An Opening Day Kill at Del Mar

Yesterday was opening day at the famed and celebrated Del Mar Racetrack – “Where the Turf Meets the Surf.” Great food, summery libations, wacky hats, hobnobbing, glass-tipping, shoulder-rubbing…and death? In the 6th race yesterday afternoon (yes, they put on horse races too), a 3-year-old filly named Presidential Air “broke down” – to be more specific, snapped a leg – and was euthanized. Dead. Which leaves me wondering: How many of those 42,000-odd revelers were/are aware that part of the day’s entertainment was killed? More important, how many care?

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  1. A 3 year old filly’s life is PUBLICLY sacrificed whilst many men, women and children enjoy food and fun, some aware and couldn’t care. And some totally oblivious of this sickening fact. And these people attend for entertainment and yet animal cruelty is one of the serious issues that society is facing today. It beggars belief!

  2. I was an Associate Steward at the Del Mar meet in 2006.
    Many racehorses died at that meet so nothing has changed.
    The entire California race scene is a cesspool of corruption, doping, and dying.
    I left due to many reasons, but I’ve never seen so many horses snap their legs off, and little or nothing is done about it.
    Here we are, 10 years later, and the dying continues. So nothing has been learned or changed.
    The well financed Del Mar Race Club has their own public relations people that perpetuate the fancy hat, and grassy paddock delusion. They have the journalists of newspapers in their pocket it seems as I rarely saw an article that addressed the horrific truth about this industry – racehorses are dying for $2 bets.
    I just can’t believe this is going on in the animal lover state of California.
    To every supporter (that placed a wager yesterday) you are indirectly responsible for Presidential Air dying for your stupid fancy hat, entertainment, and $2 bet.
    Shame on you for bringing your children here so that they can witness the horrific death of a sentiment being. This is not something that a child should have to bear witness to.
    You need to take a good look at what your supporting. Stop being deliberately ignorant and delusional.
    Now I will provide an analysis of this poor fillies ongoing cruelty, and abuse.
    It’s important to note that Presidential Air was bred, trained and/or owned by Huston Racing Stable, Abrams, Barry and Joe, Peter for her first 3 starts.
    First Race? Last by about 24 lengths.
    Second Race?
    Last by about 28 lengths.
    There are many reasons as to why she “gave way,” but certainly should fall under the non-competitive clause of most racing jurisdictions that deny entry and racing to that particular horse, but this is horse racing. The ongoing cruelty, and abuse almost always continues.
    Third Race?
    Second last by about 14 lengths.
    Fourth Race?
    Last by about 18 lengths.
    Although she wasn’t claimed during her last race, she shows up under different connections Trainer Kenneth Nettles and Owner(s) Joy McCafferty and Kenneth Nettles.
    It’s very plausible that the former connections either gave her away or sold her privately for super cheap. Any racehorse that performs like she did in her first 3 races is now considered a disposable commodity with very few interested in buying a non-performing, non-competitive horse that is probably riddled with either physical/mental issues that requires non-stop vet bills. She is now a liability that needs to be dumped.
    Next 4 starts pretty much a carbon copy of the first 4 starts with little or no improvement. The ongoing abuse continues under the hospices of the racing industry who permits this “accident waiting to happen” enter, and run while collecting wagering money.
    The prevailing words throughout the Equibase comments were “gave way,” or “weakened.” These words are often used for scenarios like Presidential Air, and usually indicates that something is seriously wrong with this filly.
    Her final ninth start is the deadly one.
    I can bet my bottom dollar that this filly had some serious life threatening physical issues throughout her entire life as a racehorse. Whether it started after birth or during training – something was amiss.
    However, the horse racing industry has it all covered-up by denying the public access of veterinary records while a racehorse is in active training and/or racing.
    While thousands of vets exchange medical records on domestic pets daily, the horse racing industry fights hard to keep those records private.
    Quite frankly, I can’t understand why jockeys are not vocal about this aspect of horse racing because they are getting maimed, and killed right along the racehorses. Of course they have a choice, but it’s still a liability issue whereby a jockey would be able to get some sort of financial restitution while being the victim of this Russian Roulette scenario. Their attorney(s) would certainly gain access to the medical records if a civil litigation suit was filed, but they rarely are. When they have been the parties usually settle during mediation so the medical records are never made public.
    Like all participants in this industry – silence is golden, and abuse always continues when people remain silent as seen here.
    Her life of intense confinement was probably filled with never ending joint injections, doping, shock wave therapy, and beating when she was trying to protect herself.
    This is the dirty world of horse racing where racehorses are dying almost every day for your fancy hats, social parties, and $2 bets.
    Shame on everyone who attended, and supported the ongoing abuse, cruelty, doping, maiming, and/or killing of racehorses like Presidential Air.

