The “Catastrophic Injuries” in Words – and Pictures

Through a FOIA request to the California Horse Racing Board, I have confirmed the following deaths at that state’s tracks in 2018. (Please note: The Board redacted the names of the dead horses; any identifications below came via other channels. Also, because of the sheer volume, I will be posting in increments of 10.)

yet-to-be-named, January 16, Santa Anita T
right forelimb: closed, comminuted, complete, displaced, articular, transverse fracture of the distal metacarpus III; below the transverse fracture line, there were innumerable small fragments of bone; there were two large bone fragments that stayed in place; all articular surfaces of the fetlock had marked scoring of the cartilage and were covered with innumerable small irregular bone fragments; “left forelimb: in general, findings are similar as described above; there was an open (8 cm long skin tearing at medial distal aspect of the MCIII, with protrusion of a fragment of bone), comminuted, complete, displaced, articular, transverse fracture of the distal MCIII; all articular surfaces of the fetlock had marked scoring of the cartilage and were covered with innumerable small irregular bone fragments” That’s two broken legs.

the above’s necropsy photos…


Verraco, January 19, Santa Anita R
“right radius/ulna fracture, open, comminuted, complete, displaced, acute, with: 5 major bone fragments, smaller missing fragments; avulsion of proximal 2/3 of ulna from radius; bone fragment protrusion through hemorrhagic, gaping skin tear; humerus osteochondral fragnentation [sic], complete, displaced, acute; pre-existing degenerative joint lesions; gastric ulceration chronic

Verraco’s necropsy photos…


Syndrome, February 11, Golden Gate R
“in the respiratory tract, the trachea contains a small amount of pink frothy fluid; the lungs are diffusely distended and do not collapse when the chest was opened; the parenchyma is light red pink with diffuse congestion and edema with frothy fluid exuding from the cut surfaces of the airways – cause of sudden death not identified

Tribal Fighter, February 15, Santa Anita R
acute suspensory apparatus failure with disarticulation of the metacarpophalangeal joint; marked, acute excoriation/ulceration of articular cartilage; moderate/marked subcutaneous and deep soft tissue hemorrhage extending from the mid-shaft of the cannon bone to the distal extremity of the 1st phalanx”

Tribal Fighter’s necropsy photos…



unidentified, February 16, Santa Anita T
fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones…comminuted, complete, displaced, articular; complete transverse transection of the intersesamoidean ligament; transection of the lateral collateral sesamoidean ligament; fraying and hemorrhage of the lateral collateral ligament of the fetlock joint, and of the medial and lateral branches of the interosseous ligament; partial transverse rupture of the deep digital flexor tendon with fraying and hemorrhage of the proximal and medial segments up to the midline at the level of the fetlock joint; fraying and hemorrhage of the lateral margin of the superficial digital flexor tendon; hemorrhage of the common digital extensor tendon; hemarthrosis of the fetlock joint, and extensive hemorrhage…of the soft tissues extending along the length of MCIII to P2″

Del Mar Darling, February 16, Santa Anita R
fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones, comminuted, mid-body, complete, displaced, articular; transverse and longitudinal rupture of the intersesamoidean ligament; transverse rupture of the superficial digital flexor tendon with fraying and hemorrhage; complete rupture of the deep digital flexor tendon…with extensive fraying, linear fissures and hemorrhage of the proximal and distal halves; complete rupture of the medial collateral ligament of the fetlock joint and of the medial collateral sesamoidean ligament, and extensive fraying and hemorrhage of the lateral collateral sesamoidean ligament and collateral ligament of the fetlock joint; avulsion fracture of the distal end of MCIV, and incomplete fracture of the distal end of MCII”

unidentified, February 21, Santa Anita
chronic laminitis – top of coffin bone thru the sole – both front limbs

the above’s necropsy photo…

Game Piece, February 23, Los Alamitos R
MC3 is completely shattered into 50-100 variably sized boney shards and fragments; there are four complete fractures through the articular surface; the skin overlying the mid-diaphyseal region of the dorsal aspect of MC3 is multifocally torn with extensive subcutaneous hemorrhage and protruding shards of bone

Game Piece’s necropsy photos…


Silverado Mist, March 1, Santa Anita R
fracture of the proximal sesamoid bones; rupture, intersesamoidean ligament and fibrocartilage; rupture of the short and cruciate lateral sesamoidean ligaments; marked fraying and extensive hemorrhages of the suspensory ligament; palmar osteochondral disease…MCIII (chronic) [in both front legs]”

Silverado Mist’s necropsy photo…

unidentified, March 10, Santa Anita T (euthanized March 13)
catastrophic fracture of the right hind 1st phalanx following surgery; the two osteochondral fragments of the proximal bone were largely held in place (with some displacement) by the 3 inserted surgical screws; however the mid-distal diaphysis of the bone had shattered post-surgery…with exposure of surgical screw

the above’s necropsy photos…



5 Comments

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  1. Pictures don’t lie. MAYBE just maybe if the people that went to the track saw these images this would stop. Do the owners, trainers and race track know about these pictures YES. Do they even care? NO

