Entries were drawn yesterday for the $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes at a mile over the Canterbury Park turf course in Shakopee, MN. The Morning Line favorite is a mare named Hooh Why. Hooh Why is a 7-year old mare by Cloud Hopping and owns a lifetime line of 54 starts, 12 wins, 14 seconds and 9 thirds and earnings of $1,244,809 while picking up a couple of graded stakes along the way. She’s also in foal to Lesroisdesanimaux (he of Animal Kingdom fame), about 5 months along.
The outcry this has caused via social media and rippling through the online community is somewhat understandable. I haven’t checked with a vet, but I would not think of racing my pregnant mare (and yes, I do have one). That said I have heard varying opinions on whether or not this practice is safe. I’ve mostly heard that the first 3 months are safe, but that’s all hearsay so I don’t know for sure. Others have stated that other working horses do their jobs well into the 10th month and that it is perfectly safe – again, hearsay, I don’t know either way.
What has surprised me is the amount of vitriol directed at Canterbury Park. From the research I have done, I don’t see any regulation guiding the racing of pregnant mares – allowing, prohibiting or otherwise. If it’s not prohibited by the rules of racing, what is the track supposed to do?
If they go ahead and prohibit the mare from running with no legal grounds, I’m pretty sure any judge would issue a restraining order without hesitation. That type of action would then open the track up to a lawsuit. The track publically issued this statement in response to questions on their Facebook page:
“Thank you for your comment on Hooh Why. The safety of every horse that races at Canterbury Park is always a priority for us. Every horse that races undergoes a race-day exam by a veterinarian from the Minnesota Racing Commission. After consulting with the state veterinarian, pregnancy is not considered an illness nor an unsoundness – rather a physical condition that is not unique. Hooh Why will be examined on Saturday morning by a state veterinarian to determine if she is able to safely run. Canterbury Park does not have the authority to deny an owner the opportunity to race a horse, as that sets up the potential to undermine the integrity of horse racing. Thank you again for sharing your concerns with us, as we take the safety of our horses very seriously.”
Most of the responses to that have been understanding, but a few “whatevers” where thrown out there by probably frustrated people misplacing their anger toward the racetrack. The track has deferred to vets and the state rules – all that it can do. And if the rules don’t prohibit it and the vets allow it, what exactly the track supposed to do? It’s letting the experts make the decision, as it should be.If people want to spew against the owners, that’s one thing – they retired then unretired and entered the horse (again, it could be perfectly safe – no judgment from me, but THEY are the decision makers, not the track). If they want to spew against the regulation, that’s another thing – they make the rules govern the racing, not the race track, they just have to follow them. But the outcry that the track isn’t doing enough when it is doing all they can do without running afoul of state regulations and the law, is misguided at best and ignorant at worst.