    • Gina, Thank you for this thoughtful and educated response. People like me, who advocate against horse-racing without really knowing the in’s and out’s, really benefit from reading first-hand knowledge and criticism of the industry. I always pass off others information as just that: other’s information. But when it’s intelligent, well-stated, and clearly experienced, like yours, it’s very helpful.

    • Gina, I’d love to get a hold of you to talk about what we can do as a group to help support the banning of horse races. I have started a petition and left the links on a couple of comments with the link. Please let me know what the best way to reach you.

  3. I have been attending Del Mar races for years. I knew horses would get hurt and euthanized. I have never witnessed it until yesterday when Presidential Air went down. It was one of the saddest moments I have witnessed personally. The Jockey laid on the ground with her, his head on hers. She knew she wasn’t alone which is the only sweet moment in this. Other than my group of friends, the crowd seemed to keep doing what they were doing. No one seemed to stop and take in what had happened. …this beautiful animal from God had just died. Why? For our entertainment? I for one will not ever return and support this. I heard this is what they love and are trained to do. They are bred for this. Bred for our entertainment and an industry. ..money? RIP Presidential Air.

    • Lisa, the approximate 90% of foals born every year, specifically bred for horse racing, are set up for failure.
      They are set-up to fail in many ways.
      Most don’t live up to their wealthy owners expectations, and are subsequently dumped.
      They are dumped into the claiming ranks where they can change hands many times with owner/trainers who are considered the lower tier of horse racing.
      So now racehorse, and owner usually struggle to pay vet bills that are a necessary part of the ongoing chronic issues associated with these horses which is the reason why they are dumped in the first place in many cases.
      The racehorse, especially at racinos, are repeatedly entered where they pay up to last place finish. The racehorse now running for a flake of hay, and it’s life.
      Let’s be clear, whether a racehorse is coming from opulence and racing on the “A” circuit like Del Mar they are all subjected to the necessary operating procedures: whipping/beating, doping, dumping, and/or dying.
      There is no class distinction when it comes to a racehorse dying in the dirt at super rich Del Mar or Finger Lakes in New York.
      Even when they fail on the track many are still forced to train, run, and fill wagering pools as seen with Presidential Air. So sad that this filly is so typical of this industry.
      This is blatant animal abuse that’s justified by fancy hats, and a party atmosphere.
      I can assure you that it was no party for Presidential Air as you acknowledge in your comment.
      If they are lucky enough to make it off the track alive then the failure begins again because there are not enough homes to accommodate the irresponsible, and over breeding of racehorses.
      Consequently, many end up in neglectful situations, kill auctions, and/or subsequently the slaughterhouse.
      Both the math and the odds are stacked against these beautiful creatures that are born to be disposed of in most cases.
      This is the dirty world of horse racing.

      • Hello just flew to the city I was born and grew up in for a famliy visit. And for the most of my teen and half of my young adult summers. I’m 56 now and moved from California for the past 5 years. There’s always a f-ing problem with dying or dead animals due to human errors. And a lot of people are on able to solve this huge sadness. Theses animals wild and born for the love of running with out the crowds the training breeding and racing with things on there backs. These man made mistakes for profit and for the fun. Need to stop JUST FIX IT. Already. Hope all the meat are feeding the human hungry. Or there’s some use coming out from the dead. Thanks for ranting post. From this sad and confused animal lover. Just sick of it.
        T. Hooter

    • Echo the same. I attended this couple of years and was blissfully oblivious to the dark side of the races. I happened to take a video of that specific race and caught the moment when this beautiful horse fell. I still am not able to get over. They are one race away from dying. This is so horrible. Until the horse racing community figures out a way for healing these horses from their injuries, the race should not happen.

