Racing Can’t Wash Its Hands of These Deaths

From the NYS Gaming Commission:

Rich ‘n’ Tuck “died in shedrow from a case of severe colic” April 28 at Belmont. The 6-year-old was last raced less than three weeks prior. Apparently, this was not a euthanasia. Imagine that.

Classy Chris “unseated the jockey in the post parade and ran through the rail” prior to the 5th at Belmont May 17. “Vanned off,” euthanized out of sight. She was four.

In the industry lexicon, these are “non-racing” fatalities. As if this somehow absolves. It doesn’t. A horse presumably getting spooked on her way to being whip-raced in front of screaming spectators speaks for itself. But what of colic, “severe” at that? According to a renowned equine/racing expert, common causes of colic include high grain-based diet, abrupt change in feed, dehydration, long-term use of NSAIDs, stress, and long periods of immobility (stall “rest”/confinement). Sound familiar? So, morally speaking, I submit that the above deaths are no different than ones involving shattered legs or imploded hearts. Racing (capital “R”) kills, all.


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  1. Deaths on racetracks are often classified as non-racing fatalities, but we know otherwise.
    So sorry for Rich N Tuck, and Classy Chris.
    I directly witnessed horses dying from colic, and from heat stroke.
    I will never forget the summer of 2004 at Ellis Park, Kentucky.
    It was about 100 F. that day, and with the humidity more like 130 F.
    Horses were literally dropping dead from heat stroke.
    Despite the fact that there were multiple water hoses right on the track, many of the trainers didn’t give their horse a splash of water to cool down the situation.
    Even when the horses were in obvious distress, we would speak out to the trainers/grooms as they went by, and the state vet would say “hey, your horse needs some water.”
    To my utter amazement many of them responded with such statements as:
    1. no, no, no the trainer doesn’t want the horse getting water right now.
    2. he’s a cheap claimer, he doesn’t deserve water.
    Keep in mind, that these horses had Lasix in them, and probably other drugs.
    The Lasix alone dehydrates a racehorse even before they race, add into the mix the humidity, and you have a potential for heat stroke.
    Now I realize the “hot” racehorses can’t drink lots of water immediately after a race, but this was just a splash down, mainly on the poll, to immediately reduce the temperature.
    The horses that died there during the summer, directly from heat stroke, were not reported because they were classified as non-racing fatalities.
    This was one of many experiences where I begun to stop rationalizing what was going on around me.
    The state vet apparently tried to make a spray tent mandatory after severe heat, but the commission would not pass this rule, and neither would anybody support this attempt to divert disaster many tracks stating that it wasn’t in their budget to provide spray tents.
    At most horse shows during the summer (where horses are not generating billions in wagering money), it’s mandatory to have spray tents set-up, and it’s mandatory to walk your horse through the spray tent.
    With all the BILLIONS that horse racing makes, their attempts at convincing me that they give a damm is laughable.

    • Another story to file in my mind…..I just don’t understand, never will understand and don’t want to understand….the mindset of “humans” that behave in that way, say things like that. To me, it all comes down from how the culture is created at the tracks. This would be by the powerful and monied. I’ve never been there and don’t want to go….

    • Follow-up to my comment regarding mist tents.
      Here’s what they do for racehorses in other countries where their wagering profits are nowhere near what they are in the USA.
      Now this article, link provided, is not intended to endorse horse racing in any way, but it’s a stark reality of how bad the situation is here for racehorses, and stable personnel who work in these deplorable conditions.
      The majority of stabling facilities in the USA haven’t been upgraded since the 50’s.
      Most racetracks are hell holes for the racehorse.
      It was 2004, winter race season, I was in Louisiana with a Trainer who had a few horses racing that night.
      I wanted to check-out the “grand” facilities at this racino who was bringing in BILLIONS in wagering profits.
      It was our first time there, and while cooling-out his racehorse, we were shocked to find out that they were intentionally shutting-off hot water valves in the receiving barns so the racehorses couldn’t even get a warm shower when they were done racing directly contributing to such issues as “tying-up.”
      Like so many others before us, the complaints and demands to turn on the hot water valves fell on deaf ears, and we were even threatened to be banned from the property if we persisted.
      So while they were pulling in staggering profits the racehorses couldn’t even get a proper shower!
      It was a pathetic scene that night, one that I will never get out of my head.
      I observed racehorses “tying-up”, colic episodes, with serious life threatening issues going on with vets running in and out of the barn, even racehorses dropping dead in the shed row that were never reported because they were classified as “non-racing fatalities.”
      People were cooling out horses literally stepping around the one that had just gone down in the shed row until help arrived – you can’t just move a 1500 pound horse.
      There were 2, not 1, racehorses lying dead in their stall which made the management mad because they were using up space until the kill truck could arrive the next day.
      What seemed like every 5 minutes there would be vets summoned to areas for emergencies.
      Plus, many of the racehorses on the program that night were being run back with very little turn around time because the purse money was so high as per the PP’s in the Daily Racing Form.
      The racehorses with back class had it the worse – it was so incredibly pathetic, and sad.
      It was a freak show.
      The assumption that high purse money translates to the horses being looked after better is absolutely false, and in most cases they are treated worse from what I’ve seen, and the Death facts from the NYRA during this time confirms this as well.
      These staggering casino profits gave an opportunity for this business to show that they really cared, but that’s just a delusion as we all know now.
      This business had done little or nothing to improve the life of racehorses in all the years it has existed, and since the inception of staggering profits there has been little to no improvement for even aftercare.
      Before they would use lack of money as an excuse, but given these staggering profits it seems clear – they don’t give a damn about their profit slaves.
      People have no clue what’s going on behind the scenes, but I suppose they have problems seeing past those fancy hats.

