Three Dead in One Saratoga Day

Three racehorses were killed at hallowed Saratoga yesterday. First, during morning training, a pair of 3-year-olds broke down while “breezing” (Gaming Commission):

Jackson N Leonard, broken sesamoids – euthanized after being vanned off.

Kathy’s Reward, shattered cannon – euthanized on track.

Then, in the day’s 9th, 4-year-old Innovation Economy broke down – track announcer, “something’s gone wrong with Innovation Economy” – and was, according to the Equibase chart, “humanely euthanized.”

They call it a sport (in fact, the racing people proudly call Saratoga the oldest sports venue in the country); they call the horses athletes. But how, apologists, do you reconcile yesterday’s (this year’s, last year’s) carnage with sport, entertainment? Short answer: you don’t, you can’t.

For those considering a pilgrimage to Saratoga this summer, please connect the dots: They hold (and train for) these animal races because the gambling public demands them. No bets, no races. No races, no dead horses. It really is that simple.

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  1. Other than the fact no races= no need for horses= horses sent to slaughter to die…… connect the dots..

    • um, what? Horse races are bred to be a particular stature which includes long, slender legs prone to breaking. Don’t breed them for racing — no need for horses? Ranching. Pleasure riding. Big horses pull loads…we don’t NEED to BREED racing horses. And not doing so will not result in “no need for horses, so sent to slaughter”. Where on earth did you get that fact from?

    • they go to slaughter all the time, as soon as they are no longer making money. Also over bred. There are so many unwanted ex-race horses, that rescues can’t keep up.

      • I have nothing but great admiration and respect for the reputable and genuine rescuers. Agreed Beth, they cannot keep up because it is impossible and the racing industry knows that. The rescued ex-racehorses are just a drop in the ocean and my heart breaks when i think of the overwhelming number of horses that meet their horrific inhumane deaths in the slaughterhouses.

  2. Sadly, what JD said has some truth to it, racing saves the glut of thoroughbred from the misfortunes of neglect. However, racing is to blame for the glut of thoroughbreds with its rampant breeding. What bothers me most is how dismissive racing is of the death of one of its athletes; unless, of course, a death is so high-profile and salient it cannot be swept under the rug. Take any other sport, imagine an athlete perishing during action, what repercussions would there be, what commission would come of it, how vociferous would the pundits be? In racing, the “dream scenario” for such unfortunate events is that it occur at the remotest part of the track and not happen to a horse of any popular acclaim. Therefore, they could proceed with the card and not speak another word of it. Yesterday at the Spa, things went according to said plan. More likely than not, the throngs of people on hand did not bear witness to the grim aspect of the sport. Innovation Economy just disappeared behind the scoreboard and never reappeared.

    • Yes, of course horses die in equine sports, however, one cannot compare these deaths with horseracing which is not a sport, albeit the racing industry likes to think it is. Horseracing is a GAMBLING activity using live animals to run around in a circle at high speed whilst being beaten with whips and pushed beyond their limits.
      Poker machines on wheels.

      Do you see people placing $2 bets on dressage, show-jumping and eventing shows?
      A pro-racing (and pro-slaughter for racehorses) horseracing industry participant recently listed the deaths of named event horses from 2005 to 2015 covering the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany and New Zealand. Notably not one horse died in any of the abovenamed countries in the year 2006.

      There were seventy-four (74) event horse deaths from June 2005 to June 2015 = ten (10) years. On my calculation that is 7.4 deaths per year in a total of six (6) countries (includes Australia which had nil deaths).

      In comparison, a conservative estimate of racehorse deaths in six (6) countries would be in the vicinity of ten thousand (10,000) over a period of ten (10) years. On my calculation that is 1,000 deaths per year in a total of six (6) countries.

      74 deaths compared to 10,000 deaths (a conservative estimate) evidences that deaths of horses in the equine sport of eventing are rare indeed.

      • Carolyn,

        Excellent response. i would add one more point. I am told that 20,000 US racehorses are brutally slaughtered for food every year.

