An Eyewitness Account (With Photos) of a Texas Kill

I reported the following death in my 2017 Texas FOIA post:

Sendero Six, July 15, Gillespie, race 5
“horse began to buck before finish line…hit and flipped over inside rail…stood and attempted to jump back over but fell backwards landing hard…attempted to jump rail again but collapsed and became recumbent and went into shock”

I recently received an email from an eyewitness to the above. Here is his account (he wishes to remain anonymous):

“On July 15, 2017, my wife and I attended the horse races at the Gillespie County Fair Grounds outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. We had learned that Gillespie County sponsored 4 days of horse racing every year. We are not gamblers and did not intend to wager on any race. Rather, our hobby is photography, and we were interested in taking photos of the races.

We had stationed ourselves down near the starting gate so that we could get close up shots of the start. The gate and the horses were probably 40 feet from us. The gates snapped open and the horses burst from the gates. We snapped our photos as they passed by and then watched the horses complete the race.

Near the end of the race, one of the horses appeared to turn 90 degrees and run straight into the railing. I honestly could not believe what I was seeing. When the horse hit the railing, it completely flipped over the rails. The horse struggled to stand back up as though it were still racing, but it immediately collapsed. It tried to stand back up again, but collapsed again. I assumed it had broken its back or its legs. Meanwhile, attendants were rushing on horseback and in a pick-up to the horse and the jockey, who…lay motionless near the rail. They erected a barrier and euthanized the horse. It was a sickening and shocking experience. Not what we had anticipated. We left shortly afterwards.”

His photos:

start of the race; Sendero, in the #2 slot, moments before dying

“In this photo, the horse has flipped over the rail. It is on the in-field and is struggling to stand up. It is almost as if the horse still thinks he is racing.”

“The horse has managed to stand up [but] will collapse again.”

“The horse is lying on his side, but his head is raised off the ground. They set up a cover of some sort and euthanized the horse. This is the last photo I took.”


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  1. All evidence of something frightening this horse to a frenzy in an effort to save itself. Maybe the jockey had. Aheart attack; maybe the horse was injected prior to race tme with meth; maybe a horse fly bit it. Will the race stewards investigate. I’m horrified that such blatant cruelty was witnessed by innocent people. That is on the racing industry.

  2. I agree, janwindsong, something spooked that horse. What it was we will never know. It could have been a so called “buzzer”. Nothing would surprise me in this game.

  3. People love to see horses and children love to pet them. But this horrific scene of an innocent animal being maimed and killed does not belong anywhere. The County should rethink of running horses races again.

  4. When will enough killing be enough? God’s innocent creatures are not here for humanity’s cruel and stupid entertainment.

  5. Some comments here speculating on whether meth was given, whether a buzzer was used are possible, but we will never know because horse racing operates with virtual impunity from even our most basic animal cruelty laws.
    There are no “neutral” investigations ever conducted, and if you think that the racing commissions are “neutral” – think again.
    Their investigations lead to nowhere, and rarely does anything change or is done so they qualify as public wallpaper.
    In 2017, San Luis Rey Thoroughbred Training (SLRTC) center went up in flames with over 40 racehorses burning to a crisp in their stalls.
    I investigated SLRTC for manure violations, and inadequate equine ambulance and safety measures back in 2005, and nothing was done back then.
    In my report, and many reports previous to mine The Stronach Group (owned by Frank Stronach) was told that their facilities were sorely inadequate for any horse emergency including no Emergency procedure protocols in place.
    This was dismissed, I moved on with my life, but last year all of this came home to roost.
    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the article showing all the horses that died there because it was blatantly obvious to me that little to nothing had been done or changed since 2005.
    Otherwise, racehorses would not have died there or less would have lost their lives.
    An investigative reporter has now uncovered 14 pages of Fire violations at the SLRTC, and even though they complied the violations are repeated over and over again.
    Back in 2005, I was going over at least 50+ pages of violations both at SLRTC and Santa Anita, which was never rectified back then.
    Just these few examples alone clearly show that these people don’t give a damn about these horses.
    They were so concerned about the horses that burned, crying for donations, but isn’t it funny how they don’t cry for donations when racehorses die every single day on their hell holes?
    Moreover, these deaths were preventable or could have been mitigated had they implemented some of the changes in my report or be forced to shut down after repeated by-law violations.
    Every single track in California where their multimillion dollar racehorse purchases resides DON”T have SPRINKLER systems because it’s not mandatory.
    Apparently, the CHRB is looking into it – what a joke!
    These racehorse apologists are delusional human parasites.

