Drug Rules Urged to Prevent NY Horse Deaths

A task force investigating a spike in thoroughbred deaths at the Aqueduct track last winter is calling for tighter rules and better regulation of drug use, particularly corticosteroids that can mask injuries.

Four industry experts who reviewed the deaths of 21 horses at Aqueduct over nearly four months, roughly double a more common rate, say increased purses in claiming races also helped push substandard horses onto the track.

The report comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to sign a law giving him temporary majority control of the New York Racing Association board.

Cuomo has criticized NYRA's management and wants significant changes, including an overhaul of veterinary practices, as the task force recommends.

NYRA has held the franchise to operate the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga tracks since 1955.