Patrick J Battuello

Archive for 2014|Yearly archive page

NYRA Can’t Stop the Killing

In Dead Athletes, Horseracing Business on September 1, 2014 at 10:43 am

Forced – by media reports – to respond to 12 dead horses in Saratoga, NYRA issued the following statement Friday:

“Although New York State has made significant progress in reducing injuries and preventing the inappropriate use of medication in racehorses, the job of equine safety is never done. There will be challenges along the way. We are experiencing such a challenge during the 2014 Saratoga meet. A thorough investigation of all of the racing fatalities…is being conducted.

We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to identify the causes of death in all racing fatalities in New York. As stewards of the racehorse, we have a duty to do all that we can to honor and protect these incredible athletes.”

When it gets hot – post Barbaro/Eight Belles, Aqueduct ’11-’12, Saratoga/Del Mar ’14 – the industry talks of amping up its commitment to the “incredible athletes” – improved track surfaces, more stringent drug policies, lower purse-to-claim ratios, “safety stewards.” Yet even when “reforms” are implemented, the killing continues, virtually unabated. It continues because it’s built into the system.

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Racehorses are legally and morally regarded as pieces of movable property, things to be exploited. Property by definition has no serious interests to respect; exploitation by definition seeks to maximize the exploiters’ gain. So, they intensively train and race bred-for-speed horses on immature bodies. This will not change. So, they trade equines like pork belly futures, shuffling them from barn to barn, vet to vet, treatment philosophy to treatment philosophy. This will not change.

So, except for a reproductive-worthy few, they do not retire at the first sign of trouble, trouble that is patent to any experienced horseman. This will not change. So, they send the vast majority of the has-beens or never-were to the claiming game, which not only serves as the backbone (70%) of American racing, but is also where most of the dying occurs. This will not change. Racing, by its very nature, kills horses. And they know it.

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Breaks, Blood, Death – 8/25/14-8/31/14

In Casualties on September 1, 2014 at 6:08 am

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

Broke Down:
Be a Pro, Aug 25, Presque Isle 3
Makari, Aug 25, Saratoga 1 (reported “fell fatally”)
Run for Papa, Aug 26, Fairmount 1
Manda Moo, Aug 26, Parx 8 (reported “humanely euthanized”)
Posh Acres, Aug 28, Charles Town 1
My Kinda Girl, Aug 30, Charles Town 4
Kitagal, Aug 30, Louisiana 3, (reported “euthanized”)
Paper Tigress, Aug 30, Parx 8
Nacho Preacher, Aug 31, Golden Gate 5
Runaway Bridle, Aug 31, Thistledown 4

Vanned Off:
Bert B Don, Aug 25, Delaware 6
Pink Rubans, Aug 25, Mountaineer 2
Queen But a King, Aug 25, Ruidoso 5
Freya, Aug 26, Mountaineer 4
Ellenberger Park, Aug 26, Mountaineer 7
Sahha, Aug 27, Del Mar 2
Never On Time, Aug 27, Presque Isle 4
Divine Guidance, Aug 27, Saratoga 5 (subsequently confirmed dead)
Seeking a Sunrise, Aug 27, Thistledown 7
Classic Charm, Aug 28, Canterbury 4
Throwsomelimeonit, Aug 29, Evangeline 2
Unbridled Blossom, Aug 29, Indiana 4
Captain Styles, Aug 29, Indiana 7
Bendanie, Aug 29, Louisiana 4
Racin Thru Fire, Aug 29, Prairie 6
Mongoose Game, Aug 29, Ruidoso 4
Una Parche, Aug 30, Albuquerque 4
Rob and Jon’s Girl, Aug 30, Belterra 5
Footstepsinbronze, Aug 30, Del Mar 4
Many Routes, Aug 30, Golden Gate 9
Semester Abroad, Aug 30, Monmouth 10
Washington’s Rules, Aug 30, Suffolk 6 (subsequently confirmed dead)
Oddity, Aug 31, Belterra 5
Hello Frankie, Aug 31, Del Mar 6
Dardanian, Aug 31, Gulfstream 2
Big Father, Aug 31, Gulfstream 7
Smooth Tour, Aug 31, Gulfstream 10
Miss Ecton Stuff, Aug 31, Louisiana 8
Strong Humor, Aug 31, Monmouth 1
Cross Village, Aug 31, Mountaineer 8
Revealing Moment, Aug 31, Saratoga 1
Buddy’s Tiz, Aug 31, Saratoga 8