    • Thank-you Ellen for all you do on behalf of the racehorses.
      For those of you who don’t know about Ellen – she’s one of the first, brave, courageous people who took on the horse racing establishment at Del Mar by peacefully demonstrating, handing out pamphlets, and by speaking to people entering the track to support it.
      That takes a lot of guts because I’ve been on the recipient end of this criminal enterprise and they will do everything they can to destroy your life.
      I wish you well out in California Ellen because if I lived out there I would be right along side of you.

  2. Take this you human parasitic pro-horse racing entities and apologists.
    How dare you – how dare you defend this public slaughterhouse and butcher show??
    If you truly cared for your “family members” than you would be immediately calling for the shutdown of this vile business – there are no excuses, there are no jobs or anything you falsely claim that can justify this – nothing.
    These repulsive, disgusting, inhumane and horrific pics are necessary to expose the unsuspecting public to the horrors of horse racing.
    These pics are the reality behind the “words”and the euphemisms that this industry deliberately crafts to cover-up the despicable reality of what exactly is going on.
    The racehorses are crying out to us and we must be a voice for them.
    These bag of shattered bones should be presented at the CHRB meeting coming up since there is a public phase, and these pics should be on a billboard in California to remind residents what they are supporting.
    This business has been controlling, not only the message, but the actual information that should be made public including editing out the breakdowns, and even refusing to release the names of racehorses dropping dead is still not being disclosed.
    I bet that some of the “unnamed” racehorses died under Bob Baffert, Jerry Hollendorfer or Mike Maker, but of course we don’t know because these aforementioned racehorse killers have been protected by this industry for far too long now and this is just a few.
    There are no words that can accurately describe the immense pain, suffering, and horrors that racehorses endure every single day that they are being exploited for this unnecessary gambling venue.

  3. This has been going on far too long….hopefully with people like Patrick it will spur on our hope on dismantling this industry…so now the question…how do we do this? We need an organized plan….any suggestions? How can I help? How can we all help?

  4. Please Help get this message onto Belinda Stronach’s desk. She is in the position of power and influence to initiate immediate, effective reforms in behalf of the “survivors” of Santa Anita’s recent wave of horse fatalies.

    Please, print 3 copies and mail a copy today to:
    *Belinda Stronach at Santa Anita Park, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, Ca. 91007.
    *The District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, and the *California Horse Racing Board at Santa Anita Park 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, Ca 91007.

    To each of you reading this!
    You easily can Speak in behalf of the Immature Horses Used For Racing. Mail a hard copy of this message to the 3 addresses above and Post it on your Social Media sites.

    CHRB’s Multi-Million Dollar Post Mortem Studies 1990-2017 have already proven that It is not the track surface which is injuring the immature horses used for racing-it is the trainer’s EXTREME MIS-USE OF THE TRACK SURFACE. CHRB funded studies have shown that Trainers, in their desperate attempts to win, are WAY OVER-TRAINING the horses. Simply put :
    1.) The constant, daily concussive forces on the bones of immature horses from daily galloping, working and racing more than 60 furlongs within any consecutive 8 weeks substantially increases the risk of fatal injuries.
    2.) The vast majority of injuries leading to deaths of horses used for racing are due to broken bones from the accumulation of stress fractures over several weeks. There is no such thing as a single “bad step” breaking a bone in two. This has been confirmed over and over and over again in the CHRB POST MORTEM STUDIES 1990-2017. Yet, this dearly paid for knowledge (over 6000 fatally injured horses and millions of CHRB dollars paid for their autopsies) is willfully ignored by the CHRB. Why? Why are Trainers granted and allowed to hold CHRB Trainer’s Licenses without being required to demonstrate in the Trainer’s Exam that they know these two simple, crucial facts above? All CHRB licensed Trainers MUST IMMEDIATLY BE REQUIRED to demonstrate in a written test that they understand these facts. More urgency requires that the CHRB immediatly bar trainers from co tinuing to record more than 60 furlongs of maximum-speed efforts (works and races) within any 8 week period for any horse inside their CHRB controlled enclosures. It is just that simple. Easy to do. Cost? Not one red cent. Pay-off to the Racing Industry? Hundreds, if not thousands, more horses surviving to fill races.

    Blaming the track surface for beating up your horse’s legs is like blaming the hammer for hitting your thumb. STOP IT! NOW! NOT NEXT WEEK! NOW!
    Blaming the track suface is wasting time and horse’s lives.
    Thank you.
    Gail Ruffu CHRB Trainer #276298

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