The Power of Protest and the Gruesome Details Behind the Killing

Quite obviously, the goings-on in Southern California have monopolized Racing news over the past couple weeks. First, we at Horseracing Wrongs are proud to have had a hand in the protest last Sunday – guidance, posters, leaflets, banners, etc. The wonderful activists, led by Lucy Shelton, were mentioned and/or pictured in almost all media pieces on Santa Anita’s temporary closing:

The New York Times
The Washington Post
Los Angeles Times
Huffington Post
NBC Los Angeles
NBC Miami
Veg News
even international: The Sydney Morning Herald

Among the many others, this Sports Illustrated video editorial by anchor Robin Lundberg merits special mention.

Second, though, a reminder that what has happened at Santa Anita simply mirrors what takes place on racetracks across this country every single day. Through my seminal reporting, I estimate that well over 2,000 horses are killed racing or training on U.S. tracks every year. But it’s more than just names on a list, numbers to be tallied. The actual deaths suffered by these intelligent, sensitive beings are stories unto themselves – stories that all who would defend this vile industry should be made to read. Truth is, death on the track is never peaceful; most often, it is ugly, violent, and gruesome. Here, my Pennsylvania 2016 report redux:

“A List That Should Be Posted at Every Betting Window”

Through a FOIA request to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, I have confirmed the following kills on Pennsylvania tracks in 2016. (These are the most detailed necropsy reports I have received to date; it should be noted that virtually every dead horse below died with stomach ulcers – most extensive to severe.)

Stand by Your Man, January 13, Penn 2, “1/3 of left scapula shattered into multiple displaced pieces…severe damage of the surrounding skeletal muscle and soft tissue including a severed blood vessel and severe hemorrhage”; “chronic synovitis of the front fetlocks”

Exceptionalism, February 27, Parx 1, “acute, complete, severely comminuted sesamoid fractures with partial ligamentous tears, joint capsule disruption, and regional hemorrhage”

Have Faith Sister, March 1, Parx 6, “acute, complete, mildly comminuted sesamoid fracture with complete intersesamoidean ligament tear, partial suspensory ligament tear, and regional hemorrhage”

Goldtique, March 5, Parx 9, “this horse was involved in a three horse collision…broken back – death due to vertebral fracture and exsanguination” (she bled out)

Digger’s Jigger, March 5, Parx 9, “this horse was involved in a three horse collision [same as above]…found dead in her stall [next] morning – death due to axial musculoskeletal trauma and exsanguination” (she bled out)

Regal Soldier, March 7, Parx 7, “severely comminuted right hind limb fracture”

Gentle Buzzing, March 24, Penn 7, “marked acute fracture of sesamoid bones”

Dancing Terror, April 9, The Meadows 10, “left hind limb was swollen…with a puncture wound, through which bone was protruding…eight large pieces of bone (and numerous small pieces) present”; “numerous small ulcers” present

Salty’s Hero, April 25, Parx 9, “catastrophic second, third, and fourth metacarpal fractures with suspensory ligament disruption…and regional hemorrhage”

Drive, April 27, Penn 6, “acute comminuted fracture of the metacarpal”

Lovelibuzz, May 3, Parx 4, “comminuted and displaced fractures of the radial, intermediate, third, and fourth carpal bones with hemarthrosis”

Joe Boo Kelly, May 6, prior to Penn 1, “horse became unstable during the post parade and then fell and died – no obvious cause of death”; “the ulceration of the stomach was severe – 90-100 erosions and ulcers”

Nasa, May 7, Parx 6, “displaced fractures of the medial and lateral sesamoid bones with disruption of the sesamoidean ligaments”

Tell Tale Friend, May 9, Parx 8, “acute, comminuted sesamoid fractures with regional hemorrhage and disruption of the sesamoidean ligaments”

Fors Fortis, May 24, Presque Isle 1, “sesamoid bones badly comminuted…suspensory ligament completely transected and avulsed from the bones”

La Moskette, June 7, Parx 2 (euthanized late July), “sesamoid fracture, ligament avulsion – horse failed to recover; “lung: locally extensive acute hemorrhage”

Forbidden Story, June 17, Penn 6, “bilateral sesamoid fractures with partial rupture of the flexor tendons with hemorrhage”

