Horses

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- At least four horses have died on Kentucky racetracks this year, and there have been nearly two dozen deaths at Santa Anita Racetrack.

It is a tragic problem the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission addressed Tuesday at its meeting in Lexington.

"We take every fatality seriously," said Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Scollay gave commission members details of two recent deaths at Keeneland, both of which she said were muscular skeletal injuries related to lower leg fractures.

There have also been two deaths at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky, but Scollay said things are getting better.

"The occurrence of fatalities at Turfway represents a 50 percent reduction from last year, so that is encouraging," Scollay said. "But we need to sustain that through the rest of the year."

Meanwhile, at Santa Anita, the district attorney has formed a task force to investigate the deaths of 23 horses at race tracks since late December.

"It is a high number, and it is a troubling number," Scollay said.

Scollay also said despite the distance, the deaths are also on the radar of Kentucky horse racing officials.

"I remind everyone here that Santa Anita's problem is our problem," she said. "So we need to learn from what they learn and remain vigilant in protecting our horses."

Unlike Santa Anita, there's no task force here, but with the Kentucky Oaks and Derby just a few weeks away, officials are being proactive and working with trainers.

"We are implementing some additional strategies to identify horses at risk and intervene before they are at risk," Scollay said.

The senior vice president for PETA applauds the decision for a task force to investigate the deaths at Santa Anita, saying the racing industry has shown that it's incapable of policing itself.

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