From the California Horse Racing Board for Los Alamitos, July 27-July 29: “Three equine deaths were reported this week [the week in question was three days] due to racing injuries.” Unacceptably, however, no names were disclosed. We know from other sourcing that one was Unusual Kiddy in the 8th July 29; it’s a good bet that, based on the charts, the other two are from this group: Amore Di La Mamma; Provodnikov; Dramatic Angel. Regarding UK, I received the following email:

Dear Patrick,

My name is Laura. I have always been a lover of all creatures, vegetarian since age 4, and highly sensitive to any stories of animal mistreatment. Until last Sunday, I knew almost nothing about the horse racing industry. It has been a very heartbreaking week.

My Dad used to work at a track when he was a teenager, and since we moved to Los Alamitos last year, he has wanted us all to go together to see some races. My life partner and I are expecting, and so we decided to take my parents there for dinner and share our happy news.

The night began innocently enough. We marveled at the beautiful horses, enjoyed our dinner, and laughed as my Mom picked a winner five times in a row. It was down to the final race of the night, and for the first time all night, I did not put my $2 on the horse with the greatest odds stacked against him, Unusual Kiddy.

What happened seconds after the horses left the gate has replayed in my mind hundreds of times this week. Unusual Kiddy tumbling several times before coming to a motionless stop. Ambulances. The winner being called over the speakers, no discussion of the carnage on the track. Watching through my tears. A silent drive home. A sickening feeling of guilt and despair. A sleepless night.

When I called in to the racetrack the next morning, the person who answered the phone was sympathetic to my teary request to know what happened. They called me back within the hour with the awful truth: Unusual Kiddy had broken his neck when he had fallen. He was paralyzed and lost consciousness on the track, was transferred to the ambulance and euthanized.

I have spent the better part of this week reading about horses and horse racing, and sharing this story with whoever would listen. I found your site, and wanted to share this poor animal’s story. Sunday I am going to a rescue sanctuary and sponsoring a racehorse that was saved from shipment to a slaughterhouse. This small intervention does not even dent how helpless I feel.

Thank you for all of your efforts to call attention to the dark side of this industry. I wish I could help save them all. The cruelty of human beings towards animals truly breaks my heart. Please feel free to put this story on your website so that this animal may be remembered.

Sincerely,
Laura Snoussi

Friday, the Minnesota Racing Commission issued the following:

“Commission Vet [observed] riding crop welts on the right flank of Ray’s Angel, winner of the 7th Race at Canterbury Park on July 19; Jockey Denny Velazquez is hereby assessed a civil penalty of $1,500. The Board of Stewards finds Velazquez’ previous history – seventh rule violation in the last three years involving prohibited use of the riding crop – to be an aggravating circumstance necessitating an enhanced penalty.”

WELTS. A history of abuse. A $1500 “civil penalty”? “Enhanced”?

Watch the force Velazquez brings to bear on Ray’s Angel; bluntly speaking, he is beating the hell out of him…

Saturday, the stewards at Prairie Meadows ruled:

“Having reviewed the video replay of the 8th race on August 3…Jockey Ramon Vazquez is hereby assessed an administrative penalty of $1,000 for excessive whipping (48 strikes in the final 3 ½ furlongs) of his horse, Underpressure. The Board notes Jockey Vazquez has had several violations at Prairie Meadows in recent history for excessive or indiscriminate whipping of his horse during a race.”

48 LASHES. A history of abuse. A $1000 “administrative penalty”?

Look, had the domesticated animals in question been pet-dogs instead of racehorses, these actions would have been criminal. (That’s not to say that anything meaningful would have resulted; state animal-cruelty statutes are largely toothless.) But because the law almost always defers to “common industry practice,” there’s nothing to be done. Horseracing has been beating animals – in plain view – for over a century. “Common industry practice.” So, Racing, police yourself. A slap to Velazquez, a slap to Vazquez, and they live to abuse for many more days. Sick.

Video of two recent kills at Del Mar has surfaced. The first, courtesy of TMZ, shows the lifeless body of Bobby Abu Dhabi after he “collapsed” while training July 22. The second, from KGTV, is the unedited replay of Irish Spring’s death in the 10th Saturday.

Regarding the above, Del Mar’s Mac McBride told the station: “I would say it is a little bit unusual for us to lose two horses in this way.” Yes, Mr. McBride, no two deaths are exactly the same, but fatal collapses and mortal collisions are anything but unusual in your line of work. Still, in the grand scheme, what does it matter how they die? To the 27 horses who perished at your track in 2016, the circumstances are wholly irrelevant. They are dead – the same as Bobby Abu Dhabi and Irish Spring.

Saratoga, perhaps the premier horseracing meet in the entire country, has claimed its fifth victim of the young summer today. Master Manipulator, says the Gaming Commission, “ran loose in barn area, was caught and returned; upon return, [he] collapsed and died.” “Collapsed and died” – at the pubescent age of three. But fret not, say the powers that be, for this ostensibly mysterious death is being “investigated.” Master Manipulator, incidentally, had a “workout” just yesterday.