Winetastic in the 8th at Aqueduct yesterday afternoon: “broke a step slow, was urged along on the outside, went five wide on the turn, suffered an injury inside the three-eighths and was pulled up then euthanized on the track.” And that’s that. He was but two years old – an equine babe – and this was his second ever race.

Although the breakdown is innocuous-looking, and while (it goes without saying) there are no images of the euthanasia, I’ve included the entire race to show both the conditions and, more important, the beatings administered to the rest of the “field” down the stretch. “Animal rights” aside, how can anyone see this as even remotely acceptable in the 21st Century?

The Racing press is celebrating – yes, that’s the right word – a decline in California fatalities last year. According to BloodHorse, the 71 deaths (it’s actually 72: see Bowies Hero) is the lowest total in California in 10 years. First, anyone who thinks there wasn’t some fudging going on to get to that number is either willfully ignorant or hopelessly naive. Rest assured, there were far more than 72. Second, and of much greater import, even if that figure were true, it would still be 72 horses killed – for $2 bets. Again, that’s 72 fully sentient beings destroyed for gambling. And they’re celebrating? Vile.

Perhaps even worse, among the supposed explanations (for the supposed decline) reeled off by BloodHorse is this: “The racing culture has also adapted to put equine safety more at the forefront.” Scott Chaney, CHRB executive director, added: “I think every stakeholder in California understands that animal welfare is the most important thing. It has to be because of the state in which we live….” Although he followed that with, “and because it’s the right thing to do,” the message couldn’t be any clearer. As I’ve said repeatedly in the wake of Santa Anita ’19, it’s only now – since racing’s been exposed as the cruel, deadly industry it is – that the horses supposedly matter. Hell, they even admit it, as illustrated above. Wake up, California. Wake up, America.

The 72 dead horses in California – that we know about:

