Yesterday at Del Mar, two more horses were killed, bringing the “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” track’s two-day death toll to four. 5-year-old Lil Swiss Echo (trainer Vladimir Cerin) broke down in the 5th. (DRF’s Jay Privman: “Lil Swiss Echo was put down on track, with tarps shielding public from seeing her being euthanized. Pretty depressing mood here last 2 days.”) Four races later, 3-year-old J Kat (George Papaprodromou) did the same.
Embarrassed and desperate Del Mar has seemingly identified its turf course, the scene for three of the four deaths (and another – 4-year-old Kokaltash – on July 17th), as the culprit and vows to quickly correct it:
“Del Mar is deeply saddened by the loss of Thoroughbred lives we have experienced at the track since the start of our season. Four of those losses have come on our new turf course. Despite that, we continue to have the utmost confidence in the course… Nonetheless, as a precautionary measure, Del Mar will shift the two turf races scheduled for Sunday’s card off the course and run them instead on our main track. Additionally, we will move up scheduled maintenance…”
Easy scapegoat, simple solution. But as racing dismisses four deaths in two days at one track as an anomaly, it continues to ignore the giant elephant-question in the room: How does a gambling game – an antiquated one at that – justify the death of even a single sentient being? And folks, no matter how much they improve the surfaces, no matter how strong they make the drug rules, no matter how well they weed-out the dopers, horses will continue to die when whip-forced to run at (unnatural) breakneck speeds. They can’t stop it. Please stop betting on horseraces.