2 More Dead at Del Mar

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…”

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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.

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  1. According to reports, Lil Swiss Echo got up and tried to run on 3 legs. Anyone who witnessed that should be cured for life from betting. How pathetic and horrifying was it to see the struggles of that terrified filly. What is wrong with these people !

    • You would think so, wouldn’t you Rose!…seeing something so horrific as that! But no, Go for Wand did the same thing, Eight Belles tried to stand on front legs that were snapped off at nearly her knees…and racing apologists just exclaim: “Oh yes, it’s one of those sad things that happens sometimes with athletes! We will miss them so!” . Then they go on their merry way. The racehorses mean NOTHING to them…they are disposable, replaceable. Sickening.

    • And the filly did not want to enter the starting gate, She was forced in! As a trainer of thirty sixyears, a horse lover, and gambler, It made me think twice, its time to take a look at horse racing, as one might bullfighting.

  2. The filly didn’t want to load in the gate, not just balking but completely refusing to go in, it took an army of gate starters and considerable amount of time, even the starter who pushes the bell and opens the gate, perhaps she was trying to tell them something?
    I just think its a shame and sad I saw it live. Maybe there should be more of a second look, if a horse is that determined to not get in the gate like she was, I think she should have been scratched and checked over by the vet. I’ve been involved in horses for over 50 years from training, showing and yes galloping race horses, and unfortunately I just don’t see a lot of horsemanship or horse sense these days.
    Also you may want to cut the live sound of the gate starters comments when a horse isn’t loading. i’m more annoyed at them calling her a donkey and all the other stupid unprofessional comments they made on live TV.

  3. Thank you Patrick for speaking up for these defenceless horses, along with the other caring people who’ve commented. Track surface is sometimes a factor in a death or serious injury but often used as an excuse. And there are many other factors such as, sub-clinical health issue with the horse, drugging, hard racing program with no respite from the stress on the body and mind, whipping, blinkers, dysfunctional feet, bad shoeing, poor conformation, rough tight riding by the jockeys causing horses to clip heels and bring them down. Jumping out of the barriers causes much stress on the horse’s body in particular the pelvis and i’ve come across quite a few fractured pelvis, the jockeys are urging the animal which is so confined it can’t move and then the animal is expected to jump at fast speed? It’s madness. One top jockey over here wears spurs and he digs them in just prior to the gates opening. The animal is experiencing psychological stress as well in the barriers. I believe a running start is the solution to this cruel policy. Just to let you know Carolyn, my research on the racehorses’ behaviour pre-race includes en route when they become fractious in transport and when they arrive at the track they’ve “injured themselves” and most times have to be scratched. They know what’s ahead of them in the float trip. Also revealing is their behaviour in the enclosure parading and in their preliminary to the barrier gates and as you say the horse is trying to tell us something, he hasn’t got a voice so his behaviour is the only way he can communicate that he just can’t do this and fears for his welfare. When they refuse to be loaded they are either brutally (they often use a buggy whip over here) forced in, vetted and passed fit to race or scratched (favourites are rarely scratched due to the gambling factor). Jockeys sometimes alert the vet at the gates that he wants horse vetted. Once a senior experienced jockey alerted the vet at the gates that something’s amiss with the horse and vet checked it and passed it to race but fortunately the jockey said no way, i’m not riding it so he dismounted and then horse was scratched. Of course the jockey is thinking of his own safety but one likes to think that he’s thinking of the animal as well.

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