Through a FOIA request to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, I have confirmed the following deaths at that state’s tracks in 2017. The Commission, however, redacted identifying information on the basis of confidentiality (though in some cases I was able to independently identify). Still, this is the first time Kentucky has provided any documentation. Also, please note that when full necropsy information was given, an overwhelming majority were found to have stomach ulcers at death. Stomach ulcers. (Warning: At the bottom of the post, I have included necropsy photos for the horse killed while training on September 6 – they are graphic.)

unidentified, January 3, unidentified track, training, “horse broke left shoulder while galloping this morning”

unidentified, January 20, Turfway (probably Irish Filibuster, race 2), “massively comminuted carpal bone fractures…majority of the intercarpal ligaments are torn”

A Risky Peace, February 22, Turfway, race 5 (euthanized Feb 23), “left forelimb: complete, comminuted fracture of the first phalanx; right forelimb: partial, non-displaced fracture of the first phalanx” – that’s two broken legs

Shakeyogroovething, March 25, Turfway, race 2, “severe injury to LH limb; tearing of the digital veins and arteries bilaterally with severe hemorrhage”

unidentified, April 4, unidentified track, training, “multiple, comminuted carpal fractures”

Langtanz, April 9, Keeneland, race 5, “basilar fracture of the medial sesamoid, with a second fracture dividing the basilar portion into two pieces…damage to the sesamoidian ligaments is severe, with rupture of the straight, oblique and cruciate sesamoidian ligaments”

In My Dust, April 13, Keeneland, race 4, “sesamoid fractures with fetlock luxation”

unidentified, April 18, unidentified track, training, “approximately three centimeter full-thickness laceration over the medial sesamoid…distal limb is expanded by a large amount of edema and hemorrhage and there is massive soft tissue damage, including complete rupture of the superficial and deep digital flexors and the suspensory ligament…biaxial sesamoid fractures…moderate degenerative joint disease of the carpus in both forelimbs”

unidentified, May 2, unidentified track, training, “horse died suddenly during morning gallop – marked amounts of white, foamy fluid extend the length of the trachea and up to the pharynx and nasal passages…the lungs fail to collapse, are heavy and discolored purple-red with scattered pleural petechial hemorrhage”

unidentified, May 9, unidentified track, training, “slowed down, dropped to track, instant death – gums white; suspect heart attack or ruptured aorta”

unidentified, May 11, unidentified track, training (died next day), “worked yesterday, found uncomfortable in the stall, spiked fever, no lung sounds on one side – died before euthanized”

unidentified, May 12, Churchill (probably Big Red Rocket, race 8), “horse broke both sesamoids”

unidentified, May 22, unidentified track, training, “right hind medial condylar fracture; right front lateral condylar fracture” – that’s two broken legs

unidentified, May 29, Churchill, prior to racing, “horse reared up leaving stall and flipped over hitting head – complete fracture of the occipital bone, with complete separation of the occipital condyles from the rest of the skull…massive amount of blood in the calvarium, the oropharynx, nasopharynx, nasal passages”

unidentified, May 30, unidentified track, training, “pelvic fracture”

unidentified, June 1, Churchill, racing, “fell after the wire – open fracture of the lateral condyle of the third metacarpal bone…soft tissue damage includes severe tearing of the suspensory ligament throughout the length and rupture of the medial extensor branch of the suspensory”

unidentified, June 2, Churchill (probably Hotbutteredsoul, race 9), “comminuted fractures of the lateral condyle and medial sesamoid”

unidentified, June 10, Churchill (probably Task Force Glory, race 9), “horse collapsed after race…hind end ataxia before collapsing – died on track”

