NEW ORLEANS (AP) —
Four thoroughbred racehorses were euthanized after competing at a New Orleans track in a 10 -day span, prompting criticism from an animal advocacy group based in Washington D.C.
Officials at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course didn’t specify the circumstances surrounding the euthanasia but said the tracks equine medical director was investigating each individual case, news outlets reported.
The deaths started on Jan. 9 with “J Rob”, a 3-year-old colt that had just won a $15,000 maiden claiming race. Two days later “Big Shanty” was killed after pulling up lame, a dysfunction in the locomotor system which is a common problem in sport horses. “Jim’s Silverbullet” was killed on the Jan. 16 and “Take Charge Cece” a day later.
Fair Grounds Director of Marketing Trent Dang called the deaths “unfortunate and most unusual.”
Advocacy group Animal Wellness Action said the number of deaths in such a short time frame is why the group supports a bill that would regulate widespread “doping” in the horse racing industry.
The group has been pressing for passage of a reform bill that would set national standards for drugging racehorses and place oversight with an independent body under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said the bill has more than 200 co-sponsors in the House, but none from Louisiana.
Dang calls the legislation “controversial” and said it lacks consensus on funding and mechanics. But Dang also said the concept of the law is “seeking fairness of competition through medication reform” which the company supports.
Irby called Louisiana a “stumbling block for reform,” citing “obstructionists” who don’t support the proposed law.
“American horseracing is addicted to drugs, and it’s time for an intervention,” Irby said in a statement. “Our modern-day society will no longer tolerate the deaths of these iconic American equines for entertainment — this isn’t ancient Rome, it’s 2020.”