Letter To The Editor: Casse On Role Of Regulatory Veterinarian – Most Thankless And Important Job On The Track - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Letter To The Editor: Casse On Role Of Regulatory Veterinarian – Most Thankless And Important Job On The Track

Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse

To The Editor:

Regulatory veterinarians who check horses for soundness before a race have the most thankless job on the track, and maybe the most important one.

That's why I feel it's necessary to respond to the Carlos Vaccarezza letter to the editor concerning the vet scratch of his unraced filly, Royal Blood, from a Feb. 18 maiden race at Gulfstream Park. I'm not condemning Carlo in any way and hope that his filly makes it to the races and is successful.

How would you like to wake up every morning and know that decisions you have to make 40 or 50 times a day – in a minute or two and without a whole lot of data – can cost a horse its life and endanger its rider if you don't get it right. How many horses' lives and possibly the lives or health of jockeys have been saved by this procedure?

Are they always going to be 100 percent right? Probably not. But consider what they are dealing with and what they are trying to accomplish. Imagine what it's like to go to a trainer and tell them you're going to scratch his or her horse. And keep in mind how difficult filling these positions has become. It's a real struggle.

I average around 1,400 starts a year and probably 10 times a year we might have a vet scratch. Over the years, I would say 95 percent of those horses that were scratched we ended up having to give them time off after taking a closer look. They weren't perfect and benefited from the additional time.

The vets at Gulfstream Park scratched one of my horses out of a $1-million race on Pegasus World Cup day. I didn't agree with them 100 percent, but I saw where they were coming from and appreciated their concerns. It was fair.

Normally, if you question their decision, they'll bring in another vet for a second opinion and sometimes a third one. In our case on Pegasus day, they allowed our vet to be there during the inspection. I knew the horse quite well and it was not a new issue they were seeing, but I understood it was not worth the risk. The regulatory vets in South Florida have been nothing but professional in my experience.

I've looked at horses at 6:30 in the morning that were sound, but that same horse might not look so good at nine o'clock during a pre-race inspection. There are so many moving parts and things can change quickly.

California racing was ready to fall into the Pacific Ocean after the 2019 crisis of racing fatalities. The Stronach Group and California regulators significantly tightened pre-race and pre-training procedures, and because of those changes they are much stronger today. Not perfect – nothing is – but much improved.

These are horses' lives, these are people's lives, and this is our sport's life at stake. Safety of the horses and riders is the most important issue we face.

— Mark Casse

Ocala, Florida

If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, please send it to info @ paulickreport.com along with your name, home state, and relationship to horse racing (owner, fan, horseplayer, etc). We will request consent before publication. 

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