Two days ago, I reported on the death of Face the Race at Monmouth. Yesterday, I received the following account from an eyewitness to that death. Although it already appears in the “Comments” section, I think it important to re-produce as a post:
I was at Monmouth when this happened. It was my first time ever at a racetrack (I went for a birthday party), and I didn’t know what to expect. Many of the friends and family I was with had never been to the track either. It seemed like good, clean fun at first. Beautiful weather, lots to do, excitement, etc. I didn’t participate in the betting, but many people there for the party did. Some seemed to be “experts” and were betting hundreds of dollars per race.
Not sure if it’s like this at other tracks, but at Monmouth, they move the starting gates up and down the track to different locations. I’m assuming this is to give the spectators various views throughout the day. For race 8, the starting gates were directly in front of the reserved picnic area where we were having the party, so our group had a great view with the horses about 30 feet from us.
Many from our group were lined up, right at the fence to watch. I noticed two of the horses did not want to get into the gate, and they kept rearing up and bucking. I remarked to my friend that it was kind of sad these animals are forced into this just for the sake of our entertainment and gambling. The race began and there wasn’t much different about it compared to the other races we had seen throughout the day. It’s all over so quickly! About a minute or so later, they were all coming around the bend. We were cheering along with everyone else.
Face the Race stopped running directly in front of us. I didn’t see if he fell, but my father pointed out he had dirt all over his backside. A friend of mine said he saw the jockey leap off and the horse “staggered and tripped up a bit.” The entire thing unfolded right before our eyes…in the exact spot the gates had been set up. Handlers were trying to calm the horse down, but he kept rearing up and we thought he would kick someone. They got the equipment off his back very quickly and the next thing we knew, the blockades were up.
We were discussing the situation and speculating on what was going on behind those big sheets. Nobody in our group actually saw what happened…we all just saw the aftermath. My dad thought they put up that wall to calm the horse down so a vet can come and check it out, and it will relax more since it can’t see all the thousands of people in the stands 50 feet away. Little did we know. As they rolled out the equine ambulance, we were hoping for the best. We of course had heard the tales of horses being shot when they break a leg…but surely this was a very different situation. Only a poor, old farmer from 1955 would be in a situation to have to do that. Nowadays they must have better ways to do things. These horses are worth so much money…surely they would receive the best possible care. We had no idea.
We watched as they began to bring down the barriers. Face the Race was now safely in the ambulance and was being carted away. I naively called out, “get better soon” as they drove right past us. We could not see the horse standing in the stall through the window, and I got a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. If he isn’t standing, he must have broken his leg. I truly hoped there was something that could be done.
Not 15 minutes later, the news began to trickle in from the regulars there. The horse had been euthanized. But not only that…it had been done right there, on the field…just 50 feet from us. Everyone we asked said the same thing: “It had to be done. You have to stop the suffering.” All I could think was, “why did this have to happen in the first place?” I cried for Face the Race then, and I cry now as I’m typing this.
As I said before, I had no idea what was involved. I didn’t understand this industry. I had no expectations, good or bad, for what I was going to experience at that birthday party. It has been about 48 hours since the incident, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I found your website and the more I read, the more disgusted I am in this “sport.” Thank you for spreading awareness.
– Nicole Peretti