On a Day When Another Horse “Drops Dead” at Santa Anita, Doug O’Neill and Company Celebrate With Music and Tacos

5-year-old Ky. Colonel “dropped dead” while training at Santa Anita Saturday morning, the Associated Press reports. Again, “dropped dead” – at the still-pubescent age of five. Says his $140 million career-earning trainer Richard Mandella: “It was devastating…I wish I knew the answer.” Liar. Liar.

Later in the article, this:

Earlier in the day, about 50 workers and supporters of horse racing rallied outside the track’s main entrance. They toted signs expressing their love of horses and support for the jobs and lifestyle the industry provides in California. Passing motorists honked and waved in support. Protesters have trod the same ground in recent months to criticize the deaths of 32 horses at the track since December and urge that the sport be abolished. However, none of them was among the pro-racing crowd at the rally, where a five-piece band played and trainer Doug O’Neill delivered tacos for lunch.

“Just want to be a voice of how proud we are of our horses and our jobs and our lives,” said O’Neill. “Trainers, grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, we’ve chose this as our career. It’s very important to keep our voice very much alive and at the forefront.” O’Neill said he expects more such rallies or as he called them “celebrations.” “There’s so many workers both frontside and backside that just feel paralyzed,” he said. “Having these kind of celebrations where we can all talk together and be with each other and really show that we are truly the backbone of the business, this is the reality, the love, the passion.”

So on one side, the $132 million Doug O’Neill leads a pack of vested – as in financially – racing people in “celebration” of an industry that abuses, maims, and kills multiple thousands of sentient animals annually, while on the other, volunteer activists give voice to those animals (yesterday memorializing the ever-increasing pile of dead horses). The contrast could not be more striking, the optics worse. So by all means, Mr. O’Neill, keep playing your music and dishing your tacos, for truth – as reported on this website – and compassion will win out. On that, I have no doubt.

Santa Anita’s 38 dead racehorses thus far this year:

Tank Team, killed racing at Santa Anita Jan 4, 2019
Unusual Angel, killed racing at Santa Anita Jan 4, 2019
Secret Street, killed training at Santa Anita Jan 8, 2019
Derby Treasure, killed racing at Santa Anita Jan 11, 2019
Henry, dead at Santa Anita January 14, 2019
Noise Mandate, killed racing at Santa Anita Jan 18, 2019
Amboseli, killed racing at Santa Anita Jan 20, 2019
Like Really Smart, killed racing at Santa Anita Jan 21, 2019
Last Promise Kept, killed racing at Santa Anita Jan 21, 2019
Ponchito, dead at Santa Anita January 22, 2019
Dancing Harbor, killed training at Santa Anita Jan 23, 2019
Spitfire, killed training at Santa Anita Jan 25, 2019
Mongolian Hunter, dead at Santa Anita January 28, 2019
Kid Cantina, killed racing at Santa Anita Feb 2, 2019
Comegowithme, killed racing at Santa Anita Feb 3, 2019
Jager Time, killed training at Santa Anita Feb 17, 2019
Unusual Rider, killed training at Santa Anita Feb 18, 2019
Hot American, killed racing at Santa Anita Feb 22, 2019
Battle of Midway, killed training at Santa Anita Feb 23, 2019
Just Forget It, killed training at Santa Anita Feb 23, 2019
Charmer John, killed training at Santa Anita Feb 24, 2019
Eskenforadrink, killed racing at Santa Anita Mar 2, 2019
Cooney, dead at Santa Anita March 4, 2019
Lets Light the Way, killed training at Santa Anita Mar 5, 2019
Princess Lili B, killed training at Santa Anita Mar 14, 2019
Arms Runner, killed racing at Santa Anita Mar 31, 2019
Rolling Shadow, dead at Santa Anita April 4, 2019
Commander Coil, killed training at Santa Anita May 17, 2019
Spectacular Music, killed racing at Santa Anita May 19, 2019
Kochees, killed racing at Santa Anita May 25, 2019
Current Times, dead at Santa Anita May 27, 2019
Derby River, killed training at Santa Anita June 5, 2019
Formal Dude, killed racing at Santa Anita June 8, 2019
Truffalino, killed racing at Santa Anita June 9, 2019
American Currency, killed training at Santa Anita June 22, 2019
Zeke, killed training at Santa Anita September 16, 2019
Emtech, killed racing at Santa Anita September 28, 2019
Ky. Colonel, killed training at Santa Anita October 5, 2019

Subscribe and Get Notified of New Posts


  1. Battuello calls Dick Mandella “liar liar”! He is out-of-line with this accusation…and I strongly disagree! I know Richard…worked for him…and consider him to be at the very top of all trainers in the entire world!! He is honest…tells it like it is…the whole truth and nothing but the truth! If he knew the cause of death of this horse at the time the question was asked, he would have said as much.

