The Carnage at Santa Anita Continues – Charmer John This Morning Makes it 19 Dead There Since January 1

And another…

As the hand-wringing ratchets up out at Santa Anita, after three kills in two days (16 hours, actually), including the high-profile Battle of Midway, word comes of another training kill there this morning. Charmer John, two (I use actual ages), is today’s victim. I now count 19 dead at Santa Anita Park since January 1. 19.

Santa Anita, as with all tracks faced with kill-spikes (see Saratoga 2017), is in full damage-control mode. Floating various possible culprits – the weather?, the track surface? – SA and the CHRB are desperately trying to convince the masses that no stone will be left unturned in the pursuit of “equine safety.” Please. The truth, for those who truly want to know, is as plain as the nose on your face: Horseracing kills horses as a matter of course. Always has. Always will.

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  1. OMG why is this track still allowed to run. You are slaughtering these poor animals – you bunch of bastards. This is just so incredibly sad to read about and I can’t imagine anyone even considering going for a moment to this deplorable track – anyone who does is just another ignorant asshole.

  2. California is one of States that gets things done when it comes to Animal Welfare, we have some of the strictest laws in the country. We need to set an example for the rest of the country to see. If Santa Anita is not going to look after the welfare of these beautiful souls, then it needs to be shut down now. It is clear that they are not looking out after them, seeing the numbers of fatalities, that’s astonishing and unacceptable.

  3. Their spectacular public wallpaper citing “weather” and “track surface” is the same old broken record.
    These apologists care about the money, which is why on Thursday, February 28, 2019 racing will resume, everything buried in the dirt until the next rash of deaths when the broken record will keep on playing.
    It would take an earthquake and crater the size of L.A. to stop them from racing.
    Hell, they would probably build a bridge over a crater to keep them running these greedy, heartless bastards.
    This from a California taxpayer in the comment section of The Blood Horse (surprised they put it up):
    “So what was the point of the CHRB creating safety stewards at every CA track taking dirt samples, cooking them in an oven, spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars on a couple of politically- connected “analysts” for 8+ years to study said dirt and track conditions? That data, if it exists should be examined as part of this process.”
    Just like their secret doping/vet records these reports have remained private for the most part despite the fact that CA taxpayers are usually paying for it.
    The Stronach Group is inept at using taxpayers money to run their cruelty and death pits, remain non-transparent, while receiving billions into their wagering coffers.
    What a scam this is and these poor voiceless defenseless racehorses are turned into their profit slaves while they lay in the dirt with crumbled muscoskeletal systems, broken bones, and broken spirits.
    These apologists all qualify for blood sucking parasites.

  4. If it were possible to ban horse racing, would the objective be met, or would the focus turn to horse slaughter, which would greatly increase in the absence of horse racing? Another bill died the other day in Congress addressing slaughter. Racing stats are horrific, and yet they pale in comparison to the horses who meet their horrific torturous demise in Mexican and Canadian slaughter houses. Euthanization after a catastrophic injury is a dignified ending in comparison to the hundreds of thousands who are sent to slaughter in this country. America doesn’t respect horses anymore, the average person doesn’t care what happens to them. There lies the problem, the fact most Americans don’t see equines as anything more than expendable livestock. Advocates trying to ban racing need to first change the sentiment people have concerning these noble creatures. I voice my outrage on all forms of equine abuse. It’s an epidemic, and sadly, only getting worse. The real battle is changing how Americans feel about horses.

    • Karen, thanks for showing up. Animal welfare was voted the number 1 pressing issue in our country, that speaks to me, you are very right when you say…America doesn’t respect horses anymore, the average person doesn’t care what happens to them. There lies the problem, but how many of the average people actually realize this and are aware of it? I wasnt for a long time, and have lived close enough to the track my entire life. Ultimately this site is about horseracing wrongs, yes the call for the end is needed, look at what the industry is and how it has been for centuries, as far as turn to slaughter if racing is banned? I dont follow were all against that and so are you. Tell me why are the slaughterhouses banned on us soil, but yet we still allow transport for slaughter. Thank you for coming here to comment, and yes its about ALL equines to me at least and what is being done, the real battle is having people be aware of the realities horse racing dont want that, sure not much of the equine world does.

