Dead Saturday:

In the 9th at Keeneland, Bullards Alley “went wrong” and was subsequently euthanized. He was six; this was his 40th time under the whip.

In the 5th at Santa Anita, Ten Blessings “took a bad step” and was subsequently euthanized. He was five; this was his 8th time under the whip.

The above kills came in stakes races, worth $250,000 and $200,000, respectively. Hence, they garnered (Racing) press coverage, and social media was awash in “prayers and condolences” and repellent statements like this from Bullards’ trainer, Tim Glyshaw (on Twitter): “Bullard meant the world to us. He was a cool horse that always gave his all. He was our first horse to win graded races for us and a grade 1. No words can describe how I and my barn feel right now. RIP BULLARD”

This is horseracing.

Xten, three, was killed Friday during morning training at Santa Anita. According to Blood-Horse, the colt suffered “neurological issues” following a collision with another horse. Apparently, Xten remained on the track for some three hours as “[a] dozen or so people attempted to encourage [him] to get to his feet.” Eventually, unable to “get upright,” he was carried onto the ambulance and “vanned” away to be euthanized. Trainer Tim Yakteen had this to say: “It’s an inherent risk we all take every day.”

At Golden Gate April 12, Maydaymaydaymayday “was injured while training near the quarter pole…and was euthanized” (Stewards Minutes). The filly was not yet three and had been raced eight times. Also at that track, jockey Juan Hernandez was fined $500 for “causing welts [with his whip]” on his “mount” Aotearoa on April 7. That’s $500 for patent animal cruelty – the sham of “equine welfare” on full display, again.

Finally, two “fatalities” are listed in the Santa Anita Minutes for the week April 9-April 15. We know (from other sources) that one was My Sweet Emma in the 5th April 15; the other, however, remains unidentified.

No words necessary…

Epsom Downs (England), 1966

Prescott Downs (Arizona), 2000

Pimlico (Barbaro’s eventually-fatal injury), 2006

Churchill Downs (Eight Belles snaps both front ankles), 2008

Aqueduct, 2009 (Private Details killed)

Arlington, 2009 (Born to Be killed)

Japan, 2010

Galway (Ireland), 2011

Charles Town, 2012

Monticello, 2013

Wexford Racecourse (Ireland), 2013

Del Mar, 2014 (Yes She’s Unusual killed)

Ffos Las Racecourse (Wales), 2016

Gulfstream, 2016 (Kandoo killed)

“Under Tack” Trials

As mentioned previously, the best indictments of this industry often come from within. Take slaughter, for instance. While the racing people typically (and understandably) avoid this issue like the plague, occasionally some honesty surfaces.

In a recent HorseRaceInsider article, long-time industry writer and handicapper Mark Berner takes Racing to task for its “inability or unwillingness to deal openly with the issue of horse slaughter.” While I’m quite certain that Berner’s real worry (as evidenced by the article’s title) is that slaughter is killing the “sport” he so dearly loves, he does offer some seemingly genuine words of outrage:

“If a breeder elects to bring a horse into the world, it is their responsibility to make sure that horse is cared for until its natural death. It is not simply the cost of doing business; it is about doing what’s humane and morally correct.”

But it’s the stark admissions that caught my eye. Two statements in particular:

“A sport that once was the pastime of the billionaire class has devolved over time into a sport in which an overwhelming number of its athletes are slaughtered…”

Then: “Since the Thoroughbred industry has not significantly corrected this situation, the same percentages – 20% of all horses sent to slaughter from the US are Thoroughbreds – are safely assumed to be correct present day.”

And to think that all this time I’ve been citing the “only” 19% found in this seminal study. So let’s break this down. According to the Equine Welfare Alliance, 114,000 American horses were sent to slaughter in 2016. 20% of 114,000 is almost 23,000. For that same year, the Jockey Club estimates the “foal crop” – newly registered Thoroughbreds – at 21,000. That would be an over 1:1 ratio of those exiting-via-slaughter to those coming in. Obviously, not all retired (or never-made-the-cut) Thoroughbreds end up bled-out and butchered. But even when accounting for some slight industry contraction each year, the numbers make it abundantly clear that at the very least most – Berner’s “overwhelming number” – eventually (because some will have an intervening round of exploitation – the so-called second career) do.

Case closed, again.

Chart notes from U.S. Thoroughbred and Quarterhorse races last week:

Mister Bree “was pulled up and vanned off” at Will Rogers
Selfie Sensation “fell after the wire and was vanned off” at Sunland
Frisky Ricky “vanned off” at Turf
Kenjiislucky “vanned off” at Turf
Nic’s Star Choice “came back bleeding from the nose” at Charles Town
Arabian Queen “pulled up, vanned off” at Tampa Bay
DC Nine “was pulled up and vanned off” at Keeneland
Lobkowicz Palace “bled” at Keeneland
Valerie Victoria “lame in the stretch and was humanely euthanized” at Penn
Kaitain “was eased and returned bleeding” at Laurel
California Swing “got pulled up, vanned off” at Aqueduct
Barbarossa “reported after the race to have bled” at Aqueduct
Hazel Ann I Am “went wrong, vanned off” at Keeneland
Tango Delta “took a bad step, pulled up lame, vanned off” at Laurel
Ice On the Severn “vanned off” at Laurel
Corn On the Code “vanned off” at Los Alamitos
North Ocean “went wrong, euthanized” at Parx
Ls Victorias Image “bled, vanned off” at Sam Houston
Clubhouse Party “vanned off” at Sunland
Devonas Prospector “bled” at Sunland
La Brees “vanned off” at Sunland
So Silver “vanned off” at Tampa Bay
Tequila Mary “vanned off” at Turf
Katillac Charm “vanned off” at Will Rogers
Going for the Win “vanned off” at Santa Anita
My Sweet Emma “was pulled up in distress, vanned off” at Santa Anita
Hennessy Whisper “fell, vanned off” at Sunland
Complete Indy “fell, DNF” at Sunland
Superbad Warning “fell, DNF” at Sunland
Blazin Jeffrey “fell, DNF” at Sunland

(source: Equibase)