The 7th at Aqueduct yesterday, as described by Equibase: “WESTERDALE took up the chase from path two during the opening half, backed away suddenly leaving the half mile pole after suffering a fatal injury, got pulled up, then after being examinded [sic] by a track veternarian [sic], was euthanized.” This race, of course, is the only one of yesterday’s Aqueduct card not available for viewing on the NYRA website.

This, from earlier in the NY Racing week: Doyouknowsomething, says the Gaming Commission, “sustained left elbow injury in [his Belmont] stall” Tuesday, “ambulanced to Ruffian clinic, where radiographs revealed fracture necessitating euthanasia.” Doyouknowsomething was a couple weeks shy of his 7th created-day and was being readied for whip-forced race number 53.

This is horseracing.

Yesterday…

The 6th race at Laurel, as described by Equibase:

“TUFFY’S WAY…fell when sustaining a catastrophic injury soon past the quarter pole then was euthanized on the track. KIMBERLY B….sustained a catastrophic injury after striking a rival inside the quarter pole and was euthanized on the track.”

The recap also included other horses “jumping” or “falling” over their downed “rivals,” or simply swerving to “avoid the spill.”

“The spill.”

The horror that this scene must have been was, of course, edited-out on the official MarylandRacing YouTube channel…

But – even with horses sprawled (and dying) in the dirt, the Winner’s Circle went on…

In the 1st at Santa Anita, Derby Treasure “took a bad step when seriously injured, fell,” and, according to multiple sources, is dead. BloodHorse’s Jeremy Balan said this on Twitter: “Also not great that right before the incident [jockey Edgar] Payeras was still getting after the filly, while she pretty obviously was done and going to finish last.”

“…still getting after the filly” – was being whipped to the very end. This, by the way, was DT’s eighth race – all at the “maiden claiming” level, meaning she had never “won” and was “For Sale” each time out. (In fact, she had never finished higher than 4th.)

And finally, the Paulick Report relays a double kill during morning training at Fair Grounds Monday. Evidently, one horse dumped his rider, ran the wrong way and, well, here’s Paulick: “The ensuing head-on collision resulted in the death of both horses – it was unclear whether the horses were killed instantly or had to be euthanized.” The dead horses were left unidentified, apparently to protect the owners’ “privacy.”

How is this even remotely defensible in 21st Century America?

The following is being sent to every Pennsylvania legislator in the newly-convened 2019 Pennsylvania General Assembly. Please read and share, and also please consider contacting members on your own. Thank you.

I am writing today in the hope that you might reconsider the subsidies being paid to your state’s horseracing industry. I am arguing this on two levels: First, propping up individual industries runs counter to America’s free-market principles. Myriad trades have come and gone in our nation’s history (horse-and-buggy), with winners and losers determined by the merits of, and relative demand for, one’s goods and services. It should not be in government’s purview to keep unwanted – as decided by the market – businesses afloat. To that, here are some pertinent facts:

Horseracing is clearly in decline: Since 2000, U.S. Racing has suffered a net loss of 34 tracks; all other metrics – racedays, races, “fields,” “foal crop,” and, yes, attendance and handle – are also down. The public is speaking – unequivocally – with its wallet.

With the ubiquity of stand-alone casinos and state lotteries (and soon, all-sports betting), Racing has cried foul, claiming that these new businesses are somehow unfair to them. In fact, prior to the advent of lottery products, Horseracing enjoyed a virtual monopoly – for decades – on legal gambling. Now that was unfair.

In Pennsylvania, according to a 2017 report, the racing industry has received $2.6 billion in corporate welfare over the past decade – $239 million in ’17 alone. Referring to this, The Philadelphia Inquirer, in an editorial, wrote, “If multiple billions can’t turn around an industry, isn’t it time we asked how much longer we’re willing to try before altering the arrangement?” (see also, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial)

Far more important, however, is the moral aspect to all this. In short, horseracing kills horses – lots of them. Through my seminal FOIA reporting, I have determined that upward of 2,000 horses are killed racing or training on U.S. tracks every year – easily six per day; to date, I have documented over 5,000 confirmed kills on my website – cardiovascular collapse, pulmonary hemorrhage, blunt-force head trauma; shattered limbs, ruptured ligaments, broken necks, crushed spines.

In addition, likely just as many die from what the industry craftily calls “non-racing causes” – colic, laminitis, “found dead in stall.” In truth, however, these horses are no less casualties than the ones who snap legs on raceday. And perhaps worst of all, the vast majority of “retired” racehorses end up brutally and violently slaughtered when deemed no longer profitable – some 20,000 or more annually. In a word, carnage.

But it’s even worse. While active, life for the typical racehorse is mean and cruel:

From birth, racehorses are pieces of property – chattel. They are bought, sold, traded, and dumped whenever and however their people decide – a stressful, tenuous existence that in and of itself causes pain and suffering: According to the Pennsylvania 2016 FOIA documents, to date the most detailed I have received, virtually every one of the dead horses died with ulcers, most “extensive to severe.”

Racehorses are kept locked in tiny stalls for over 23 hours a day, making a heartrending mockery of the industry claim that horses are “born to run, love to run.”

Racehorses are kept utterly isolated from their peers – an extra layer of cruelty for naturally social, herd-oriented animals.

Racehorses are (obviously) nonconsensually drugged and doped – incessantly injected with myriad performance-enhancing, injury-masking, and pain-numbing chemicals.

Racehorses are utterly controlled and subjugated for the entire length of their “careers.” Indeed, the “race” itself can only be effected through force: nose chains, mouth bits, and, of course, perched humans wielding whips.

In summary, not only is your state diverting much-needed funding for education and other public-good projects to a dying industry, but, in a cruel twist, taxpayers, the vast majority of whom have zero interest in horseracing, are subsidizing unconscionable cruelty and wholesale killing. While we would love to see a day when horseracing is banned (like dogracing), for now we are simply asking that the market be allowed to do what it is designed to do. Please do not fall prey to their talk of lost jobs and economic havoc. Horseracing, unlike, perhaps, some other industries (agriculture, banking), is not too big or essential to fail. And if allowed, failure will bring the added benefit of collective moral advancement, as countless horses will henceforth be spared lives of immense suffering and horrible deaths. Thank you.

Patrick Battuello, Founder and President, Horseracing Wrongs

The Stewards Minutes for Los Alamitos (Thoroughbred) report one “fatality” for the week Dec 3-Dec 9; the dead horse is almost assuredly Miss Dialed from December 7. In that race, Equibase reported the 2-year-old as “pulled up,” then “fell, vanned off.” The Stewards provide a bit more detail – the proverbial “cardiovascular event,” which of course would explain the fall. That race, by the way, was Miss Dialed’s third ever; the previous two: second-to-last, 31+ lengths back Sep 8; “pulled up, DNF” Aug 10. Perhaps she was trying to say (scream) something to her trainer, Ricardo Zamora?