Mike the Hab, June 24, Penn 8, “multiple fractures of carpal bones” (both legs); ulcers “severe”

Lorilee, June 25, Penn 1, “sesamoid fracture, condyle fracture…luxation of MC3 with disruption of the suspensory apparatus”; “spleen is severely congested”

A. Rod Again, June 28, Parx 4, “acute, comminuted, displaced fractures of the medial and lateral sesamoid bones…[multiple joints]: mild-moderate chronic osteoarthritis”

Truly Amazing, June 28, Presque Isle 2, “cause of death was Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage”

Purple Egg, June 29, Penn 5, “sesamoid fracture with disruption of the suspensory apparatus”; “spleen is severely congested”

Maxwell’s Hammer, July 2, Parx 2, “severe tendon rupture”

Notaria, July 12, Parx 2, “sesamoid bones fractured into multiple, displaced fragments…suspensory ligament severely frayed, with near complete fiber disruption”

Anthony’s Flyer, July 16, Parx 2, “traumatic stifle laceration with joint penetration and patellar fracture”

Mr. Perseverance, July 21, Penn 1, “sesamoid fractured into three fragments…ligaments torn”

Greatwhite Buffalo, August 2, Presque Isle 4, “both front fetlocks attached by skin only, leaving the distal cannon bones exposed, covered with ground-in dirt and severe bruising”; “gastric ulcers quite extensive”

Isutalkintome, August 7, Presque Isle 3, “left front fetlock attached by skin only, leaving the distal cannon bones exposed, covered with ground-in dirt and severe bruising”; “gastric ulcers extensive”

Burst of Fire, August 7, Presque Isle 3, “glenoid rim fractured…two pieces of bone pulled away”; “gastric ulcers extensive”

Kernel Slanders, August 12, Penn 8, “sesamoid fractured into three fragments…ligaments shredded”; “score lines and bruising in front fetlocks are suggestive of repetitive osseous stress syndrome, a common finding in fetlocks of racing Thoroughbreds”

Little Louella, August 27, Penn 3, “fractures of the third and radial carpal bones, mild to severe osteoarthritis”; “stomach: severe, chronic, focally extensive ulcers”; “spleen: severe congestion”

Registrada, September 13, Parx 4, “comminuted medial sesamoid fracture”

Age of Fluffy, September 21, prior to Presque Isle 8, “spine fractured”; “gastric ulcers are common in horses on NSAIDs, and in training…these were extensive and may have caused the horse to be painful from them during the paddock period…this may have led to the horse rearing and flipping over backwards”

Rockin’ Rockstar, October 2, Presque Isle 4, “comminuted (many pieces), spiral fracture of humerus, with ends distracted…greater tubercle separated from parent bone; rib fractured”

Jennie Says So, October 10, Parx 1, “acute, complete, open sesamoid fracture with suspensory ligament disruption”

Bobby McDuffie, October 22, Penn 5, “complete rupture of the distal sesamoidean ligaments with hemorrhage”; “the spleen is enlarged and filled with blood”

Gambler Five, November 2, Penn 8, “deep digital flexor tendon completely severed and displaced…dorsal surface of the superficial digital flexor tendon shredded…[multiple] ligaments torn…medial proximal sesamoid bone has a complete mid-body fracture…lateral proximal sesamoid bone fractured into multiple pieces”

South Philly Magic, November 14, Parx 3, “horse had a broken neck and was dead when the veterinarian arrived”

Star Cover, November 26, Pocono 9, “upon exam it was both visually and palpably obvious that there was a complete breakdown injury to the suspensory apparatus; both sesamoids were fractured and the ankle was on the ground when attempting to bear weight – as a result, the horse was euthanized”

Queen Patron, December 7, Penn 5, “compound fracture of fetlock…protrusion of metacarpal and sesamoid bones through the laceration…exposed bones are covered in dirt and debris”; the mucosa of the stomach contains 53 erosions and ulcers”

Final Betrayal, December 11, Parx 8, “sesamoids fractures with extensive ligamentous tearing and hemorrhage”

Sierra Ancha, December 14, Penn 2, “compound comminuted fracture left forelimb…severe soft tissue damage with exposure of several fragments of bone”

Surfer Chub, December 27, Parx 1, “shattered knee – multiple, acute carpal fractures”

In addition, the following horses died on track grounds from what the industry calls “non-racing” causes. While this may be technically true, morally they are no less casualties of this vile business than the ones above.

