“Carnage,” as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is “large-scale death and destruction.” Those familiar with this site know that I’ve oft used this word to describe what is happening within the American horseracing industry. Critics take umbrage, calling it dramatic and hyperbolic – just another bit of overheated animal rights rhetoric. And of course, they say, untrue. Well.

In each of the past two calendar years, I have identified roughly 1,000 track-related (racing/training) kills. But after factoring in what is missing – rejected FOIA requests, most notably from major racing-states California and Kentucky; training deaths omitted from other FOIA documents; the “catastrophically injured” who are euthanized back at the farm or shortly after being acquired by a rescue; slipshod recordkeeping – I believe that the 1,000 can easily and reasonably be doubled. But that figure – 2,000 (annually) – covers only deaths on or originating from open-to-the-public racetracks. There are at least as many private training facilities as sanctioned tracks. It should not be difficult to see where this is headed.

Next, consider what the industry refers to as “non-racing” fatalities – that is, deaths of stabled-at-the-track, awaiting-next-race horses from things like stress-induced colic, racing-related infections, and the proverbial “barn accidents.” For technical accuracy, I do not include these horses on my KIA lists, but make no mistake, they are no less casualties of this sordid business than the ones referred to above.

Finally, slaughter. While Racing grossly downplays the extent of the problem, proudly flashing its zero-tolerance policies and aftercare programs in defense, we do have statistics from which to draw conclusions. According to the Equine Welfare Alliance (using USDA data), an average of 135,823 American horses have been slaughtered annually over the past ten years. (The last U.S. abattoirs closed in 2007; now, we simply ship them – itself, a horror – to Canada and Mexico.) A Wild for Life Foundation study found that from 2002-2010 an average of 19% of the slaughtered were Thoroughbreds. Even if we were to use a far lower percentage, say 10%, we’re still well over 10,000 butchered – annually. Just Thoroughbreds, mind you. How many more “retired” Quarterhorses and Standardbreds meet this same brutal end?

All this – the broken bodies of raceday, wherever, whenever euthanasia finally comes; the “sudden cardiac events” in morning practice, be they at Gulfstream or GoldMark; the colic, laminitis, “found dead in their stalls”; the exsanguinations – leads to a single, inescapable conclusion: carnage. Carnage.


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  1. Yes Patrick, carnage it is.
    It’s also animal cruelty, and it qualifies for Felony Animal Cruelty charges.
    Grateful for all your hard work, dedication, and compassion for these voiceless victims.
    Grateful to all the peaceful demonstrators who try to educate people on the facts.
    My heart goes out to all racehorses who have died in the dirt either at racetracks or private training centers, whether on the track or off their lives mean nothing to those who exploit them.
    If these people had one iota of “love” for these horses then they wouldn’t subject them to this cruelty circus neither would they risk limb or life for money.
    I’m living in the wrong century because I can’t, for the life of me, understand why this is permitted to exist in 21st century America.
    I just want to fast forward to a time when this no longer exists, and the only way that this will happen is if we continue to be a voice, and educate people on the carnage
    To all you current horse Owner/Trainers – you are living a lie, you are living a delusion.
    My only hope is that one day you will see this for what it is: a cruelty circus, and a death camp.
    Then join us here on horseracingwrongs.

  2. Thank you, Patrick. CARNAGE it most surely is – it’s a horror story.

    Although I’ve always maintained that the number of deaths can, at the very least, be doubled, I had no idea until recently that there are a huge number of private facilities for training in the USA and they don’t have to disclose their deaths. I hate to think of how many more deaths occur at these places. Your realistic calculations are seriously disturbing. The urgent need for an official Government inquiry into the horseracing industry is long overdue. The inhumane mistreatment and abhorrent cruelty the racehorses suffer can no longer be tolerated by a civilized 21st century society.

  3. Horseracing , in a way, reminds me, of boxing in the old days. The only one without a word in it was the boxer himself. He could complain, though, to his manager, although it did no good in the long run, but a horse can’t even do that. He has to run and run his life out (or hers). Then, that horse is said to have “heart”. I come from California Chrome territory. I know nothing about him or his owners. But they seemed out of place with the “regulars” at the big races. I hope they were. I’ve only heard whisperings over the years, but you are opening my ears and mind, Patrick. I look forward to the day when the only races we have will be the 5k runs and marathons that people like to do and that the wild horse and burro round-ups and “adoptions” will end and the transportation of those horses and all horses to Mexico and Canada and possibly to any slaughter facilities in the USA (ND? SD?) will never happen again.

