As Another Horse – Divine Fortune – Dies at Saratoga, a Reminder That the Killing Stops When We Will It to Stop

For the second consecutive day, I am reporting a death at the hallowed Saratoga Race Course. Yesterday, in a Grade 1 (the richest kind) steeplechase race, 12-year-old Divine Fortune “fell heavily” (Equibase) at the final jump, was “vanned off,” and eventually euthanized for a broken shoulder back in the barn. Pictures here. Not surprisingly, that race’s replay is conspicuously missing on NYRA’s website.

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As the region grows increasingly giddy over American Pharoah and tomorrow’s Travers, I am here to remind that support for this industry – through attendance, through wagers, through racino slots – directly results in dead horses. Lots of them:

My 2014 KIA list currently stands at 966. But for various reasons, which are discussed on the page, that number could easily and reasonably be doubled, leaving us with roughly 2,000 track-related (racing or training) kills last year.

The current year’s tally grows with each passing week – and will grow exponentially when I again begin FOILing state racing commissions in January.

Last year, 126 racehorses perished at NYS tracks; to date this year – 73.

Last year, 14 racehorses fell at Saratoga; to date this year – 11.

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How many more must be sacrificed under the guise of “sport”? When is enough enough? In an America abounding with myriad entertainment options – museums, theaters, concerts, real sports involving autonomous human beings – and other highly visible, readily accessible gambling outlets – full-service casinos, state lotteries – the excuses have run dry. We can do better. We should do better.


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  1. The official NYRA replay show, Saratoga Insider, didn’t even make a mention of the race, even though it was a Grade 1 event. Matt Carothers of TVG did express concern for the horse, however, I never found out if they gave the viewers an update on the horses condition. Makari is/was not the only champion to lose his life on the Saratoga steeplechase course. I recall another faller several years’ ago that had won the race the year before. If they want to run these races, then they should consider shortening the number of fences or lowering them. NYRA doesn’t even include them in their exotic bets.

  2. RIP Divine Fortune – 12 YEARS OLD – Your owner’s should have retired you years ago, and you could have enjoyed a life away from the race track. From what I have heard, Divine Fortune fell twice at Saratoga, knowing this, why did his owner’s bring him back there again, as he showed he had trouble with the course. Greed, Greed, Greed, and no concern for his welfare. A very common story at the track.

    We will remember you Divine Fortune. You tried to tell your owner’s you couldn’t do it, but no one was listening, and it cost you your life. It is a damn shame. Another beautiful creature felled by the great Saratoga!!

    Marlene Thornley

    • Divine Fortune was a beautiful courageous horse and at 12 years of being trapped in the hell that claimed his life I watched that precious colt deteriorate over the years as I am watching Pharoah now. All I can say is again I’m a local, and have spent the better part of my 34 years on this earth working my way deeply into the underground. You want to see Horse pits? I can give you a tour, you want to see the magic of these highly intelligent emotive beings in a natural state I can show you that too. Marlene, I am new to this forum and no good at social media but I thank you for your posts, your content and presentation is right on. Thank you, I am just learning. And too Divine Fortune, run free my baby, run free, your pain is over however that in now way makes it acceptable and in reality me saying that means nothing to him he was born into hell, died in a hell in agony, fear and alone. For what? Greed of the human variety.

      • Aimee,

        The more our voices cry out over this injustice, and cruelty, the sooner things will change in this sick industry. I am sure that you have seen and experienced plenty of the downside, being a local. The more people that we can educate, those who are truly ignorant, to the abhorrent treatment these beautiful creatures endure, we can successfully take them down, one bettor at a time.

        Keep speaking the truth; believe me your voice is making a difference!!

