Tragedy hits Santa Anita again

MySaladDays
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:55 pm

Curtis wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:33 pm
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.

I read Tessa's posts and assumed that many of us are talking about achieving a vast reduction in *preventable deaths*. (So many deaths, whether human or animal, are just that.....preventable).

But, even if somebody wanted to shoot for an idealistic zero number, while lofty, is hardly worthy of ridicule.

I think that turning the conversation into 'deaths in general' is somewhere I wouldn't want the conversation to go, and if I felt like someone were going to insist on redirecting it that way, it certainly seems like a form of trolling.

There is plenty of debate that can be had about preventable deaths.....just like using euphemisms presently employed like "took a bad step" doesn't really *explain* the situation appropriately, thoroughly, or even honestly, in many cases.
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starrydreamer
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 9:39 am

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.
Agreed. There are plenty of owners who are less gung-ho about starting their horses at 2. It doesn't mean the horses are more fragile - the owners are just letting the horses mature a little more.

And why is it so wrong to want a sport that you love to continuously try to be better? Zero fatalities is likely an unrealistic goal, sure, but it doesn't mean the industry shouldn't strive toward that, and that the fans shouldn't continue to question things and ask for better. Nobody here is advocating for an end to horse racing. Why do we insist that issues be so black and white?
stark
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:49 am

starrydreamer wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 9:39 am
And why is it so wrong to want a sport that you love to continuously try to be better? Zero fatalities is likely an unrealistic goal, sure, but it doesn't mean the industry shouldn't strive toward that, and that the fans shouldn't continue to question things and ask for better. Nobody here is advocating for an end to horse racing. Why do we insist that issues be so black and white?
There's nothing wrong with wanting a sport that you love to continuously try to be better.
But,
When tragic headline stories take up the majority of air in the room and dominate the conversation it does lead to disdain for the sport and while you may not think it's advocating for an end to horse racing it makes for a real downer when there are so many good things still to talk about that at a bare minimum deserve equal time. There are people out there who rush to their keyboard every time there's an accident at Santa Anita, ooooohhhh maybe I can be the first to tell the world something bad happened! I just don't get it.

It appears to me that writers for the Los Angeles Times, Good Morning America, CNN, ThePaulickReport and right here at ThoroughbredChampions relish in highlighting the accidents and offering their opinions on how to fix things. My question is, are any of them in a position to actually fix things outside of their own barn, or are they just throwing spaghetti at the wall and offering their opinions that along with $4 will get you a venti coffee at the corner store? If the topic wasn't horse racing I have a hunch we'd have a bunch of amateur CSI investigators wanting to assist the officials with the latest murder mystery in the news. There's probably some forums out there that do just that, I always suspected Miss Scarlet did it in the Library with the Candlestick.

If we could get an equal amount of general conversation and detailed analysis about a couple of the BreedersCup races we could wager with confidence and enjoy watching the races as a fan while saying a little prayer for safe trips for all. Is there anything wrong with that?
I've found it easier to tear up tickets at 8/1 instead of 8/5.
Somnambulist

Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:05 am

Be the change you want to see in the world... if you want better handicapping discussions then start them.

Tessa contributes to those too. She is just being all the change she wants to see.
stark
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:08 am

Somnambulist wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:05 am
Be the change you want to see in the world... if you want better handicapping discussions then start them.

Tessa contributes to those too. She is just being all the change she wants to see.
I think the handicappers were driven away, at least one of them came back, I'll post his videos/selections later in the week.

Something similar happened at the Los Angeles Times, when they decided to stop using up valuable print space with stuff like daily entries, yesterday's charts and syndicated handicappers, horse racing fans got turned off and stopped reading as the only coverage was the bad stuff.
I've found it easier to tear up tickets at 8/1 instead of 8/5.
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Kurenai
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:41 am

The thing with all the data is this that it's useless, cause horses are individuals and not machines: not racing as a 2 year old doesn't mean jack ****. Horse might be slower to develop, got a little issue so they are a bit behind. This also doesn't mean that it was an issue that will in any shape or form impact the horses health/durability in the future. I know some trainers (low level horses) who mostly don't race em as 2 year olds. Yes the babies are in training, it helps their bodies to withstand the stress racing will put on their bones in the future. But they do this with steady exercise. Generally those horses are sounder in the long run.

A thing that could prevent breakdowns is measuring bone density and a nuke scan after every workout. Which is frankly impossible to do. I have no study, just hands on experience: There are many tiny fractures that go undetected and with all year round racing... you do the math. Want to have sounder horses? Start them as yearlings, get them rest at a farm over the winter, pickup where you left with training in spring, moderate exercise to build their bones, give them rest again to heal all tiny nagging issues. And then start them maybe once or twice as a 2 yo (if they are really ahead in development) or as a 3 year old. Another thing that could prevent breakdowns is a 0 drug policy. No racing during the winter. Longer warm ups. No dirt racing. Getting rid of claiming races etc etc Oh and don't let the horses stay in their stable for 23 hours/day.

