The 9th at Parx this afternoon, as relayed by Equibase: “TIGHTEN UP sprinted away to a long lead, was well in front when he suffered a catastrophic injury to his left front leg just after passing the quarter pole, was eased and subsequently euthanized.” Tighten Up was five; ’twas his 26th time under the whip.

This is horseracing.

Last week in U.S. Horseracing (not including training, not including harness).

Del Mar Diva “vanned off” at Turf
Cured by Kitten “vanned off” at Keeneland
Alycar Flash “pulled up bleeding from the nostrils, vanned off” at Mahoning
Classic Brew “pulled up bleeding from the nostrils” at Mahoning
Bos Dream “vanned off” at Los Alamitos
Tommie Trucker “vanned off” at Oaklawn
The Magic Hero “bled” at Sunland
J Dub “returned bleeding from nostrils” at Belterra
Rooftop View “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Handsome Hoyt “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Giza “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Twin Farms “vanned off” at Churchill
Heartrulinghead “vanned off” at Gulfstream
Zeppelin Ride “fell, DNF” at Foxfield
Renegade River “fell, DNF” at Foxfield
Our Town “fell, DNF” at Glyndon
Puppy Manners “returned sore” at Parx
Ok Now “came back bleeding from the nose” at Penn
Ugottahaveheart “pulled up lame, vanned off” at Penn
Albertville “bled” at Belmont
Dunny Bug “reluctantly vanned off” at Belterra
Ice Box Raider “vanned off” at Fonner
High Candy “vanned off” at Gulfstream
Lexi’s Golden Song “fell to her face, DNF” at Lone Star
Fierce Hawk “vanned” at Sun
Dad’s a Gambler “bled” at Sunland
Blazin Shooter “bled” at Sunland
Caramelo P “vanned off” at Turf
Point to Point “vanned off” at Turf

“broke down,” “euthanized” – speak for themselves
“vanned off” – many if not most will resurface on my year-end FOIA killed-reports
“bled,” “returned bleeding from nostrils” – typically indicates pulmonary hemorrhage

(source: Equibase)

Sunday, I reported on Ardrahan’s death at the Grand National in Maryland. The Equibase note – “fell, euthanized” – was, however, not entirely accurate. Yes, Ardrahan is indeed dead, but the recently released Stewards Report says this: “ADRAHAN [sic] was euthanized on the course although the vet told the Stewards that the horse had probably expired before she got to him.” So much for “humane death.”

Saturday, at the Middleburg Steeplechase in Virginia, Special Relation “pulled up lame.” But, lame though he was, no van was used; he, like the mortally injured (broken neck) Special Skills, was made to walk off on his own. Later, the stewards told us why:

“The Stewards met with Jack Fisher after the last race to discuss SPECIAL RELATION not having been vanned off the course. Jack had already discussed the situation with Dr Reynolds Coles and it was a constructive conversation. It was evident that Jack had weighed a number of relevant considerations in deciding how best to attend to his horse, including the potential damage to the course from bringing the horse ambulance onto the stretch and the time that would be required to do so.”

So, the lame Special Relation was denied transportation because of “the potential damage to the course from bringing the horse ambulance onto the stretch and the time that would be required to do so.” Oh, how they love their “equine athletes.” Oh, how they are “like members of the family.” Oh, how I hold them in contempt.

This, from the Stewards’ Report for the Carolina Cup Steeplechase in Camden, South Carolina, March 30: “SPECIAL SKILLS fell at the 6th fence, he appeared to switch leads approaching the fence get in to close and hook the top of the fence and take a rotational fall…he was diagnosed with a broken neck and euthanized.”

Okay – broken neck, dead. But then this, in the “Official Comments” section:

“There was a serious breakdown in the veterinary protocol as [the track vet] did not have sufficient help and he could not be everywhere that he needed to be at the same time. There needs to be at least two veterinarians on course and at least one back at the barn at all times. The stewards were often unable to communicate with the official veterinarian when the [sic] wanted him to examine a horse postrace.

At this meet both SIM CARD (who was visibly lame) and SPECIAL SKILLS (who had been down for a considerable period of time after falling) were walked back to the barn instead of using the horse ambulance that was parked besides them.”

Yes, that’s right, because of either unconscionable incompetence or base callousness, the 9-year-old Special Skills was forced to walk off the course – with a broken neck. Imagine that. No word on the “visibly lame,” but also made to walk off, Sim Card.

Was it worth it?

A closer look at some of the horses killed by the U.S. Racing industry in 2018.

Prime Number broke both sesamoids and tore his suspensories at Presque Isle May 14. He was ten years old the day he was killed, and this was his 62nd time under the whip. In his final eight races – all cheap claiming, meaning he was “For Sale” each time out – he never once finished above 5th and averaged almost 14 lengths back.

Glitter n’ Jazz’s final three races, all cheap claiming: three dead-lasts, a combined 44 lengths back. Ten days after his last, he was dead from an infected tendon sheath.

Royal Pass “collapsed and died” at Laurel June 24. He was two years old. What’s more, in his only other race, the previous month at Pimlico, he was a “pulled up/DNF.”

Archie’s Revenge was killed – snapped ankle – at Laurel July 22. The three races immediately preceding that one: “DNF”; last, 13 lengths back; last, 24 lengths back.

Passel died training at Monmouth July 24 – “severe displaced fracture.” In five total “career” races, she never once finished above 7th and averaged 33 lengths back.

Star Quest was “pulled up right out of the gate” at Arlington July 22. She was then “vanned” to the barn. Next note: “found dead in [her] stall” the following morning. The Racing Board’s best guess: “pelvic fractures [plural] and hemorrhage.” Imagine this poor animal’s pain and suffering – and the terror of dying all alone.

Half Ready “broke down breezing” at Arlington August 4. The Racing Board says that his “suspensory apparatus failed” at the spot of a “previous surgery [that included] screws.” Half Ready was three years old and coming off a nine-month layoff, presumably because of the aforementioned screws.