    • Karen, regarding your questions and comments…

      – I have absolutely no doubt that those of us who oppose horse racing also oppose horse slaughter…that goes without saying. Now how would horse slaughter INCREASE if there was no horse racing? No horse racing = no horses bred for racing = no horses crippled by racing = no crippled and unwanted racehorses needing homes = no racehorses going to slaughter. If horse slaughter “would greatly increase in the absence of horse racing”, it wouldn’t be because of racehorses going to slaughter like there are now…because there wouldn’t BE any racehorses to cripple, discard and send to slaughter.

      – “racing stats are horrific but they pale in comparison to [the number of horses slaughtered]” – well of course they do. It stands to reason that the number of horses killed in racing/training is less than the number of horses slaughtered – the racehorse population is smaller than the general horse population. That said, there are a minimum of 10K to 12K TB’s slaughtered every year – and that translates to 50% of the annual TB foal crop. It’s unbelievable to me…that an industry which claims its horses are like their “children” can send so many of them to be butchered.

      – I agree euthanasia (after an injury) is a better death than slaughter – I’m certain anyone who loves the animal would agree. Better yet? – Horses not being unnecessarily and fatally injured for mere betting entertainment.

      – I’m curious on how we – those who oppose horse racing – can “change the sentiment people have concerning [horses]”as you’ve stated needs to be done. YES! – The same applies to, I’m sure you recognize, the battle we wage against horse slaughter…we just need to change one word in your suggestion; “Advocates trying to ban slaughter need to first change the sentiment people have concerning these noble creatures.” I wish I knew HOW to do that – how to change the belief that animals are ours to own like some inanimate object and we can do whatever we please with them…including using them as tools in an unnecessary gambling industry or placing them on the plates of foreigners. What is your suggestion to “change the sentiment”?

    • I’m on this site for the sole purpose of being a voice for the voiceless racehorses as they are maimed and killed (both on the tracks and the slaughterhouse floor) on a daily basis by a business whose priority is wagering profits not the welfare of the racehorses.
      Horse racing’s business practices, and mandatory operating procedures (doping, whipping/beating, maiming, dumping, and dying) has never changed and will never change because it facilitates their wagering profits.
      Karen, in your attempts to change “sentiments,” I suggest you start at the trainers barns in the stable areas especially the multiple drug violating trainers whose had multiple racehorses die under their direct control.
      Oh, and take a piece of you heart with you and leave it there because you will definitely need that to change their “sentiment” and generate meaningful compassion.

    • Good point about the respect and compassion, Karen. My mom had some friends that used to casually breed for quarter horse babies every few years. The wife fully admitted that she crippled her 3 year old. She admitted she had ruined her knees. And she also admitted after that that she sold her for $300 for meat. She said “it bothered” her to do it. I’m sure it bothered her horse more. Then she admitted that as a couple they still go to their local racetrack to watch the racing. They shrugged off the injuries and deaths there. I suppose, what’s to expect when they were willing to kill their own horse because they ruined her? I lost my respect for them that day. Zero compassion. And like I’ve heard from many active people involved in racing recently, “they are JUST a commodity”.

    • And on a different note – I was talking to a greyhound rescue person the other day. One of the main concerns voiced by many people after greyhound racing was closed down in Florida was “where will all those dogs go?!”
      Well, this greyhound rescuer told me the other day there are waiting lists for retiring greyhounds. There aren’t enough dogs to go around for all the people that want them. Now, I’m not delusional enough to think that people will be coming out of the woodwork to snatch up retiring thoroughbreds, but I can tell you, that as an active rehomer, I have a hard time filling requests for what people are looking for. They are looking for sound, younger horses. And mostly what is available around my local tracks are older (6+ year olds) with 40+ starts. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the horses. If racing was closed down, gradually, state by state, as im sure will be the eventual case, those horses will be gradually rehomed, retired, rescued, euthanized, and sent to slaughter. As they are now. But the amount of horses being bred would dramatically decrease, because the need and market would be dwindling for them, just like the greyhounds.