    Dr Robert Fritz DVM

    Sent from my iPhone

    Begin forwarded message:

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Dr. Robert Fritz, when you can say, with total honesty, there was no substance in Ky. Colonel’s system that could have contributed to the 5 yr old dropping dead and get the permission of the horse’s connections to release the medical records (unaltered) then maybe YOU will have some credibility, sir.

      • Rose…20 races – actually lightly raced considering the majority of racehorses (the “cheap claimers”) are raced at least 12 times a year and Ky. Colonel was 5 with “only” 20 starts – well that’s still a lot of Lasix…

      • Yes, Joy, I did notice Ky Colonel was very lightly raced compared to what would be considered a “moderate” number of starts for a 5yr. old in this business.
        Very unusual in this game.

        And, yes, it is still a lot of Lasix, a powerful diuretic given to horses with no therapeutic purpose. In other words, the horses do not have a disease that needs treatment with Lasix.
        And given directly into the blood stream to boot – a method of administration reserved for emergency situations but ROUTINE in racing.
        I wonder what Ky Colonel’s electrolytes looked like for starters…

    • Lol. The cause of death, as those of us who have been involved in racing are well aware, is horse racing. You should be ashamed of yourself if you used your veterinary education to contribute to this horror show.

    • And Ky. Colonel had just returned to Mandella’s barn about ten days earlier after having been “rested” at the farm – rested from what, Dr. Fritz? He hadn’t run since May and before that, it was February.

      Horse racing kills horses – always has, always will. And racing – including Mandella – knows it.

    • You came on THIS site to plead the case for Mr. Mandella’s integrity? LOL, as a retired HORSE RACING vet?
      I mean, please. Make all the exclamation points(!!!) you want; his multiple medications violations tell a different story. And he now has TWO dead horses to answer for at the Death Track, this year alone.

    • “The very top of all trainers in the entire world”? Seriously? He gets such high praise from someone who I’m sure has no alterior motive, like say, BEING A PART OF THE VERY INDUSTRY THAT KILLED KY. COLONEL! “Honest, tells it like it it, tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth”? Then let’s see the veterinary records for his horse. Let’s see how much Lasix and God-only-knows what other drugs were in that horse’s system. Let’s see what kind of doping regime he was on, what kind of twisted “therapy” was used to keep him running. Because to get to the top in this game requires the systematic destruction of horses, end of story, and if you as a veterinarian work for him or any other trainer, you are simply a butcher with a diploma, assisting in the misery and suffering of sentient beings exploited for profit. I don’t know how you can work on a race track and see the cruelty and abuse that goes on there on a daily basis and not only claim to be in a profession whose sole purpose is helping animals, but also defend the very heartless bastards responsible for literally running these horses into the ground by the THOUSANDS. Shattered legs, severed spines, skull fractures, broken shoulders, internal bleeding, laminitis, colic, horses so broken they can’t even make it back to the barn under their own power, sudden death at 2- and 3-years old, tongue ties, shocking in the starting gates, whipping to the point of leaving welts, punching young horses in the head in the starting gate, STARVATION (Tiz Willow), degenerative joint disease, severe ulcers, being traded like chattel dozens of times in claiming races, and finally, slaughter.
      You, sir, need to do some serious soul searching. If you even still have one.

