Iowa’s Dead Racehorses Revealed

Through an “Open Records” request to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, I was able to confirm the deaths of the following racehorses at Prairie Meadows in 2014. All suffered what the Commission refers to as “catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries” while racing. I have also included the original chart notes to demonstrate, yet again, how patently deceitful this industry truly is.

3-year-old Gigi’s Alina, May 10, race 5: “pulled up…vanned off”

4-year-old Motion in Potion, May 22, race 2: “eased…fell…vanned off”

4-year-old Value Trap, May 25, race 3: “injured shortly after the wire…vanned off”

5-year-old Lake Brilliant, June 20, race 2: “broke down at the quarter mile”

5-year-old Lady of Liberty, June 22, race 4: finished (3rd) without incident

3-year-old American Reign, August 1, race 1: “injured late…pulled up”

3-year-old Ima Ivory, August 24, race 8: “finished well”

2-year-old Cola de Oro, September 13, race 1: “fell after crossing wire…vanned off”

4-year-old Hada Certain Charm, September 13, race 6: “slammed at the start,” won, nothing else mentioned

3-year-old Cr Strawflyn Bux, October 18, race 1: “stumbled and lost his rider at the start,” nothing else mentioned

6-year-old Joltin Jess, October 18, race 10: finished without incident

5-year-old Willie Mosconi, October 18, race 11: finished (2nd) without incident

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Only 1 of the 12 fatally injured horses was said to have “broke down.” For the rest, zero indication of impending death on the official Equibase charts. In short, to the occasional visitor to Prairie Meadows, a day at the track may have seemed an innocuous way to spend an afternoon. Just the way Racing wants it.

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  1. Not only is this industry deceitful to the racehorse, but to honest Owner/Trainers who play by the rules. When you have multiple drug violating Trainers given Training Licenses by Racing Commissions statistics show that the propensity to continue to cheat (when not suspended) happens repeatedly. Consequently, the likeliness of racehorses being abused by these Trainers are greatly increased. By abuse, I mean racehorses who are most likely sore, and that soreness/lameness is covered up by drugs which significantly increases the chances of that racehorses breaking down either maimed or killed. Recent accepted equine studies prove that catastrophic breakdowns are almost always chronic issues that have been allowed to continue due to the lack of transparency in this industry such as vet records. Racehorses running in the Claiming Ranks are very susceptible to chronic drug abuse, and running while sore. They are usually whipped in the stretch while trying to protect themselves by slowing down. It’s exactly like a person. If your foot is sore from a callous you may not walk as fast as you normally do. You slow down to reduce the pain. Racehorses are not afforded this protection mechanism either via drugs or the cruelty tool called the whip. This industry is a cruelty circus all endorsed by the government, but especially by those who financially support it by wagering.

  2. Yes, deceit and obfuscation are the intent of chart writers. The road to reform (Patrick, I understand you and other commenters seek the elimination of racing altogether but, in spite of racing’s decline in attendance and gambling, I can’t envision this happening for a generation or more), could include the bettor. Having once been a bettor, I always wanted as much info as possible in order to make my selections. If the American bettor were made aware of how much information is deliberately withheld from him in order to extract as much from his wallet as possible, I think we could create some allies. Nobody likes being played for a sucker yet this exactly how “handicappers” are played by the Form, charts, sheets, etc. There will always be those people willing to waste their money on betting on horses but many would stop tomorrow if they knew the extent to which they were being deceived. Since betting is the lifeblood of horseracing, every person whose eyes are opened to this deceit and who quits betting on horses as a result, after all, there are so many other ways to lose one’s money gambling, brings us just one step closer to elimination. Maybe they won’t be quitting for moral or ethical reasons but they WILL be quitting.

  3. It’s not just the drugs that is killing race horses. It starts years before that, when a trainer puts a saddle on a two-year old. None of the growth plates are closed, and most won’t be until the horse is at least five years old.

    Although I highly doubt owners and trainers would ever humble themselves enough to read the following, it should be required reading for all horse owners, trainers, breeders, riders, etc.

    I wish everyone who has anything to do with horses would read “The Ranger Piece,”” by Dr Deb Bennett. Yes, drugs and racing with injuries are major factors in the breaking down of racehorses, but the skeletal maturation is even more important, and may very well be the main reason for the injuries to begin with.

  4. Yes, Patrick, I had read your main subject headings before signing into your blog the first time. But appealing to bettors’ better nature and consciences will only touch those bettors who might already have any interest in racehorse welfare. I love Thoroughbreds for all the very qualities they have that are so viciously exploited by too many in racing, so it was simple for me to stop betting on American races. But what about the guy who doesn’t give a hoot about doping, overmedication, nerve cutting, etc.? All he cares about is winning money. But if he knew how much information on such simple things as changes in bit types to more complex issues such as internal bleeding, esophagal/throat ailments, ulcers, etc. etc. was DELIBERATELY withheld from his handicapping toolkit, I really think we could gain more allies in this battle. Maybe hardened bettors seem unlikely bedfellows in this battle, but for some people the compassion approach won’t have the same effect as knowing their wallet is taking a hit. Handicapping is appealing partly because of the many variables involved. If more bettors were informed on just how many of these variables are purposely withheld from them, I really believe more people would quit betting. I’ve convinced about a half dozen people to stop betting on American racing by presenting this argument over the last couple of years, but that’s nothing compared to what could be done.

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