  5. So another day at Santa Anita.
    As most of you know Santa Anita was going to shut down the track on yesterday, Monday (02/25) to “investigate” and assess the track surface due to the high number of racehorse fatalities.
    However trainers demanded that the track stay open so that they could breeze their horses – no kidding!
    Santa Anita caved to their demands and one of those trainers who sent out a horse to breeze was no other than Jerry Hollendorfer.
    As most of you recall, this “trainer” just had one of his biggest stake horses die on this track just the other day called Battle of Midway (BOM) whom most are now familiar with – shattered pastern bones.
    He sent out INSTAGRAND who was purchased for – get his – $1.2 MILLION DOLLARS to breeze over a track that was deemed potentially “unsafe” until an investigation of the track surface is completed
    There are just no words!
    Now, the fact that Jerry and other top trainers sent their horses out to the track could also confirm what HRW supporters have been saying all along: it has nothing to do with the track, this is being used to shift focus away and to placate the public with a comfort pill when really dying is inherent in horse racing.

    • Gina, I don’t know if you saw Tim Ritvo’s “brilliance” in the LA Times article about the SA breakdowns? – this; “When you float [seal] the track, it makes it hard. And then you have to train and race over it. The only other option is to not train or race and that’s not a good option, either.”

      (For those who might not know, racing on a sealed track is like racing on concrete. Think about that. Now is it any wonder that horses’ bones shatter when raced?)

      So NOT training on a concrete highway is not a good option for WHOM, Ritvo?

      (Ritvo…also took part in the “genius” decision to digitally remove whips from jockeys’ hands in promotional photos – The Stronach Group’s marketing policy at its 6 U.S. tracks is to depict “limited use of the whip, meaning nobody reaching back and hitting the horse or anything like that” (per Ritvo). One of those edited photos, of Gun Runner and his jockey, must be seen to appreciate just how STUPID these folks are.)

      • Yes we saw that! We have galloped horses on a sealed track.Our local track when sealed is like riding a horse a bakers bread dough! When our local track has received too much rain / water the horses sound and feel just like would if you were to gallop down Interstate 5! We have landed on brand newly paved asphalt roads that are softer than our local tracks homestretch.We have landed in both places at times!

  6. Gina and Peggy, thank you for bringing up such great points – such accurate statements about racing and how industry members view the horses. Reading through comments on the racing articles and several racing fans’ Twitters about the 19 horse deaths at the ONE track – Santa Anita – in less than 2 months’ time…and TRULY, these individuals talk out of both sides of their mouths.

    So after Hot American, Battle of Midway and Just Forget It all breakdown and die (on Feb 22 and 23), the decision is made, as Gina commented, to “close the track” for a “full evaluation” of it. But the LA Times reported the following; “…Santa Anita announced it was closing the track…to try and determine whether there was some irregularity that was causing the breakdowns. However, some trainers, including Hall of Famers Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer [the dead Battle of Midway’s trainer], objected to the closure and Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, reversed his decision and agreed to allow the track to be open Monday until 9 a.m.” Now if they truly thought the track surface was the problem, why would they take the chance with the lives of other horses? Two things – they know nothing will stop breakdowns and they don’t care. And sure enough, Charmer John, not yet 3 years old, dies.

    The same article mentions the “one horse dying is too many” comment that’s often used when racing is in full-blown damage control – Ritvo used it this time. If racing REALLY felt that way…that ONE horse dying on the track is TOO many…they would agree to end it now. Because they know Charmer John will not be the last racehorse to die – and they’ve admitted it every time they exclaim (regarding breakdowns and deaths) “this is the hard part of this game!” and “it’s the risk we take in this sport!” and “he was felled by the rigors of racing” and “hoping all the horses come home safe”…etc, etc, etc…we’ve heard it ad nauseum, right?

    “One horse dying is too many”? – then you should have ended it a long time ago, racing. So end it now.

