Heading to (Dead in) Toga

Saratoga Race Course saw another of its young entertainers killed Saturday when Heading to Toga, three, crashed and burned at the end of the 1st race. The fatal injury, I’m sure, was gruesome (broken sesamoids, torn ligaments and tendons), but NYRA won’t let us see that, for the official replay stops just short of the “spill” that occurred after the finish line. The cleverly christened equine child is now but an anonymous hunk of dead flesh at some rendering plant or crematorium. In fact, except for a fifth-place footnote to a meaningless August claiming race and a line on her owner’s 2014 tax return, it will be as if she never was. 2013 Saratoga Death Count: 3.


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  1. When will this death and destruction end!?! Is there anyone who can explain to me just how horses dying in the name of “sport” is acceptable?…and the old excuse “it’s part of the game” is not going to fly! Because I am 100% certain if the horses could speak, they would all be exclaiming “I don’t want to play anymore!”.

    RIP Heading to Toga…you will not be forgotten.

  2. Another victim of our throw away society. I wish they would stop racing babies…so few are sound when retired…if they make it to retirement!

  3. The accident happened in front of me as I was on the rail. i’m still shaken over it. This was my last visit to a racetrack.

    • Thank you for posting, Bob. As with Eric who recently left a similar comment, these life-altering moments are so very powerful and need to be spread far and wide. Please know that it is greatly appreciated.

  4. You are completely incorrect about this insensitivity regarding this horse. You stated: “In fact, except for a fifth-place footnote to a meaningless August claiming race and a line on her owner’s 2014 tax return, it will be as if she never was.” That is completely untrue. Anthony Bonomo bred and raised this filly, called her “his girl” and was extremely upset at losing his filly. He went to the hospital to see the jockey after the race to see how he was doing and determined what happened to the horse. The jockey said she was in between horses in the gallop out and stepped on another horse’s foot and fractured her leg. It was an accident. Mr. Bonomo is the head of the NYRA Equine Safety Committee. He is extremely dedicated to the welfare of horses stating “economics will not dictate” what they do to ensure safety. He helped implement practices such as ensuring necropsies are done on all horses lost. Additionally, in the Belmont spring meet, 2 horses were lost in 4,214 races. Although the goal is no losses, every effort is being made for the safety of horses. If you want to post the tragedies, in fairness the accomplishments and positives should be posted as well.

    • Cathy, aren’t they all “accidents”? Point is, not one single horse should die on the track. Ever. And I don’t really care to hear how upset the horse’s people are. They do it for money. Why don’t you ask Mr. Bonomo if he can vouch for the idyllic retirements of every one of his “girls and boys.” Because until he and every other horseman can do that, horseracing “accomplishments and positives” are the stuff of fantasy.

  5. There are some excellent owners like Mr. Bonomo and some terrible ones, as there are terrible parents and spouses. There are people who shouldn’t be owners. Mr. Bonomo does not fall into that category. I personally had 2 horses die as a result of injuries in paddock accidents – at different farms in different years. Yes, they were “accidents” – such as the case with this filly on the gallop out (after the race was over). Not truthfully letting your readers accurately know the circumstances will draw your credibility into question. I personally have never seen anyone break down in tears over a line in their tax returns. You can ask Mr. Bonomo about the retirement of his horses personally. He will be at the NYRA board meeting this Wednesday. It is open to the public.

  6. This is so , so sad any age , not just 2 year olds , why , can’t you do something else to make money , yes , it’s all about money —— And why do they race these poor animals in the 2 hottest months of the year , July and August , these poor horses can’t tell you in the day they race if they don’t feel good , foot might hurt , lame leg , or just not feeling up to it ——– So darn much abuse with everything , from children adults , seniors , and animal abuse , it just is terrible , I no longer will ever go watch a horse race again ——

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