3-year-old Finesse collapsed and died of an apparent “cardiac issue” Friday afternoon after finishing second in a race at Oaklawn. Finesse was ridden by Ricardo Santana and trained by Steve Asmussen (below) – yes, that Ricardo Santana and Steve Asmussen.
Updates on Uncle Betty and Cooper River:
Through a call to the state vet’s office, Joy Aten (“Shedrow Secrets”) confirmed that Uncle Betty was indeed killed after breaking down March 13th at Charles Town. The 2-year-old filly was ridden by Ariel Diaz, trained by James Locklear, and owned by O’Sullivan Farms.
Cooper River, who was forced – by jockey Yomar Ortiz – to run last Friday at Laurel despite being wrong from the start, is alive, albeit injured and on the vet’s list. Joy quotes the track vet as saying that “the jockey should have pulled [Cooper] up” after he “smacked his stifle” in the gate. Pressed on, the 6-year-old eventually fell.
For four months last year, PETA had an undercover investigator working for highly successful trainer Steve Asmussen – at Churchill Downs and Saratoga Race Course, no less. What follows are some of the investigation’s highlights:
Trainer Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s top lieutenant: “Fuck these horses. These motherfuckers. They’ll fucking break your fucking heart every fucking day, these cocksuckers. There’s always something wrong with ’em.”
“You ought to see these limping motherfuckers I see this son [of] a bitch out here [Saratoga] jogging every day.”
“You could not believe how many [horses] they hurt and kill before they ever even get to the racetrack.”
Farrier working on 5-year-old Nehro, one of Asmussen’s charges: “That’s all missing! His foot is a little bitty nub. …he lost Z-bars on both feet multiple times until he had bloody holes in the bottom of his feet.”
“He doesn’t even have a pulse in this one, and he’s barely got one in the… Stick your thumb in there. Right there in that frog. …No, it’s been like that for three months…it rotted.” Blasi: “…listen…I know the fucker hurts.” Farrier: “Let me show you this hole. This is treacherous. We’ve tried superglue in that hole.”
Blasi, to Nehro: “Quit being such an asshole. …Aggravating son of a bitch.” A few days after this exchange, Nehro died of colic. Blasi: “I have seen a lot of shit. That is the most violent fucking death I have ever seen.”
Track veterinarian James Hunt on Lasix: “It makes them lighter. …it’s a performance enhancer.”
Blasi on “shockwave therapy,” which is used to deaden pain: “It fucking hurts like hell. I can’t believe them fucking sons a bitches can take it.”
Blasi on electric shockers, which are used to “motivate” horses during a race: “I’d tell [jockey Ricardo Santana Jr], ‘You got the maquina [shocker]?’ ‘Boss, I got the maquina.'”
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens: “So, long story short, I win the race…and I reach over to pull this off, and I, I shock the shit out of myself [audible laughing around the table].”
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “Well, we used to go behind the gate at Ruidoso. And it was just like it was a full-blown orchestra. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Everybody had one. Everybody had one.”
Blasi, after losing an underperformer – a “rat” – to a claim: “I could just do a fucking cartwheel right now.”
To the New York and Kentucky commissions who have begun investigations, spare us the false outrage. This is the racing you know, and have always known; embarrassment does not equate to caring. The truth is, you and your entire industry are every bit as corrupt as Steve Asmussen and Scott Blasi. To Nehro and the other victims, we are sorry. But know this, we will not rest until this whole vile house of cards comes crumbling down.
Asmussen and his fellow revelers…
Last Friday, a nondescript horse named Cooper River ran a $5,000 claiming race at Laurel Park. (In fact, he was claimed.) The chart had the 6-year-old “very rank leaving the starting gate,” showing “poor action,” unseating his rider, and falling. Officially, a DNF. Watch (pick up video at 2:00 mark) as the throwaway claimer tries desperately to right himself while jockey Yomar Ortiz tries desperately to win some cash.
On Thursday, 2-year-old Uncle Betty broke down in the 5th race at Charles Town. Although calls to the racing office have proved fruitless, it is safe to presume her as dead. In all, four horses were involved in Uncle Betty’s fall (click “Track,” Thurs Mar 13, race 5).
While this page holds that all horseracing is wrong, there is perhaps no more vile form than the steeplechase (“jumps”), the kind of animal competition that comes with an expectation of bodies falling, breaking, and dying. And so it was last week at the Cheltenham Festival 2014 in England. Four days, four kills (one was in a flat race under National Hunt rules): Our Conor (broken back), day 1; Akdam (fractured leg) and Stack The Deck (fractured knee), day 2; Raya Star (fractured spine), day 4.
The meet’s leading jockey, Ruby Walsh, said this after Our Conor’s death (The Telegraph, 3/12/14): “Horses are horses. You can replace a horse.” Walsh, in a bit of poetic justice, would break his arm later in the Festival when his horse, Abbyssial, took this fall…
And this from the RSPCA’s “equine consultant,” David Muir: “If a horse has broken its leg, we have to look at the reasons why and see what we learn from it.” If the RSPCA still has more to “learn” from racing kills, then it should cease calling itself an animal protective organization. Take a stand – work to end horseracing.
And finally, the British Horseracing Association: “Despite the best efforts of all involved, as with participation in any sport involving speed and athleticism, there remains an inherent risk of injury.” More fatuous words were never spoken.