The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup is an annual steeplechase held in Unionville, Pennsylvania. The course is four miles of “fair hunting country” – to “approximate conditions found during a day of foxhunting” – and 22 fences “of stacked rails, board and post and rail.” Sunday’s 80th running unfolded thus:
Seven horses began race 1 – two finished (with the winner sealing the deal “under strong urging”). “WINGO STAR…fell at the second-last fence; ADIOS DIABLO…gained uphill to the thirteenth fence but was pulled up; HERE COMES BADNESS…pulled up before the twelfth fence; TENNESSEE BEND…bid for the lead near the twelfth fence, fell and was vanned off; NEW LEVEL was pulled up after the third fence…”
In the 2nd race, 5 started, 3 finished. “ALMARMOOQ was bumped hard and stumbled at the third fence…drew off under strong urging; SUPER SATURDAY…was far back until the eleventh fence…and fell at the second-last fence; DRIFT SOCIETY was bumped hard at the third fence and unseated his rider.”
And in The Cup itself, two horses hit the second-to-last fence.
To those who patronize these events, we remind that “tradition” is no defense for the exploitation, maiming, and killing of intelligent, sensitive creatures. Please show mercy on these animals – find entertainment elsewhere.
7-year-old Makari, recently imported from Britain, is dead after breaking his neck in a steeplechase (race 1) this afternoon at Saratoga. Jack Doyle rode, Elizabeth Voss trained, and Merriebelle Stable owned. Curiously, the replay is missing from the NYRA website – broken necks, I suppose, are bad for business.
3-year-old Elena Strikes is dead after breaking a leg while “breezing” yesterday morning. She is the third Todd Pletcher-trained horse to be killed in Saratoga practice sessions (Lucky for You, Kamarius). For Saratoga ’14, this makes 11 dead athletes and counting:
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
In a French steeplechase (Saint-Pierre-la-Cour) this past Sunday, 10 horses started, 3 finished. The video tells the story far better than I ever could:
There is bad, then there is really bad. Friday at Clonmel Racecourse in Ireland, five, yes five, horses were killed steeplechasing. According to Irish Racing, here’s how it unfolded:
“Ballintotty Boy was the first casualty in the opener when the ground was described as good. Milan Elite fell at the fifth in the fifth and he sadly failed to rise, with the ground changing to good to firm after that contest. The third fatality came in the seventh with Oscar Pearl having to be put down after she pulled up injured before four out. Two more came to grief in the bumper with newcomers Lisgreen Lad and Areyouforreal both picking up fatal injuries.”
“Two more came to grief.”
In response comes this excrement from “Clerk of the Course” Lorcan Wyer:
“Obviously we were facing into 22 degree heat [72 F] and a very warm dry evening and there is always an element of risk with summer jumping. The track as it opened up during the day obviously dried and that may have been a factor. Obviously our sympathies go out to all the connections. We at Clonmel, and at all times and at all tracks, do our best to get everyone home safe both horse and rider. Unfortunately we have had five fatalities this evening and we will look back and assess what happened.”
What happened, Mr. Wyer, is your wicked institution.
On racing’s egregious meter, steeplechasing is practically unsurpassed. These are the kinds of races you watch with an expectation of horses falling – and breaking. This past Saturday saw the 118th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup, a 4-mile race – at times, run at 30 mph – featuring 22 5-foot-high solid timber fences. The final tally: 15 started, 4 finished; of the 11 who did not, 4 fell, 4 “pulled-up,” and 3 lost their riders. The Baltimore Sun reported thus: “The crowd, which covered a hillside overlooking the course, groaned in unison when the first horse fell at the third fence.” When a “sporting event” regularly elicits groans, perhaps it’s time for a bit of introspection.