Tragedy hits Santa Anita again

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Katewerk
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Sun Oct 27, 2019 7:39 pm

MySaladDays wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 7:16 pm
If you feel powerless, Katewerk, then just say that. ;)
Well, I didn't say that.

And, if that is truly the case, then it really is best that you step aside and let those who feel more capable solve the bigger problems.
Well it's not the case, as noted above.

But, as you are in the business of telling people who haven't impeded you to "step aside", which of these bigger problems have you solved?

Don't be shy. Take some credit.

Not everyone is in your predicament.
What predicament do I have? (Be specific.)
In the meantime, best for youto spend your free time sticking to whatever it is that you're good at.
I'm good at a lot of things, including this. More importantly, I really, really enjoy it.

(so far that appears to be making snarky remarks while casting aspersions on anonymous members who you don't know anything about, and who may have better resources, educations, and/or connections than you do.)
I wasn't casting aspersions, I was calling out a keyboard jockey for a ridiculous assertion and her self-pleasuring moral superiority. Those are observations, not "aspersions".

(This thread is so packed with straw man arguments there ought to be a No Smoking sign.)
Tessablue
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Sun Oct 27, 2019 7:48 pm

I'm honestly finding it impossible to understand why any racing fan would be vehemently offended by the suggestion that, with hard work, we can one day minimize or eliminate deaths within the sport.

Horrible news about Bye Bye Beautiful. Second start, looks like she'd been working steadily at Los Al and then SA. This week and next weekend are going to be fraught- but that's the risk they took when they kept the BC at this track. Some trainer comments today suggested that the track was different/slower this morning than it was yesterday- I wonder if they continue to work on the surface all week?
Somnambulist

Sun Oct 27, 2019 8:27 pm

Tessablue wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 7:48 pm
I'm honestly finding it impossible to understand why any racing fan would be vehemently offended by the suggestion that, with hard work, we can one day minimize or eliminate deaths within the sport.
Maybe you didn't use the right bootstraps.
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Sparrow Castle
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Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:00 pm

I don't get it either. Our prior governor here established a goal of zero traffic fatalities. A plan with interim targets was developed to get to Target Zero by 2030. It looks like California has something similar: https://calsta.ca.gov/subject-areas/enf ... fatalities.

Maybe it would be easier for some folks to wrap their heads around this in horse racing if we developed a strategic plan with goals, objectives, strategies and action plans <"we" pauses for a big belly laugh>.

My understanding of this sport is there is no "we" to take the lead and convene the task force necessary to put structure to the goal of zero fatalities, nor to enforce the consequences of ignoring the plan.

What have we learned through the racing commissions' failure to adopt the ARCI/NUMP medication rules? It was supposed to start with the racing commissions. They hold the regulatory power right now, at least on paper. I think in most states, commissioners are appointed by the governor. More than a dozen years later, and that hasn't worked. I don't see the "track owners taking the lead" model working very well in California. Maybe passing the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 will be the hammer that we need.

WarBiscuit, Thanks for posting the information about Maryland Racing Commission's "house rules." It is heartening to see that. Yes, I think this is the best model to replicate. Right now I just hope racing doesn't have to fail completely in California before the rest of the racing states decide to wake up and get to work. Maybe Maryland would let a few more states into their group planning sessions.
The rule changes and regulation proposals stemmed from an Oct. 10 meeting of the MRC Safety Committee and an Oct. 2 meeting of more than 60 racing stakeholders on the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities.
http://tharacing.com/maryland-approves- ... nd-safety/
TapitsGal
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:01 am

Gutted about bye bye beautiful
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Curtis
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:58 pm