      • Yup no doubt Gina, just look at pa one of the best breeding programs money wise in the country with one of the highest purse structures since casinos came to town and look at whats been happening ever since sure didn’t make things better


    Unlicensed Racing Proliferates in Colorado

    Fort Upton, Colorado – The unlicensed horse races at Deer Trail Rodeo Grounds had it all: bets, drugs, thousands of spectators and armed security guards. While the races are legal, they are unlicensed and have no oversight for the horses welfare.

    Once the permit for the gathering is approved, there is no law enforcement or racing oversight monitoring the event. Floss Blackburn, of Denkai Animal Sanctuary, told reporters “They pump (horses) so full of drugs they’re having heart attacks. They’re a tool; they’re a way for these guys to make money, which is not fair to the animal.” Undercover cameras caught the action, including illegal betting and horses being injected with cocktails of drugs banned at sanctioned races.

    The races themselves apparently have no rules. Whipping of horses is constant and nonstop, and riders veer their horses into others, trying to force the horse into the rail.

    The state currently has no laws against unlicensed racing, and the event is legal according to local law enforcement.

  3. I would imagine if it wasn’t a euthanasia then he died a horrendous death. Did they just find him dead in his stall? How disgusting and totally repellent to think of this. I just lost my beloved horse to colic 2 days ago. I had to make the choice to euthanize her when nothing worked. Her pain was too severe and she was down despite everything. She, too, would have died alone many hours later in shock from pain of organ shutdown had no one been there to care for her… care period. I can’t even think of what that poor horse went through.

    • Gale…I’m so sorry you lost your horse – it must be especially difficult for you to read about the death of Rich ‘n’ Tuck, just after having witnessed your mare’s horrible colic and her subsequent humane euthanasia. Yes, to think of that agony going on for hours – alone, without any care or comfort or medication administration in attempts to alleviate the pain – is unbearable…especially when we try to imagine one of our own beloved horses enduring that suffering.

      Again, I’m so sorry – I hope you’re able to find some comfort in the fact she had you there with her.

    • Horses with colic suffer a lot. The difficult but necessary and humane choice is euthanasia when treatments are not working. I had to make that gut wrenching choice last August.
      To neglect a horse with colic and allow the animal to die in agony is barbaric.

  4. After what I directly witnessed, I truly believe that the life of an active racehorse (training/racing) is a life of agony.
    They are deprived of everything natural to them, forced to endure horrific invasive procedures, brutal training regimes, and non-caring people to flip a buck for this business.
    Most are forced to endure extreme pain, and suffering while running on sore limbs.
    There are a multiple of health issues directly related to the rigors of racing.
    These health issues often follow them off the track if they make it out alive.
    When I think of how horrific colic is, I think of poor NEHRO.
    Then I think of the trainer, Steve Asmussen, the Owners Zayats, who all smile into the camera claiming to “love” and “care” for their horses.
    For somebody to continue training and racing Nehro to the point of death – they should be charged with felony animal cruelty.
    Sad to think that Nehro is just one example of many, but proves that ALL levels are abusive.

    • When I first read about Nehro I was physically sick. It is no wonder the industry is the way it is because these same people are in control and set the way. I still can barely think of that poor horse. Not only did he die a horrendous death, it sounds like he ran in excruciating pain almost forever with all involved with him complicit. I honest to God don’t know how these people sleep.

    • Thank you Gina for exposing this business for what it is.
      I was a groom for Gina when she used to own/train.
      She really cared and they didn’t like that.
      People would harass her because she would report abuse.
      They denied her stalls and that should tell everybody that the trainers who get stalls and who get ahead are the doping cheating abusers who even kill for insurance money.
      Those are the people this industry supports.
      It’s a horrific system of animal abuse and dying.
      Thanks to Patrick for posting this information.
      Gina, I’m not religious and I know your not so I won’t make reference to religion like most who comment here, but Gina you are brave.

      • I agree. It takes a VERY brave person to do the right thing, especially right smack in the middle of the evilness. Not only would you have to contend with all the crap they gave you, I imagine there would be a healthy fear for your own horses safety as well. They would stop at nothing to intimidate and protect their way of doing things.

  5. It MUST be about the horses, IT MUST — Running for fun is one thing, BUT running to the death is quite another — all this brutality is at the hands of humans — if you’re unable to have fun for all : the audience, the bettors, the riders, the groomers, the reporters, the trainers, the entire racing business, AND, of course, the horses — especially the horses — then this industry must be shut down — you’re cruelly abusing the horses — this is unconscionable, viciously indifferent, hateful and immoral AND it should be illegal — LET THE HORSES HAVE A HAPPY LIFE — stop working them to death!!

  6. Colic.
    This is a life threatening condition for any horse, and immediate intervention is required.
    There are many causes that begin a colic episode in a horse.
    Most of us here have explained this, and are often challenged by supporters when we claim that racehorses are particularly prone to colic due to their sedentary lifestyle among other things.
    Most people assume that because racehorses are running at fast speed they are getting great exercise.
    What supporters fail to mention is that they are confined 23 hours per day in a stall barely large enough for them to move around.
    This sets them up for colic episodes as a recent study released confirms:

    Add into their lifestyle, as an active racehorse, a plethora of drugs, the high stress of performing, the whipping/beating, and the ongoing abuse of non-performing racehorses and you have a perfect recipe for colic.

    The life of a racehorse is one of deprivation on every level – to what extend depends on varying factors, but most of their routine lends itself to medical emergencies, which also include breakdowns and/or dying.

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