Thank you Sparrow Castle for your input! I'm from Europe, maybe that's why prices differ. Racing partnerships are good, it makes it much easier (apart from the disagreements
) to own race horses.
What is comes down to is basically responsible ownership. To draw a comparison: there are people who are responsible pet owners and then there are people who are irresponsible. I am aware of that. I did not want to insult you or anyone who owns horses that aren't stabled in Santa Anita etc. I'm very aware that without owners like you this sport wouldn't exist (claimers etc are the vast majority).
I was just playing out a scenario that would make scans mandatory before each race (or after). Because that would be the best and quickest tool to prevent breakdowns.
Many of us take precautions like giving our horses winter breaks and not racing them into the ground before retiring them. My observation is that many of the euthanizations here are not because owners won’t pay for surgeries, but because it is in the best interest of the horse to euthanize after a catastrophic event, such as breakdown, colic, laminitis. Some people will argue it is cruel to try to save them at any cost. Believe me, I know how lucky we are to not have had to face that most awful decision. We also haven’t had to pay 10’s of thousands of dollars for any one of our horses over a year or even years of ownership. The most expensive was one we had to re-claim from an awful trainer just to safely retire him. And that loss didn’t amount to even close to $10k overall.
Because there are so many of you who do all the right things, there are not even more breakdowns. I honestly wasn't implying that the majority of owners are like that. I was just stating things that contribute to fatalities on the track (apart from the accidents). And yes I do agree that sometimes it's cruel to save them at any cost. There are horses who are doing just fine with limited mobility and other horses that freak out, cause they can't move around so good anymore.
To summarize, my observations are that wealthy owners and trainers at top tier tracks do not of itself equate to better health care for racehorses or lower fatality rates. More important are the business model and philosophy of the owners and trainers, as well as horsemanship skills and ethics of the trainers and vets. Some wealthy owners who can afford to pay for life or second-career saving surgeries choose not to and I’m pretty sure that happens at all tracks.
Totally agree with you. Other thing to consider is that many "small time owners" have a bond with their horse, while in a large stable sometimes it's just an investment. Generally speaking it's harder for small time owners who don't have tens of thousands of dollars lying around to keep up with all the bills if things like scans etc become mandatory. (It was just a fictional scenario.)
Maybe try comparing race and training fatality rates by track before speaking negatively about safety issues at the lower level tiers versus upper tiers in the U.S. You may be surprised.
I won't. It will be about the same. Already explained above why I said what I said. If you want to have a 0 fatality rate you have to stop racing. Want to drastically lower it? Mandatory scans before or after every race. Want to lower it further? Mandatory breaks over winter for every horse. Further? Switch to turf. If you implement all those rules it will "hurt" the lower tier level tracks the most, there is no doubt in my mind that there would be less horses, because it would be more expensive.
For example, their knees must be closed before hard training begins. I totally believe in the necessity of early bone building for strong healthy bones. What I’m not sure of is if racing is the only way they can build those bones. Babies have a lot of gallops and untimed works that aren’t captured in data.
Racing isn't the only way they can build those bones. Gallops and easy works do an excellent job without putting too much strain on their legs. Then again: ours only ever raced over turf. The reason why I'm not too keen on asking too much too soon is that in a race a horse gets really fatigued and if the muscles are tired the bones have to absorb even more "shock". And a thing that I quite often see, but hate is that jockeys really ride the horses out despite being beaten. I know they have to, but... I always cringe when I see that, because that's exactly when the horses are basically only running on bones anymore (using simple terms here, I can't explain it better in English, sorry
I know the breakdown rate on top of my head (only one racetrack where I'm from), from quite some years ago, because I knew every single one that happened. 3 horses out of around 300 stabled at the track (if you take into consideration all the horses that shipped in probably 400), while racing from late April til early October over the span of 3 years. 1 of those 3 sadly stepped into a hole on the turf track (had people walking the course after every race but it happens). There were some that got hurt but were okay and there were a handful that died of colic, no horse broke down during training. So it was about 1 horse from 2000 starts that had a fatality. Small track (compared to the likes of Newmarket or Santa Anita), in the 90ies (scans only happened when a horse was off), 0 drug policy, on turf. Maybe we just got lucky generally speaking. Or it's the different training methods, surface, no all year racing and 0 drugs.
I can't answer that, not in a scientific way anyway. I would start to compare fatalities on US courses vs in Japan and Australia. (Europe went downhill quite a bit, I imagine rates in the UK and France by now aren't much better than in the US tbh. Then again I see other training methods applied, drugs added during training... those training methods are more successful, getting faster results etc, but IMO they come with an increased risk. )