An exercise rider, Mourad Boudraa, is dead after his 3-year-old mount Tawney’s Wish had “a suspected fatal heart attack” yesterday at Woodbine. The filly had raced but once, May 25th at that same track, finishing dead last (of 11) some 26 lengths back. Then a heart attack at the equivalent age of a human teenager? Any insights, (trainer) Don Pleterski?

The California Horse Racing Board has confirmed that Cole Forty Five, reported as broke down after a “bad step” Friday at Santa Anita (8th race), was indeed killed. The 3-year-old colt fractured sesamoids in his left front while competing for a share of $57,250. This was but his 3rd race, all at Santa Anita and all with the same connections – jockey Kayla Stra, trainer Edward Freeman, and owner/breeder Matties Racing Stable.

Besides Chiffy and How Far We’ve Come, four other horses broke down this weekend and should be presumed dead:

5-year-old Lake Brilliant in Friday’s 2nd race at Prairie
3-year-old Cole Forty Five in Friday’s 8th race at Santa Anita
6-year-old Birthday Wish in Saturday’s 7th race at Belterra
3-year-old Shanes Social Cat in Saturday’s 2nd race at Lone Star

And earlier in the week:

4-year-old My Jordy in Tuesday’s 2nd race at Presque Isle
2-year-old Summer Sanctuary in Thursday’s 4th race at Delaware
3-year-old Ol’ Bob in Thursday’s 4th race at Louisiana

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That’s 9 breakdowns. In addition, 34 horses were vanned off last week. If only half of them died – a conservative estimate – we end up with some 26 dead athletes – just on the flat tracks and just while racing. Insanity.

As previously mentioned, Parx stands virtually alone in finishing death notices; most every other track stops at “broke down,” intentionally leaving the door ever so slightly ajar for, of course, marketing reasons: Why use such a final, awful, bad-for-business word like dead if you don’t have to? Probably because it is so rarely seen, a chart comment that includes “euthanized” still sends a jolt. Witness this from Sunday’s 8th race at Parx: “[5-year-old] How Far We’ve Come broke down midway on the turn, was pulled up and subsequently humanely euthanized.” A playing field death on a lazy summer afternoon.

By the way, once she came back from a 15-month hiatus in March of this year, How Far We’ve Come finished second-to-last on March 8th, last on March 26th, second-to-last on April 11th, second-to-last on June 7th, and, alas, dead on June 22nd. All for trainer William Komlo and owner Tanterra Stables. This is horseracing.