Anyone wanting and trying to prevent these occurrences should be lauded not derided. I will however say that one should be careful blanketing all inactivity at two. Marjorie E, the favorite in the final race on Saturday, didn’t run at two, nor did just about anyone on the bottom side of her pedigree. The Thompson’s, who bred and race her don’t believe in running a horse at two, and this philosophy is on it’s second generation. I’ve never been aware of any soundness problems with their horses. It’s a small operation with usually no more than two active broodmares at a time and they breed runners. I’ve known the Thompson family since I was a kid as they used to race QH’s with my uncle before switching to TB’s. Now to the best of my knowledge, Marjorie E is fine. She just didn’t get any pace to run at. If though, heaven forbid, she were to take a bad step in a subsequent start, the narrative could easily be, “See, she didn’t run at two.” The Thompson’s would tell you this is why their horses retire sound.
Somnambulist

Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:34 pm

Ageee. Tessa is pretty smart, I'm sure she doesn't think 0 incidents is very likely but it's frankly disgusting to deride someone who is looking at numbers and being excited about the possibility of significantly reducing them.

I don't get why dismiss it. It's better to shoot for Jupiter than the moon. If you miss Jupiter you still get the moon.

In my former life, I also was involved in academia. You kinda have to blanket out all activity to start because there is no other scientific way to narrow it down. The lack of research around this spot has always been staggering to me so there is literally nothing else for her to go on. At some point of my life I would have gladly done it for free as I imagine Tessa would have.

This is one of the few sports where you have more direct access to big shots, and where you wager directly on it. We plan our vacations around it. I'm small in the grand scheme of things in all ways in life, but I do love this sport
(most days) and it's been proven being vocal online or elsewhere does bring about change.
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Kurenai
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:39 pm

It seems like every single death gets reported now when it happens at Santa Anita. No matter if it happened on the training track, was a heart attack etc. I'm all for making improvements, would love to see a 0 drug policy and a model like the Japanese racing product, on top of that a % of the purse should go towards a horse retirement fund, let all horses take a break over winter on a farm, give them some turnout time etc etc.

Now comes the "but": the reality is that you simply can't prevent things like that. You can only prevent racing related deaths if you stop racing. Saying that, horses also die out in the pasture, they're good at finding ways to hurt themselves.
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Kurenai
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:51 pm

Tessablue wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:18 pm
Research has continuously shown that these deaths are preventable. This means we can get to zero deaths if we stop throwing our own pity party and actually concentrate on looking at the problem and finding a solution. GQ Covergirl was unraced at two, whereas Emtech made only one start late into his 2yo season. Why? If we actually look for them, there are real trends to examine and discuss here.
With all due respect, researching and studies can't compare with the real world in this scenario.

Here's an example to consider: a trainer that I know very well and worked for does the following. No drugs (Europe), slowly starting on 2 year olds, never asks too much from his horses, gives them breaks, turnouts, excellent horse man who puts the horses first (even extra effort to find them good homes afterwards) and he races over turf. Never had a horse breakdown for 10 years. Lost 2 this year. Dying in the "field", because one clipped heels with the front horse - open fracture. Don't know what happened to the other one, but had to die "in the field" too. In his case both were freak accidents and he was devastated.

I am ALL for shining lights on the "racing product" things like injecting horses to get them race fit, ignoring nagging issues, racing them without breaks, only taking them outside their stall for an hour daily, dropping horses through the ranks in claiming races, aftercare etc etc are ALL big problems.

But no matter how many studies behind a computer screen show that you can prevent real deaths on the race track: the reality of things is you would have to stop racing. Then again horses also die out in the field just grazing, shatter their bones playing with each other while they run and buck around... There is never 0 deaths. That's a fairy tale.
Somnambulist

Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:04 pm

Research is the real world. It just can't be the real world in horse racing because there is literally so little of it we don't know we're looking at.

