During the 2017/18 meet there were 7,452 starts and 23 thoroughbred racing related equine fatalities. During the 2018/19 meet there were 7,050 starts and 14 thoroughbred fatalities. That’s 1.99 per one thousand starts which is dramatically down from 3.09 per thousand starts in 2017/18. The national average is 1.68.
The sharp decline followed the implementation of a series of protocols including pre-race veterinarian inspection of all horses on every live race day. Those exams began in February and continued through the end of the season.
In the 2017/18 race meet there were there were 5 fatalities in February, 7 in March and 2 in April. For the 2018/19 meet there was 1 fatality in February, zero in March and 1 in April.
Other measures taken include:
- Trainer review of necropsy report following a fatality.
- Track veterinarian review of horses while in the paddock, during warm-ups, gate loading and post-race exams.
- Twice monthly testing of sand to dirt ratio balance on the main track.
Turf Paradise General Manager Vincent Francia said, “The protocols we initiated this season were a collaborative effort of Turf, the Arizona Division of Racing and the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (AzHBPA). We are encouraged by the results, to have reduced fatalities by almost 40%. However, the goal is zero fatalities. The Committee is reviewing additional protocols.”
Turf Paradise opened its doors in in 1956 and has been at 19th Ave. and Bell Road ever since making it Arizona’s first sports franchise.