In its most recently released rulings, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has cited the following harness drivers:

Norman Robbins, “Indiscriminate Use of Whip” – $50 fine, 5-day suspension
Chris Page, “Indiscriminate Use of Whip” – $500 fine, no suspension
Daniel Noble, “Kicking a Horse” – $50 fine, no suspension
Christopher Loney, “Kicking a Horse” (multiple offences) – $100 fine, no suspension
Tyler Shehan, “Kicking a Horse” – $50 fine, no suspension
Chris Page (same one from above?), “Kicking a Horse” – $50 fine, no suspension

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Wrist-slaps for whipping and kicking the athletes. This is horseracing.

The CHRB has confirmed that 5-year-old Fly to Freedom was euthanized after fracturing a pair of sesamoids Friday at Santa Anita (race 3). The Peter Miller-trained mare was being raced for the second time in two weeks. But apparently, hands – Miller’s, the Barbers’, the track’s, the industry’s – are clean, for Equibase says Fly to Freedom “broke down on her own.” This is horseracing.

If you were to call what’s happening to a 7-year-old gelding named Mom Proof abusive and cruel, you would, of course, be right: With 72 starts through April of this year, Mom Proof has been under the whip 13 more times since (a 21-week period). But this is not just another (business as usual) claimer-being-beaten-into-the-ground story. No, what makes Mom Proof’s tragic tale particularly obscene is this “For Sale” notice on “Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds”:

“This very good looking big guy is like a pet to his trainer, who loves him dearly and wants to find him a great new home since he is no longer competitive in racing. Extolling his virtues, his trainer says he is sound and durable, has a good attitude about everything, is a very good boy who is great to handle, and a very friendly horse who likes to bond with people, and loves his peppermint treats (which we can certainly attest to!).

We saw Mom Proof less than 48 hours after he had raced, and he seemed none the worse for wear, and jogged nicely, with a good reach to his trot. His trainer says he gets a small fluid pocket on his knee for a couple of days after a race (which we felt), and then he is fine. He has never missed a start and has never had any lay ups from any injuries or problems throughout his long racing career of 84 starts. With this kind of durability, Mom Proof [below] obviously has a good mind and good balance, and should transition well to many new disciplines. Another gem of a war horse who so richly deserves a great new home!” Price: $500 very good home essential, Contact: George Beech 585-490-6068

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After Mr. Beech declared his “pet” “no longer competitive,” he put him at grave risk again – just yesterday at Finger Lakes. (His virtuous horse whom he loves so dearly finished second-to-last, almost 15 lengths back.) For context on “no longer competitive,” I give you Mom Proof’s 12 previous 2014 starts – all at vile Finger Lakes (26 kills since April) – all under George Beech (who doubles as owner):

May 27th, last of 6
June 3rd, 6th of 7
June 13th, last of 6 (24 lengths back)
June 24th, last of 10 (18 1/4 lengths back)
July 1st, last of 8 (19 1/4 lengths back)
July 15th, last of 8 (21 1/2 lengths back)
August 23rd, 6th of 8
August 30th, last of 8
September 5th, 7th of 9
September 16th, 6th of 8
September 29th, 9th of 10
October 9th, 5th of 6

There is ugly, then there is Ugly.

Virtually without exception, “broke down” is racing-speak for dead; “vanned off” translates to a better-than-even chance of dead.

Broke Down:
Giant Hearted Lee, Oct 13, Belmont 5
Cactus City Road, Oct 13, Laurel 2
Put It Back Martha, Oct 15, Charles Town 3
Sheza Freak, Oct 17, Delta 7 (reported “euthanized”)
Fly to Freedom, Oct 17, Santa Anita 3
Dreamo, Oct 18, Penn 9 (reported “euthanized”)

Vanned Off:
Nena’s Forever, Oct 13, Gulfstream W 1
Platitude, Oct 14, Indiana 8 (later confirmed dead)
Masaru, Oct 14, Indiana 8 (later confirmed dead)
Montezuma Express, Oct 14, Indiana 8
Jonny Boy Conn, Oct 14, Parx 10
Eightnchangegroom, Oct 14, Zia 9
Strictly Business, Oct 14, Zia 10
Lakota Road, Oct 14, Zia 12
Fulton Street, Oct 15, Delaware 3
Lewis City, Oct 15, Hawthorne 1
Gutshot Straight, Oct 16, Golden Gate 7
Stash the Cat, Oct 16, Gulfstream W 1
Free Range Man, Oct 16, Gulfstream W 6
Flat in Charge, Oct 16, Gulfstream W 7
Wave of the Wand, Oct 16, Hawthorne 8
Wisdom of Oz, Oct 17, Belmont 5
Downright Joyous, Oct 17, Penn 9
Samba Pa Ti, Oct 18, Albuquerque 4
Irish Donnie, Oct 18, Delaware 3
Jennakins, Oct 18, Golden Gate 5
Exuberant Song, Oct 18, Gulfstream W 1
Tohaveandtohold, Oct 18, Gulfstream W 2
Lemon Point, Oct 18, Gulfstream W 7
Easy Cash Fenimore, Oct 18, Lone Star 5
Fuzzy Dice, Oct 18, Parx 9
Airogant, Oct 18, Zia 1
Locks of Gold, Oct 19, Belterra 3
Tamarack Smarty, Oct 19, Turf 5
Royal Quick Shine, Oct 19, Will Rogers 1
Just Leaveitalone, Oct 19, Will Rogers 2

Other:
Filantropo, Oct 13, Gulfstream W 8, “stumbled badly,” DNF
Street Law, Oct 16, Hawthorne 6, fell, DNF
Jade Master, Oct 18, Finger Lakes 7, “appeared in distress,” DNF
Midnight Geno, Oct 18, Penn 9, fell, DNF

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What happens when the corporate welfare you’ve been receiving for some 20 years is no longer enough? We may be finding out in West Virginia where that state’s two Thoroughbred tracks, citing a lack of adequate purse money, are dropping end-of-year race-dates – 21 combined between Mountaineer and Charles Town. In a rich explanation relayed by Blood-Horse, officials say the insufficient purse money is a result of “legislative grabs” of the tracks’ Video Lottery Terminal revenue.

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Just to be clear, VLT revenue that’s funneled into purses is a subsidy from the state; subsidies, by definition, are gifts. So if the state is grabbing, it’s only grabbing back what should never have been the horse people’s in the first place. Here’s hoping that West Virginia continues to grab until Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races drop the racing parts of their names.