      • Since the horse racing community has deleted the breakdown perhaps you can provide it here or on Youtube so that people can see just what they are supporting.
        As for healing these injuries?
        Never happen.
        First of all, this filly died so there will be no healing.
        Second of all, in most cases a catastrophic breakdown is almost always preceded by pre-existing conditions so she was never healed to begin with, probably covered up with dope, and then sent out to run. Here’s a link to the study: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vorl/research-programs/horse-racing-injury-prevention/racehorse-injuries.cfm
        Thirdly, the multibillion dollar industry and all of their cohorts, including reputable equine vets, have not changed anything for the plight of racehorses who are dying in the dirt for $2 bets.
        This has been going on for years.
        All of their studies, all of their money, all of their professionals can’t prevent these racehorses from dying, and that’s why it needs to shut down.
        In what business in America is legitimized death acceptable? None.
        Yet, this industry gets away with beating/whipping, doping, dumping, and/or dying.
        It has no interest in healing because if it did then it wouldn’t send racehorses out to begin with.
        It’s main goal is wagering money, and if that means racehorses losing their lives they obviously don’t care because they send them out to this cruelty circus, and death camp.
        This business needs to die in the dirt just like Presidential Air and so many others.

    • Thank you for sharing that. I was standing at the finish line and couldn’t see what was happening. I didn’t really want to see. I am happy to know the jockey showed her love.

      • Unfortunately as long as the human race is willing to standby & allow more than 3,000 unborn babies to be murdered every day in this country, I suspect that there will be little if any change in the welfare of racehorses.

  4. I used to enjoy the races until I became aware of the frequency of these tragedies. It seems to happen more and more. I refuse to support this “Entertainment” at animals expense. It is so sad.

  5. I will never never NEVER attend a horse race again, and haven’t for a decade. I used to think it was ‘fun’ – now I know better. I worked at an office which ‘treated’ us to go to the races’ When I became aware, I volunteered to stay at the office. I could not go any more. My heart aches for these beautiful sweet animals.

    • Sharron, thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. My daughter did the same as you and refused to attend an office “celebration” at the races, asked “but why?” She told them what really goes on with the horses and some commented they didn’t like watching horses being beaten with whips. They had no idea that some horses die! Please spread the word Sharron, especially young people need to know. And again, thank you for contributing to this worthy cause.

  6. This is disgraceful , doesn’t anyone care about these horses? Their shooting them up so they will win. And all it is doing is KILLING THEM! Stop these high priced horse races !!!

  7. Horses break legs in their pastures too. It’s always sad when you lose one no matter how they die.

    • What’s really sad is people like you make comments like this.
      What’s really sad is that this industry is a legitimized cruelty circus, and death camp.
      What’s really sad is that very few racehorses, who are no longer profitable, end up in a paddock.
      Your attempt to divert the attention from what’s really going on failed.
      The word is getting out on this despicable industry, and no amount of money, or comments like this will continue to justify the deaths.
      This industry will be greatly diminished, and eventually racetracks will close one at a time.
      If you are so saddened by racehorses dying – then go out and peacefully demonstrate right in front of Del Mar.
      Let us know how it goes.

    • A horse breaking a leg in a pasture can in NO way be compared to a horse breaking his leg on a race track while he is running for his life as fast as he can and being “urged” to go even faster when he tires. And it does matter how they die. Dying in the dirt on the track, terrified, while the “herd” is running on or being forced into a van while in pain to be killed later all because there is $ to be made. . Horses are killed by this business all the time and I do not believe too many in the business are genuinely “sad”.

  8. KILLER TRACK – STARTS KILLING HORSES DAY 1 – THE TRACKs WITH NO BOTTOM who cares ? ripping & rototilling the bottom out is more like it !!!

  9. Track announcer made no mention of the breakdown and fall of Presidential Air during the race call and Del Mar “conveniently” removed the portion of the breakdown from the head-on replay view…Business as usual…Very sad…

    • The track announcers may not want to that is their perogative, That’s just the way it goes. The replay is alway edited so we don’t see it. There is nothing wrong with that. They are disgusting people that want to see them breakdown so they watch the replay. Glad they cut it out.

      • Mel Rider, it is not the racecaller’ s prerogative, it’s his duty and obligation to call the race as it is. Removing the breakdown of a racehorse is misleading the public and a pathetic attempt to hide the abhorrent cruelty which is inherent in horseracing. There’s everything wrong in not revealing the truth.

  10. Much of the world has a moral and ethical scotoma. The most trivial inconvenience is ignored. Many of the environmentalists are public for the attention not the result. Anything for a good time….what could be wrong….everyone is doing it. Jumping up and down screaming how wrong this is will undoubtedly attract attention and maybe a convert or two. Conspicuously ignoring it ( why didn’t you go…..I don’t support suffering) likely will have the long term result. Humans resist pushing but they can be lead.

  11. I attended opening day just a few days ago, and experienced heartbreak watching this happen right in front of me. That horse was so beautiful, and watching it take its last breaths is something I can never strike from my memory.