Bowies Hero, Jan 2, Santa Anita R (euthanized Jan 18) – “laminitis”
Cali Caliente, Jan 9, Santa Anita T – “collapsed, got up, did circles, collapsed, death”
Noor Khan, Jan 17, Los Alamitos T – “staggered, collapsed, [died]” (four years old)
Don’t Stop Lookin, Jan 17, Los Alamitos T – “[multiple] fractures, [multiple] ruptures”
Scat’s Choice, Jan 23, Santa Anita R – “[multiple] open fractures, [multiple] ruptures”
Staredown, Jan 28, Golden Gate T – “massive hemorrhage, muscles severely torn”
Natural History, Feb 6, Santa Anita T – “[multiple] open fractures, complete ruptures”
Black Badge, Feb 8, San Luis Rey T – “rider heard ‘loud pop’ – catastrophic breakdown”
Munny, Feb 11, Golden Gate S – “surgery on 2/10…found deceased this morning”
Sweet Boy, Feb 20, Golden Gate T – “galloped out and fell over dead” (three years old)
My Three Kids, Feb 21, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Okoye, Feb 23, Golden Gate T – “ran into rail – penetrating wound, collapsed lung”
Rustic Canyon, Feb 26, San Luis Rey T – “collapsed, sudden death, spontaneously”
Squeaky Cheeky, Feb 28, Santa Anita R – “[multiple] open fractures/ruptures”
One Famous Prize, Mar 2, Los Alamitos T – “[multiple] fractures, [multiple] ruptures”
Surfside Sunset, Mar 5, Santa Anita S – “[stomach] rupture”
Squiggy, Mar 10, Golden Gate S – “spinal cord completely severed”
Mantra, Mar 21, Santa Anita R – “fractured ankle”
John’s Jewel, Mar 24, Golden Gate S – “pleuropneumonia” (two years old)
Nomadess, Mar 30, Los Alamitos T – “pulled up, dropped dead” (two years old)
yet-to-be-named, Apr 1, Golden Gate S – “accident”
Velocemente, Apr 3, Golden Gate R – “went wrong”
Call Sign Lucky, Apr 3, Los Alamitos T – “hit rail: open, displaced fracture”
My Child Sbud, Apr 17, Santa Anita R – “fracture of the LF ankle while racing”
Lady of the House, Apr 18, Golden Gate R – “went wrong”
Multiplier, Apr 18, Santa Anita R – “fractured ankle”
Champagneformybaby, Apr 20, Golden Gate S – “musculoskeletal”
Steamy, Apr 30, Los Alamitos R (euthanized May 4) – “compress[ed] spinal cord”
Noodles, May 22, Los Alamitos S – “pneumonia”
Big Wish, May 31, Golden Gate R – “went wrong crossing the finish line”
Agamemnon, May 31, Santa Anita R – “[multiple] fractures, [multiple] ruptures”
Meet At Dudley’s, Jun 9, Santa Anita T – “fractured [both] forelimbs”
Registrant, Jun 12, Los Alamitos R – “sudden death” (three years old)
Pushing Sixty, Jun 13, Santa Anita R – “fractured LF ankle…humane euthanasia”
Music Babe, Jun 16, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Snazzy Cazzy, Jun 17, Golden Gate S – “sudden death” (three years old)
Uncle Boogie, Jun 27, Santa Anita T – “fractured humerus while galloping”
Gutz, Jul 4, Santa Anita T – “fractured ankle…unrecoverable injury”
Square Dreamer, Jul 10, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Needless to Say, Jul 18, Del Mar T – “apparent heart attack” (three years old)
Arson, Jul 18, Del Mar T – “fractured leg, euthanized”
Arjun, Jul 28, San Luis Rey T – “musculoskeletal”
Bruce, Aug 2, Los Alamitos S – “sudden death – aortic rupture”
Shesgotattitude, Aug 6, Del Mar R – “flipped, struck head, euthanized”
Mark Whats Mine, Aug 12, Golden Gate S – “accident”
Moonlite Promise, Aug 29, Del Mar T – “musculoskeletal”
Esperada, Sep 5, Golden Gate T (two years old, being prepped for debut)
Honor Award, Sep 6, Del Mar R – “musculoskeletal”
Holdfast, Sep 16, Golden Gate T – “sudden death” (five years old)
Stopdropandroll, Sep 19, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Left Alone, Sep 19, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Seven Summers, Sep 30, Santa Anita T – “musculoskeletal”
Fight On Ron, Oct 1, Santa Anita R – “musculoskeletal”
Made in Karoo, Oct 7, Golden Gate S – “neurological”
Kakistocracy, Oct 14, Santa Anita T – “sudden death”
Favorite Doc, Oct 16, Los Alamitos R – “sudden death” (three years old)
Electric Ride, Oct 16, Santa Anita T – “non-musculoskeletal”
Luca’s Ride, Oct 17, Los Alamitos R – “fell, sudden death” (four years old)
Major Cabbie, Oct 23, Santa Anita R – “musculoskeletal”
Star of Africa, Oct 31, Santa Anita T – “non-musculoskeletal”
Set the Tone, Nov 3, Del Mar T – “hit pole”
Storm Spun, Nov 3, San Luis Rey T – “musculoskeletal”
Racer, Nov 6, Golden Gate S – “gastrointestinal, colic”
Galloping Slew, Nov 14, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Ima Rumbler, Nov 16, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Inimitable, Nov 19, Golden Gate R – “fell…euthanized on the track”
Mary’s Great Hope, Nov 21, Golden Gate T – “pending”
Barbwire, Nov 21, San Luis Rey T – “musculoskeletal”
Restiany, Nov 25, Santa Anita T – “musculoskeletal”
Conchita, Nov 28, Los Alamitos R – “fell”
Not This World, Nov 28, Los Alamitos R (euthanized Dec 1) – “pending”
Medina Spirit, Dec 6, Santa Anita T – “collapsed and died” (three years old)

The 7-year-old mare Lookin Kinda Crazy was raced in a $5,000 claimer (all horses “For Sale,” cheap) at Parx yesterday. It was her 41st time under the whip; there is a high likelihood it was also her last. The chart says she “took a bad step and fell at the sixteenth pole.” As you watch, you’ll see that Lookin was hopelessly bringing up the rear throughout the entire race – right up, that is, till she “made a move” about twenty seconds prior to going down. What propelled this sudden burst? Multiple whip strikes, of course, from jockey Joel Cruz.

At a minimum, it is apparent that Mr. Cruz violated 5533 in Pennsylvania’s cruelty statutes: “A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly illtreats, overloads, beats, abandons or abuses an animal.” But if in fact Lookin is dead, 5534 – a felony, by the way – should apply: “A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly…violates section…5533 causing serious bodily injury to the animal or the death of the animal.” Perhaps a bit of edification/pressure is in order?

Office of the District Attorney, Bucks County (Matt Weintraub)
Office of Attorney General, Pennsylvania (Josh Shapiro)
Bensalem Police Department: 215-633-3719