The 10th race at Delta Downs Thursday night was the very first for 3-year-old Ragazza Ritmo. It was also her last. No, her racing people did not have a sudden change of heart; she is not today ambling carefree in some arcadian pasture, forever free from the chains, bits, and whips of the racetrack. In fact, her first race was her last race because she is dead. Equibase: “up close early from the inside, dueled up the backstretch, held a forward position entering the drive, fell and was euthanized.”

As I’ve frequently written, much of U.S. Horseracing hangs by a thread. The anachronistic “Sport of Kings” can’t compete with its 21st Century rivals – lotteries, full-service casinos, and now, all-sports betting. And so, because they’re losing the (free-market) fight, the horse people turn to government for what they consider, and promulgate as, redress. (Never mind that for most of the 20th Century, Horseracing enjoyed a virtual monopoly on legal gambling.) And if nothing else, Racing excels at lobbying for state largess – subsidies. New Jersey offers but the latest example.

A WHYY article from earlier this week opens thus:

“New Jersey lawmakers are considering doling out $100 million over five years to prop up the state’s financially-strapped horse racing industry, which has continued to struggle despite beginning to offer sports betting this summer.”

Article quotes from apologists are all too familiar:

“This will be a huge help for the horse racing industry that is an important part of New Jersey’s heritage and culture and a key source of jobs and economic activity.” – state Sen. Vin Gopal, co-sponsor of the bill

“If you look at [the equine industry] as a pyramid, horse racing is at the top and pretty much supports everything from the pleasure industry to the agricultural industry.” – A.J. Sabath, Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of NJ

“Heritage.” “Culture.” “Jobs.” “Economic activity.” Blah, blah, blah.

Look, this is not complicated. The masses prefer, by far, the other-than-horseracing gambling options. For proof, go to any racino (combination racetrack/casino), especially ones attached to harness tracks. The slots rooms are buzzing; the track is a virtual morgue. Why, then, does government continue to take extraordinary measures to save Racing? Certainly not because it is too big or essential to fail. Rather, one side, their side, has an almost exclusive access to the political movers and shakers and is able to frame the argument in a way – by invoking jobs and the economy – that practically compels pols to vote in its favor. That’s why it’s imperative we be heard:

– share this and all I’ve written on Horseracing and the public teat

sign this petition regarding the above proposal

contact the NJ Senate Majority Leader and let her know that this cannot stand

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to change hearts and minds, for even if we were to turn 95% of the population against this vile industry, as long as the welfare continues to flow, horses will continue to suffer and die. In short, friends, this is a two-front war.

Animal abuse at Penn, again. From Equibase: “ANNA RAE had a comfortable lead most of the way while cruising in the two and three paths, came up empty at the quarter pole all while being struck by the whip thirty times inside the five sixteenths pole.”

“came up empty all while being struck by the whip thirty times”

Anna Rae is a cheap (she was “For Sale” at $4,000 prior to this race) claimer who was under the whip for the second time in a week. Her exploiters and abusers: trainer, Timothy Kreiser; owner, Chris Brent; jockey, Emilio Flores.

Recent deaths disclosed by the NYS Gaming Commission:

Frankies Rockngirl in the 1st at Batavia Friday – “took bad step after half; sustained fracture – ambulanced off track and euthanized.” Frankies Rockngirl was three.

Formal Event at Belmont Friday – “found deceased in stall; horse was under treatment by veterinarian for gastrointestinal issues.” Formal Event was three.

Bluegrass Flash in the 6th at Aqueduct Saturday – “sheath laceration; owners opted for euthanasia [next day].” Bluegrass Flash was seven.

And finally this from the Los Alamitos Stewards Minutes: “one equine death was reported this week [Nov 30-Dec 2] due to racing injuries” – identity withheld.

This is horseracing.

This morning, I wrote how the Racing Grinder never sleeps, even on slow days. But yesterday, as it turns out, was even worse than originally reported. I have confirmed that Holy Chrome, who was said (by Equibase) to have “[taken] a bad step, [been] vanned off” at Mountaineer, is dead – euthanized for her injury. That makes at least three kills on a day in which only seven tracks were live. End horseracing. Now.