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Horse Racing "Claims" Races


This is from an August 2006 Washington Post article by the guy who popularized relying on "speed numbers", Andrew Beyer:

The very nature of claiming races almost guarantees that horses with physical problems won't get proper care. Trainers with large-scale claiming operations dominate almost every major track, Del Mar included. The harsh economics of the business dictate the way they manage their horses. When an animal develops physical problems, the trainer is more likely to give him a shot of cortisone as a short-term fix than to give him a rest. When the problems get worse, the trainer will continue to race the horse and drop him in class, hoping that somebody else will claim him and inherit the problems.

In many cases it is disingenuous for trainers to blame a racing surface for catastrophic injuries when they themselves are part of the problem. After the breakdowns at Arlington Park became a subject of controversy, ****trainer Christine Janks wrote a column for the Blood-Horse magazine and declared: "There is no mystery to me why we are having these breakdowns. . . . Trainers are responsible for the health of these horses . . . and not all trainers put the welfare of the horse first."

The business plan of many trainers, Janks wrote, is this: "Get one more race out of them, drop them down [in claiming price] and get them claimed. If they break down, fill the stall the next day with another young face."

(Christine Janks was a past trainer of Stormy Do and treated the horse well, before breakdown trainer Scott Lake claimed him for his big stable.)

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