    • Its just denial, straight up denial. They know and are aware, this is their game they live and breath it, and oh how my they never wanted all the dirty dark secrets exposed, yall got away with it for a long time, but now the cats outta the bag persay.and the truth is being exposed, got any wonder why nobody cares about racing becasue they animals matter and the majority will never accept the currrent and long standing configuration, its just not about the horses and anyone who thinks it is, would be lying to themselves

  7. I just read “Santa Anita to offer 2-year-old racing in April”. There could be horses running that are not even two years old…

    And I don’t think I can read one more idiot’s claim that “scientific studies” show racing two-year-olds is better for their bones. If that’s the case, then IT’S A MIRACLE! – I’ve had horses for 3 decades and regarding my many equine acquaintances’ herds and my own, how did they all stay sound even into their 30’s when none of them (with the exception of my ex-racehorses) raced as two-year-olds?

  8. For those of us in So Cal, it’s time to go to Santa Anita and let the authorities and racing fans know how we feel. This weekend? They’ll be racing again for sure.

  9. Tim Ritvo is the enemy of all racehorses especially those who race on Frank Stronach (F.S) owned tracks where he has a tremendous amount of power and control over their well-being.
    Instead, he pursues “evil” while exploiting voiceless, defenseless, sentient beings who are, more or less, turned into profit slaves for Frank Stronach’s wagering coffers and/or to stroke his ego.
    Well Mr. Ritvo there comes a time when “silence” and the deliberate masking of the truth becomes betrayal – complete and total betrayal to thousands of racehorses who are being maimed and killed on Stronach-owned tracks.
    These are the real victims of such policies, actions or inaction such as:
    1. As Joy cited: “Ritvo…also took part in the “genius” decision to digitally remove whips from jockeys’ hands in promotional photos – The Stronach Group’s marketing policy at its 6 U.S. tracks is to depict “limited use of the whip, meaning nobody reaching back and hitting the horse or anything like that” (per Ritvo) ,”
    2. He allegedly ensures that non-disclosure contracts are signed by the track announcers and, evidently, makes clear that they are not to focus on the breakdowns, take attention away from them, and play them down. This seems to have led to a high turnover of track announcers and staff in positions to relay the truth to the public.
    3, Allegedly works and collaborates with pro-horse racing entities to “edit-out” racehorses dropping in the dirt with shattered bones on Race Replays as seen almost every time this has occurred.
    4. Continually solicits local/state governments to tap into the public coffers while promising to upgrade the surrounding communities in exchange for massive tax breaks, which they did get in the state of California when they bought California tracks Santa Anita, Golden Gate, and training center San Luis Rey Downs.These documents should be in the public records in some capacity. These promises, in many racing jurisdictions, have not been met and the governments ignore this, rarely seem to conduct any oversight while millions of taxpayers money is going to support this evil virus on our communities that regularly maims and kills racehorses for profit.

    These examples clearly show a person that uses their power to deliberately deceive the public, on many levels, so that they can continue maiming, and killing voiceless racehorses to get richer.
    Just as people choose to deliberately support and participate in this business fully aware that it, more often than not, ends in maiming, dumping, and killing of racehorses.
    Mr. Ritvo I compare you to Michael Cohen President Trump’s “fixer,” because it seems obvious to me that you are the “fixer” for Mr. Stronach and one of your major roles is the continued masking of the racehorses crumbling to the ground to fill wagering profits and/or egos.
    The racehorses are crying out through their broken bones, and spirits while you deliberately drown out their voices and this is not only deceptive, but probably illegal.
    There will come a day when the racehorses will get their day in court, whether that’s public opinion or a courthouse, and your evil deception, and those of the organization you work for, will be there for all to see.

    • We will never forget a horse named Lethal Grande! We galloped horses on the same track as he. He earned >$ 400.000! All horses matter even the low level claimers we used to gallop. But Lethal Grande`s history is especially awful as they literally raced him until he broke down and died racing! Totally unneeded as the owners / trainers had easily earned enough $ to retire him rather than just naming a race after him later after he had died racing! Look him up. He earned his $ the hard way in many tough races throughout the NW.

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