Lavalette Gold imploded after crossing the finish line in Thursday’s 4th race at Belmont, and this time the NYRA cameras couldn’t help but capture the ugliness…around the 1:40 mark (Race Replays, Thursday, Race 4). Dead at three. The video, of course, tells another story, one of cover-up and callousness: While the announcer remains dutifully silent – not a word – on the filly’s fall, which was as plain as the nose on his face, the winner’s people gather for their repugnant photo-shoot, proving once more that common decency in these circles is a commodity, unlike the racehorse itself, in short supply.

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Also Thursday, Quarter Horse Bt My First Picture died after breaking down in the 9th race at Evangeline Downs (Louisiana). Priced at $5,000 before the gun, she is now worth considerably less. And finally, on Wednesday, two-year-old For Riches was destroyed on-track at Saratoga Race Course after “sustaining [an] injury galloping.” Galloping. Just a baby, he had yet to run a race.

With the deaths of Standardbred Ideal Joe (“possible heart attack” at Vernon Downs) and Thoroughbred Two Comma Guy (while training at Belmont), New York has tallied 85 racehorse deaths through the first 3 quarters of 2013, a statistic not likely to make the “I Love NY” tourism guide.

Finger Lakes: 32
Belmont: 24
Aqueduct: 13
Saratoga Race Course: 8
Buffalo: 2
Vernon: 2
Monticello: 1
Saratoga Gaming: 1
Tioga: 1
Yonkers: 1

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Equibase reports that four-year-old Kentucky Hannah, running in yesterday’s 6th race at Penn National, “broke down and fell nearing the turn then was humanely euthanized.” (By the way, to imply that somehow credit is due for ending the misery you – racing – caused is contemptible.) Pity trainer/owner Stephanie Beattie, her earning with Kentucky Hannah had only just begun, and with two wins in four races, the filly was well on her way to becoming a fine revenue stream. To add insult to injury, Beattie is also saddled with disposal costs.

On Tuesday, three-year-old Flashy Eyed Pearl “clipped heels and fell heavily” during the 5th race at Parx. Her status is unknown. That same day at Charles Town, Include Abigail, another pubescent filly, “jostled at the start [of the 9th race], trailed the field then broke down midway on the final turn.” The racing office was unable to update, though I was told that the “jock is fine.” Intentionally, neither Pennsylvania nor West Virginia have NY-type injury/death databases, so kill confirmations are difficult to obtain. This is horseracing.

Tradition. Beauty. Elegance. Billing itself “The Sport of Kings,” racing presents its horses, especially the regal Thoroughbreds, as resplendent, pampered athletes proudly displaying their prowess to admiring fans. The horse, they tell us, is born to run, loves to run, with an instinctive will to “compete.” It is well-crafted fantasy, which major media gladly indulges with disproportionate coverage of Triple Crown pageantry, sappy biopics (“Seabiscuit”), and a ridiculous cult of romance surrounding the sport’s “stars”: The revered Secretariat joined two other horses on ESPN’s greatest athletes of the 20th Century and even adorned a postage stamp.

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Every once in a while, though, the horse people offer some naked truth. In October 2012, NY’s horsemen, presumably feeling self-satisfied, released the results of a new study (commissioned by them): “BREAKING NEWS: Economic Impact generated by the New York Equine Industry reached $4.2 billion in 2011, yielding roughly 33,000 full-time equivalent jobs.” In a press release, Rick Violette Jr, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said, “The Study shows, in black and white, that every horse in New York is a potent job creator. The horse should be our state animal.”

So, there it is. To the horsemen, the horse is money; indeed, as the press release reminds, “horses are one of the leading agricultural commodities in the state,” with each of NY’s 23,100 racehorses representing “an economic impact of $92,100 on the state’s bottom line.” The horse should be our state animal not because he is a naturally autonomous, sentient creature wonderful at simply being a horse, but rather because he is “a potent job creator,” a valuable “commodity.” Tradition? Beauty? Elegance? Well, forgive the euphemism, just a load of nonessential matter from the horse’s digestive system.

“It must be accepted that in some sports sometimes lives will be lost.” (New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc., The New Zealand Herald, 2012)

“A jumps race is a licence for animal cruelty.” (Eliot Pryor, campaign director for SAFE, Voxy, 9/27/13)

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Two Thoroughbreds died yesterday as the New Zealand “2013 Jumping Programme” came to a close at Waikato. Seven-year-old Yangming and ten-year-old Roberty Bob fell in separate races, bringing the season’s death toll to ten. This figure, which outpaced last year, means that New Zealand can proudly boast a race-with-a-fatality rate of 10% (there were 99 events listed on the NZTR website). Imagine that. Here is the 2010-2013 victim roll. Broken shoulders, snapped legs, fractured spines, burst arteries.

The replays from yesterday (click on “video”)…

Race 1: Yangming, obviously tiring after having relinquished the lead, goes down at 2:26.

Race 6: Roberty Bob at 2:45, followed by two more at 5:02 and 5:46. When Mister Deejay crashes (5:02), the announcer says “it sold the farm,” apparently confusing his idioms. This race covered 3 miles, 22 hurdles (24 were scheduled, but the falls intervened), and took six minutes to run.

Yesterday’s Stewards Report (jud 29 Sep 2013) includes the following: “began awkwardly,” “fell heavily [Yangming],” “hit the second fence hard,” “landed awkwardly,” “misjudged the final fence,” “hit the fence…dipped on landing,” “stumbled badly,” “put in a poor jump…landing awkwardly and falling,” “underwent a post-race [exam] which showed signs of mild lameness,” “put in a poor jump…was humanely euthanzied [Roberty Bob],” “It’s A Monty lay on the track for a short period,” “Bold Mariner brought down by [It’s A Monty],” etc.. In all, I count 16 different horses as falling, hitting a fence, pulling up, or being “excessively whipped.” Madness.