There were two – yes, two – training kills this morning at Finger Lakes. 6-year-old Schwarbertown broke his pastern. For 5-year-old Sister Alexa, it was the fetlock. They are dead horses 30 and 31 in NY this year. Both notices, incidentally, included “rider not injured,” as if this is even important. Sorry, it’s not.
10-year-old Runs for Luck “collapsed” in the 5th at Parx yesterday. It was his 85th race. While I don’t have official confirmation yet, “collapsed” almost always means dead – especially when you’re 10. Current exploiters: Vaccaro Racing, Patricia Farro.
The replay doesn’t show the fall; all we get from the track announcer are comments like “and the trailer, Runs for Luck” and “at the back, Runs for Luck.” And then just this: “One did go down there at the back of the field.” Yes, “one” – an intelligent, sensitive, fully conscious being, probably in the throes of dying. Oh, how they love their horses.
And at Mountaineer yesterday, Wild Winter, 11, was put to the whip for the 101st time. 11 years old, 101 races: all horseracing is animal abuse; this is egregious abuse. Current exploiters: Algarcon Stables, Cally Ann Herrington.
Last week, I appeared on Ed Berliner’s “The Man in the Arena.” Here it is on YouTube:
Last week, I reported on Justourluck taking a horrible – aren’t they all, though? – fall at Belterra. Here it is again:
I have been able to confirm (Ohio Racing Commission) that the 3-year-old is indeed dead. Shocking, huh? Anyhow, here is a video posted by breeder/owner Burch Farm. Apparently, this took place right before Justourluck’s very first race, at Turfway back in January. Keep in mind – while watching the yanking and jerking – that this poor, scared animal was just two at the time. A baby. And now we know he had but four months to live. Get out of the weeds on Bob Baffert, America. Horseracing is fundamentally cruel. It cannot be fixed or reformed. It must end.
I have long maintained that drugs in racing is given far too much attention. Yes, the (obviously) nonconsensual drugging and doping of racehorses is a wrong, but it’s only one of many – and not even close to being the worst. For the apologists, it represents an out: All we need do is clean up the meds, like baseball did with steroids, and all will be right with the world. For some advocates, it’s a clear case of missing the forest for the trees. Still, occasionally a drug rap is so big it merits all that attention.
By now, most of you have heard that Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit, this year’s Derby “winner,” has tested positive for the anti-inflammatory betamethasone. Even if the split comes back negative and this does not become only the second drug DQ in Derby history, watching the industry squirm and its biggest, most successful trainer go apoplectic will have been satisfaction enough. Mr. Baffert to Sports Illustrated:
“We did not give it to him. The vet, no one, has ever treated him with it. This is a gut punch for something I didn’t do. It’s disturbing. … I don’t know what’s going on in racing right now, but there’s something not right. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We’re going to do our own investigation.
“I do not feel safe to train. It’s getting worse and to me, you know going forward, how do I enjoy training? How do I move forward, knowing something like this could happen? It’s complete injustice but I’m going to fight it tooth and nail. I owe it to the horse, to the owner and our industry. … These contamination levels—I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I know not everyone is out to get me—but there’s definitely something going on. Why is it happening to me?”
Why indeed, Bob. Why indeed.