5-year-old Granny Calling broke down in the 1st race at Santa Anita yesterday and is dead. Prior to her fatal run, the veteran (who was not done growing yet) mare was for sale at $8,000. The complicit: jockey Gonzalo Nicolas, trainer G.F. Almeida, owner Brave MBA Stable, breeder Russell L Reineman Stables, and all prior connections.

Also, I have confirmed that Rock Elle Ten, another 5-year-old mare, is dead after breaking down in Wednesday’s 2nd race at Evangeline. She, too, was for sale on the day she died. The complicit: jockey Joseph Patin, trainer Keith Bourgeois, owner Larry Benoit, breeder Southern Equine Stables, and all prior connections. This is horseracing.

In his latest column on ESPN, Steve Davidowitz frets over the atypically (for racing as a whole) large field size (20) for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. More specifically, with so many horses jostling for position, Davidowitz imagines a nightmarish pileup and the public backlash that would surely follow:

“I pray to myself every time they open the Derby starting gate that no horse is going to be knocked so badly off stride that he causes a chain reaction of carnage similar to what we sometimes see during the first quarter-mile of the Indianapolis 500. Lord knows, Churchill Downs and all the people who love horse racing do not want to see anything close to something like that. The negative consequences from such a disaster would be the toughest body blow Churchill Downs and the racing industry ever has suffered.”

On this, Davidowitz is exactly right – racing, precarious racing, can ill afford a kill or two on its biggest day of the year. But to those of us paying attention, a breakdown at the Kentucky Derby would just be another among many hundreds that occur each year. While true that California Chrome and the rest are far more valuable than the pedestrian card-fillers we see at most tracks, that value only extends to their humans’ balance sheets. In truth, tomorrow’s golden group is morally indistinguishable from this one.

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The following is a six-month update on those horses reported as vanned off in October 2013. (Please note: I began tracking casualties on October 14th.) While reading, bear in mind that two racing experts put the vanned-off mortality rate at 90%.

Vamoose, Albuquerque, Oct 14, hasn’t been heard from since
Drama Magnet, Indiana, Oct 14, hasn’t been heard from since
Crown Her First, Mountaineer, Oct 14, hasn’t been heard from since
Ramrod Key, Parx, Oct 15, hasn’t been heard from since
Steve’s Adventures, Parx, Oct 15, hasn’t been heard from since
Toyon Bay, Turf, Oct 15, still active
Phantom Favorite, Zia, Oct 15, hasn’t been heard from since
Sun Beauty, Charles Town, Oct 16, hasn’t been heard from since
My Hip Hop Honey, Delta, Oct 16, still active
Pulp, Indiana, Oct 16, hasn’t been heard from since
Sunday Groom, Indiana, Oct 16, hasn’t been heard from since
Notoriously Noble, Indiana, Oct 16, hasn’t been heard from since
Turbo Tweaked, Laurel, Oct 17, hasn’t been heard from since
Time for Wine, Penn, Oct 17, hasn’t been heard from since
Triple A Rating, Penn, Oct 17, hasn’t been heard from since
Si the Ocean, Santa Anita, Oct 17, hasn’t been heard from since
Big Bentley, Calder, Oct 18, hasn’t been heard from since
Senora Sargento, Indiana, Oct 18, hasn’t been heard from since
Coffee Dance, Indiana, Oct 18, hasn’t been heard from since
Dash for Coronas, Lone Star, Oct 18, still active
Proulette, Penn, Oct 18, hasn’t been heard from since
Chiquita Mala, Penn, Oct 18, hasn’t been heard from since
Da Belldozer, Remington, Oct 18, hasn’t been heard from since
She’s a Doll Two, Retama, Oct 18, hasn’t been heard from since
Monkeyinthemiddle, Delta, Oct 19, hasn’t been heard from since
Go Go Boots, Hawthorne, Oct 19, hasn’t been heard from since
It’s My Turn, Keeneland, Oct 19, hasn’t been heard from since
Maroma Beach, Los Alamitos, Oct 19, hasn’t been heard from since
Lord Vronsky, Santa Anita, Oct 19, hasn’t been heard from since
Dixieland Blues, Santa Anita, Oct 19, still active
Twilite Zone, Zia, Oct 19, hasn’t been heard from since
Night Victor, Zia, Oct 19, hasn’t been heard from since
Transplendid, Belmont, Oct 20, hasn’t been heard from since
Joe the Jet Perry, Los Alamitos, Oct 20, hasn’t been heard from since
Whos Up, Los Alamitos, Oct 20, hasn’t been heard from since
Platinum Gold, Portland, Oct 20, hasn’t been heard from since
Twitch, Santa Anita, Oct 20, hasn’t been heard from since
Alert Warrior, Parx, Oct 21, hasn’t been heard from since
South Beach Queen, Parx, Oct 21, hasn’t been heard from since
Mona’s Thunder, Suffolk, Oct 21, hasn’t been heard from since
Czar Rd, Zia, Oct 21, hasn’t been heard from since
Fruitful Labour, Mountaineer, Oct 22, hasn’t been heard from since
Toppers Way, Albuquerque, Oct 23, hasn’t been heard from since
Patriot’s Jewel, Belmont, Oct 23, still active
Horseshoe Lake, Laurel, Oct 23, hasn’t been heard from since
Castle Pines, Portland, Oct 23, hasn’t been heard from since
Lunar Impulse, Delta, Oct 24, hasn’t been heard from since
South West Target, Delta, Oct 25, hasn’t been heard from since
Business Venture, Golden Gate, Oct 25, hasn’t been heard from since
Despinas Desire, Mountaineer, Oct 25, hasn’t been heard from since
Kelyo, Charles Town, Oct 26, hasn’t been heard from since
My Cousin Eddie, Finger Lakes, Oct 26, subsequently confirmed dead
Magestick Tomahawk, Finger Lakes, Oct 26, subsequently confirmed dead
Irish Lady, Finger Lakes, Oct 26, subsequently confirmed dead
Royal Snoqualimie, Los Alamitos, Oct 26, hasn’t been heard from since
Mr Corona Blue, Turf, Oct 26, still active
Halo’s Iron Loop, Zia, Oct 26, hasn’t been heard from since
Enhanced, Churchill, Oct 27, hasn’t been heard from since
Music Conductor, Thistledown, Oct 27, hasn’t been heard from since
Fonzerelli, Zia, Oct 27, hasn’t been heard from since
Mr Rabbits, Finger Lakes, Oct 28, subsequently confirmed dead
Bb Mine, Zia, Oct 28, hasn’t been heard from since
Worthy Note, Zia, Oct 29, hasn’t been heard from since
Trick Falls, Albuquerque, Oct 30, hasn’t been heard from since
Dyker Beach, Churchill, Oct 30, still active
Touch of Revenge, Suffolk, Oct 30, hasn’t been heard from since
Double Ought Pyro, Zia, Oct 30, hasn’t been heard from since
Controlled Chaos, Hawthorne, Oct 31, hasn’t been heard from since

