A few things:
According to the New York Times, every week in the United States, 24 Thoroughbred horses die while racing and countless others are broken down and maimed for the rest of their lives because they are being drugged to enhance their performance.Ah yes. The already well-worn New York Times' 24-a-week stat. The funny thing about that statistic is the way that number has become a mantra of sorts, both for the Times and for those who cite it to make a point.....while what has apparently been forgotten in the 20 months since the first of the Death and Disarray articles, is that the Times compiled breakdown information based on terms searched for in chart comments, including those like "vanned off" and "lame" that don't necessarily mean death or serious injury. I don't know if the Times has ever been exactly clear what the 24 is based on.
But in any event, hasn't anyone ever done a basic reality check on that number? I haven't seen one. It's easy to do, we can do it right here. I counted 85 race cards from last Saturday through Friday (not counting Woodbine, you don't get to play!); I'll round that up to 90, figuring that some tracks that normally run on Thursday don't on Thanksgiving. Let's say that the cards average nine races of eight horse fields - which I'd guess is an overestimation, but let's do that to be conservative relative to my point. That's 72 horses times 90 cards = 6,480 horses. If 24 of those die, that makes the rate 1 in 270 starts. That's as opposed to the 2 in 1000 starts statistic which I think is generally accepted as a ballpark figure - 1.92 in 1000 was the 2012 rate according to the Jockey Club. 1 in 270 translates to 3.7 in 1,000, which is almost twice the Jockey Club's number.
So I'm calling bullshit on the Times and their 24-a-week stat, and I welcome anyone to prove me wrong, I'd be happy to acknowledge that if so. And people like Arthur Hancock III, as well-intentioned as he may be, are spreading misinformation when they cite it as fact. I know that there are those who root Drape on, think he's a crusader for cleaning up the sport. You won't think he's so great when you're watching some government hearing on banning horse racing and people are testifying how the Times says that 24 horses a week die while racing. Think I'm exaggerating (or being hysterical)? Yes, I am. But it's a valid point that misinformation in the New York Times is capable of leading to consequences profoundly worse that horses getting doped.
- And finally, and as long as I'm crabby, here's an article about the situation in Saratoga, where, as we've reported, opponents of a casino at the harness track are well-organized and armed with what they consider to be a mandate from the clear defeat of the casino referendum in the city of Saratoga Springs. However, Saratoga Raceway principal James Featherstonawilsonhaughsmithandwessonstein seems unimpressed. And undaunted:
"We believe we have the best site: historically, economically, socially and in every other way in our region.....And we expect with the help of our friends and colleagues in Saratoga and in consultation with the community to make a bid that brings the casino license to our facility." [Albany Times Union]Well, there's a big flip of the bird to the voters and the community there. As I've been saying, this thing is in the bag for the Saratoga harness track by virtue of a backroom deal between Cuomo and the NYGA, and it will take quite a tide of opposition to undo what already is done if this guy is not interested in how the community feels. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.