My Bright Idea, June 18, Churchill, prior to race 6, “flipped in paddock – severe concussion and bled-out; large amount of dried blood on the external nares and on the front limbs…nasal passages contain a large amount of blood and there is marked hemorrhage within the connective tissues of the head…skull is fractured in multiple places, with the largest fracture separating the occipital condyles from the calvarium…myriad fractures of the basilar part of the occipital bone and the sphenoid bone…bone fragments are embedded in the meninges and the calvarium contains clotted blood…severe ulceration of the squamous mucosa of the stomach”

unidentified, June 21, unidentified track, training, “open, comminuted, medial condylar fracture of the third metatarsal bone”

unidentified, June 25, Churchill, racing, “horse collapsed – severe pulmonary hemorrhage; large amount of bloody froth in the trachea, nasal cavity and within the nares…marked pulmonary hemorrhage, with the right side being more severely affected than the left…large amount of blood exudes from the lungs upon sectioning”

unidentified, June 26, Keeneland, training, “medial condylar fracture that begins in the medial parasagittal groove and extends 19 cm”

unidentified, June 27, unidentified track, training, “sudden death; lesions in the heart are relatively mild, but are present throughout all chambers of the heart…moderate to marked pulmonary congestion, edema and hemorrhage, with a moderate amount of hemorrhage around the larynx”

unidentified, June 30, Churchill (probably Spicoli, race 5), “biaxial sesamoid fractures and severe soft tissue damage…multiple spherical gastric ulcers…and an arborized ulcer, which extends over a 8 x 3 cm region, is located in the squamous mucosa of the stomach”

unidentified, June 30, unidentified track, training, “drop dead acutely while training – no history of injury or illness”

unidentified, July 3, unidentified track, training, “distal limb is heavily bandaged and the connective tissues are expanded by a large amount of edema and hemorrhage…biaxial, mid-body fractures of the proximal sesamoids…palmar digital annular ligament is ruptured in a transverse plane that corresponds with the sesamoid fractures”

unidentified, July 9, unidentified track, training (euthanized July 10), “two incomplete fractures of the first phalanx”

unidentified, July 17, unidentified track, training, “connective tissues of the distal limb are expanded by a mild amount of edema and there are biaxial sesamoid fractures”

unidentified, July 31, unidentified track, training, “complete, spiral fracture of the humerus…at the origin of the fracture, the periosteum is thickened and dark red…underlying cortical bone is dark red, proliferative and roughened…connective tissues of the left shoulder are expanded by a large amount of edema and hemorrhage”

unidentified, August 2, Keeneland, training, “the connective tissues of the distal limb are expanded by a large amount of edema and hemorrhage…there is tearing of both the lateral and medial digital veins…fragments from the medial fracture missing…soft tissue damage is severe”

unidentified, August 26, unidentified track, training, “open fractures of the lateral condyle of the third metacarpal bone and the lateral sesamoid…extensor tendons are torn and there is bone embedded within the suspensory ligament…lateral condylar fracture is comminuted, with multiple missing fragments and spans the length of the diaphysis”

unidentified, August 27, Ellis (probably Shot Glass, race 5), “carpus is swollen and unstable, with the joint containing abundant bloody fluid with bony particles admixed…comminuted slab fractures of the radial, intermediate, ulnar, third and fourth carpal bones, with the slab fractures being entirely separated from the underlying bone…severe ligamentous damage, with rupture of a number of the intercarpal ligaments and the collateral ligaments”

unidentified, August 28, unidentified track, training, “multiple fractures to multiple bones; the lungs are mildly edematous and congested, suggesting increased respiratory effort terminally as the result of pain and excitation”

unidentified, September 6, unidentified track, training, “fetlock joint of the left foreleg is swollen as a consequence of hemorrhage within the subcutis, tendon sheath, and outer joint capsule in response to a complete fracture of the medial sesamoid bone”

Mutazen, September 9, Kentucky Downs, race 5, “condylar fracture, sesamoid fractures”

unidentified, September 19, Keeneland, training, “sudden cardiac collapse during morning workout”

unidentified, September 22, Churchill, racing, “complete fracture of the lateral condyle of the third metacarpal bone…medial sesamoid is fractured, with an apical fracture and a second fragment in the midbody…soft tissue damage is severe”

unidentified, September 23, Keeneland, training, “multiple fractures of the medial sesamoid and soft tissue damage is extensive”

