I remember about the same thing, but I think I also remember something
about one of the major factors that caused the horse's deaths was that
ride management "promised" there would be plenty of water along the
trail---although, in reality, he had no idea of what "plenty" meant. I
heard (and I may be wrong) that there was a single small trough of water
about halfway along that was promptly used up by the front runners.
Along come the next wave and no water ANYWHERE. It was as far to turn
back as go on and apparently in the hopes of there being more water
soon, horses kept going, and died, as no more water ever appeared.
I can't even remember the source of where I heard this, so I may be
totally wrong in this. If the race was only 20 miles or so (and isn't
it amazing how distance becomes a relative thing when your horse
is unfit and there's no water), I have a hard time seeing horses dying
ONLY of dehydration if they weren't otherwise being over-ridden, so
obviously there were other factors involved, like as Linda put in her
post, unfit horses were yanked out of pasture to go race.
In any case, not to get the whole prize money issue started up again,
but I agree with Diana that AERC needs to remain the ACTIVE governing
body, not just a spectator.
Just my two cents, of course...