I think she gets that it needs to be narrowed down and that any understanding is in an infantile stage. She isn't advocating any one solution but a starting point. Once you know enough the process is more or less self correcting.
Tessablue
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:38 pm

Curtis wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:58 pm
Anyone wanting and trying to prevent these occurrences should be lauded not derided. I will however say that one should be careful blanketing all inactivity at two. Marjorie E, the favorite in the final race on Saturday, didn’t run at two, nor did just about anyone on the bottom side of her pedigree. The Thompson’s, who bred and race her don’t believe in running a horse at two, and this philosophy is on it’s second generation. I’ve never been aware of any soundness problems with their horses. It’s a small operation with usually no more than two active broodmares at a time and they breed runners. I’ve known the Thompson family since I was a kid as they used to race QH’s with my uncle before switching to TB’s. Now to the best of my knowledge, Marjorie E is fine. She just didn’t get any pace to run at. If though, heaven forbid, she were to take a bad step in a subsequent start, the narrative could easily be, “See, she didn’t run at two.” The Thompson’s would tell you this is why their horses retire sound.
Interesting, thank you for sharing it! Do you know if they work at 2, or do they generally get started later than others? I think this is a great example of why we need to know more about the histories of these horses. Did the fatally injured horses debut late because they were unsound and unable to debut earlier (suggesting that there may have been pre-existing injuries present which could have led to a fatal injury), or did they debut later because 2yo racing is increasingly unpopular and devalued in this country (suggesting that the lack of early bone strengthening and remodeling contributed to the eventual injury)? It's the sort of question that only racing jurisdictions with the ability to deep-dive into a horse's veterinary history can answer, and I hope it's on their radar as they investigate these issues.

I certainly don't think it's a miracle cure for what ails the sport, but it's a conversation we'll have to have eventually- similar to how those articles about bisphosphonate usage from a year or two ago presaged this year's reckoning towards them. "Evil baby racing" is an emotional issue that seems to resonate with the general public, and I'm worried that the sport will undergo a good-faith overcorrection because of it (and because the Derby points system devalues 2yo racing, but that's another conversation). I'll try to find a link, but I read an interview by a Santa Anita official recently in which he admitted that they know Lasix isn't causing problems, but they are focusing on it anyways because the publics thinks drugs are bad. It would be tragic if, in an effort to address the hazards of the sport and the public's perception of them, we inadvertently endanger more horses. And I think there's a link between bone development and later bone healthiness that is waiting to be discovered. What I wouldn't give for a big observational study on training techniques/timing and soundness... should we be working young horses predominantly counterclockwise so they can adapt their skeletal systems accordingly, or should we focus on more balanced development? I have no idea, but it's probably important to know.
Somnambulist wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:04 pm
Research is the real world. It just can't be the real world in horse racing because there is literally so little of it we don't know we're looking at.

I think she gets that it needs to be narrowed down and that any understanding is in an infantile stage. She isn't advocating any one solution but a starting point. Once you know enough the process is more or less self correcting.
Yep, this is exactly it. Horses aren't particularly good at staying alive, and we will probably never be able to fully account for freak accidents or illness. But when it comes to on-track fatalities, hypothetically we should be able to come up with a screening process that minimizes or eliminates them. I didn't appreciate it before working in a bone mechanics lab, but even in high-stress situations like a race, healthy bones really should not be breaking the way they break in these incidents. I think the sport has made great strides towards getting past the "bad step" mindset this year, and Santa Anita's screening policies are a major step in the right direction. The fact that SA's fatalities dropped after their reforms, even if they haven't reached zero, should act as a refutation towards anyone who believes this is all out of our hands. But there's just so much we don't know, an what we do know is almost too decentralized to work with. Even just a big meta-analysis of our current state of knowledge would probably be a gamechanger.