Ten City, October 7, Keeneland, race 8, “complete, lateral condylar fracture…soft tissue damage is severe, including rupture of the intersesamoidian ligament”

unidentified, October 10, unidentified track, training, “connective tissues surrounding the humerus are expanded by a marked amount of hemorrhage and edema, with tearing of the muscles…complete, spiral fracture of the humerus”

Galilianco, October 15, Keeneland, race 7, “open fracture of the lateral condyle of the third metacarpal bone and a comminuted fracture of the medial sesamoid”

I Am Iron Max, October 22, Keeneland, race 4, “lateral condylar fracture…extensive soft tissue damage, including complete rupture of the medial extensor branch of the suspensory ligament and tearing of the suspensory ligament itself”

unidentified, November 1, unidentified track, training, “cause of acute collapse and death could not be determined – rider reported the horse feeling very unstable just before collapsing”

unidentified, November 5, unidentified track, training, “comminuted fracture of [pelvis]…extensive hemorrhage dissects the gluteal, adducter and psoas muscles along the left side of the pelvis”

unidentified, November 20, unidentified track, training, “cause of acute collapse could not be determined”

unidentified, November 22, unidentified track, training (euthanized November 24), “complete fracture of the first phalanx”

In addition, these still-very-much-active racehorses died on track grounds from what the industry craftily calls “non-racing” causes. Technically true, perhaps, but morally they are no less casualties of this vile business than the ones above.

unidentified, March 21, unidentified track, “found dead in stall – the presence of an acute traumatic lesion to the left hind limb…suggests colt became uncomfortable during the night and injured his limb while rolling/becoming cast or otherwise struggling; gastric ulceration was severe enough in this case to have caused pain, in addition to the colonic lesion…large numbers of tape worms in the cecum”

unidentified, July 1, unidentified track, “horse died this morning – showed symptoms of Potomac Horse Fever”

I’ve recently begun filing FOIL/Right-to-Know requests with various state racing commissions in an effort to secure the names of the 2014 deceased (above and beyond the ones we already know about). As expected, results have been mixed. Two states – Ohio and Washington – responded with quick transparency. Most, though, I wait on. And then there are two (thus far) that sent back swift rejections:

Minnesota: “In response to your request for information for the names of the racehorses who died or were euthanized at Minnesota racetracks for calendar year 2014 in an email dated 1/14/2015, we are prohibited from sending this information by Minnesota law. Minnesota Statute 156.082 states that veterinary records of a client that are maintained by a state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision are private [italics added] data on individuals or nonpublic data…”

And this from Kentucky, one of Racing’s cornerstone states: “This letter is in response to your Open Records Request… In that request, you seek ‘the names of the racehorses who died or were euthanized at Kentucky racetracks for calendar year 2014.’ The KHRC is not in possession of any documents that would be responsive to your request. You may want to contact the Jockey Club…”

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Juxtapose the above with a much touted recent news item on “Kentucky deliver[ing] its safest year on record” (well, at least since they began keeping track – 2007). A Blood-Horse article says that last year “there were 16 catastrophic breakdowns during races [they conveniently ignore training deaths] at Kentucky Thoroughbred tracks.” In that article, the Commission’s medical director, Mary Scollay, credits the “success” to a “collaborative effort.” In other words, while Dr. Scollay and the rest of the Commission can (shamelessly) tell us that only 16 horses “catastrophically broke down” on Kentucky tracks last year, they can’t tell us who they are – because, you know, they’re “not in possession of [those] documents.”

After I replied by calling their claim dishonest and insulting, I received a follow-up. Although cordial in tone, the Commission still maintains that they know not which horses died on Bluegrass tracks last year. As a consolation, however, they generously provided me a spreadsheet of “race-related fatal injuries” from ’07-’14. Wow.

Kentucky, those 16 (that you’re willing to concede) animals killed in the pursuit of handle cash were individuals – intelligent and sensitive beings with distinct personalities. They deserve more than being lumped into a single nameless, faceless tally. In the end, though, it is an indignity befitting their entire pathetic lives.