Japan has the best racing model and most transparent. What would be useful is to compare their fatality numbers with the numbers of the US.

First and most important thing to improve racing: more transparency to see where things go wrong (vet records, how much of a break in training did a horse get etc). If the public has ALL the data including details it's much easier to weed out the people that don't have the horses best interest at heart. You would also need a nation wide rule set, government doesn't need to get involved. If people don't follow the rules, they get banned to race in the US again.

And you need all the data, Santa Anita is a high profile track. What about all the low level tracks around the country, where nobody bats an eye when another cheap claimer breaks down?

Btw: complete transparency also would help out the handicappers. It would be a win/win situation. Can tell you right now that every high level trainer would protest against that, because it would expose their training model, they would lose "the edge" etc etc
Tessablue
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:33 pm

There is literally no downside to research, education, and discussion, and there is no substitute for a group discussion in which people from various viewpoints contribute their knowledge and experience. If someone doesn't want to read about this darker side of the sport, they don't have to click on these threads. And honestly, how is this discussion upsetting or negative? I find it uplifting to read about our latest breakthroughs in safety research while discussing them in good faith with other people who desire improvement.

Back to the discussion, I think it's really interesting to hear about people's different experiences with racing and/or training at 2. From the reviews mentioned previously, it sounds like later age at debut is one of the most consistently observed injury-associated factors, even on different continents. Which is actually saying a lot, because there's a ton of contradicting information out there, likely due to differences in research techniques and the fact that each racetrack is its own ecosystem. So it has to mean something, but it's impossible to draw any causative conclusions without knowing more about the horses who are debuting later. Biomechanically, it makes sense that there needs to be some sort of early exercise to strengthen the developing bone. But how much is enough, and is there such thing as too much?

I'd love to see a comparitive study of sales vs. non-sales injury rates, but bisphosphonates really complicate that whole picture. Wonder if we could get a timeline on when those came into popular use.
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Kurenai
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:49 pm

I don't view those discussions and view points in a negative light! Not at all. I'm just convinced that racing won't change that much.

Regarding the 2 year olds:

Pretty easy explanation, again no numbers, just using my head based on the experiences I have working with horses. Others might have different experiences, I'm not saying I know it all, can just offer my 2 cents!

Usually, in the US, especially with those yearling sales you want to see a fast return on money. Soooo if there's a 2 year old that didn't race and didn't have workouts yet, that would raise red flags for me. If that horse is from a breeding to race farm though, no concern at all.

For the health of the horses it's better - as I wrote above - to exercise them at a young age. Those extra fast workouts at the sales are big "nono" for me, it's too much strain on the horses bones. The whole reason they train them so young is because it makes the bones "stronger". This is just explained with ordinary words now: Micro fractions happen, they heal and make the bone stronger. It's not like scar tissue on the skin that makes the skin weaker. You also have to build stamina with the babies. All that is great training, but you have - and that is mandatory - give them time enough to rest and to heal those little aches. And give them time to mature and grow up. That's not what usually happens though, because of the pressure of owners and trainers wanting to get a piece of the big money races. And who cares if a horse is able to race as a 5 or 6 year old, when the good ones are retired so early anyway?

In the "real world" out there, buyers want almost instant gratification with letting the horses they buy start. The earlier the better. After all you have to put them through some vigorous training to get them ready for the big 3 yo races. That's why the numbers are the way they are.
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Katewerk
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:12 pm

Curtis wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:33 pm
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.
I don't care about her enthusiasm.

I do care that blabbering utopians don't sign an industry up for patient-assisted death by setting goals that are impossible to meet. This is California, after all -- a state whose electric grid is rapidly becoming the western hemisphere's answer to North Korea.

If there's anything to be offended by, it's her pattern of throwing up straw man rebuttals and juvenile insults instead of addressing the statements that have actually been made.
Quoting is your friend, Tessablue.
Wish to challenge a statement? PROVIDE THE QUOTE.

It's that easy.