Burning Point, May 26, Penn, “lymphohistiocytic meningoencephalomyelitis with necrosis” (last raced April 23)

Hoppy Hour, June 15, Penn, “marked diffuse chronic fibrinous arthritis of the left hock – the thickened joint capsule along with the abundant fibrin suggest a chronic, on-going process” (this filly was two years old and had yet to be raced)

Bird Prince, July 22, Parx, “this horse has been showing neurologic signs and was euthanized…” (four years old)

Cantina Butterfly, October 26, Parx, “on October 26, the horse was down, depressed had labored breathing and a very swollen face with a bad odor and some nasal discharge…died before a tracheotomy could be performed” – necropsy revealed “severe extensive cellulitis, severe gastric ulcers, renal papillary necrosis, severe traumatic osteoarthropathy” (three years old, last raced September 13)


  1. The memories of poor Purple Egg, the beautiful gelding who had his own Facebook page. I still remember the pro racing world being so saddened by his loss and condolences to the connections. After reading this necropsy report – do most of them even know what this horse died from? And the pain and terror he must have felt? Do they even really care- no matter how much they are scrambling now to try to paint racing in a better light and say they do? Pathetically, no. The killing has gone on at the same clip and the same disgusting injuries to horses since 2016 when this sweet boy gave his life for entertainment.

  2. Every one of those injuries spells PAIN. Excruciating unrelenting PAIN! Followed by fear in the midst of the deadly approach of humans meaning to kill the suffering. As the horse comes to term with the injury, they do go into shock and numbing as a prey animal does while being eaten. How many jockeys stay and comfort their charge? I would guess, from seeing photos of the tragedy, not many. The horse is just a machine to them, beaten to gas their speed but few would have their heart broken. I think also that as the public reads the stories of “unfortunate”, “saddened” and “will dearly miss” human padding to the horror of the horses dying, they cannot read between the lines to touch the reality of the misery of the injuries described.

  3. YES! — HOW RIGHT you are — we MUST continue to keep clamoring that it is NOT about the dirt on the track under the hooves that causes torturous damage & death — it’s the PEOPLE — those “evil ones” in this industry, who do NOT give a DAMN about the lives of horses — who dope up the horses, who ride the horses into the ground 24/7, who isolate the horses 24/7, who contribute to the suffering, misery and death of the horses — need I go on ….

  4. A million THANK YOUs to Lucy Shelton — to Robin Lundberg — to Patrick Battuello — Again, let’s write to our Newspapers — what about Radio Stations? — what about TV outlets? — – the major and minor ones.

  5. I must admit it took me some time to write and post this comment because I was sobbing so heavily I couldn’t see through my tears – absolutely heartbreaking.
    All of them count, but I will focus on 3.
    ROCKING’ ROCKSTAR. In his younger years was a multiple stakes winner of over $422,334 then his precipitous decline into the claiming ranks begun. Like most claimers he had multiple trainers/owners all on the bandwagon to squeeze the lemon dry while trying to squeeze out another buck. None of these owner/trainers (you know the ones that say they “love” them and treat them like “family members”) found it in their heart to give this hard knocking dude a good home because they have no heart.
    GAMBLER FIVE. In her younger years, she ran her fanny-off steadily performing in upper level Allowance races. She was no slouch as she pulled in $312,518. Like most all of them, when they stop performing, they are sent down into the gallows, the claiming ranks, where they are running for their lives. She changed hands multiple times and not one of these monsters ever took her away from this death trap to give her a life that she so deserved.
    You dirty rotten low life scum bag bastards!
    CANTINA BUTTERFLY. This poor 3 year old mare. This the day she died:
    “on October 26, the horse was down, depressed had labored breathing and a very swollen face with a bad odor and some nasal discharge…died before a tracheotomy could be performed” – necropsy revealed “severe extensive cellulitis, severe gastric ulcers, renal papillary necrosis, severe traumatic osteoarthropathy” (three years old, last raced September 13)
    This detailed description is solid evidence that this mare was intentionally neglected, was not given proper veterinarian care indicating solid animal cruelty, and extensive suffering due to not being treated.
    If this mare had been off the grounds in any other normal setting these owners would have been charged with Felony Animal Cruelty charges and neglect.
    I don’t think that there’s a word in the dictionary that can accurately reflect these apologists, but low life parasitic blood sucking leeches is about as close as I can get.