        Marlene Thornley

  3. Well, every horse is going to die. And some of them LOVE to race and LOVE to jump. Thoroughbred racing is pretty cruel, but the rest of it is fun for horses and riders, and is a way of making a living. “Tried to tell it’s owners” is inaccurate. Clearly the article writer has never worked a horse. They LOVE to push themselves, unfortunately. If they knew their own limits they would die less often. When a horse does not want to keep going, it LIES DOWN. WITH IT’S rider on it. I love horses, but a horse jumping and breaking it’s leg is tragic. But those jumping horses are happy, and live fairly cushy lives. This article is slanted and wrong

      • Can’t even respond to your post appropriately. How much money do you make from your outfit? What is it, warmbloods? T Breds?. Do you use your own mass grave or horse pit? Or do you have staff do it for you.

      • Sorry Patrick, that response was intended for Quentin the idiot post above, maybe this forum could fix it for me?

    • Congratulations, you’ve posted the dumbest comment I’ve read this year! No horse will push itself to the point of death. Your comment is nothing but contradictory ramblings. Racing is cruel but the rest is fun??? What ‘rest’ are you speaking of? The vanned off and killed part or the ship to slaughter part? Please, STAY AWAY FROM HORSES.

    • You are an ignorant prick. Please don’t touch a horse but I can tell by your ranting your involved in the industry so good for you. Feel like more of a man?

    • Quentin You are an ignorant prick. Please don’t touch a horse but I can tell by your ranting your involved in the industry so good for you. Feel like more of a man?

    • Quentin,

      You state, “well every horse is going to die”, what a ridiculous statement. They don’t need to be abused, pumped full of drugs, forced to race/jump when they are tired, whipped till they bleed, suffer in agony from horrible injuries, sent out to race with previous injuries causing fatal breakdowns. When they can no longer race/jump many end up in the slaughter house and die the cruelest, most inhumane death. You call this a cushy life. You must be on some great drugs.

      Horses don’t push themselves, humans push and force the horses to perform.

      You think “those jumping horses are happy”. You are totally delusional. I grew up with horses, and have worked many horses. Many horses who have exhibited fear of the loading gate, and refused to go in, were forced in, and later broke down. The horse knew it wasn’t up to the task of racing, and instead of scratching the horse like they should have, it died in the dirt. No one cared to pay attention to the horses behavior.

      You apologists are a sorry lot. It’s the same old song and dance. Oh, they love to run, and love to jump, to their death. Quentin, they are running for their lives in fear, they are a flight animal. Anyone who thinks this is fun for the horse needs his head examined. You need a reality check, like all the other apologists you are blinded by your own ignorance.

      Marlene Thornley

    • Quentin, your ridiculous comment reveals that you are not equine educated nor do you have any idea about the life of a jumps horse. There are only two states left in Australia that conduct jumps racing and recently the Government of one of those states has ordered an Inquiry into Jumps Racing because of the cruelty inflicted upon these noble horses. Governments do not lightly spend a considerable amount of the taxpayers’ money on an Inquiry unless it is absolutely justified and in this case it is. Hurdle and Steeplechase racing is barbaric – have you ever watched the Grand National Steeplechase in the UK?
      “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

  4. It will always be here. There r way to many rich people that get there kicks by watching they do not care. It will never go away. The rich r completely in control of all this

    • Lea,

      Patrick is dead on, racing would have been gone already, had it not been for the racino’s and their constant flow of money.

      Have you gone to the track lately? It is mostly people over the age of 60 who are betting. The racing industry has not been able to attract the young, as they are keenly aware of the cruelty and abuse of the horses, and refuse to partake. The vast majority of their audience are the seniors, who grew up with racing as a past time.

      Racing is dying, their attendance numbers are down, and more every day people are becoming more aware of the horror and suffering these TB’s endure. Racetracks are closing up shop, Hollywood Park just recently closed. There is talk that Monmouth park is on the verge of closing. I know for a fact that Meadowlands racetrack is losing money.

      Hopefully, they will all go under soon, and put an end to the cruelty, death, and abuse, that occurs daily to these beautiful, innocent beings who all want to live, but who are being decimated every day.

      Marlene Thornley

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