The California Horse Racing Board is investigating the death of 5-year-old Standardbred Nutmegs Davey less than 24 hours after he won last Saturday’s 3rd race at Cal Expo. What’s more, owner Ormin Carrera and trainer Dario Solares are, at least for the moment, banned from the track for removing their dead horse without notifying officials. (In California, all horses who die at racetracks, no matter the cause, must be sent to UC Davis for a necropsy.) As an aside, Cal Expo horse owner Walter Peterson told KCRA that the horses “live in what I call luxury suites” and are “treated like kings and queens.”

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Also, Wednesday at Monticello Raceway (NY), another Standardbred, Hickory Louie, died after finishing second in the 8th race. From the Gaming Commission database: “sluggish and unsteady at the half – finished 2nd but died on backside of track after finish – possible cardiac event.” Hickory Louie was trained by Robert Lounsbury and driven by Bruce Aldrich Jr. NY’s 2014 Death Toll: 17.

According to a source at the track, 6-year-old Tawdry is dead after fracturing a pair of sesamoids in Monday’s 8th race at Mountaineer. This, but another example of racing trying mightily to conceal its odious underside – the chart merely had the mare taking “a bad step,” pulling up, and being vanned off. Tawdry, a veteran of almost four years, was running in a $5,000 claiming race for a racino-jacked purse of $9,500. This is horseracing.

Horses, the apologists say, are born to run, love to run; the modern Thoroughbred is the most exquisite of athletes, sleek and powerful, with, most importantly, an instinctive will to compete. Ignore, they continue, the diminutive humans perched atop, for both the jocks and their snapping appendages serve merely as guides. In short, you can’t force a racehorse (or any horse) to do something he doesn’t wish to do.

It matters not whether the above springs from conditioned naivete or deliberate dishonesty. It’s pure, unadulterated bunk. Of course horses are compelled to race, a compulsion that often ends in calamity. Witness Sunday’s 1st race at Fair Grounds, when a 3-year-old named Sweet Basil suffered the following under the guiding Richard Eramia:

After gaining “under a right-handed whip in upper stretch, [she was] switched to a left-handed whip outside the sixteenth-pole, drew alongside the winner late and just missed then pulled up in heat distress and was vanned off.” Whipped with both hands, heat distress, ambulanced off. Chasing – for her jockey and “connections” – a $41,000 purse. The athlete as slave. That is the racehorse.

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The following racehorses were casualties on American tracks last week:

Aggressive Prize, Louisiana, race 5, confirmed dead

Sky of Grey, Mountaineer, race 3, bled

Thegallopingghost, Mountaineer, race 4, vanned off

Jalouzi, Charles Town, race 2, “pulled up lame,” vanned off
Thwack, Charles Town, race 5, vanned off
The Program, Fair Grounds, race 8, confirmed dead

Run in Aruba, Calder, race 4, vanned off
Miss Da Sunrise, Fair Grounds, race 4, confirmed dead
Cammazes, Golden Gate, race 5, “returned bleeding from both nostrils”
Cellophane, Golden Gate, race 6, broke down
Bravo Romeo, Laurel, race 2, “pulled up lame,” vanned off
Direction to Pay, Tampa Bay, race 7, vanned off
Bandini Girl, Turfway, race 2, bled, DNF

Warren’s Hopeful, Charles Town, race 9, vanned off
Zuppardos High PR, Delta, race 5, fell, DNF
Prado Cat, Gulfstream, race 6, vanned off
Holy Wildcat, Gulfstream, race 7, vanned off
D’wildbill, Mountaineer, race 1, vanned off
Diamondsontheinside, Remington, race 11, vanned off
Jack Brookshire, Remington, race 14, vanned off
Dats Dee, Sunland, race 10, vanned off

The Fed Eased, Calder, race 3, vanned off
Sweet Basil, Fair Grounds, race 1, “pulled up in heat distress,” vanned off
Quinnkat, Gulfstream, race 9, bled
Compromising Txt, Los Alamitos, race 3, vanned off