Reflecting on Our Moral Progress on This 4th of July Weekend

Gandhi once supposedly said (even if he didn’t, the message stands), “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way that its animals are treated.” Yesterday, the single most defining day on our national calendar, some of our animals were treated thus:

In a parimutuel gambling race in New York, a 3-year-old horse named Bolo required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Delaware, a 4-year-old horse named Benny’s Dream required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Oklahoma, a 5-year-old horse named Test Program required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Florida, a 4-year-old horse named Milton T required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Indiana, a 2-year-old horse named Im a Little Country required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in California, a 6-year-old horse named Classic Journey required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Iowa, a 4-year-old horse named Todo Macho required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in New Mexico, a 2-year-old horse named Pampered Jess required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in New Mexico, a 2-year-old horse named Mo Valiant required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in New Mexico, a 5-year-old horse named Cut to the Front required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in New Mexico, a 3-year-old horse named Thebigbomblooker required an ambulance (from the “Winner’s Circle”) to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Wyoming, a 2-year-old horse named D D Twist N Shout required an ambulance to get off the track.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Ohio, a 3-year-old horse named Sharp Gal “fell” and could not finish.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Ohio, a 3-year-old horse named Devil Unchained “ran into another horse as that horse was breaking down” and could not finish.

In a parimutuel gambling race in Ohio, a 7-year-old horse named Miss Hume Township “returned bleeding from the nostrils.”

In a parimutuel gambling race in Minnesota, a 3-year-old horse named Gold Cup Skier “stopped badly” and could not finish.

And finally:

In a parimutuel gambling race in Ohio, a 3-year-old horse named River Lute “broke down” and can safely be presumed dead.

On this admittedly narrow issue, greatness and moral progress can only be measured by a once-and-for-all end to this vile business. Please stop betting on horseraces.

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21 Comments

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  1. Great reporting Patrick. Thanks so much for your hard work on behalf of the racehorse. Let’s not forget that “vanned-off” or “ambulance to remove from track,” is almost always a short trip to the stable area away from the public, and wagering cameras where a cocktail of drugs is delivered directly into the jugular vein to end life (AKA humane euthanasia). I saw a memo circulate in 2006 that warned racetracks and industry leaders that the American public is becoming aware, via social media, of the deaths on the racetrack more so than ever. Therefore, it was decided that humane euthanasia should take place away from the public and cameras – a cover-up in a sense. I would not refer to it as a cover-up if all Racing Commissions released this information to the public. However, Patrick released an earlier article that showed the majority of Racing Commissions do not have to report deaths on racetracks. In fact, the rules & regulations governing the death of racehorses on racetracks vary greatly. The most revered racing jurisdiction, Kentucky, doesn’t even report on the number and nature of racehorses who die on their racetracks. This is outrageous, and unacceptable. Every death on a racetrack should have to be reported, and any racehorse should have an autopsy performed at the Owners expense. I have always been outraged at how much this industry gets away with. Take for example a slot machine in Vegas. If a slot machine breaks down that gets reported, and fixed right away. This just shows how out of control the horse racing industry is. Talk about morals? A slot machine is better looked after in this country than a racehorse for heavens sake! This all a result of the industry policing themselves. I had such an illusion of grandeur about this business because I grew up in it. Anybody that actually invests in this business gets to see the real world of horse racing, and it’s very ugly. They just have to put on a show for 3 minutes, but what goes on behind the scenes is corruption, drugs, pain, suffering, abuse, kill auctions, and slaugherhouses for the majority of racehorses. Some get lucky, but most don’t. If you don’t believe me just look at the PETA video of day to day operations of the top Trainer in the country: Steve Assmussen. I was so happy when the video was released because the industry could no longer claim foul. They were caught with their pants down. The most disturbing part of this is that both the Kentucky Racing Commission and the New York Racing Commission did nothing about it. If this type of activity can go on unabated you can only imagine what other things go on that is acceptable to the industry. I spoke out about it all the time, while I was training, and they concluded that I was to be squashed. Squash me they did after we spent over 1 million in investment. This entire industry is based on a morally corrupt, and antiquated business model. Nothing can ever change the fact that the industry is built on the broken bones, and backs of a sentiment being called the racehorse. This is horse racing.

    • Share what the horse racing industry does to the horses with your family and friends, Janine…and encourage them to visit Horseracing Wrongs. Exposing the truths to the unknowing public WILL make a difference! There will be the casual racing fans who, once they are made aware of the harsh realities of racing, will not return to the track and their casual “betting just for fun”. This industry IS dying and if it cannot attract younger, new fans, it WILL die. Thank you for caring, Janine.

