Yesterday afternoon at Gulfstream, 2-year-old Side Street broke down running the Grade 3 “Old Hat” Stakes and was subsequently killed. The filly was ridden by Jesus Castanon, trained by Elizabeth Gray, and owned by Andrew Farm.

Two other horses also broke down Saturday: 4-year-old Sassy Cherokee in the 1st race at Charles Town and 3-year-old Classic Ford in the 10th race at Fair Grounds.

A head-on collision claimed the lives of two racehorses at Belmont yesterday morning, a story receiving mainstream coverage because one, 9-year-old Caixa Eletronica (below), was a star. Apparently, 4-year-old Six Drivers, the claimer afterthought part of this tale, became unnerved on the training track, threw his rider, and darted into Caixa Eletronica. Both, according to the NYRA vet, died instantly (neck, skull fractures).

photo credit: AP
photo credit: AP

Now to the nub. Caixa Eletronica’s owner, Mike Repole: “I’m devastated. …It’s a terrible day for racing. For any horse, it’s horrible. When you hear it’s Caixa Eletronica, it’s magnified.” Why devastated and magnified? The aptly named Caixa Eletronica – Portuguese for “cash machine” – had earned $1.6 million for Repole. Chris Englehart, Six Drivers’ brand new trainer (he was claimed on December 27th), fully commiserates: “It made it 10 times worse when I found out who the other horse was.” Curiously, Englehart had nothing to say about his own horse.

As a footnote, Newsday says that Evan Gewirtz, Six Drivers’ owner, hopes “the accident wouldn’t provoke protests from animal-rights groups.” Well, Mr. Gewirtz, we do protest, vehemently. And while you and your cohorts shamefully attempt to wipe your hands of this, we know the truth: Horseracing, not mischance, killed these two horses. Sleep on that.

Aqueduct (and NY) didn’t waste any time in recording its first victim of the new year when 5-year-old Uncle Smokey “broke down approaching the end of the backstretch and got euthanized” after yesterday’s 7th race (the replay shows him pulling up around 1:15). “Got euthanized.” How charming. Uncle Smokey was ridden by David Cohen, and trained and owned by David Jacobson, the same Davids who lost Coronate at Aqueduct a week prior. And so begins the 2014 Casualty Watch. This is horseracing.

11-year-old Silver Train, winner of the Grade 1 BC Sprint in 2005, has died of colic “while shuttling back to the United States from Brazil.” As per usual, disingenuous garbage flows forth from connections’ mouths: Majority shareholder Hank Nothhaft says, “Silver Train was all class, the consummate professional and will be sorely missed.” But then, the truth behind his lament: “Given his proclivity for producing winners, we expected big things from Silver Train for years to come. Given our expansive plans for him in 2014, his sudden passing was a real shock.”

photo credit: AP
photo credit: AP

Silver Train was neither “classy,” nor a “consummate professional.” To Nothhaft, and the others who came before, he was but a revenue stream. To the rest of us, he was a horse, an abused one at that.

The 2-year-old filly Mia Missile, initially listed as vanned off (“fell heavily”) after Saturday’s 4th race at Aqueduct, is indeed dead, euthanized on the track after fracturing her humerus. She was ridden by Angel Arroyo, trained by Laura Perillo, and owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds.

In the first replay (Race Replays, Saturday, Race 4), Mia Missile’s #6 icon disappears off screen in the stretch, with no sign of the fallen horse. But during a subsequent showing, the equine child can be seen collapsing in a heap (around the 3:50 mark). Of course, not a single mention of her broken, dying body from the track announcer. This is horseracing.

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