Other Casualties:
Ransom Paid, Aug 25, Delaware 4, fell, DNF
Scealeile, Aug 25, Presque Isle 3, fell, DNF
Da Suga Man, Aug 26, Indiana 4, “returned having bled”
Pickled, Aug 27, Fair Grounds 3, “wiped out”
Devadutt, Aug 27, Indiana 8, “stumbled badly going to his knees”
The Bookkeeper, Aug 29, Gulfstream 10, “collapsed at wire”
Maggie’s Lad, Aug 29, Monmouth 1, bled
Peppiann, Aug 30, Elko 8, “fell over rail,” DNF
What Goes Around, Aug 30, Golden Gate 6, fell, DNF
Secret Miracle, Aug 30, Indiana 7, bled
Waverly Charmer, Aug 31, Canterbury 3, “stopped badly”
Orfan Ole, Aug 31, Canterbury 11, “stopped badly”

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Washington’s Rules – Vanned Off to His Death at Suffolk

In Dead Athletes on August 31, 2014 at 9:43 pm

According to equine advocate Deborah Jones, 6-year-old Washington’s Rules (below), who was initially reported as “displayed bad action…vanned off” yesterday at Suffolk (6th), has been euthanized. In his penultimate start on August 4th, the gelding finished last of 8, 30 lengths back. Jockey Rigo Sarmiento; trainer George Maroun; owner Douglas Maroun.


Dead in California: Zuni Tunes, There Goes Kevin, Kevinator

In Dead Athletes on August 31, 2014 at 11:31 am

The California Horse Racing Board has disclosed the deaths of the following three horses – two from the same race – all originally reported as merely “vanned off”:

3-year-old Zuni Tunes (“lateral condylar open fracture”) in the 8th race August 16th at Golden Gate – jockey Pedro Terrero, trainer Victor Trujillo, owners Frank/Jeff Edmunds.

7-year-old There Goes Kevin – jockey Gary Boag, trainer Jerry Wallace, owner Richard Barker – and 5-year-old Kevinator – jockey Vinnie Bednar, trainer Edwin Sirin, owner Ruben Garcia – in the 1st race August 17th at Los Alamitos. Although, as mentioned, Equibase had Kevinator “injured…vanned off after the race,” the CHRB says the gelding was euthanized where he lay. This is horseracing.

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Kitagal Dead at Louisiana

In Dead Athletes on August 31, 2014 at 6:50 am

3-year-old Kitagal is dead after “falling after the wire” of the 3rd race at Louisiana yesterday. Being raced for the sixth time, she had yet to “break maiden.” (She was “for sale” at $5,000 on her death day.) Kitagal was ridden by Eguard Tejera, trained by Charles Grappe, and owned by James Hutzel.

To those who wager on horseracing, we implore you to reconsider. And ultimately, you hold all the cards: no more bets, no more races; no more races, no more kills. And – no more separating foals and moms, no more abusing unformed bodies, no more confining, no more whipping, no more drugging, no more doping, no more buying and selling and trading and dumping. No more auctions, no more kill-buyers, no more transport trucks, no more abattoirs. No more pain, no more suffering. No more.

In a landscape that abounds with other gambling options – casinos, lotteries, real sports involving autonomous human beings – hasn’t the time at long last arrived to let the racing horse be? You, the bettor, have within the capacity for mercy. We ask only that you exercise it. Please. For the horses.


Divine Guidance Dead at Saratoga, See See See at Belmont

In Dead Athletes on August 30, 2014 at 11:32 am

2-year-old Divine Guidance, reported as “vanned off” in her racing debut Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga (5th race), was euthanized yesterday due to her injury. Divine Guidance is the 12th athlete to die this summer at “one of the world’s greatest sporting venues” (per Sports Illustrated). The equine child was ridden by Wilmer Garcia, trained by Rodrigo Ubillo, and owned/bred by Chester and Mary Broman.

The Saratoga 12:

4-year-old Lifeguard On Duty, July 24, training
3-year-old Double Gold, July 25, training
3-year-old Father Johns Pride, July 28, race 7
3-year-old Lavender Road, July 30, collapsed after being scratched
2-year-old Sir William Bruce, August 2, race 5
4-year-old Regretless, August 11, race 4
3-year-old M B and Tee, August 21, race 7
2-year-old Kamarius, August 23, training
2-year-old Ludicrous, August 23, race 4
3-year-old Elena Strikes, August 24, training
7-year-old Makari, August 25, race 1
2-year-old Divine Guidance, August 29, from race 5 August 27

Also, 4-year-old See See See – trained by Osvaldo Rojas, owned by Thomas Cespuglio – was euthanized at Belmont yesterday after x-rays revealed a fractured left knee. The fracture, as it turns out, occurred two weeks prior in a claiming race (the 4th) at Monmouth (though Equibase had her finishing that race without incident – “no rally”). These two deaths serve to remind how effectively racing deceives: If not for the only-one-in-the-nation NYS database, both Divine Guidance and See See See would simply have disappeared from the charts, final fates unknown. This is “The Sport of Kings.”