    I’m now aware of the cruelty that goes on in this sport and will never support it again. I am ashamed to have been there in the first place and am glad. I have pleaded with all my friend to never return again.

    Sad that nothing is ever said about this in the news. Thank you for running this site so that the word can be spread.

  12. What they hell is wrong with this page??? Opening day KILL??? One horse dies and you people act like it was 10 or 15. It was an accident, not a kill. This page is just garbage just like all the people that read it.

    • You are a dumbass Mel and it’s time to wake-up. It was one horse on the first day, and it will certainly be over a dozen at the end of this season.

      It is documented that in the 14/15 season, 14 horses were killed and it was around the same number the year before.

      Additionally, Del Mar has added a second season to their yearly schedule which will see this number rise. It is atrocious, horrific and an outrage that this is till allowed to continue all across the US. One death is too many!

  13. I was there. I wanted to leave immediately and could not believe people seemed liked they had no idea what was going on. There is no announcement,, nothing. I will never return!

  14. Just one horse?!? Do your research! This happens all the time and the way it happens disgusts me. I was there that day and I’m ashamed I was there. I watched that poor filly lie there with no announcement made to honor her for even a moment. A curtain raced out to shield what we all know was happening behind it. It was all too routine, you know, like they deal with it all the time. I’m disgusted with the human race right now, that we could treat these marvelous creatures with such cruelty. I was absolutely horrified by what I saw and you who make a comment of just one horse? It had to have bothered you somewhat because you looked up this article, which by the way is the only one I can find. No news coverage, nothing. I just wanted to know the poor horses name, for I truly mourn her death. The only saving grace, is that she is no longer subjected to the world of being a race horse. We’ve got to stop this awful sport that’s so covered in glitz and glamour and if it starts here, I’m on board. RIP sweet filly.

  15. Reply to this comment from GINA:
    “Unfortunately as long as the human race is willing to standby & allow more than 3,000 unborn babies to be murdered every day in this country, I suspect that there will be little if any change in the welfare of racehorses.”
    This forum is not intended for pro-life anti-abortion comments, but since Patrick decided to publish this comment, I will respond.
    I’m here for the racehorses who are dying for people to exploit them – a totally different issue than abortion.
    Different in so many ways that I don’t want to use up space.

  16. Horrible if it was people dying it would have stopped long ago. People are ignorant or heartless. I have stayed away for over a decade, sad and embarrassed I was once part of the crowd but at least I know better now. I will never attend Del Mar or any horse race.
    Stop animal cruelty please pass on the message!

  17. Heartbreaking please pass on the message to stop attending Del Mar or horse racing events. Even as a horse lays dying in front of a crowd most are in their own little worlds and a small percent of people really care, Sickening – if it were people dying it would have stopped long ago.

  18. The people who view these races as entertainment are ignorant and care about nothing but themselves and maybe making a few bucks off of these animals. The sport, if you try to call it that, is barbaric. These horses are born into a life of abuse and drug addiction. I frankly am full of sorrow and yet joy for everyone of them that gets to leave this life of torture and abuse.

  19. The industry sickens me. I would love to make these trainers and owners run around a track, shock them and make them continue until they are injured…………..then shoot them. I have ridden since I was a small child and owned several horses as pets and dear companions. If a human wants to inject substances into himself and abuse his health, so be it. However it is criminal to inflict such vile acts on the most majestic and soulful creature on the planet. I have contacted my US Representative pleading to change the course of this sport based on greed. Just one week into the Del Mar season 7 horses have been put down. All while idiots drink, bet and feed their faces without a bit of compassion. I shake my head when the owners talk how much they love their horses. Please watch the online videos linked with the “7 Horses die at Del Mar.” You will see on video owners and trainers calling the horses foul names while they inject them and talk about putting “5 Second Glue” in a hole in the bottom of a bleeding hoof. Unforgivable.

  20. Horse-racing is a tragedy–cruel & unusual murder & abuse of animals
    (in this case, horses). I haven’t been to a racetrack in years. I don’t plan to attend which would be feeding into this vicious industry! I only wish that: PETA, US Humane
    Society, ASPCA, others, etc,…would unite, bring suit to end this filthy,
    disgraceful, evil… We all need to unite & advocate for our dear horses who cannot speak for themselves😔😌. Also- you can call, fax, write, email your US congressman/congresswoman & ask that they support & co-sponsor HR 1942 NOW.. Very important to also contact the committee chair, Congressman Conway of Texas, & tell him to support HR 1942 & move it out of committee & for a vote in the house of congress!

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