2-Year-Old Collapses and Dies at Ellis; Trainer: “Weird, Strangest Thing I Ever Saw”

This past Sunday at Ellis Park, a 2-year-old filly named Spooky Ghost was put to the whip for the very first time. Her official line from Equibase was “went wrong along the backstretch, lost rider, vanned off.” Since Kentucky is one of the states that rejected my FOIA dead-horse request – “we don’t have that information” – the final fate of Spooky Ghost likely would have remained a mystery. As it turns out, however, the local paper, The Courier-Journal, believes a dinged-up jockey is newsworthy; within an article centered on the rider’s precautionary trip to the hospital, was this:

“Spooky Ghost…collapsed while running down the backstretch of the six-furlong race and soon thereafter died.”

It continues:

Will Farmer, Kentucky’s chief state veterinarian, could not say what caused Spooky Ghost’s death. “But she did collapse on the racetrack and expired on her own,” he said. “There will be a necropsy, so hopefully we get some answers.”

Brad Cox, Spooky Ghost’s trainer, said he’s assuming his filly had a heart attack or aneurism. “It was very very weird,” he said. “She was running along and all of a sudden she started hopping. It was the strangest thing I ever saw. Then I see Jesus slingshot over her head… I thought she broke something.”

One, she didn’t “expire on her own” – Racing killed her.

Two, I’m fairly confident no “answers” are forthcoming.

Three, the fluke-thing implication – “very very weird, strangest thing I ever saw” – is entirely misleading: adolescent racehorses simply collapse and die with regularity.

Four, seems, at least to me, a bit flippant for the death of a “family member.”

This is horseracing.


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  1. Poor horse! Another sad ending to a beautiful creatures life. Same, old same old. I WAS a fan of racing, but not anymore. I am now an advocate for them.

  2. I was invited to go to the backside at Ellis on Sunday. On my way out I went to pay my respects to the fallen horse. I did not see or feel any broken bones. However I did notice blood on the concrete under the neck. This could have been from the fall on the track or from a needle to put it down. The horse had a red tag with number on it on the back leg. So they might be doing a necropsy on it. The horse was not even covered up with a tarp. It was the only one there when we left. It sure is a sad thing to see. R.I.P. Spooky Ghost

    • Amy,

      This poor horse wasn’t even covered with a tarp, no respect given, or common decency. They are treated just like trash, it is sickening. R.I.P. Spooky Ghost your days of suffering are behind you.

      Marlene Thornley

  3. There are some very, very few people in horse racing who do care about their horses. I don’t know the whole story, but no one will until the results come back from the necropsy.

  4. SPOOKY GHOST – this 2 year old filly died in her very first race start. Kentucky’s chief vet says “… she expired on her own” is that implying that there were no other circumstances that could’ve contributed to her death. Assuming she was whipped, that in itself can cause shock to an animal. Had she ever been whipped before? What was her condition leading into the race? Well we just don’t know.
    And, true to form Kentucky does not disclose the death. Non-disclosure and non-transparency yet they knew she had died. Why the reluctance to state the truth?

  5. R.I.P. Spooky Ghost. You were just a baby, So sad. I was a fan of racing and enjoyed going to track. Not for the gambling but to see the horses. I went to the Breeders Cup and the Kentucky Derby, I had heard there was a dark side to racing and found out more when the Peta video came out. Could not believe how Nehro was treated. How could your say you love your horse and let something like this happen? When I found this website I found out about the poor horses in the claiming ranks. Thank you Patrick for letting us know what racing does not want to tell. No longer a fan of racing.

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