    • Gina, I feel exactly as you do – there is no describing the outrage and heartbreak I feel when reading what these horses suffered. And they SUFFERED.

      You mentioned Cantina Butterfly and I knew immediately who that filly was – I remember her name and 2 specific others even though all three of them died in 2016. And I doubt I will ever forget their names.

      On March 5, 2016, at Parx in the 9th race, Cantina Butterfly, Goldtique and Digger’s Jigger were involved in a 3-horse collision. The horrific scenario for those 3 fillies was basically this – Digger’s Jigger clipped heels and fell – then Cantina Butterfly fell over Digger’s Jigger – then Goldtique fell after “hurdling” Cantina Butterfly.

      Then from Patrick’s investigation and FOIA responses, this:

      – Goldtique, killed March 5, 2016: “this horse was involved in a three horse collision…broken back – death due to vertebral fracture and exsanguination (she bled out)”. This chestnut filly was euthanized the same day she was injured…after “prolonged intervention by track veterinarians [for her] severe injuries”. She would have turned 3 in June.

      – Digger’s Jigger, died alone March 6, 2016 after being severely injured the evening before: “this horse was involved in a three horse collision…found dead in her stall [next] morning – death due to axial musculoskeletal trauma and exsanguination (she bled out)”. FOUND DEAD IN HER STALL THE NEXT MORNING – musculoskeletal trauma and exsanguination. The little dark bay Digger’s Jigger…was she NOT EXAMINED by a vet after she fell to the track and had another horse collide with and fall over her?!? Can you imagine the BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA she suffered? YET….she BLEEDS OUT in her damn stall…alone. Her 3rd birthday would have been April 16.

      – And Cantina Butterfly, died October 26, 2016…we already read the EXTREME suffering she endured. Dark bay like Digger’s Jigger, she lived the longest of these 3 fillies. She was 3.

      You are 100% correct, Gina – this was felonious animal abuse – but not for the horse racing industry. It neglects and abuses and cripples and destroys without responsibility or consequence. It has free rein to kill.

  6. Many wonderful wishes and thanks to Lucy Shelton – the activist who was at the Santa Anita’s track regarding the protests being done on behalf of these wonderful horses that are literally being “killed off.”
    Unless you have been around animals you have no idea the destruction that can take place when horses are not properly trained or cared for. I have mentioned in many of my posting about the horses being far “too young” and not having their bodies and bones developed to the point that they should never even be near a race track. This horse racing is just about the common greed of man as always and never about the animals. When you read the list of horses that have died and the causes it is enough to make you want to never see another race track ever. People can not even start to comprehend what absolute torture these poor horses go through to end up dead anyways. We need to stop the horse racing everywhere in the world it is just absolutely a horrendous sport that brings nothing but abuse and death to far too many of these gorgeous animals. Remember it is never about the horses, it is always about the greed of MAN. The owners and trainers do not give a damn if the animal stands up the next day in the stall or not and don’t kid yourself – they don’t give a shit either way!!!

    • Cathy I complete agree with you, but for one thing: horse racing is NOT a sport, never has been, never will be.
      “,,,,,,We need to stop the horse racing everywhere in the world it is just absolutely a horrendous sport”
      A huge shout out to Lucy Shelton – thanks for your peaceful demonstrations, and thanks for being a voice for all of the voiceless racehorses as they drop dead in the dirt.
      I wish I could be out there demonstrating as well, but the racehorses spirits are with us all as we continue to be a voice for them.

  7. We must also call out our news media when they glorify this “sport.” It is especially bad in San Diego, where opening day at the Del Mar track is treated like a combination ofa holiday festival and a sacred rite . It is THE social event of the year, not to be missed. The promoters have been very successful in portraying this image, and the media all-too-willing to glamorize racing, rather than do any investigative reporting.
    Also, people in earshot of KFI radio out of LA -please complain to the station about Tim Conway Jr
    who raves about horseracing during his show.

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