- Who was it here who predicted that Strong Contender would never win another race?
- There was a front page article in the NY Times Week in Review section on Sunday entitled I'm not Barbaro, for lots of reasons (presented here via the International Herald Tribune, no registration required). The subject is the difference between racing here and in Europe, and the author makes the case that the emphasis on speed and the use of medications here at least partly account for the higher frequency of fatal breakdowns.
The rate of fatal accidents on racetracks in the United States is about 1.5 per 1,000 starts, according to David Nunamaker, professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, where Barbaro was treated. That may not sound alarming, but consider it this way: Last season at Arlington Park outside of Chicago, 21 horses died on the racetrack over three and a half months. In California, Del Mar's summer season was marred by 16 fatalities. By contrast, in Hong Kong, fatalities are 0.58 per 1,000 starts — which translates into the deaths of 26 horses over the last five years. In England, the rate is 0.65 per 1,000 starts.Dr. Nunamaker also states that he feels that it's too early in the game to view Polytrack and the other artificial surfaces as a magic cure-all. "No one did very much scientific work to prove it....People have gotten excited about it, and they're pouring a lot of money into it. I hope it's a solution."
Now comes the extremely disturbing news that injuries are indeed this year up this year at Turfway Park.
Although comprehensive figures are not available, several trainers said more injuries than they would like have been diagnosed in recent weeks during morning training or following races. So far at the winter-spring meet that began Jan. 1, there have been two catastrophic injuries to horses during racing programs. Last year, there were no such injuries during the entire winter-spring meet, which runs through early April. [Daily Racing Form]Trainers are spraying their horses' hooves with Pam cooking spray to prevent clumping of the material, which has been occurring since the track was adjusted this meet to lessen kickback and slightly quicken the surface. There's that emphasis on speed again.