New York Set to Enact New Claiming Rule

Change would void claiming sales of horses that die on-track after a race.

In response to recent equine deaths at Aqueduct Racetrack, regulators in New York are poised to adopt a rule voiding claiming race sales of horses that die during a claiming event or are euthanized on-track after a race.

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board will be holding an emergency meeting April 2 to consider, and almost certainly, adopt the new, 22-word addition to the state’s racing regulations.

The rule change simply notes that “a claim shall be void for any horse that dies during a race or is euthanized on the track following a race.’’

The rule would affect all Thoroughbred tracks in New York.

Investigators have been examining a whole host of possible factors for the 21 equine deaths during the winter meet at Aqueduct, including track conditions, trainers, jockeys, and medical condition of the horses. Whether there are any connections between claiming races and the deaths has also been a growing source of review by state regulators.

“This change is in response to an increase in fatalities at Aqueduct,’’ said a source at the racing board who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official noted that the review by the board of the equine deaths is ongoing and that more rule changes affecting the industry could be on the way.

Racing Board Chairman John Sabini earlier this week said his agency is actively involved with a panel appointed to look into the deaths of the horses at Aqueduct between Nov. 30 and March 18. The panel’s members included retired jockey Jerry Bailey; Alan Foreman, who is the chairman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; Dr. Scott Palmer, the hospital director and staff surgeon at the New Jersey Equine Clinic and past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners; and, Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission

The racing agency declined comment on the new rule proposal until the racing board's meeting next week. Officials said a precise explanation for the connection between the claiming races and the equine deaths will be discussed at the board meeting.