With Del Mar’s Fall “Bing Meet” coming to a close this past Sunday, here is what we know: At least five horses (see below) were killed while racing (no training deaths were reported) during this relatively short 15-day meet. That’s five dead in 15 days. But – and this is a big but – there was a marked difference in the way the stewards wrote their minutes this time around. Instead of the catchall “Deceased” – which heretofore had included horses killed off-site while being prepped for upcoming Del Mar races – they went with “Fatalities at [italics added] Del Mar,” an obviously more restrictive categorization. (This change, incidentally, happened midstream: In the first set of minutes – 11/13 – “Deceased” was used and edited afterward.) There can be but one explanation for this decidedly cunning move: bad press in the wake of this past summer’s carnage. Apparently, they were counting on no one noticing.

Whatever the actual count, it is an indisputable fact that multiple horses were killed at Del Mar this Fall. Now, juxtapose that against this from the Del Mar site:

Highlighted by a series of terrific stakes races to finish out its final weekend, Del Mar brought its third fall racing season to a sparkling close Sunday with strong wagering numbers rung up and a solid place on the racing calendar etched in. “A very solid meet,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and general manager Joe Harper. “I think this meet has set us up nicely for the Breeders’ Cup in 2017. We’re going to be ready for it and it’s going to be very good at Del Mar.”

With a pile (a modest one, sure, but a pile nonetheless) of dead “athletes” behind them, they use words like “terrific,” “sparkling,” “very good.” Vile. Again.

The dead we know about:

Lyrical Passage, November 20, Del Mar 5
Trixie Topper, November 27, Del Mar 1
Trump Diesel, November 27, Del Mar 5
Flaming Vixen, December 1, Del Mar 5
Adair, December 3, Del Mar 1

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Two more “athletes” have been killed at “Cool as Ever” Del Mar. Thursday, 3-year-old Flaming Vixen snapped a leg – “bad step,” says the chartwriter – in the 5th and was subsequently euthanized. Curiously (not really, of course), the chart merely had Flaming as “pulled up, vanned off”; The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the pentobarbital was injected right there on the track. Yesterday, 4-year-old Adair went down in the 1st: (The Union-Tribune) “On the same day a dozen protesters gathered at the edge of the parking lot to protest horse deaths at Del Mar, another horse died. Adair…broke down about 125 yards from the finish line and was euthanized. Adair was the fifth horse to suffer a fatal breakdown here this fall and the fourth in a 26-race span beginning Sunday.” That’s four dead horses in 26 races.

Note to Del Mar president and CEO Joe Harper: You can no longer defend the indefensible. Your industry – at its core, but a gambling mechanism – kills horses, every day. Cease and desist. Cease and desist.

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