Drug rules urged to prevent NY horse deaths

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- A task force investigating a spike in thoroughbred deaths at New York's Aqueduct track last winter is calling for tighter rules and better regulation of drug use, particularly ones that can mask injuries.

Industry experts who reviewed the deaths of 21 horses at Aqueduct over nearly four months say increased purses in claiming races also helped push substandard horses onto the track. The number of deaths is roughly double the usual.

The report comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to sign a law giving him temporary majority control of the New York Racing Association board.

Cuomo has criticized the management and wants significant changes, including an overhaul of veterinary practices, as the task force recommends.

The association has held the franchise to operate the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga tracks since 1955.