay is correct. You need to direct your inquiries to the Jockey Club. There are dozens of horses which die in Central Kentucky as a result of injuries in fields and stalls. Each one is an individual, sensient being, but their deaths result from being a horse, not from being a racehorse. Get your facts straight.

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