To make an analogy to another sport, last year I went to a biomechanics conference and made a point to attend all the NFL brain injury talks, just to see what's going on in that field. I was shocked to learn that there is research out there showing we can track sports-related brain injuries in real time, and we already have results showing that increased rest can help protect and heal the brain from the damage that likely causes CTE. However, the researchers were pessimistic that this research would be used to improve the sport, because it would involve fewer games, less practicing, and far more rest between games. The NFL is a sport with fairly abundant research (despite financial meddling by the league) but little genuine desire for reform. Horse racing, on the other hand, seems to genuinely want to improve (at least in some jurisdictions) but doesn't have the research to inform these changes. In some respects, that puts us in a better position... if we can just come together enough to fund and support ongoing research efforts.
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Treve
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:42 pm

I concur, research is the real world in this case as most of the data we have gathered is from real race horses. There aren't sufficient amounts of studies with all parameters controlled due to the nature of racing. So most studies and most research is drawn from the real world. Don't automatically think "laboratory" when someone says research.

And that's the point TB has been trying to make all year by the way, the fact we need to make an effort and narrow down why these fatalities are occurring. As I recall she had earlier this year sorted the Santa Anita fatalities into several categories to account for freak accidents and see if there was a trend.
A filly named Ruffian...

Eine Stute namens Danedream...

Une pouliche se nommant Trêve...

Kincsem nevű kanca...


And a Queen named Beholder
stark
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:48 pm

Curious, anybody here in a position to impact the sport outside of their own barn?
I know we have a professional tout to help with the gambling aspects, but what about health/wellness?
I've found it easier to tear up tickets at 8/1 instead of 8/5.
CorridorZ75
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:12 pm

There is another variable that you did not mention, and it is hard to truly calculate its effect because of the frustrating fact that in a sport with lots of data minutiae that has been recorded over the decades, breakdown numbers while racing, let alone while training, have not apparently been kept. However, I do not think it is a coincidence that at the same time that the percentage of a foal crop sent to early sales has grown astronomically the breed seems to be able to race less and is more fragile. It is also not just being sent to the sales, but being sent through sales prep. Success at these sales means a good amount amount of muscle on a young frame, an intensive nutrition regimen to get that high definition, and regimented exercise versus just being a horse in a field with a herd. I would guess all these have some effect on the development of the weanling and yearling.

Also, it is disheartening seeing so many within the industry or fans/bettors on twitter concentrating solely on Santa Anita as the problem, as though the breakdown rates at other tracks throughout the country are not also a big problem. The fact that industry people seem willing to point at the track ( a "not my track" type of take) as the biggest problem rather than come together to truly start solving the problem is why racing is in its current mess to begin with.
Tessablue
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:28 pm

CorridorZ75 wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:12 pm
There is another variable that you did not mention, and it is hard to truly calculate its effect because of the frustrating fact that in a sport with lots of data minutiae that has been recorded over the decades, breakdown numbers while racing, let alone while training, have not apparently been kept. However, I do not think it is a coincidence that at the same time that the percentage of a foal crop sent to early sales has grown astronomically the breed seems to be able to race less and is more fragile. It is also not just being sent to the sales, but being sent through sales prep. Success at these sales means a good amount amount of muscle on a young frame, an intensive nutrition regimen to get that high definition, and regimented exercise versus just being a horse in a field with a herd. I would guess all these have some effect on the development of the weanling and yearling.
Sales definitely have an impact, and it's a great angle to focus on and bring up. Bisphosphonates have received a lot of press lately, but you're right that there are many other factors to consider as well. Do you know where to find data on sales percentage in each foal crop? That would be a really fascinating angle to work with!

I do think we have to be careful when asserting that the breed is more fragile than it has been in the past. Fewer starts doesn't necessarily correlate with increased injury risk, and I'm not certain there's any evidence that horses are being injured at a greater rate (would love to know if I missed this data though!). Due to a lack of record-keeping, it's likely we'll never truly know how our present rates compare to the past. But there have been short-term decreases in fatal incidents, and I think the fact that we actually care about and record these incidents suggests that our horses are likely safer than before. At the very least, fans have been decrying the thoroughbred as "too fragile" for well over a century now- and if it was always as bad as we thought, the breed would have died out by now!
Tessablue
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:34 pm

And here are some examples of current research, to show what we've found and how important continued research will be to future improvements. Unfortunately I dont' think either of these papers are available publicly, but if anyone wants more info, don't hesitate to ask... or pm me.