  4. I’m sure most HW followers have read about the track in Puerto Rico (Camarero Racetrack) that was heavily damaged during Hurricane Maria in September – Gina commented about it a while back, as well. A non-profit organization (Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc.) that helps Thoroughbreds racing in PR and the U.S. Virgin Islands has been trying to assist the racehorses there (although some have since died, there were 950 Thoroughbreds stabled at this track, all Jockey Club registered) – these horses are/were U.S. Thoroughbreds.

    In a September 23 “Thoroughbred Daily News” Letter to the Editor, this from the CTAI’s co-founder; “the horses cannot leave their stalls due to debris, downed fencing and flooding. They are standing in water and there is NO clean water or hay.” She continues; “We really need the racing industry and other equine organizations in the States to help urgently as there is little time to waste. These horses survived the storm, but are facing dehydration, starvation and risk of secondary health issues…These are U.S. horses. They do their jobs as racehorses and deserve better. They support the livelihood of many in the islands.”

    Deserve better? – Damn right, they do. They shouldn’t be there in the first place, “supporting” anyone. And the multi-billion dollar industry that sold them into the pitiable Puerto Rican racing should have been there as soon as it was humanly possible to get their “beloved athletes” out of that life and death situation.

    From an October 8 tweet, again from CTAI’s co-founder, this; “[Here] are the names of all TB’s euthanized to date post hurricane, due to colic, founder and other issues (injury, infection)”…
    -2015 Serie Mundial
    -2011 Dayne’s Pulpit
    -2013 Biscotti
    -2010 Salto del Indio
    -(year of birth unknown) Say Yes Please
    -2009 Vuelve Gilberto M
    -2014 El Traketo
    -2013 Senor Cali
    -2012 Pelusita
    -2011 Native Speed
    -2012 Recogido
    -2014 Palma Soriano
    -2013 Irish Shatter
    -2008 Roman’s Touch
    We cannot begin to imagine the suffering – that ultimately led to their deaths – of these 14 horses…standing in filthy water, heat index of 100+, no hay/forage and no water.

    Currently, CTAI is in the process of removing 8 horses from PR and getting them back to the mainland. They hope to follow-up with another 7. That’s 15 horses getting out. 15. Of over 900.

    • And 3 horses were shipped into gulfstream from PR to race on Saturday. Haven’t these poor horses gone through enough? Now they have to race again- on top of it all?!

      • Apologies – race will be held Saturday December 9. Hopefully these poor horses will be over the trauma they just went through by then. Just to go through new trauma.

      • Carolyn, yes, this individual is accusing us of being followers of a “hate group” and there were several people, including a former FB friend as well as a woman who runs a rescue in Canada that I have donated to in the past, that “liked” the comment. Here is the actual quote (and I do have a screenshot)….”There are 6,000 followers on the hate group….” Obviously, “we” have hit a nerve. I would assume that if “we” spoke out against dog racing, “we” would be followers of another hate group. Sick stuff, in my opinion. Now, this individual wants her grandchildren to know horses and be able to watch them frolicking in the fields and pastures. I wonder if she wants her grandchildren to know that the industry she supports and admires uses slaughter as its disposal system. She preaches transparency but worked in management at a track where horses went direct to kill. So much for transparency and personal responsibility. Just another supporter of animal exploitation who talks out of both sides of her mouth.

    • Joy, and I didn’t think I could despise the racing industry anymore than I already did. Again, “we” are accused of being followers of a hate group (HW) by a former employee of the racing industry. I think it is now time that she, and her colleagues, reach out to the racing industry and DEMAND that they accept responsibility for these horses who are obviously suffering in PR. Let’s also not forget that many supporters of racing babble incessantly about the “many” good people in racing. Where are all those good people as horses suffer and die at a hell hole track? As usual…nowhere to be found.

      • Mary, it seems that from what you and Gina are saying that we on Horseracing Wrongs are being referred to as a hate group.
        Mmm….yes well human nature being as it is, it’s very easy for HW to be accused of being hateful when the accusers are those in the horseracing industry. Such accusers seem to think that by calling us a hate group puts us into a category to be ignored.
        The accusers cannot ignore the truth and cold hard facts that are exposed on HW, especially Patrick’s death lists (and injured) of racehorses virtually on a daily basis.
        Many of us commenters on this blog have had extensive experience in the horseracing industry, as well as being equine educated and horse owners. Exposing the truth of the life of the racehorse is not being hateful. Quite simply, for far too many decades the racing industry has managed to keep hidden the ugly truth of the animal cruelty inherent in horseracing. Not anymore.

    • An edit to my comment…according to CTAI’s co-founder, there were 950 horses stabled at Camarero Racetrack, 864 of those JC-registered.