Vanessa Halo 21st Death at Finger Lakes

In Dead Athletes, Tracks on August 30, 2014 at 5:59 am

Career claimer 3-year-old Vanessa Halo fractured her pelvis while training at Finger Lakes Tuesday and was euthanized. She is trainer Pablo Torres’ sixth dead athlete in two years. Finger Lakes has now lost 21 horses since April; NY’s 2014 Dead – 79. This is horseracing.


Cause Im a Bigshot Is Del Mar’s 16th Dead Athlete

In Dead Athletes, Tracks on August 29, 2014 at 7:56 am

Del Mar recorded its 16th kill of the meet Thursday morning when 3-year-old Cause Im a Bigshot collapsed and died following a 50-second workout. According to U-T San Diego, she was felled by a “heart attack or aneurysm.” Trainer, Philip D’Amato; owner, Slam Dunk Racing. Cause Im a Bigshot is the second 3-year-old – comparable to a human pubescent – to simply drop dead (Chattering Gambler). Oh, and 2-year-old Mont Saint Michel was found dead in her stall back in July. This is horseracing.

The Del Mar 16:

4-year-old Corlett Drive, July 13, training
4-year-old Kokaltash, July 17, race 5
2-year-old Mont Saint Michel, July 24th, found dead in stall
3-year-old Dance With Fate, July 24, training
4-year-old Yes She’s Unusual, July 25, race 6
5-year-old Longview Drive, July 25, race 7
5-year-old Lil Swiss Echo, July 26, race 5
3-year-old J Kat, July 26, race 9
2-year-old Chilled Mousse, July 27, training
3-year-old Chattering Gambler, August 2, race 3
3-year-old Steppingood, August 13, race 8
4-year-old Serious, August 14, from July 31 race 7
3-year-old Bayview Drive, August 16, race 10
2-year-old Little Tower, August 22, race 3
7-year-old Magic Beam, August 24, training
3-year-old Cause Im a Bigshot, August 28, training

An Updated Coaltown Legend Story

In Advocacy, Claiming Races on August 28, 2014 at 8:50 am

After six years – 64 races – of gross exploitation and abuse, 9-year-old Coaltown Legend (original post here) has finally been retired, owing in large part to exposure from advocate Deborah Jones. On July 28th, Susan Salk, she with the permanently affixed rose-tinted glasses, wrote a reprehensible piece on Coaltown’s “salvation.” In it, she recounts his return “home” – the place where he was bred to be used – and the contributions of former connections Kate Feron and Angelo DeFilippis toward that end.

Feron (who “cried when he arrived”): “To see him again, I can’t express what it was like. He always had a special place in my heart. This was my special horse.” ♥ (heart courtesy of Salk) Of DeFilippis, Salk writes, “De Fillipis [sic], who owned the horse at one point, but was forced to sell him during hard financial times, says he kept tabs on Coaltown Legend, and spent a few sleepless nights worrying.”

Here are some conveniently omitted facts: Kate Feron is a hugely successful trainer with over $2.5 million in earnings. She bred Coaltown and raced him 19 times before selling him in February 2010 (“claimed away from her,” as Salk asserts, is a euphemism). Her “special horse” would race for over four more years – almost all at the claiming level – without her intervention. Angelo DeFilippis is (was) a racehorse owner. He either owned or co-owned Coaltown for 2 1/2 years and 16 starts, including a July 2011 claiming race at Saratoga. In all, Coaltown Legend earned over $150,000 for Mr. DeFilippis.

Coaltown Legend and Kate Feron

Coaltown Legend and Kate Feron

Now to be fair, Angelo DeFilippis was the primary impetus behind Coaltown’s retirement. But while good for Coaltown Legend – assuming, that is, he survives; DeFilippis says he’s not doing very well – I will not commend anyone, even a rescuer, who refuses to categorically renounce horseracing: Though Mr. DeFilippis is currently inactive, it’s a matter of finances, not because he now sees racing as wrong.

So it appears, Mr. DeFilippis, we are at an impasse. Yes, you helped this horse, but your desire to climb back into an industry that chews them up and spits them out by the thousands tells me all I need to know. Mr. DeFilippis, Ms. Salk, and most especially Ms. Feron, exploitation and friendship are incompatible states. The line is clearly drawn – true equine advocates want no part of this sordid business. And that is what makes Salk’s writing – “there were many relieved past connections, and tears of joy when tired and weary Coaltown rolled into Akindale on Thursday” – so very shameful.

Two More Breakdowns: Be a Pro, Run for Papa

In Dead Athletes on August 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm

In addition to Manda Moo, two other horses have been reported as broke down this week and can be presumed dead:

On Monday, 8-year-old Be a Pro – a “pro” for 4 1/2 years, 41 starts – “took a bad step” in the 3rd race at Presque Isle.

Yesterday, 3-year-old Run for Papa – a relative newbie who made her first start this May – went down in the 1st race (a $4,000 claiming) at Fairmount.

Young, old, it matters not – racing doesn’t discriminate.


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