Spent, Dead at Six

Through a phone call to the racing office, I have confirmed that Mystery Taste, listed as “broke down, vanned off” Tuesday at Beulah Park, is, in fact, dead. The 6-year-old career claimer was running her 53rd race, a $2,000 claiming for a $2,800 purse. It was her first under trainer Thomas Lehman (and owner Eleanor Lehman), having previously served Larry Bryant and Jeff Bryant a combined 33 times.

At Thistledown in October, Mystery Taste finished last (12th), 23 1/4 lengths back. In the subsequent four races leading up to Tuesday, she won a combined $1,100 and was for sale at an average price of $2,750. While these races are the lowest of the low end, consider this: Of the 55 U.S. Thoroughbred races Tuesday, 78% were claiming.

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The exploitation of Mystery Taste began when she was but two, in 2009 at Churchill Downs. From there, it was steadily downhill, culminating in Tuesday’s breakdown. This mare was spent and died at an age when horses are just rounding into full maturity, an age, that is, analogous to a college freshman. This is horseracing.

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  1. Yes, this is horseracing, as shameful as it is. May those that participate in this cruel game show some remorse for this sweet horse who was just a baby but I doubt if they will. Remember, it is all about the money. RIP Mystery Taste. Run free with all your brothers and sisters who have also been destroyed by racing.

  2. I have said it before, but it bears repeating. The downward spiral of the ugly claiming game is the decent into hell for the unfortunate horse. The “industry” is supported by these so called claimers and there are no rules to provide any protection for them. The so called trainers can run them into the ground, and they do. Mystery Taste is one of the many that suffer and die quietly and nobody seems to care. Outrageous.

  3. Rose, I couldn’t agree more. I personally know Mystery Taste’s trainer and owner, Tom and Eleanor Lehman, In fact, a few years ago, I bought two of Tom’s horses, Bayou Lite and Prince of Rhodes, in order to keep them “safe”. I did donate them to a local rescue and both were adopted out. Those two were extremely fortunate that I was there to provide them with an opportunity for a life after racing. Mystery Track wasn’t so fortunate. RIP sweet girl…

    • Mary, I certainly thank you for all you do for these horses. I admire you for being on the front line, so to speak. It is difficult to see the end result of this game and not lose heart.

  4. Like Patrick mentioned, this mare’s exploitation began when she was only 2-years-old (earlier, actually, considering training). I wonder if any of the folks who bred her, trained her, first purchased her and put her into her first race at CD are aware of where their prized racemare is now. I can only imagine how “proud and excited” they were when she stepped onto the CD track for her very first race…and how they probably gave high fives all around when she won her first race, all the while standing in the winner’s circle with faces beaming. Do they know that only four short years later, she’s been damaged beyond repair, killed, and her body likely dumped “out back” until it can be hauled away…

    Mystery Taste, we know and we care. To all of her connections throughout her short life; your greed and lack of compassion make me sick…her suffering and death is your fault. Yet I’m certain those smiling faces of yours will show up in some other winner’s circle, as surely as another of your horses will pay the price of your hobby with his/her life.

    RIP Mystery Taste. I am so very sorry.

  5. Some forty years ago, I became involved in racing at Churchill Downs. My involvement was as an exercise rider for a private trainer on his personal horse. It lasted for only a few short months but during that time, I learned so much about the atrocities that were occurring as regular practice at the track. In my opinion, in retrospect, what was touted as the ‘sport of kings’ was what I now consider abusive behavior. Just witnessing the goings-on behind the seemingly glamorous sport made such an impression on me physically, mentally and emotionally so much so that reading the stories brought to light on this site cut into my soul and bring back the horrible memories that I had long since thought forgotten for sake of sanity. The majority of horses I came to know at the track were all too often disappearing much too soon after beginning their ‘careers’ in the sport. It was so commonplace that I appeared to be the only one who failed to comprehend what was going on. Equine lives cut short by what I at first considered ‘freak accidents’. But after I saw youngsters doomed to live their lives in dark stalls, fed high octane fuels in the form of grains and hay, removed from their stalls only long enough to work out on the track, returned to cool down and returned to their stalls. Each time they left, they did so after being given injections that changed their calm demeanor into one of ‘charged up athelete’ ready to charge into action. They were injected to mask anything that might normally cause them pain or pause. Bite would cause them to leave the track with broken bones and put their heads down to graze after leaving the track irregardless of the damage just done. At that point of my young life, I was so naive as to believe their pain wasn’t even existant though the injuries should have been painfully evident. I cringe now to think of each of the individual horses for which all these stories are written today. As a horse lover having spent my life in the vet medical field and experiencing so many different aspects of the horses in different areas of the sport..I look back over the years and remember the life I shared with so many horses that came and went from my life. The stories I read here now resonate so strongly in the fibers of my being. I only wish I could have made a difference in more of their lives than time and finances have truly allowed.

    • To Rose Fox…please know that you have made a tremendous impact by putting your memories into written word…for all of us to read, experience with you, and then share with others. Thank you…thank you. You HAVE made a difference.

    • Rose, continue to share your story. It is much appreciated by those who truly care about these horses.

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