LAUREL, Md. —
Two horses have died within a week while racing at Laurel Park. This brings the horse death total on Maryland tracks to around 14 this year.
Bo Vuk, a six-year-old gelding, suffered a 'catastrophic injury' during a Thanksgiving Day race, the Baltimore Sun reports. The horse was euthanized.
Bo Vuk is around the fourteenth horse to die on a Maryland race track this year. Bo Vuk's death comes a week after Aikenetta, a five-year-old mare, died at Laurel Park. The sport continues to fight concerns over equine health.
Animal welfare groups are now lobbying Congress to pass the Horseracing Integrity Act, which would create a guide of standards for how racehorses are treated across the nation. Maryland's Chris Van Hollen is one of 10 U.S. Senators who sponsored the legislation.
Additionally, it has over 200 sponsors in the House of Representatives, including some members from Maryland.
Marty Irby, the executive director of Animal Wellness Action, said consistent deaths in American horseracing is inexcusable.
"There's no excuse for the continued deaths in American horseracing," Irby said in a statement. "Our modern-day society will no longer tolerate the death of these iconic American equines for entertainment – this isn’t Ancient Rome, it’s 2019. The Stronach Group that owns Laurel Park supports the Horseracing Integrity Act that would prevent many deaths, and we applaud them, but they should also implement reforms to end doping and whipping at both Laurel Park and Pimlico."
"American horseracing is very rapidly shifting from being known as a sport, to being known as animal cruelty in the public eye," Irby said.
The Maryland Jockey club provided a statement, stating it's committed to the safety of its horses.
"The Stronach Group, owner of the Maryland Jockey Club, is committed to implementing standards consistent with, or better than, those of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities at all of our facilities," the club said in a statement. "We appreciate that each jurisdiction in which we operate is uniquely governed but our goal is to work with our industry partners in each of those jurisdictions to bring about critical reforms and improved horse and rider safety standards. We will accept nothing less."
Back in February, the owners of both the Pimlico and Laurel race tracks spent nearly 90% of the $22.5 million in state money they received to support Maryland racing on improvements at Laurel, as The Preakness Stakes were in jeopardy of being moved from Baltimore to Laurel.