I'd chalk it up to intellectual dishonesty, but there other aspects of her writing (such as the inaccurate application of buzz words and phrases) that suggest the problem may be organic.
Somnambulist

Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:29 pm

Why is this even being allowed to continue? This is straight bullying at this point.
stark
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:56 pm

Somnambulist wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:29 pm
Why is this even being allowed to continue? This is straight bullying at this point.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
I've found it easier to tear up tickets at 8/1 instead of 8/5.
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Katewerk
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:58 pm

stark wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:56 pm
Somnambulist wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:29 pm
Why is this even being allowed to continue? This is straight bullying at this point.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
I did warn them.
stark
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:20 pm

Katewerk wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:58 pm
stark wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:56 pm
Somnambulist wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:29 pm
Why is this even being allowed to continue? This is straight bullying at this point.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
I did warn them.
The good news is that someday she'll outgrow using that as a defense.
I've found it easier to tear up tickets at 8/1 instead of 8/5.
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Kurenai
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:23 pm

Katewerk wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:12 pm
I don't care about her enthusiasm.

I do care that blabbering utopians don't sign an industry up for patient-assisted death by setting goals that are impossible to meet. This is California, after all -- a state whose electric grid is rapidly becoming the western hemisphere's answer to North Korea.
I found the "zero deaths" over the top too and responded to it accordingly, but it has been explained ad nauseam now, that's not what she actually meant.

It's a forum, we discuss things here. Naturally not everyone is agreeing, but what's the point into rehashing the same thing over and over again?
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Kurenai
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Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:38 pm

Also, no offense to anyone. It's a huge difference reading about one thing and experiencing it. I highly doubt Tessablue ever worked with racehorses. She doesn't have the practical knowledge that some others on this board have (see for example about having to race 2 year olds).

Horse racing isn't science and math, because horses are - like humans - individuals. Even if you have a billion rules and regulations in place, horses will die. This is the reality. I've experienced it first hand.

There is nothing wrong with using studies to gather additional information. The problem comes when you ONLY rely on studies. (I won't even get into how some of those studies are made and are completely unreliable and get false results.)

I already said what I think should be done to improve the welfare of horses in this sport. I also think it won't happen, because frankly the most of the big time trainers aren't interested in that, same for the owners. Plus there's too no national consensus.
katmandu
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Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:12 am

Kurenai wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:38 pm
. . . I highly doubt Tessablue ever worked with racehorses. She doesn't have the practical knowledge that some others on this board have (see for example about having to race 2 year olds). . . .

Horse racing isn't science and math, because horses are - like humans - individuals. Even if you have a billion rules and regulations in place, horses will die. This is the reality. I've experienced it first hand.

There is nothing wrong with using studies to gather additional information. The problem comes when you ONLY rely on studies. (I won't even get into how some of those studies are made and are completely unreliable and get false results.)
I'm not entirely sure about this, but I've only heard Tessablue talk about a family tradition of playing the ponies. . .

On the other hand, and with all due respect, what sort of experience do you have with biomedical/research studies?
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Sparrow Castle
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Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:02 am

Totally agree that this has crossed the line into bullying behavior! I'm shocked by who also is piling on...and yet said not a word about Katewerk's blanket trashing the connections of the majority of horses racing in this country, the claimers at less than first tier tracks.

Her words:
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.
So she's saying we're just nobodies that don't do bone scans when called for or crunch data almost constantly to improve the sport in our areas. I think I'm pretty safe in saying that's who really doesn't know what she's talking about.
Tessablue
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Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:43 am

Kurenai wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:38 pm
Also, no offense to anyone. It's a huge difference reading about one thing and experiencing it. I highly doubt Tessablue ever worked with racehorses. She doesn't have the practical knowledge that some others on this board have (see for example about having to race 2 year olds).

Horse racing isn't science and math, because horses are - like humans - individuals. Even if you have a billion rules and regulations in place, horses will die. This is the reality. I've experienced it first hand.

There is nothing wrong with using studies to gather additional information. The problem comes when you ONLY rely on studies. (I won't even get into how some of those studies are made and are completely unreliable and get false results.)

I already said what I think should be done to improve the welfare of horses in this sport. I also think it won't happen, because frankly the most of the big time trainers aren't interested in that, same for the owners. Plus there's too no national consensus.
Nope, haven't worked with them- horses yes, racehorses no (and yeah that betting gene goes back quite a few generations). I love learning from people who do work with racehorses, and I really enjoyed reading your perspective on 2yo training and the possible actions we can take to improve the sport. Luckily, I think most of the people performing this research are much closer to the game, and a lot of the work comes straight from veterinary journals. I certainly agree that we need a balance of voices to ensure that any proposed reforms are actually feasible- and as we've seen this year in particular, it isn't easy to reach a consensus among those voices.

