(NewsNation) — Some spectators are pushing for new horse industry regulations amid seven horses dying prior to the start of the Kentucky Derby.
However, Joe Bianca, a former editor for Thoroughbred Daily News and expert on the matter, said the industry continues to make progress in terms of race track safety and questions alternative death reports.
“It’s just hard because the reports take some time to come back. Some things could be muscular-skeletal. … It could be in the horses blood stream. You just don’t know, and this is just kind of a freak-thing that they all clustered right before the derby,” Bianca said Saturday during an appearance on “NewsNation Prime.”
Seven horses died before the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, and early favorite Forte was scratched with an injury.
The horse deaths included Derby contender Wild On Ice. Two of the horses were trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. He was indefinitely suspended by the track, although investigators have yet to determine a cause for the deaths of his horses.
Bianca recalled the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2019 in Santa Anita when the death toll of horses reached new highs prior to racing.
Over 30 horse deaths occurred at California’s Santa Anita racetrack, rattling the industry and leading to safety reforms. Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Rick Dutrow had his license revoked in 2011 for 10 years by New York officials. Regulators found syringes loaded with unauthorized medication in a desk in his barn. Dutrow re-opened his stable last month.
“Since then, racing has done a lot, and the industry has done a lot to bring down the fatality rate. In terms of horses racing. It’s unfortunate when these things happen next to these big racing days,” Bianca said. “I think a process. We’re always striving to do better in terms of medication, in terms of race track safety. There’s been a lot of progress made.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.