  2. Reading the names, ages, and tragic incidents involving all of the young racehorses in this post is absolutely heartbreaking to me. How do people continue to support this?…how do they read the horses’ names – the casualties – day after day and not become heartbroken, as well? I’m at a loss trying to understand it…

  3. Test Program, 5 y/o QH gelding, owned and trained by Gregg Sanders….father of Tara Sanders who “allegedly” sends horses to slaughter. And Gregg Sanders is pretty “cozy” with at least one certain KB, as well…the kill buyer who took Lights on Broadway off the back of his loaded slaughter-bound trailer for Sanders to see and then purchase for a couple hundred bucks. The used-up former Texas Horse of the Year was put back into racing by Sanders. He ran in the cheapest of claiming races another three times but when “advocates” became aware, Sanders was asked to consider retiring the aged gelding. Oh and of course he did…he let Lights go for THREE-THOUSAND DOLLARS. Because he and his family “loved the gelding so much”. Sanders should have been awarded Exploiter of the Year.
    The fact that Test Program has the extreme misfortune of belonging to Sanders does not bode well for the poor gelding. What a sick feeling.

  4. Todo Macho, 4 y/o gelding.
    First start on May 28, 2015 – last of 9 by FIFTY lengths – “took no part”.
    Second start on July 4 – “awkward at the start, eased and vanned off”.
    For both races, owner-Mario Tovar and trainer-Kathleen Mordenti.

  5. BacksideBuy Photo
    (Photo: By Bill Luster, Special to the CJ)
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    Bolo, the 2015 Kentucky Derby’s 12th-place finisher who won his next start back, was vanned off Saturday after a defeat in the Belmont Derby.

    Under Rafael Bejarano, the favored colt set soft fractions on the lead but faded quickly into the turn of the 1 1/4-mile race on turf.

    Trainer Carla Gaines switched the son of Temple City back to grass from dirt after his Kentucky Derby campaign and saw quick results, winning a May 29 allowance at Santa Anita Park before Saturday’s Grade I invitational.

    The race chart does note Bolo crossed the wire.

    “Bolo appears to fine after being vanned off the track,” co-owner Keith Brackpool tweeted. “Jockey reported that the horse took a bad step and so stopped riding him.”

    Force the Pass went on to win the $1.25 million Belmont Derby for trainer Alan Goldberg. Canndal ran second at Startup Nation third.

    • On BOLO – if this horse could not walk off the track on his own accord and REQUIRED AN AMBULANCE to be removed from the track, then it is blatantly obvious that he suffered a serious injury/condition. “a bad step” oh please… let’s be real here… something went horribly amiss with this horse. Once again we have a young horse that recently endured a Triple Crown race, looks as though it has taken a toll on him, another young 3 year old being ruined. The death of DANZIG MOON comes to mind. According to Equibase.com: in the Kentucky Derby – Danzig Moon and Bolo had a bumping duel, then later Bolo was jostled between horses and then he “faded”.
      It is not uncommon for racehorses to suffer an injury when bumped and jostled about e.g. stress fracture, bruising, cuts, etc. Psychologically it is hellish for them fearing for their safety and of course being a prey/herd animal they’re 24/7 self preservation. They also become unbalanced in such incidents and when galloping at high speed this is the last thing the horse needs in order to survive and the consequences can sometimes be serious. But most jockeys think nothing of their abusive, negligent and reckless riding, they don’t give a damn about the living creatures underneath them.

      The fact that BOLO crossed the finish line is neither here nor there. For Debra Olivas, who has stated she has been on the backside of racing for 40 years and has much knowledge and experience, to imply, that because he finished the race (“retreated” [likely he suffered an injury at that point] and came home 9 lens last), that he was okay, beggars belief!

  6. Gina , I have worked on the backside for 40 of my 62 years , as a groom , and as an asst trainer . I will not deny there are trainers who need their licenses jerked , but you all continue to lump everyone together and you are wrong. I also know someone who is as big of an advocate to horses as any of you , this person worked for Steve for 4 years , and says that he takes excellent care of his horses and staff.

    • It doesn’t really matter how well some trainers treat their horses when the horses are dead. Does it? Didn’t think so.

      • My above post is one of the horses on Patrick’s list , he is fine not dead. If I had the luxury of time that some of you seem to have , I am sure I could pick that list apart. Unfortunately I don’t have that much time . I have to work to feed my undead retired race horses.

      • Deb, you are clearly missing my point. I didn’t say that YOUR horses are dead. I am saying that it doesn’t matter how well some of these horses are treated off the track when their lives are constantly at risk ON it. You can treat a horse wonderfully but that will not make their chances of survival on the race track any better. Furthermore, just because you have chosen to adopt retired racehorses does not mean that the majority of the others also find homes. There is still the issue of horse slaughter which you routinely like to ignore. I am still waiting on your response to the last question I asked you on a previous post but I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath. One more thing… if you don’t have time to post on this site, then stop posting. You are wasting your time anyway.

      • FYI , I did not adopt my horses , we ran them and retired them . Also many horses are retrained for second careers , maybe you should do some research.

