Indyanne, Helping Us Take a Longer View

A couple of comments and a post have jarred me back in to the land of wanting to blog about an “issue”. In a comment and then a a post, Joe of Michigan-Bred Claimer rightly questioned, without accusing, the connections of Go Between’s decision not to do an autopsy. He points out that by not getting questions answers about the cause of the death, it leaves room for people to draw their own conclusions. Not really something racing needs any more of.

GbG pal, commenter and photographer Jason expressed outrage over Indyanne’s death in relation to synthetics being touted as the safer surface.

Just a quick caveat before I get started, I try very hard not to be an “either/or” person…. bloggers vs. journalists, fans vs. players, synthetic vs. dirt. These issues are too complex to be boiled down to the kind of name calling or sweeping pronouncements we frequently see in posts and comments as of late. With that in mind, please don’t read this as straight up synthetics bashing.

That being said, I caught myself wondering if Indyanne should become the poster-filly for NOT rushing to synthetic surfaces? It’s the understatement of the decade to say that Eight Belles has become synonymous with racing’s need to clean up it’s safety act and many good things have come out it. Why shouldn’t some good come out of the death of Indyanne?

During my all too brief daily lunchtime twirl around the internet, I happened upon a post entitled “Catastrophic Racetrack Injuries and Breakdowns: The Dog That Did Not Bark” on site called Horse Racing Business by way of Paulick. The post talks about looking at ALL the factors that could possibly be contributing to breakdowns, not just the low hanging fruit.

The author provides some examples of factors not seriously being considered such as weather, field size, temperature, precipitation and distance to name a few.

These kinds of queries are suggestive of potentially fruitful lines of inquiry. They can be quantified and subjected to statistical analysis to search for answers upon which solutions can be based. My guess is that no one variable by itself comes close to accounting for breakdowns, but rather, synergy is involved.

The current approach of addressing safety issues seems somewhat similar to how medicine is practiced, looking at isolated factors without stepping back to determine how they effect one another. Addressing only the surface or steroid use or shoe type doesn’t seem too far off from “take a pill”. And what happens when the quick fix starts to show signs that indeed it’s just that?

If it were up to me, when we think of the loss of Indyanne we would think of the need for data, transparency and cooperation to solve our problems, not reacting quickly so it looks like we’re doing something. Granted, we all want action and results, but we should also be patient enough to have the work done that would yield real lasting results.