US Equine Fatality Strategy

US Equine Fatality Strategy

                                                   by Bernard Kenny

In a determined bid to reduce equine fatalities the Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association have engaged former New York Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association executive director Dr Andy Belfiore as Project Manager for the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities.

Dr Belfiore will coordinate and implement the Plan in collecting the information necessary for scientific and evidence-based decision making, and communicating progress and implementation to the Thoroughbred industry, legislators and the public.

Dr Scott Palmer, the NYS Equine Medical Director stated “over the past six years the Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, and the NY Racing Risk Management Program, has reduced equine fatalities and thereby enhance the welfare of the horse.”

“The Mid Atlantic Strategic Plan is to ensure the development and implementation of safety protocols throughout the region that comprises the largest daily concentration of racing and handle in the United States.”

“Andy Belfiore is an outstanding choice to oversee this effort.  Her background, training and expertise will help to ensure adoption of best safety practices throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and the United States. I look forward to working with her.”

The Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities was the product of a collaboration of the region’s racetrack operators, horsemen’s organizations, breeders’ organizations, racing commissions and regulatory and racetrack veterinarians.

Many phases of the plan stem from the 2012 New York Task Force Report on Race Horse Health and Safety and others since that time, the incidence of equine racing fatalities in the Mid-Atlantic region has declined by 29%.

In New York alone, the incidence of equine racing fatalities in 2018 was 1.29 per 1,000 starts, the lowest fatality rate in the state in decades and well below the national average of 1.68 per 1,000 starts.

The Plan incorporates five key goals, including the establishment of regional safety best practices, improved methods to identify horses at increased risk of injury, the implementation of protective factors to reduce the risk of injury, information sharing and communication, and improvement of the general health and welfare of the horse.

“We have evidence that our strategies in the Mid-Atlantic are working and that we are the industry leader on safety, welfare and integrity,” added Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Chairman Alan Foreman. “The Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan is the most important for our industry and our horses.”

A native of Massachusetts, Dr Belfiore began her career in racing on the backstretch at Belmont Park, working as a hotwalker, groom, exercise rider and assistant trainer. After 10 years she spent five years in communications and marketing at NY Racing Association.

On leaving the NYRA in 1993 to be editor-in-chief at the Thoroughbred Daily News for 18 years, Dr Belfiore became Director of Communications for NYTHA in 2011, going on to become Executive Director in 2015.

“I am excited to be a part of this incredibly important initiative,” said Dr Belfiore who is Executive Director of the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program Inc and co-Chair of the Backstretch Employee Service Team. “It will raise the bar ever higher on our commitment to our horses.”

“Most of us got into racing because we love the horses, first and foremost,” said Dr Balfour “and you see it every day in the passion and dedication of our people on the backstretch and frontside. The Plan will raise the bar ever higher on our commitment to our horses.”