    • Gina, you do know the fire at San Luis Rey was due to a natural disaster , don’t you? There was a wildfire that came roaring out over the hills.

  6. They shoot these horses up with all kinds of drugs before/after races, how does anyone know if this poor horse had some terrible reaction to the drug or he was just exhausted from training and running, etc. this is why horse racing is so cruel and inhumane. it has to stop. these horses are dropping like flies with no regard to them dying on the tracks. These unfortunate horses were never meant to be treated so heartlessly. ABOLISH HORSE RACING FOREVER!

  7. Thank-you to the eyewitness who provided these pics so that people can see just how vile this business is.
    I’ve been on a track, cradled a dying horse in my arms and on my lap – it was not mine, but it was one of the most horrific things that I’ve ever seen.
    Since the owner/trainer walked away after they gave the vet the “nod” to inject the pink death solution I couldn’t abandon this horse.
    People don’t hear them grunting from the severe pain, people don’t see their eyes begging for relieve, any relief from their fractured bones and blood seeping out of them.
    So sorry for you Sendero and for all of you who are one step away from dying for this vile business and for the vile people in it.
    Here’s a link to the investigative report into the San Luis Rey Downs training center and the fire violations.

    After repeated attempts to reach the manager there no calls were returned.
    This is exactly what happened when I requested paperwork to show that they were complying with repeated requests for an operational equine ambulance etc etc.
    This training center has been getting away with murder for years, and it needs to be immediately shut down.
    Finally, I bet they don’t even have a place in place since over 40 horses died there given the current out of control fire in California.
    I could pose the question “when will these apologists ever learn,” but we should all ask ourselves “when will we ever learn,” and when will our politicians shut these hell holes down.

    • This investigative report makes clear that the violations date back to 2005.
      About 17 years ago, I submitted a formal report to the CHRB outlining recommendations to upgrade these facilities with my main concern being a sorely inadequate equine ambulance at San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall, CA (resulting in unnecessary, inhumane suffering of racehorses breaking down on an unsafe track), manure pile, and the total absence of an emergency evacuation protocol in place.
      During my time there I gained access to a comprehensive report stating that all tracks in California, once located in rural areas, are now located in high density residential neighborhoods with carbon methane gas spewing into the air in addition to bacterial and caustic refuge being disposed of directly into the sewage/water system with few tracks fitted with proper filtering systems
      This report had water and ground samples supporting it.
      I doubt if anything has been done, and the report probably got buried.
      The CHRB seemed to be there to protect this business at all or any costs – they are anything, but neutral.
      My point is that this business is bad all around from the immoral practice of exploiting racehorses to their lack of environmental accountability while collecting millions in tax breaks, taxpayers money, corporate welfare and/or casino profits.
      It’s got to go, and it can’t come soon enough for the racehorses.

    • We have done that also, (given comfort to a dying horse on our local track), The horsemen at the time thought we were crazy! The holding facilities at SLRD are crummy! We would never allow a horse to reside under such unsafe fencing / corrals.We noticed only ONE white board corral that was good.Good for you to have comforted a horse that was not even yours! The one we comforted also was not one we were associated with either.

  8. Thank you, Patrick, for bringing these things to my attention. I was unaware that there is so much animal abuse going on. People who abuse these animals are mentally deranged. There is something seriously wrong with their thinking if they think all of this is ok.

  9. I agree with you Jeanne. There are so many so called “sports” that involve animal cruelty. Unfortunately, they make a lot of money for a lot of cruel, heartless, soulless subhumans who could care less about the suffering and pain and death of these sweet innocent dogs. All they care about is MONEY!!!!

  10. As long as the heinous sport of horse racing brings in all the money that it does, nothing will change. These lovely creatures might as well be cardboard boxes. They are “cared” for, only if they continue to win. Once they lose even 1 second of time on the race track, they are deemed useless, and are disposed of in any way to get them out of their way. The entire irreverent pass time is comparable to slavery, but unfortunately, they do not live as long. Shame on those who participate in ugliness of horse racing, and especially those folks who already have fat pockets, but are never satisfied, and at the expense of the divine equine.

  11. Absolutely disgusting, DISGUSTING! They call this sport, this is not sport this nothing short of animal cruelty and murder!!!

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