Of the 68 horses reported as vanned off, 4 have been confirmed dead. Of the 64 others, 57 have not raced since; only 7 of the 68 remain active. In other words, 90% of the vanned off have disappeared. Or, exactly what our experts predicted.

In addition, these 14 horses were not reported as vanned off:

Formulaforsuccess, Belmont, Oct 18, fell, DNF, subsequently confirmed dead
Reel Spinner, Mountaineer, Oct 19, bled, DNF, hasn’t been heard from since
Sonic Dancer, Keeneland, Oct 23, euthanized on-track
Exaltado, Remington, Oct 23, euthanized on-track
Cc Jo Jos Leaving, Lone Star, Oct 24, bled, hasn’t been heard from since
Ready for Flight, Thistledown, Oct 25, broke down
Sin Freno, Calder, Oct 26, broke down
Mikes Fast Dash, Lone Star, Oct 26, fell, DNF, hasn’t been heard from since
Meadow Vespers, Thistledown, Oct 26, bled, hasn’t been heard from since
Lucky Leslie, Thistledown, Oct 26, lame, currently for sale
Princess Zaneta, Thistledown, Oct 26, bled, hasn’t been heard from since
In God’s Country, Parx, Oct 29, broke down
King TC, Thistledown, Oct 30, broke down
Deep Bottom, Remington, Oct 31, pulled up in distress, hasn’t been heard from since

In light of the above, it is not unreasonable to assert that over the last 18 days in October, some 74 Thoroughbreds and QuarterHorses – or about 4 per day – perished in-competition – remember, our analysis does not include harness and training deaths. In addition, there were almost certainly others who sustained eventually-fatal injuries that were not indicated on the charts – doomed horses who seemingly finished without incident. In short, there are more than 24 horses dying on American racetracks each week.

(If any of these horses are alive, their current people – whether racing, rescue, or private – should disclose; if done, I will dutifully report.)

Like Finger Lakes before it, Belmont Park wasted no time in recording its first victim of the 2014 meet: 3-year-old Handstand, being raced for only the third time, broke down in the 6th and was euthanized. This, after he “came under urging at the five-sixteenths.” The complicit connections: jockey Rajiv Maragh, trainer Thomas Albertrani (for all 3 races), and owner/breeder Darley Stable. Handstand was running for a share of $92,400.

Friday afternoon at Aqueduct, 6-year-old Aussi Austin comfortably won the 8th race, earning for his connections a cool $42,600. That, alas, would not only be his last race, but also his last day on this planet. For you see, Aussi Austin suffered a spiral fracture during the race and is now dead. Unsurprisingly, his people first tried surgery – unsurprisingly, because this was Aussi’s third consecutive good-money win ($26,790 at Laurel on January 16th and $33,600 at Aqueduct on March 13th).

Friday’s fatal run was Aussi’s first under trainer/owner David Jacobson, who bought the horse for $50,000 back in March. For Jacobson, this makes 12 NY deaths since 2009. Also complicit: jockey Taylor Rice; Aussi’s three previous trainers – Mark Casse, Giuseppe Iadisemia, Rudy Rodriguez; breeder Gainesway Thoroughbreds; and prior owners.