Tim Wilkin is a fine sportswriter, even if one of his duties is to cover horseracing for the Albany Times Union. (Of course, horseracing is as out of place on the Sports pages as blowing away Whitetails in autumn.) But his latest contribution (“Loss Leaves Empty Feeling,” 8/27/13) on the aftermath of Sunday’s 9th race in Saratoga almost seems written with the express purpose of eliciting sympathy for those at the heart of this exploitative business. Pity the poor horseman, for he so loved his former charge.
Wilkin on Charlie LoPresti, trainer of the late Kris Royal: “His heart was breaking because of stall 16. It was empty. Kris Royal, a 5-year-old chestnut gelding who was there on Sunday, was gone on Monday.” Little, Wilkin says, can “soothe [LoPresti’s] aching heart.” And LoPresti himself: “It just makes you sad, number one, because he’s just a neat little horse if you knew him. If you look there and you see his empty stall … what a nice little horse to be around … a fun little guy … he never bothered anybody … he tried. It really makes you rethink what you do. I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘It didn’t really happen, did it?'”
Perhaps, Wilkin writes, the rain-starved fast turf was simply too much for these horses. LoPresti, however, magnanimously refuses to blame anyone. His “fun little guy” just took a “bad step,” “hit a rough spot.” But if you delve a little deeper, certainly far beyond what this article is willing to reveal, you’ll find the root of snapped Thoroughbred legs everywhere: $2 bets and the resultant pots of gold that men like LoPresti relentlessly chase. The tragedy here, is horseracing itself.
“Today was just so quiet. Looking over at the turf remembering that’s the spot where it happened and it’s all mangled up.” (Maxine Correa, exercise rider for trainer Nick Zito, Daily Racing Form, 8/27/13)
Ms. Correa’s somber tone comes from an accident that occurred yesterday at Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track. According to the DRF, Raymond Bulgado, a fellow Zito rider, suffered a broken neck when his mount, Ricochet Court, crumpled under the weight of two broken front legs. Mr. Bulgado remains at Albany Medical Center. The horse is dead. As of this writing, nary a word on the NYRA website. This is horseracing.
Four-year-old Sarava’s Dancer and five-year-old Kris Royal each fractured a leg yesterday in Saratoga. In the same race. Both were euthanized on-track. Watch Sarava’s Dancer (#7), leading at the half-mile mark, “pulling up.” And then, within a matter of seconds, Kris Royal (# 1), making a bid for the lead (“like a shot”), “fell, may have clipped heels.” That’s track-speak for two geldings snapping bones and suffering excruciating pain. To all who placed bets on this lazy, sun-soaked afternoon, for shame.
Wisdom Seeker, yet another seven-year-old forgotten claimer at Finger Lakes Deathtrack, has been euthanized after suffering an undisclosed injury on August 12th. Running in a $4,500 claiming race – the highest level she attained in her 3 1/2-year “career” – for $9,000 in purse money, Wisdom Seeker, Equibase reports, “ducked out at the start bumping with Emotional Trainwreck, saved ground and tired.”
Jill Golden, four, is also dead at Finger Lakes, euthanized Friday for what’s termed a “non-racing” issue. The filly last raced on June 18th – “no factor and was eased over the wire.” With these two, Finger Lakes can now boast 25 dead horses in the current meet. And just think, we have until December.
NEWS10 is reporting that Stillwater police have arrested horse trainer Joseph DeCarlo for abusing a Standardbred under his care. DeCarlo was charged under Article 26, Section 353 of the Ag and Markets Law (“overdriving, torturing and injuring animals”), a misdemeanor. NEWS10 says that the gelding suffered “severe and extensive internal and external mouth injuries.” More information to come.