The Paulick Report reported the unusual number of fatalities at Saratoga Race Course. The loss of two horses on Thursday during the Mrs Ogden Phipps and Birdstone stakes brings the total number of fatalities to NINE since the Spa meet opened. Not only that, Paid Up Subscriber, a stakes winning filly, broke her ankle after her 30+ length win in the Shuvee Stakes. The surgery went great, but her connections are deciding whether to retire her for broodmare duty.
What is going on with the Spa? Did the track get prepared differently in its prep prior to the opening? I know the NYRA stringently tests for illegal drugs or devices, plus vets who would scratch unsound horses. Saratoga is not like the racetracks of Pennsylvania. I do think that there is improper track composition. I also think that the genetic makeup of today’s thoroughbred is unstable. You can only can cross two descendants of Native Dancer so many times. I am for the diversity of the genetic pool. I even asked Winstar about how they can improve the diversity of overall gene pool. They have a Man O War descendant.
I would suggest not only an appropriate mix of track surface (not necessarily polytrack or Tapeta– the purists would scream bloody murder if any of our major US racetracks had artificial dirt…and double if the Kentucky Derby features synthetic for the first time in its 144-year history), but also methodical breeding of horses without Native Dancer bloodlines. The Jockey Club would not open the stud books to introduce hybrids, so all we need are non-Native Dancer linked horses.
Unless breeders are game to breed for durability over speed, this sport will suffer very much.