Washington’s Rules – Vanned Off to His Death at Suffolk

According to equine advocate Deborah Jones, 6-year-old Washington’s Rules (below), who was initially reported as “displayed bad action…vanned off” yesterday at Suffolk (6th), has been euthanized. In his penultimate start on August 4th, the gelding finished last of 8, 30 lengths back. Jockey Rigo Sarmiento; trainer George Maroun; owner Douglas Maroun.


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  1. Washington’s Rules’ whole demeanour and his eyes just say it all. “Why are you doing this to me?”.
    Highly likely sired by the famous Aussie Rules USA. Only just now was looking into
    a racehorse here (a grey sired by Aussie Rules USA) which suffered a sesamoid injury and has disappeared.
    If Washington Rules came home 30 lens last in its previous start, why wasn’t he thoroughly vetted? They just don’t give a damn.
    A magnificent animal used and abused and then killed. And look at his beautiful tail!

    • Washington Rule’s sire was Roman Ruler. But his dams sire was the amazing Silver Charm. Both sires knew Bob Bafferts training log back in the day & made Millions of $$$
      So Carolyn, this beautiful but hurt gelding WR, worrying pre-race, to his past and present human connections meant nothing. To them his lifetime earnings of around $191,000 wasn’t enough. He still had a lot of winning to get done in many, many more $4,000 claiming races.

      • That’s right, Jo-Anne…it seems the horse’s earnings are never enough. Always another race, always up for sale, never enough.

        RIP Washington’s Rules.

  2. Thanks for letting me know Jo-Anne. These “claim” races sound insidious but i do not
    know what it all means.

    • Carolyn, the claiming game is the pits for the horse. I’m not totally sure, but I believe it is uniquely American.
      I will try to outline how it works : Some horses start out in claiming races because they are not competitive at the higher levels such as allowance and stake. In a claiming race, all the horses are, essentially, for sale and the claiming price varies, usually $4,000 to $50,000 are the most popular. Once someone enters a horse in a claiming race they know the horse may be claimed/ bought by a trainer at the track for himself or a client. The horses at the $4,000 level and sometimes lower, have usually started out at a higher price and are dropped down as their ability diminishes. As the wins drop off, the horse is usually started more frequently in attempt to get a return on the “investment”. The horses that started out winning at the allowance and stake level are entered in claiming races once they start to lose, and it is more likely for the geldings, unless they are big time winners and well known. This system, as you can see is a convenient way for the elite to rid themselves of the underperformers.

      Most of these so called “claimers” go from barn to barn and trainer to trainer as they descend in the downward spiral of the game. There are rules concerning claiming all of which are geared to the money aspect of claiming. However, there are no rules to protect the horse, which is a big surprise, right !! Most of these claimers are run sore, are drugged, and most of the time, started too frequently. Many break down and if they do survive the majority are sent to slaughter.

      I believe this system was touted as a way for the not so wealthy to own a race horse. While there may be a kernel of truth in that, it is easy to see it is a money making system, first and foremost, and a disposal system for the horses.

  3. Thank you Rose for taking the time to explain claim racing. We don’t have it in Australia. However, my research reveals that most of the horses that don’t come up to expectations are sold and end up on our gruelling country circuit. Often these horses have no respite (a spell) for many months on end and race until they drop. Just before our Melbourne Cup last year there was an article in one of our popular and widely read newspapers exposing this to the public. A few months ago a colleague and myself travelled way out west to a country meeting where a horse (a 12 yr old gelding which began racing at 2 and
    had been racing for 10 years with over 180 starts). We presented ourselves to the Stewards officiating armed with our factual letter substantiated with equine scientific evidence as to why this horse should be scratched from the race and retired immediately from racing. He was suffering now from osteo-arthritis of the fetlock joints and is likely to suffer from a serious musculo-skeletal injury if he is allowed to keep on racing. He was a sorry sight when we saw him. The Stewards contacted the racing authorities in Sydney, horse was vetted and failed to pass fit to race and was scratched. Horse has not reappeared.

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