Aqueduct's racetrack is living up to its image as a broken down relic of a bygone era. The Times reports that in 22 days of racing, 12 horses have died at the track, some falling after running more than one race over a span of several days.
In response to the deaths, the New York Racing Association reduced the number of weekly races from 9 to 8, barred horses from running more than one race in 14 days, and will maintain a "poor performance" list of horses who were beaten by 25 lengths or more in a race and will prevented from racing until their strength improves.
After 21 horses died during the 2011-2012 winter season at Aqueduct, an investigation showed that many of the horses were overworked and ill, thanks to a steady regimen of steroids injections. Those injections are supposed to be logged, and the logs transferred when the horses exchange owners. That hasn't happened.
“We did it on the honor system, and not a lot of trainers called and asked for the horses’ history,” Dr. Scott Palmer, the gaming commission's director of equine medicine told the Times. Dr. Palmer called the horses' deaths "unacceptable."
The national average of deaths per 1,000 starts is 1.90; Aqueduct's record is 7.8 fatalities.
When we interviewed Angelo Romano on Aqueduct's opening day, the bettor of more than 40 years told us, “These are real bad horses here."