  5. As Patrick previously stated: you can love horse racing, but you can’t love horses – incredibly accurate.
    There are about 900 horses standing in their own feces down in Puerto Rico with no clean water, hay or even grain.
    Many have died from starvation – can you imagine how much suffering that would take for a racehorse to drop dead in its stall from lack of feed?!
    They are having difficulty getting donations from the “good folks” of horse racing while they brag about billion dollar sales, and wagering profits – they all make me sick.
    If any apologist wants to call me a follower of a hate group then go ahead, call me what you want because there’s one thing I know for sure: I don’t exploit, abuse, dump, maim, sell and/or kill racehorses like you all do.
    Your labels don’t intimidate me because I know that I’m on the right side of morality, and that is all that matters.

  6. Completely agree with you, Joy, that the horses shouldn’t be there in the first place.
    Shame on the humans who confine these huge animals in stalls. Sadly, this hurricane proves that the racing industry doesn’t give a damn about the welfare of their horses. One would expect that the wealthy breeders, owners, trainers and vets would come to the fore and relieve all of these poor horses from their inhumane suffering. Not only does the failure on their part to act display utter disreregard for the plight of these racehorses but also the USA racing industry ignores the opportunity to show that they care. What a joke, an industry that has a notorious reputation in relation to animal welfare does NOTHING about the terrible situation that these Puerto Rican racehorses are in. There’s plenty of money available in this industry and therefore there’s simply no excuse, none whatsoever.

  7. I researched every single name of racehorse who died in their stall in P.R, and the PP’s are a sickening display of ongoing cruelty, abuse, and inhumane treatment – all to fill races and to increase wagering profits.
    Most of the racehorses barely made it through their races, but were still forced to be another wagering number.
    There are 3 horses on this list that were royally-bred in Kentucky, obvious dream catchers for the Derby.
    First up is DAYNE’S PULPIT. Bred by a super rich, influential prolific breeder called Glencrest Farm.
    They sold him through the prestigious Keeneland sale for $130,000, and then never looked back on his well-being it seems because he died, evidently, from starvation!!
    Did Glencrest Farm donate one dime to help this horse out that THEY bred, that they brought into this world solely to turn a 6-figure profit – hell no according to sources!
    Next up is VUELVE GILBERTO M. He’s ranked 12th on the all time winning list according to Equibase, and this horse earned it the hard way. That said, his last couple of years in this hell hole has clearly been one of struggling to get through races, a former shadow of himself. However, his life didn’t start that way. He was royally-bred by the “Lyster’s” who have plenty of money to help this horse out, but never did.
    Finally, ROMAN’S TOUCH. Like most racehorses there are a plethora of human connections that make lots of money off the horse, and then dump the horse never looking back, and certainly never stepping up to the plate when they are standing in a dire situation whether that be at a kill auction, being run into the ground or being intensely confined in a hurricane ravaged hell hole slowly dying from lack of feed and care. Two consignors Four Star Sales and Excel Bloodstock made $27,000 and $32,000 respectively. After making over $100,000 he started the slippery slope into the claiming ranks where the usual pattern of abuse continued, and then he hits rock bottom being sent to this hell hole called Camarero. He died from lack of care, feed, water essentially locked into his stall slowly starving, and dehydrated!! Not one of these people who made money off of this horse thought twice about going down there, and coming to his assistance.
    These 3 examples are typical non-action on behalf of the “good folks” of horse racing – folks that made good money off this horse that could have made sure that he didn’t die this way.
    This shouldn’t surprise the supporters of HRW who have done their fair share of picking-up the broken bodies/spirits of racehorses all over the country and/or directly off the racetrack with no financial assistance from anybody from this vile business.
    There is no excuse for this catastrophe still going on in Puerto Rico while this despicable industry brags about their billion dollar sales, and wagering profits – shameful and heartless.
    This is the reality of horse racing, and there are not enough fancy hats, and mint juleps to cover these facts up.

    • TY for the additional information, Gina. There are not appropriate words for how tragic AND disgusting the exploitation of these horses is.

  8. What has happened and is happening to the horses in PR is pitiful and an absolute disgrace to the racing industry.

    The apologists and the “good people” of racing have been silent on the massive suffering and failure to intervene in this horrific situation. These horses have been abandoned to suffer and die, locked in stalls at a track in PR , a track used by the mainland as a dumping ground for unwanted horses.

    I wonder what the response has been by the racing industry to CTAI’s plea for help ?
    Not very much I would bet from a money grubbing, horse abusing, corrupt gambling business that only gives a damn about the horse as long as he is making money.

    Most horses in need are not helped by those in the business. Help comes from those who do not make a dime in the industry.

    The public needs to understand the true and ugly nature of racing.

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