As has been well-documented here, Kentucky Racing is cagey about its dead horses: Commission FOIA documents, which I’m currently working on, redact almost all identifying information; the chartwriters there eschew the standard killed-euphemism “broke down” in favor of the decidedly more nebulous “went wrong.” Friday at Keeneland, Amandine was one of those and, no surprise, is indeed dead.
Amandine, it should be noted, was part of the exodus from California in the wake of new drugging rules and (because of the searing scrutiny) on-edge horsemen. (These departures have forced Santa Anita to cancel at least the next few Thursday cards – not enough horses to race.) In fact, prior to dying in Kentucky, Amandine’s most recent four races all came during Santa Anita’s current meet. Perhaps that’s meaningful, perhaps not. But in the end, it matters not a whit where these horses die, for you can’t, in any meaningful way, separate out, or draw distinctions among, the various tracks and states. U.S Horseracing is a single entity; a kill at one is a kill for all.
On its website, the Grand National Steeplechase – a one-day event held every April in Maryland – “encourages picnicking,” with “pop-up tents” and all. On its website, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – yes, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – says: “Join the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for a true Maryland tradition, the 117th running of the Grand National Steeplechase. Enjoy a beautiful day in Baltimore County’s horse country with a classic picnic buffet, signature ‘Southside’ cocktails, live music, and the best view of the Grand National Steeplechase course. It is the perfect occasion to take in an amazing spring day and the excitement of steeplechase racing!”
A true family affair, this Grand National – hot dogs and ice cream for the kids, drinks and tunes for the moms and dads. Alas, though, yesterday’s entertainment also included the live death of a sentient being. In the 1st race – “Three And One Fourth Miles On The Timber” – Ardrahan, according to Equibase, “fell landing [at or on] the second-last fence and was euthanized.” In fact, of the 11 horses who began that race, only five finished, with a few of those who did not also hitting fences, one “hard.”
Look, I fully understand “tradition.” But when said tradition is exposed for what it is – animal exploitation, animal cruelty, and, often, animal killing – there is no longer any excuse. If you attend, bet on, or in any way patronize horseracing, you make days like yesterday possible. Ardrahan is dead, uncomfortable though this may be, because of the good people – including, shamefully, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – who turned out in Butler, Maryland, yesterday. And that’s about the size of it.
Southwick’s run in the 8th at Mahoning yesterday, as relayed by the Equibase writer: “SOUTHWICK…suffered a catastrophic injury and was euthanized.” Southwick was three years old; his entire “career” – all under trainer/owner Brooken Brinsfield:
Dec 19, last of 9, 36 lengths back
Jan 9, last of 8, 47 lengths back
Mar 25, 7th of 9, 25.5 lengths back
Apr 17, dead
Made. Abused. Killed. Sleep well last night, Mr. Brinsfield?
This from the NYS Gaming Commission, April 11, Tioga Downs: “Atomic Sealster fell over after completing a training mile, subsequently stopped breathing on track.”
This is horseracing. Every day.
The most recent Stewards Minutes from Santa Anita reveal this: “Veterinarian Report, 4/1-4/7, Fatalities 1.” Yes, that’s right, while the increasingly desperate racing world has been busy congratulating SA for a “safe” couple of weeks, implying of course that recently implemented “protocols” are working, yet another horse has died, leaving SA at 28 dead (and counting) since Christmas. Now, because the above is the extent of the current information (I will FOIA current-year necropsies soon), we do not know how this (unidentified) horse died. What we do know, however, is that he or she died in the servitude of Horseracing – making him or her a Horseracing casualty. Period.
The Los Alamitos Minutes, though still anonymous, were nonetheless more specific: “One equine death was reported this week due to racing injuries.” The “week” in question comprised three days – April 5-April 7 – during which three horses were “vanned off”: Jessa Sweet Dasher on the 5th, Texting and Thorny on the 6th. It’s a good bet that the dead horse is one of those.
Equibase’s cold, curt description of the end for Mama’s Hope, 7th race at Mahoning yesterday: “MAMA’S HOPE was bumped at the start, injured past mid turn then euthanized.” Mama’s Hope: made – March 15, 2014; killed – April 15, 2019.
This is horseracing.