Necropsies Ordered in Aqueduct Horse Deaths

Action by New York State Racing and Wagering Board came after fourth fatality.

Following the fourth catastrophic injury at Aqueduct Racetrack since the current meet began Dec. 12, the New York State Racing Board has ordered necropsies in the future for all horses that are fatally injured while racing over the inner dirt track.

Additionally, the regulatory body has ordered necropsies for two horses that have died at Aqueduct, including Pleasantfriday, who broke down during a race Jan. 10. The other horse for which a necropsy was ordered was Gultopper, who broke down in a race at Aqueduct Dec. 6.

A 5-year-old mare trained by Linda Rice, Pleasantfriday had won seven of 19 career starts. Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, the mare broke down in the stretch run of the fifth race Jan. 10 and was euthanized due to injuries to her right foreleg. Velasquez, who was thrown to the track, was uninjured.

Gultopper, a 2-year-old colt trained by James Jerkens, had a second and a third to his credit in five career starts. Previous to his Dec. 6 race, Gultopper was pulled up and eased in a maiden special weight race at Aqueduct Nov. 14.

"Necropsies for two horses that have died at AqueductPleasantfriday and Gultopperwere ordered by the board because circumstances of those incidents raised red flags with investigators and required more information," SRWB spokesman Lee Park said. "Going forward, the board is ordering necropsies for all horses that are fatally injured while racing on the inner track at Aqueduct.

"The Racing and Wagering Board continues to closely monitor and investigate the circumstances of every breakdown at Aqueduct," Park's statement said. "Comprehensive investigative reports for the four equine fatalities from the inner track meet are being completed by board staff."

Necropsies (which are autopsies performed on deceased horses and other animals) on all horses that suffer fatal injuries were among the recommendations of the Task Force on Racehorse Health & Safety appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"The Racing and Wagering Board and the forthcoming Gaming Commission will continue to work with NYRA (New York Racing Association) to establish a consistent procedure for the logistics of necropsies as recommended by the Task Force on Racehorse Health & Safety," Park said. "Additionally, the board has already revamped its investigative reporting procedures and blood sample withdrawal procedures in accordance with the Task Force's recommendations."