According to the Del Mar stewards, 3-year-old Love On the Road is dead after breaking down (Equibase: “pulled up in distress”) in the 5th yesterday.

My count, which comes directly from the Stewards Minutes, has Del Mar at at least 17 dead horses this summer…

7/6-7/12: 3 dead
7/13-7/18: 1 dead
7/19-7/25: 2 dead
7/26-8/1: 3 dead
8/2-8/8: 2 dead
8/9-8/15: 2 dead
8/16-8/22: 1 dead

Plus Pure Tactics 8/23, Divine Tale 8/30, Love On the Road yesterday.

Racing apologist and San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Ed Zieralski, feeling a bit prickly over attacks on his precious game, writes this in response to the death totals:

“PETA’s figures [basically in sync with mine] on horse fatalities at Del Mar are wrong. The organization has been taking the number of horse deaths listed on the Del Mar stewards minutes each week and adding them to Del Mar’s totals. All horses that die of illness or injuries at any Southern California track that trains horses for Del Mar are included in the stewards’ minutes. PETA’s numbers reflect that.”

To which I respond – even if true, what (moral) difference would it make? Instead of saying (at least) 17 horses have died at Del Mar, we could simply say (at least) 17 horses have died at Del Mar or while being “prepared” for Del Mar. The end result, no matter how desperately the hacks try to spin it, is the same: There are (at least) 17 dead bodies on the Del Mar ’15 ledger. And that is that.

The Equibase chart for the 1st race at Parx yesterday: “DASH dueled outside, broke down in her left front and fell at the 7/16 pole and was subsequently humanely euthanized.” Dash was a 3-year-old filly, still very much in equine puberty. Some of the others in that race: “GIMMEACLUE…inherited a long lead when dueling opponent broke down on the turn and drew away under moderate urging. WINK FOR ME steadied to avoid fallen rival… FLATTERING TALES was taken up and bobbled badly trying to avoid stricken rival…losing any chance.”

Yup, sounds like any other American sporting event. Obscene.

Later in the Parx afternoon: “MISS HOLICONG broke sharply, raced wide, was pulled leaving the backstretch as she was vanned off while bleeding from the nostrils.”

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This is horseracing.

From the most recent Del Mar Stewards Minutes:

August 26 – “Exercise rider Jelani Grant received the following penalty issued in a ruling. It involved Mr. Grant hitting a morning galloper in the head twice with his hand. He said he lost his temper after the horse jerked its head up and hit him in the face. He promised it would not happen again.” Fine: $100.

A jerky horse, a lost temper, a couple whacks to the head. But all is good because “he promised it would not happen again.”

This is horseracing.