Makari, Elena Strikes Make it 11 Dead at Saratoga

7-year-old Makari, recently imported from Britain, is dead after breaking his neck in a steeplechase (race 1) this afternoon at Saratoga. Jack Doyle rode, Elizabeth Voss trained, and Merriebelle Stable owned. Curiously, the replay is missing from the NYRA website – broken necks, I suppose, are bad for business.


3-year-old Elena Strikes is dead after breaking a leg while “breezing” yesterday morning. She is the third Todd Pletcher-trained horse to be killed in Saratoga practice sessions (Lucky for You, Kamarius). For Saratoga ’14, this makes 11 dead athletes and counting:

4-year-old Lifeguard On Duty, July 24, training
3-year-old Double Gold, July 25, training
3-year-old Father Johns Pride, July 28, race 7
3-year-old Lavender Road, July 30, collapsed after being scratched
2-year-old Sir William Bruce, August 2, race 5
4-year-old Regretless, August 11, race 4
3-year-old M B and Tee, August 21, race 7
2-year-old Kamarius, August 23, training
2-year-old Ludicrous, August 23, race 4
3-year-old Elena Strikes, August 24, training
7-year-old Makari, August 25, race 1

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  1. Jumps racing is barbaric. They don’t show the footage because it is evidence of deliberate animal cruelty resulting in death – not being transparent and not disclosing proves that they want to hide their horrendous “activity”.

  2. You can find the video on It appears that a very tired Makari fell heavily on the last jump. Tom Durkin, of course, never mentions Makari again after noting the fall, and all replay is just the run in, after the last jump.

  3. Patrick, why are they raced so young? It doesn’t make sense to me because they are so often raced when they are not fully grown. The punters wouldn’t care if they were older. This latest one was seven but so many are two or three years old. They shouldn’t even go for a quiet hack at that age and no other equine sport would be guilty of such cruelty.

    • Linda, Patrick is correct. Horses aren’t totally mature until they are at least 6 years old. They develop from the ground up, so to speak, starting with the feet, then the cannon bones, knees, etc., and the spine is the last to develop. However, a horse standing in the stall or in a pasture isn’t generating revenue. In fact, the horse is eating up revenue. For the vast majority of owners and trainers, it is important to get the horse on the track. At least the horse has a chance of “hitting the board”. It really is Economics 101. Racing chews them up and spits them out…destroyed at the ages of 2, 3, 4, and 5. It is horrific? Yes, it is but it continues because there is money involved – lots of money since racing is a multi-billion dollar industry.

  4. I thought it must be economics but no show jumper would expect a youngster to safely get him around a course of jumps. Not the same money involved ie: the betting, of course, so the pressure is not the same. I hadn’t realised what a dirty industry racing is.

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