The latest Del Mar Minutes are in. While no dead are specifically identified (because California does not require such transparency), the “deceased” tally for the week comes in at four. This presumably includes Unusualy, Alicanto, and All the Marbles – leaving one unnamed. All told, this brings Del Mar ’16 to at least 20 dead racehorses.

week of 7/11/16-7/17/16, “Deceased: 5”
week of 7/18/16-7/24/16, “Deceased: 6”
week of 7/25/16-7/31/16, “Deceased: 1”
week of 8/1/16-8/7/16, “Deceased: 2”
week of 8/8/16-8/14/16, “Deceased: 2”
week of 8/15/16-8/21/16, “Deceased: 4”

A recent San Diego Union-Tribune article points to the various obstacles we anti-racing activists face on a daily basis. First, one from ostensibly our own. The article says that “animal advocates” met with Del Mar officials to air grievances and seek answers. Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana: “We are out here today to ask the board to investigate the reasons for these breakdowns, these injuries and these deaths.” Not only ignorant (“Investigate the reasons”? Do your homework.), but horribly misguided. By reaching out to, and working with, the industry, you validate that industry’s right to exist, making it harder to ultimately bring it down.

Next, an unwitting (or fully witting, it’s hard to say) press allowing itself to be a conduit for industry propaganda: “The board…said it’s already taking steps to prevent the injuries, including adding more personnel to inspect horses and tightening blood screening standards to make sure horses are healthy enough to race.” Look, this is all-too-familiar territory. Every time there is a surge in deaths (or at least what is perceived to be a surge – Del Mar ’15 lost at least 18), the industry responds with assurances of “we’re on this; no stone will be left unturned.” More vets, tighter testing, better surfaces. And yet somehow, the killing continues. Imagine.

Inevitably, too, in the wake of (publicized) dead horses, come execrable quotes from industry VIPs. Del Mar president Joe Harper: “I’m in this business because I love animals. I love horses and believe me when one is injured, we all feel it. And like animal rights folks, we want to find out what we can do to help prevent or at least slow down some of these injuries.”

One, Mr. Harper, you’re most certainly not in this business because you love animals; you’re in this business for business. You can love horses. You can love horseracing. But you can’t love both. Two, and this goes back to Ms. Saldana’s quote, true “animal rights folks” are not at all interested in finding ways to “prevent or at least slow down some of these injuries.” A true animal rights person is only interested in ending your vile business. No “improvements,” no reform – just an end.

Worse, though, is this summation (which I would describe as shocking if not for the fact that, at least for me, Racing’s ability to shock has long since dissipated) from Cliff Goodrich, former president of Santa Anita: “Goodness knows in society there are problems that are unsolvable; this may be one of them.” The this here – the potentially “unsolvable problem” befuddling 21st Century America: killing horses for $2 bets. Sometimes, there are simply no words.

(Due to copyright considerations, I cannot post the picture that accompanied the article. But I encourage you to take a look.)

Desert Trial, a 2-year-old colt, is dead from a “suspected cardiovascular collapse” (Gaming Commission) while training at Saratoga yesterday morning. Again, two – on the maturation chart, the rough equivalent of a first-grader. “Cardiovascular collapse.”

Desert Trial was raced once, a month ago at that same track. His line (Equibase): “DESERT TRIAL…moved out in upper stretch then came under a right-handed whip, switched to a left-handed whip…and finished with good courage for the last spot in the superfecta.” Whipped with both hands – “finished with good courage.”

How profoundly sad.

The Saratoga ’16 Dead

Hadeed Fi Hadeed, May 30, training
Squire Creek, July 16, training
Zamjara, July 23, race 1
Rootformejustin, July 23, race 5
Indian Nobility, July 27, race 3
Domestic Warrior, August 1, race 4
Lebowski, August 2, “found dead outside stall”
Jonrah, August 3, training
Midnight Visitor, August 4, prior to race 4
Prince Corredor, August 20, training
Elusive Neko, August 24, training
Bob Le Beau, August 25, race 1
Ring of Truth, August 25, race 10
Desert Trial, August 28, training


Last week on U.S. tracks (flats only; does not include training or harness casualties):