        Racehorses ate also slaughtered in other countries. Japan, Russia, China, etc. etc.

    • I show regularly, We don’t have horse ambulances waiting in the wings. Unfortunately these horses are trained and raced at such a young age that they breakdown at a high rate.

  3. Athletes have died playing football, basketball, NASCAR and even soccer. Should we just not allow anything in fear of the worst? As long as the horses are being treated humanly and cared for properly, there is nothing wrong with horse racing.

    • Mike,
      Athletes who play football,basketball or soccer, etc. all have a choice. They also aren’t forced to play by being whipped and drugged. Two year old horses (and even younger) who are being trained and raced are physically equivalent to a six year old child, which is one of the reasons why so many break down. They have no choice. Also, the other athletes don’t go to slaughter when their career is over.

    • Horses aren’t even full grown at the age they start training and racing. They are running on cartilage. They grow until around +- 5 years. The racing industry wants to make $$ fast, so they aren’t going to let them get big and strong first. That’s inhumane.

  4. for Jd, the obvious answer is a phasing out of the betting industry so that more horses don’t become victims. Obviously, continuing the slaughter is not the answer.

  5. Thoroughbreds have no choice in the matter of whether to race or not. Human athletes at least have the opportunity to weigh the risks and then to make a decision to compete. Even NASCAR continues to R&D safety initiatives to better protect drivers and spectators. I hear of no such initiatives in the racing of horses.

  6. How often does this happen, is it a unusual amount of horses that die per year. Or is this the same amount every year. Im sure its very costly for the owners. The horses may have to much stress put on them all at one time. They may prepare for this the whole year. But they push them at the time of the races.

  7. While yes it is very cruel and just not right, it’s not gonna stop. Gambling is one of the world’s oldest forms of entertainment. Horse Racing in the United States alone has been popular since probably our conception as a Nation if not before. Also, the “well that’s the kind of mentality that doesn’t change things!”…like I said above, it’s not gonna stop. No matter if there is some crazy incredible change in culture there will always be people who enjoy this stuff and teach their kids to enjoy it too.

  8. A horse that is 2 is still growing, 3 is still growing, 4 is still growing, 5 they are usually pretty close to being grown up and strong bone, but a few take longer, It is so bad they breed so may TB’s to win, they don’t win, they die trying, or some never even get to race track, yes there is no place for those..just like a 2 year old is too young to race, 3 is too young, and 4 is just in learning age, and 5 is old enough to race.. maybe?? These horses go to kill buyers, there is no other place to get rid of the amount of horses they breed trying to get that one big winner!! The rules need changed, and have thought so for many years..

  9. JACKSON N LEONARD a three year old gelding.
    According to, connections for all of his starts were –
    Trainer: Dominick Schettino
    Owner MeB Racing Stables LLC and Brooklyn Boyz Stables
    Breeder: Jeremy Peskoff

    $10,455 prizemoney for 4 starts. 3 of his starts were in Claiming Races. In his first race he came under “urging” (beaten with a whip) retreated and tired.
    In his second start he came home 2nd and had “a willing tussle with” the winner of the race. A “willing” tussle – I don’t think so. And, apparently he issued a challenge in the embattled gap. Yes, it most certainly is a battlefield out there for these horses but this is NOT WORLD WAR 1- this is 100 YEARS LATER and this is all for GAMBLING.
    In his third start he dropped back after “spinning” into the far turn but folks he was able to muster a mild comeback and came home 4th. It is possible he suffered an injury here.
    Then in his last start he came home 6th and appears to have been the hot favourite at $1.40 but he had “no kick”. Oh I see, he “lacked the necessary stretch response”, it is possible he suffered an injury or perhaps he was carrying a pre-existing injury.
    Then 4 weeks later they put him to trackwork/training and little boy suffers “broken sesamoids” (hopefully it was only one leg) and is euthanased. DEAD – another baby horse SACRIFICED!

