To those new to the site – and without a working knowledge of horseracing – “vanned off” may not sound particularly ominous – football players, after all, are occasionally carted off the field. But here’s the reality: A horse who leaves the course via ambulance has a better-than-even chance – some experts put it at 90% – of same-day euthanasia or shortly thereafter. In other words, “vanned off,” like “broke down,” is an industry euphemism for something really bad has happened to a racehorse (which I guess is also a euphemism). For proof, we need look no further than Finger Lakes Racetrack.
Since the current meet began in April, three horses have been reported (by Equibase) as “vanned off.” All three, thanks to the Gaming Commission database, have been subsequently confirmed dead: Indomitable Woman July 17th; Chichita July 26th; and just yesterday, 7-year-old, 50-start veteran Gimmeanotherwink. Three ambulance rides, three shots of sodium pentobarbital. So you see, “vanned off” is just another smoke screen.