Still, I want to point out a couple of other advantages of pursuing and supporting research. For one, it isn't just about observing trends - it also helps advance technology that could be used to detect injury risk more accurately (for example, the CT scan paper posted earlier). It seems a lot of injury risk occurs when a horse is recovering from a layoff and begins high-intensity training a little too soon. Imagine if we could put together a scanning and observational system wherein we can confidently stage a horse's recovery so that we avoid accidentally causing re-injury? I have no idea what the timing or practical application of this system would look like, but it should be hypothetically possible on the basis of what we know about injured bone combined with eventual technological advancement. And if there's one thing I can talk about firsthand in this thread (thanks to a hellish postdoc project), it's skeletal imaging technologies. They are advancing at an incredible rate, and I'm so excited to see how that affects racehorse imaging in the future.

Secondly, even when an answer seems obvious to people who actually work with racehorses, having the numbers to back it up helps codify this knowledge and educate the public while also providing support for people who have experienced it themselves. As an example, I have often seen people deride scientific studies that make conclusions like "dogs experience love towards their owners." Of course every dog person knows that their dog loves them- but "proving" it is still important because it can inform future policies in a concrete way. It's a lot easier to enact policies against cruelty to dogs when you can specifically rebut opponents by citing studies showing that they experience observably complex emotions.

To use an example from this industry, I want to go back to bisphosphonates. Over a year ago, articles started to come out about these drugs, and the general online response was alarmed but certain that nothing would happen in the short term. Well, we've seen conversation around bisphosphonates explode into prominence this year because of the Santa Anita tragedies. In fact, the LA Times wrote a (very fair!) article about bisphosphonates just yesterday, and here's what they had to say: https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/20 ... eeders-cup
“Commercial consigners will certainly do what’s best for a horse,” said Eric Hamelback, chief executive of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Assn. (HBPA) “If a medication helps in a certain situation, they will do it. But I don’t think anyone has done it nefariously.”

Hamelback compares the use of bisphosphonates to another class of drugs once accepted but now shunned.

“It reminds me of when people were using anabolic steroids,” Hamelback said. “There is a therapeutic use to it, but now you don’t see it used. It’s more of an education process that abolished anabolic steroids. … We’ve educated people and put it out there in the public that while anabolic steroids can be beneficial, it is more of a detriment, especially off-label.”

The RMTC board has approved language that will ban the use of bisphosphonates in horses younger than 4. It will be sent to the Assn. of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), which sets rules and standards for horse and greyhound racing. The CHRB has a similar proposal set for its December meeting that would ban bisphosphonate use for any horse that has been administered the drug in the last six months.
In other words, much like with steroids (and thyroxine) before them, people are willing to stop once they actually know it's harmful. Yes, there are going to be people who genuinely don't care and just want to find whatever cocktail makes their horses run faster. And it's frustrating that horses have to be put at risk in the first place for us to learn these lessons. But I'm tremendously encouraged by the idea that the general bent of the sport is moving towards progress, education, and safety. I would love to see a greater effort to make this sort of information available to horsemen, because it's not like it's easy to read or access pharmaceutical papers, and the vast majority of them involve other animal species. This is also why I think conversations like the one we're having now would be productive and beneficial even if this "low traffic" forum existed in a vaccuum- knowledge is good, and everyone wins when people gain more of it.

(also check out the reference to 2yo exercise in that article! Very cool, it feels like I'm seeing it talked about more and more often and it's really encouraging)

And just curious- do you have insight on inaccurate racing studies? I would be very surprised if bias, if that's what you're referring to, is a major issue in this field. There's not much money in it, there's no central entity that could tamper with funding or influence things (unlike the NFL), plus many major studies are conducted in other countries with different funding structures and even more distant conflicts of interest.

(finally, I didn't mean to make it sound like I was referring to you earlier, sorry about that! And I certainly don't want to sound like some omnipotent voice here- posters like katmandu know way more about the equine medical side of things. It's just really exciting to be able to combine my own expertise in regeneration and developmental mechanics with the sport that I love, and getting to discuss it with other people who have different areas of expertise is honestly a joy. As is the thought that our sport can improve if we manage to get organized and work together.)
Somnambulist wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:29 pm
Why is this even being allowed to continue? This is straight bullying at this point.
Yeah probably... but in this situation I'm cool with letting people show everyone who they are.
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Kurenai
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Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:23 am

katmandu wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:12 am
On the other hand, and with all due respect, what sort of experience do you have with biomedical/research studies?
I have experience with research studies (how to conduct them etc), but in another field. The problem I find with most studies is that it's a small sample size to begin with. Then - so very often - other studies blindly copy the results of one study or results they found in a research paper and use those numbers as corner stones in their own study.

Btw if that came across the wrong way: I did not mean to belittle her. Just pointing out that the reality differs often from those studies. And to improve things one should always consider both sides of the coin, so to speak. It's not as black and white as the numbers sometimes make it out to be, cause horses are - like humans - individuals.
stark
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Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:26 am

This is good


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I've found it easier to tear up tickets at 8/1 instead of 8/5.
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