    • Carolyn, thank you for your post and for speaking up for the horses as you do so well.

      Concerning Jackson N Leonard and the other deaths at the SPA (Saratoga), there was an interesting editorial by Teresa Genoro in “The Saratogian” newspaper on 3 August. It clearly shows where the horse stands in terms of this gambling business’ priorities. As one might guess, the horse is way down on the totem pole ! Evidently, there was no vet. available when Jackson N Leonard broke down during training so he was splinted and loaded on to the van by workers. And this happened at the hallowed Saratoga meet !

      The article can be accessed via the 8/5 Paulick Report Editorial:” Saratoga Breakdowns raise Questions about Veterinary Supervision ” or Teresa Genaro on twitter

      • My heart sinks when i hear about a trackwork death knowing that it is extremely rare for a vet to be present.
        I’ve experienced it only once and will never forget it. Thank you Rose for sending me this link, i will read it now.

  10. KATHY’S REWARD – a three year old filly.
    According to, connections of her last start were –
    Trainer: Gary Gullo
    Owner: Fortuna Mia Stable
    Breeder: Scott E Ricker & Carol M Ricker

    She had 5 starts for $72,500. Total claiming amount $85,000.
    She won her first start in a Maiden Claiming.
    Her trainer was Steve Margolis. Her owners were Carol Ricker and Julian DeMarco.
    KR earned $13,800 in prizemoney for this win. She was immediately claimed for $40,000.
    New trainer is Joe Sharp and new owner is Loooch Racing Stables Inc.
    In her second start she places 2nd ($5,000) for her new connections. Chart mentions that when she was battling for lead with the winner, she was under the whip in the right hand then jockey switches to left hand, then KR drifted out significantly. Jockeys change their whip hand when horse is not going straight (losing ground) because horse is trying to escape the pain of the whip. Appears she got a hit and she reacted to it and ducked out “significantly” as the Chart states.
    In her 3rd start she is the favourite and the Chart mentions she had a “duel” (it is a battlefield after all for these horses) and comes home second last by 17 lengths. At one stage in the race KR is described as “the tiring KATHY’S REWARD”. She comes home 6th for $1,500.
    In her 4th start she wins her race earning $24,000 and she is claimed for $20,000.
    Her new trainer is Gary Gullo and owner is Fortuna Mia Stable.
    In her 5th start she is the hot favourite and wins her race earning $28,200.
    Again she is claimed for $25,000.
    Her new trainer is Gary Contessa and new owner is DCK Racing. However, these connections
    do not race her and it seems about 7 weeks go by when on 1 Aug she meets her death. Little girl suffered a shattered cannon bone in training and was euthanased on the track.
    DEAD – another baby horse SACRIFICED!
    This filly had four trainers and four owners over a period of four months. Passed around and around, money passed around and around UNTIL THE HORSE BREAKS DOWN!

    • Gullo, Contessa, old names in the “claiming game”. Joe Sharp is the new “kid on the block” and is really busy in the despicable game of claiming.

  11. This is called abuse😡, racing these horses for amusement is not what they were meant for! I know you think I’m crazy but think about it. They race them till they drop then if they don’t do well they’re punished given drugs to enhance their running ability then raced again. These are beautiful animals and should be treated as such! If you want to be like children and say my horse is better than your horse then grow up😡. Show them, win ribbons, you don’t need to race a horse to death then discard them like trash! Show their beauty let them show style and grace. Use the studs to breed more beauty let the older ones live their life out in dignity, not thrown away because they can’t make you money! Shame on you 😡😰

  12. As long as racing fans, owners, trainers, breeders and everyone associated with TB racing continue to rationalize and defend the sport, the legalized animal abuse will go on. I own an OTTB and every time I look into his soft eye and hear him nicker to me when I arrive at the barn, all I can think of are those brave, beautiful animals who died trying to beat the odds. It is WRONG, plain and simple. The greed and the need for glitz and celebrity on the part of trainers and owners drives this business. The time is NOW to bring it all to an end.

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