A meta-analysis of Australian injuries: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30819423
In it, they note:
Almost 300 factors have been investigated in epidemiological studies of CMI. Factors found to have consistent evidence of increasing risk are horse-level factors including older horse age and age at first start, male sex (particularly entires), and factors indicating the horse’s quality such as higher race class or lower claiming price; race-level factors including firmer track conditions on turf and sloppier conditions on dirt, longer race distance, and a greater number of starters; and factors related to management including issues identified at pre-race examination, previous or pre-existing injury, and recent medication administration. Studies investigating racing and training intensity had conflicting outcomes.
While age at first start was associated with CMI, it is unknown whether this is driven by trainers having difficulty getting horses with underlying problems to their first race or the result of failing to take advantage of the young skeleton’s enhanced ability to adapt to training and racing.
More recently, predictive models aimed at identifying horses at risk have been attempted, with models reporting area under the curve (AUC) of 65–67%, with 100% being perfect predictability and 50% being no better than chance (Georgopoulos and Parkin, 2017, Rosanowski et al., 2017b). With such inadequate predictive capability from such large datasets, there is still more to be done to refine these epidemiological models. The main problem lies with difficulty obtaining data related to previous veterinary history, comprehensive training data, or potential unknown variables (Georgopoulos and Parkin, 2017), thus we need to focus on developing more efficient data recording and retrieval systems (Parkin, 2008).
That paper references a meta-analysis of North American injuries, performed by a Scottish group, but I can't access the full text. Abstract here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?te ... and+Canada

And here's a recent New York study showing that horses with fracture injuries have detectably different bone structures when compared to control animals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29758110
The number of races ran, total furlongs ran and total weeks of exercise all increased with career duration (P<0.0001 for all three correlations, Fig 6). The number of races ran was not significantly different between fracture and control groups (P = 0.5, data not shown). Interestingly, the total number of weeks of exercise was significantly greater in the control animals as compared with the fracture group (P = 0.02, Fig 6a). The total furlongs ran was higher in the control group, but this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.07, Fig 6b). Therefore, horses in the fracture group ran the same number of races per career duration as control horses but trained less often. The number of long lay ups did not differ between groups, and all horses were in active work prior to the incident race or training workout
Bone width was also significant in classifying fracture from control horses, with fracture horses having narrower proximal sesamoid bones. The narrower proximal sesamoid bones in the fracture horses could have contributed to the increased bone density. Smaller bones would experience greater stress, which would stimulate mechanical adaptation to increase bone mass in a live animal.
We also found that horses in the fracture group were more likely to have advanced osteoarthritic changes, including proximal sesamoid bone osteophytes (Supplementary Item 1). Identifying osteophytes has the clinical advantage of being easily identifiable using CT, even at lower resolutions.
Imagine what we could learn if different tracks worked together to pool their training and veterinary data from each injury!
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Curtis
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:27 pm

Tessa, the Thompsons have always started their horses later. They’re not broke at a time one would if the intention was to run them at two, for example. The matriarch, Melanie and patriarch, Gary have both passed away. Their son, also named Gary, has taken over the operation. I used to kid Melanie that she’d never have a Derby Horse the way they do things. She’d shrug and smile and say, “There’s always the Hollywood Derby.” Years ago they debuted a filly in late June, I believe, of her 3yo year. The filly’s name was Chelcee’s Hope. She ran green but closed like a freight train to get 4th in a MSW turf sprint. The Thompson’s were offered 100k for her before the gallop out was finished but declined. They ended up losing her in a claim to Nick Alexander for 32k who still has her as a broodmare. I always wonder what could have been if she had started out earlier but that just wasn’t how they operated.
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Sparrow Castle
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:54 pm