Git On Bob, Finger Lakes, “vanned off” – subsequently confirmed dead
Gyda Gdawn, Presque Isle, “bled”
Windchaser, Ruidoso, “vanned”
Wally Tamale, Ruidoso, “vanned”
Perceval, Finger Lakes, “bled”
Holy Highway, Gulfstream, “vanned off”
Miss Karlita, Gulfstream, “vanned off”
Golden Ride, Gulfstream, “vanned off”
More Zen Tea, Saratoga, “bad step, vanned off”
Good Luck Maria, Belterra, “vanned off”
She Ain’t Right, Charles Town, “returned bleeding from the nose”
Roderick Road, Charles Town, “came back bleeding from the nose”
Valueable Charmer, Delaware, “fell, DNF”
Peggy Joe, Evangeline, “vanned off”
Hez Royal William, Fair Grounds, “fell, DNF”
Conrad, Indiana, “vanned off”
Revival Plus, Penn, “pulled up lame, vanned off”
Topofthemountain, Remington, “fell after wire, vanned off”
Bob Le Beau, Saratoga, “broke down”
Ring of Truth, Saratoga, “went wrong, vanned off” – subsequently confirmed dead
Pop’s Nuisance, Albuquerque, “vanned off”
Warriors Roar, Belterra, “vanned off”
Dashing Lili, Albuquerque, “vanned off”
Eu Bandolero, Ellis, “went wrong, vanned off”
Tinys First Pepsi, Indiana, “bled”
Ringold, Monmouth, “vanned off”
Dontbetwithbruno, Monmouth, “vanned off”
Holey Molar, Mountaineer, “took a bad step, vanned off”
Flash a Smile, Mountaineer, “vanned off”
Little Louella, Penn, “pulled up lame, vanned off”
Star Hill, Saratoga, “vanned off”
Springintherockies, Albuquerque, “vanned off”
Examen, Belterra, “vanned off”
Havingnoequal, Canterbury, “fell to the track, vanned off the course”
Jungle Jumble, Gulfstream, “vanned off”
Gonna Hit the Bord, Ruidoso, “vanned”

“broke down” – virtually without exception an industry euphemism for dead
“vanned off” – horse unable to walk off track under own power; good-chance dead
“bled”; “returned bleeding from nostrils” – as a rule, indicates pulmonary hemorrhage


(source: Equibase)

Ongoing abuse at Belterra Park in Ohio:

Since being bought by Edward Fernandez – who doubles as trainer – 5-year-old Pew has been raced 10 times, all claiming, in a little over 11 weeks…

June 5, last, “earned” $264
June 11, last (25+ lengths back), $95
June 17, last (18+ lengths back), $76
July 8, 3rd, $690
July 16, 3rd, $760
July 24, second-to-last, $210
July 31, 5th, $216
August 7, 4th, $350
August 18, 5th, $222
August 25, 3rd, $770

Since Edward Fernandez became her trainer, 5-year-old Utopia’s Virgin (owner, Quiomary Valentin) has been raced 8 times, all claiming, in less than 9 weeks…

June 26, last (26+ lengths back), “earned” $67
July 8, second-to-last (19+ lengths back), $95
July 14, 5th, $134
July 23, 4th, $345
July 29, 4th, $335
August 13, 4th, $335
August 18, 3rd, $740
August 27, 3rd, $740

Belterra is a racino track, meaning not only does casino revenue “enhance” race purses, it also allows the track to pay “connections” (Fernandez here) first through last. Translation: These awful people have every incentive to run their (relatively) cheap horses – Pew was “For Sale” at $5,000 prior to her last race; Utopia, $4,000 – into the ground. While this may not technically qualify as animal cruelty under the law, I believe the powers that be should still get a sense of our wrath: Belterra.

download (10)

Today is Travers Day, among a handful of the most celebrated on the American racing calendar. The feature, of course, is the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, at once historic – first run in 1864, it is billed as the oldest major Thoroughbred race in the U.S.; and rich – today’s edition is worth a cool $1.25 million. But to all who would tune in or place a bet today, know this: All actions have consequences, and the consequences of a seemingly innocuous day of “sport” are dead horses. Lots of them.

Since 2009 (when NY began disclosing such things), 100 racehorses have perished at Saratoga Race Course. Yes, 100. For this relatively short meet, that averages out to roughly two dead “athletes” per week. They’ve died of failed hearts – “sudden cardiac events,” they call them; this, for animals still in puberty – and pulmonary hemorrhage. But mostly, breaks – horrible, terrifying, excruciating breaks. The snapped spines, shattered legs, and imploded ankles of “competition.” Please, reconsider.

The Saratoga 100

It’s My Day
Finally Made It
Todo K
Wishful Star
Executive Fleet
Von Steuben
Swift Water
Boyhood Dream
Giant Legacy
Gold Vendetta
Rani Baba
Bold Victory
Timber Reserve
Jazzy Johann
Seis de Mayo
Forest Whip
Fire the Bullet
Hathors Legacy
No Ones Shadow
Red Rhythm
Rockettes Escapade
Jackson N Humbolt
Doing Great
Not Now Ashley
Boston and Maine
Burnin Ash
Twice the Price
Autumn Riches
Julias Hero
Regal Citizen
Sugar and Smoke
One Note Samba
Pete’s Parley
Molly Mingun
Live for Today
The Shade
Lovely Saratoga
Black Rhino
Charmed Hour
Heading to Toga
Sarava’s Dancer
Kris Royal
Ricochet Court
Ocean Breeze
For Riches
Lucky For You
Lifeguard on Duty
Double Gold
Father Johns Pride
Lavender Road
Sir William Bruce
M B and Tee
Elena Strikes
Divine Guidance
Tale of the Spa
You Gotta Believe
Jay Bird
Innovation Economy
Jackson N Leonard
Kathy’s Reward
On a Snowy Evening
Big Looie
Divine Fortune
Country Muse
Darling Bridezilla
Totally Discreet
Hadeed Fi Hadeed
Squire Creek
Indian Nobility
Domestic Warrior
Midnight Visitor
Prince Corredor
Elusive Neko
Bob Le Beau
Ring of Truth

images (3)