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Aqueduct Horse Track: 16 Horses Dead In 14 Weeks, Governor Cuomo Wants Independent Investigation

Posted: 03/16/2012 12:49 pm Updated: 03/19/2012 11:00 am

Aqueduct Horse

The same day HBO canceled "Luck" after a third horse died during production, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the New York Racing Association, calling for an independent investigation into the deaths of 16 thoroughbreds at Aqueduct in the past two and a half months.

The fatalities began when Aqueduct, in Queens, opened its inner track on November 30th, Daily Racing Forum reports. Since February 25th alone, six horses have been euthanized after suffering injuries, the most recent one being Hillsboro Bay, who died Wednesday after hurting her right foreleg. The mile-long inner track uses a type of dirt that some say is treacherous for the equines, although the NYRA insists it is safe.

Coincidentally on Wednesday, NYRA announced they would move the races to the main track two weeks earlier than expected.

"The State and NYRA need to develop best in class procedures to insure against needless injuries to horses and to riders," reads Cuomo's letter, sent to NYRA President Charles Hayward Wednesday, according to the New York Daily News. "By this letter, we are advising NYRA to hire a qualified independent investigator or team of investigators to review the circumstances involving these breakdowns, analyze the causes, and recommend any necessary action to (limit) equine breakdowns at NYRA faciliites."

Additionally, the governor noted that because the NYRA has received $15 million in profits since the Resorts World New York racino opened, they should be able to pay for their own investigation.

"Everyone understands that horse racing poses risks,'' the letter continues, "but that cannot be an excuse for our inaction. The status quo in all aspects of horse racing is not working, and we need to develop procedures now that work for the horses, riders and the racing public in New York."

NYRA responded to the letter, telling The Daily News, will cooperate with the requests made in the letter, and make a recommendation to the Racing and Wagering Board regarding selection of an investigator.

Meanwhile Wednesday, HBO canceled "Luck," starring Dustin Hoffman, after the American Humane Association insisted they halt production. HBO released the following statement:

It is with heartbreak that executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann together with HBO have decided to cease all future production on the series LUCK. Safety is always of paramount concern. We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horseracing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures. While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future. Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision.
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Filed by Christopher Mathias  |