Kentucky Necropsy Program Disproves ‘Bad Step’ Myth

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission necropsy program is continuing to provide evidence that many racehorses that suffer catastrophic injuries often have pre-existing conditions that lead to breakdowns.
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The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) necropsy program is continuing to provide evidence that many racehorses that suffer catastrophic injuries often have pre-existing conditions that lead to breakdowns.

An Oct. 20 symposium on "Racetrack Injury Prevention," held at the University of Kentucky (UK) Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, in Lexington, as part of the college's Department of Veterinary Science seminar series shed more light on the subject. The KHRC necropsy program was launched in 2009 and is overseen by KHRC equine medical director Mary Scollay-Ward, DVM.

During the Welfare of the Racehorse Summit held earlier this year in Lexington, Scollay addressed what she called the myth of the "bad step" in regard to the breakdown of horses in racing and training. At the Oct. 20 symposium, Laura Kennedy, DVM, Dipl. ACVP, assistant professor at the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the individual who performs necropsies, provided research that supports that contention.

"It happens," Kennedy said of healthy horses taking bad steps on the track and suffering catastrophic injuries. "But in the vast majority of cases it's just not true. Does it exist at all? Probably, but it's usually a culmination of all the damage (sustained) up to that point

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Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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