The Jockey Club collects a large amount of injury and fatality data; however, it's not mandatory for tracks to participate (yet). http://jockeyclub.com/default.asp?secti ... cy&area=10
Participating tracks: http://jockeyclub.com/default.asp?secti ... cy&area=11

I remember a large outcry when the JC was putting this together and decided to not allow broad access to the database (I was among the screamers). Before the EID, Emerald Downs compiled and posted it's annual horse safety report on its website. It had a lot of interesting data fields. But, when the decision was made to participate in the JC's EID, those resources were redirected to that effort for awhile. Frustrated by the lack of info coming out of the EID, EMD again produces it's own health and safety reports. Washington has a mandatory necropsy program at Washington State U. http://www.whrc.wa.gov/forms-and-reports.html

I don't know if the Jockey Club has loosened it's access to the data, but I think that would be a big help.
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Katewerk
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:19 pm

Tessablue wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 7:48 pm
I'm honestly finding it impossible to understand why any racing fan would be vehemently offended by the suggestion that, with hard work, we can one day minimize or eliminate deaths within the sport.
No racing fan has said anything of the sort. You've been indulging in a fictional debate of your own making, replying to statements and arguments that don't exist. Just like you have above -- "vehemently offended". What codswallop.

You've generate thousands of words in reply to a one sentence response to what was a ridiculous assertion -- that racetrack deaths can be reduced to "zero", apparently through the collection and analysis of data which - coincidentally - is something you seem to enjoy doing. Maslow's hammer applies here.

So, back to the original point.

Kurenai had it right. Start calling in the meat trucks now, because the only way to achieve a "zero deaths" goal is to end racing entirely.

Furthermore, a stated objective of reaching "zero deaths" only feeds the agenda of people who don't actually care about deaths on the track at all. You set the table for failure. Guarantee it, in fact.

Their long range objective is to eliminate the use of horses and other animals by the human species.

And perhaps I missed it, but it seems the "science will save them" project hasn't talked about cost, (much less timeline). Zero deaths -- by what date? At what cost?

Magical thinking is easy. Execution is hard.

For all the pearl clutching about high profile horses going down at Santa Anita, there are hundreds of low level claimers on small tracks, trained by nobodies, racing for peanuts. No bone scans and data crunching for you, Nellie!

The business model doesn't support it, so they get to ride the trucks first.
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Curtis
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:33 pm

Katewerk wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:19 pm
Tessablue wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 7:48 pm
I'm honestly finding it impossible to understand why any racing fan would be vehemently offended by the suggestion that, with hard work, we can one day minimize or eliminate deaths within the sport.
No racing fan has said anything of the sort. You've been indulging in a fictional debate of your own making, replying to statements and arguments that don't exist. Just like you have above -- "vehemently offended". What codswallop.

You've generate thousands of words in reply to a one sentence response to what was a ridiculous assertion -- that racetrack deaths can be reduced to "zero", apparently through the collection and analysis of data which - coincidentally - is something you seem to enjoy doing. Maslow's hammer applies here.

So, back to the original point.

Kurenai had it right. Start calling in the meat trucks now, because the only way to achieve a "zero deaths" goal is to end racing entirely.

Furthermore, a stated objective of reaching "zero deaths" only feeds the agenda of people who don't actually care about deaths on the track at all. You set the table for failure. Guarantee it, in fact.

Their long range objective is to eliminate the use of horses and other animals by the human species.

And perhaps I missed it, but it seems the "science will save them" project hasn't talked about cost, (much less timeline). Zero deaths -- by what date? At what cost?

Magical thinking is easy. Execution is hard.

For all the pearl clutching about high profile horses going down at Santa Anita, there are hundreds of low level claimers on small tracks, trained by nobodies, racing for peanuts. No bone scans and data crunching for you, Nellie!

The business model doesn't support it, so they get to ride the trucks first.
Actually you seem offended by her enthusiasm. I’m not certain stating that “execution is hard” is the best choice of phrasing in this instance. However, I get the point but then anything worth doing is hard.
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