  7. Thank you Patrick and no doubt it would’ve taken a considerable amount of time to do this research. Twelve (12) racehorses had to be ambulanced off the track, plus another three (3) could not finish, an 11 year old pulled with a bi-lateral bleed from both nostrils and then we have the young 3 year old RIVER LUTE who, according to the racing authority, “broke down” which is one of the racing industry’s popular terms for catastrophic injury/condition died/euthanased. This took place whilst a nation was joyful in its celebrations on 4 July. It was certainly no joy for these horses who are voiceless sentient beings. The racing industry has the audacity to declare that its horses love to race whilst it deceives the public with its non transparency and non disclosure as to the truth of what these horses endure. The public sustains the industry which in turn is accountable to the public. On raceday these horses are put on public display and the people take an interest in these animals whose health is open to scrutiny.

  8. To everybody, and especially you Debra. Every Trainer reaches a fork at the road at some point in their career. That fork consists of either continuing to uphold the exploitation of a racehorse for profit or leave the business. It’s just that simple. It really is. Here are some examples of continuing to exploit the racehorse no matter how “good” your intentions are: using drugs to mask physical conditions so that you can placate the paying Owners, and racetracks who put a tremendous amount of pressure on Trainers to fill races. In fact, the racinos now pay every horse in the race even if it’s finishing last by many lengths – hardly a “good” Trainer with “good” intentions. Or, masking upper respiratory or bleeding conditions with Lasix – hardly a “good” Trainer with “good” intentions. Regular joint injections to keep the horse racing and picking up checks, Bute, Depo, and a concoction of drugs to mask chronic conditions, and to keep the racehorse running. Hardly “good” intentions or warped “good” intentions that are not good for the racehorse. That’s the physical aspect. Now let’s address the mental aspects. Racehorses live in a stall (12″ x10″) usually, but I’ve seen 10″ x10″ at tracks like Churchill Downs. They live in this space 23 hours per day deprived of freedom to move and social interaction which are basic needs of any living being. Their racehorse life is completely controlled. This is not good. So again Trainers with “good” intentions upholds this not so good life for a living being. Then there are harsh bits, staff in a hurry cinching up the horse and causing pain. Then there is the stress of a racehorse when running. Most are running sore and/or lame (especially in the Claimjng ranks), whereby drugs are ordered-up by those “good” Trainers that you mention Debra. I could go on and on. The point is in order to remain in the business a Trainer must uphold the exploitation of the racehorse – to what degree depends on the Trainer and the racehorse. Contrary to popular belief, it’s the Top Trainers that usually exploit the racehorse to the max in order to keep their names, and the performances of their racehorses in the big money. The bigger the purse, the higher the possibility of the exploitation. This entire business is built on the exploitation of the racehorse, and that’s the main reason why I left. I refused to partake in the entire scene. I also realized that in order to be in the money you had to cheat and exploit the racehorse in order to be competetive against the multi-drug violating Trainers whom, like Steve Assmessen, push the horse to the limits while winning the purse money as seen in the video by PETA. Moreover, the Owners uphold this entire system of exploitation, and abuse as well, so do the Jockeys. It’s an entire web of deception. Even people like Debra who is upholding this deception by Claiming there are “good” people in this business.. You can’t be “good” while exploiting a living being called a racehorse. You are fooling yourself while the racehorse pays the ultimate price of your not so “good” intentions. Joy, I did a recent survey of OTB Wagering outlets throughout Ontario. They were chosen randomly. All of them had about 30% of their seating occupied with about 20% of the patrons going to the wagering windows. The most revealing fact was the demographics of the wagering patrons: 99% were makes over 60! Not one patron was under 50 – not one. That pattern repeated itself throughout the 10 wagering outlets where I conducted my observations. Moreover, a recent in-depth study by the Equine Magazjne states that the future of horse ownership – across the board – is very bleak mainly due to economic factors with career and timing factors as well. This is another reason why I detest this business because it promotes breeding which inevitably leads to more unwanted horses, and more going to slaughter. This industry knows darn well that in order to fill races the breed and dump approach must be part of it. They tout the equine rescue groups, but there are minimum spaces available that doesn’t even come close to the thousands of homes required. They know that. This is precisely why they will never get rid of Cksimjng Races. It has nothing to do with competitiveness as they claim, and everything to do with dumping a horse – washing their hands of acracehorse that is no longer profitable. The racehorse is a disposable commodity. This is horse racing.

    • Gina, I am always in awe of your comments! You have such a great wealth of knowledge and experience in the horseracing industry – thank you for sharing this.

      Your courage in exposing the truth and calling horseracing for what it truly is, can only triumph over the gutless wonders in the racing industry.

    • Gina please tell how you conducted your “research” on the OTB . Did you conduct on say a Tuesday or a Thursday or Saturday , or did you have someone counting heads . How much money did they wager , and how did you come buy that information . I find your observation interesting . On the 4th race from Woodbine yesterday , there was just over $200,000. In the total combined pools . Sounds like there was quite a lot of interest there.

  9. Again, the deranged autocorrect mispelling my correctly spelled words such as: MALES over 60! CLAIMING Races, A RACEHORSE, MAGAZINE. I think that does it.

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