Wash Park Dead at Churchill Downs

Say this about NY, at least it has the courage (relative, that is) to record and publicly post all racehorse injuries and deaths from its 11 tracks. Alas, nothing of the sort exists in another tradition-rich state, Kentucky. But every once in a while, usually when a jockey gets hurt, a racing death makes the news. This past Saturday, during the 4th race at Churchill Downs, jockey Joe Rocco Jr took a spill, prompting a precautionary trip to the hospital. Rocco appears to be fine. His mount, however, did not fare as well, suffering “a catastrophic fracture” before being euthanized on-track. Wash Park, dead at six.

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The Race Replay (Wash Park crumples at 1:12)

For the rest of the six-minute video, we get slow-motion replays of the finish, a “good-news” update on Rocco, and a lead-up to the winner’s circle and trophy presentation, complete with birthday wishes. Not another word on the dying Wash Park. This left me wondering: How can people – track announcer, Churchill officials, “connections” of the winner – who probably consider themselves decent, even ethical, continue with the merrymaking as decidedly unnecessary pain and destruction goes on behind them? It’s a question, I suppose, better left to the psychologists.

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  1. It’s always mystified me why (except in really major races) no one makes ANY attempt to keep viewers informed about the status of the poor horse! More times than I can count I’ve scoured the ‘net, either to find absolutely no follow-up on a racing mishap, or a tiny little footnote, usually saying the hapless animal was euthanized. Heartless.

  2. The racing industry just keeps on killing them! Its all for the MONEY! Look how many racehorses end up on a Japanese dinner plate after they are all used up, and sent to slaughter in Mexico or Canada! The owners could care less, just like the Amish, get an animal use it till its half dead and send it to a horrific slaughter house, foals and all!
    How can they keep dong this to Gods beautiful creatures?? Hope they all rot in Hell!

  3. … it really makes me sick and sad … not a day passes without a reported death (or more than one), and this only counts the “reported” ones … there are countless others, who just disappear. Once I tried to find out anything about the fate of my OTTB’s “Family”. Dad was lucky beyond explanation, he is still around with 24, one of the few happy retirees, mom = no trace, half siblings = only names that disappear without a trace … and then I started to try to figure out the fate of the other fillies my mare once had to race against. Those fillies do not have any recorded progeny (one exception), they have just “disappeared” after a few years of racing … If I connect the dots, I am sick to my stomach !

    • That is the dark side of this industry. Not only is there carnage and abuse at the tracks, the vast majority of these Thoroughbreds are loaded on to trucks and sent to slaughter while owners, trainers and others look the other way

  4. For the most part – “We” as the human race are an awful, barbaric, breed. Not all but most. And with all animals. Whether it’s the race track, the dog track, puppy mills, animal testing…the list goes on and on. The sheer fact that this is allowed to happen at all – is just another “fact” about how horrific of a race we are. Like I previously said – Not All But Most – we suck to allow this at all to happen!

  5. Horseracing is a callous degenerate business. Anything that might be bad PR, such as a horse going down in agony and fear is not going to receive any attention because it might reveal the dark side of the industry and therefore have a negative effect on the fans, and therefore the money ! Sick !

  6. I was at that race. I’m an occasional racing visitor. It took a what seemed a long time to tend to horse and “remove” it from the track. A couple PA announcements on the fate of the jockey; note a peep on the horse. Churchill Downs fans are pretty savvy enough to know the horse was DOA after the spill.

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