    • Now the fact that Ky. Colonel was “lightly raced” could be a strong indication that he was struggling with some serious issues that seem to be chronic.
      Him being “lightly raced” is not derived from an altruistic measure I’m sure.
      So to clear up the confusion it seems to be a case of physical issues that prevented them from racing him more and that’s why the doping/vet records from the onset should be released.
      Then, and only then can the truth be revealed.
      The fact that neither Mandela nor the owner, Preston Madden, hasn’t released the records makes them liars by default because it’s easy to claim something under total secrecy and lack of transparency.
      Furthermore, the fact that Ms. Belinda Stronach of The Stronach Group has no less than 7 vets supposed to be analyzing “red flags” to prevent breakdowns is looking more like a ruse, public wallpaper to placate the public.
      Ky. Colonel was one gigantic “red flag” and this is the 2nd horse who died that had “red flags” all over them.
      The fact of the matter is that if they were to really do their job then there would be no racehorses left to fill races and the wagering coffers.
      This business requires the ongoing doping and beatings/whippings to keep sore racehorses running and flipping a buck with total disregard for their well-being.
      It’s really pathetic to hear them claim to “care” for their horses and treat them “royally.”
      By golly if this is caring and treating them like royalty then the words need to be redefined because really it’s maiming and killing them – that’s what horse racing has always done, still does, and will always do.
      No reforms with change this.

  2. I read all the daily posts and they all affect me. This is a hard industry to crack open so that allies of horse racing will begin to have a change of heart to oppose it. The “celebrations” of horse racing are despicable. I want to do more that just comment on the posts. What more can we do to bring attention to the deadly racing of horses? Has a large ad in a major newspaper been posted? 60 minutes? National nightly news? I want this hideous practice to stop. Thanks to everyone for their postings. I read all of them each day.

    • I remember 60 Minutes showed a fully named Any Given Day being taken to slaughter in a piece they did on the subject a few years ago. Bryant Gumble’s sports news show on HBO has done at least 2 stories on horses breaking down, and the slaughter industry in the past 2 years, the last one ( that I know of) to do with Santa Anita. Great pieces, but not enough.
      I remember the way Any Given Day was moving about, trying to avoid going into the trailer, that she seemed pretty sound. She had some way of knowing she was going to her death. She did not want to get into that trailer. She had to be pushed, dragged and whipped to get her inside. Why couldn’t her owner have contacted a riding stable, to see if there was an advanced rider in need of a horse at a good price? If a therapy stable wanted a horse to train?

      • Karen pretty sure the horse was named NO DAY OFF…..my appologize is i am wrong.

      • Karen, her name was No Day Off. I will try to find the link to her story and post it here in the next day or two.

        In July, 2011, Deputy Broad was sent underground to slaughter. He last raced at the “hell hole” – Mountaineer – a few days prior. When I asked the Racing Director at that time, Ms. Williams, if she remembered the HBO special about No Day Off, she said that she did not, and when I told her that she had Deputy Broad’s blood on her hands, she promptly hung up on me.

        Danny R. Bird was Depity Broad’s owner/trainer and I can assure you that absolutely nothing has changed since Deputy met his demise seven years ago.

      • Danny R. Bird – multiple racehorse’s killed under his legal care, custody, and control over the years.
        In fact, the list is so extensive that I would have to post a separate blog for it.
        His latest victim?
        TIZ MATTIE on 3/18/19 at the death pit called Mahoning Racecourse that only exists due to slots.
        Tiz Mattie “fell” was “vanned-off” and euthanized.
        Just another disposable gambling chip for this vile business.
        Some other victims of Danny R. Bird:
        Purdy Birdie. Disappeared after 5/27/19.
        Show Me Some Sass Disappeared after 9/23/2019.
        Coney Island Kid. Disappeared after 9/16/2019.
        Stop the Parade. Disappeared after 9/30/2019.
        Jersey Spring “gave way in the lane” on 9/24/19.

        Now they left his barn in one form or another.
        We can only assume that most ended up at the kill auction probably already carved-up for dog food.
        Nevertheless, Danny R. Bird has a bunch of new victims that have replaced the ones that he maimed.
        How dare you claim to “care” for racehorses you bunch of delusional hoodlums.

  3. Well first off DR. FRITZ you would NEVER ever be around any of my horses. Your comment about “one of the best trainers” just tells me that you don’t know a whole lot about horse racing either. No god damn horse just drops dead at training without some major problem occurring. You are just like all the rest of these abusers at these tracks – obviously somebody paid you for off for your so called “professional opinion” which to me means nothing. Doug O’Neill and your music group and tacos – SERIOUSLY – it obviously doesn’t take much to entertain animal abusers and killers. Look at the number of serious deaths at this track and you don’t honestly think that any of us who care for these animals honestly believe a word of your god damn bull shit. We don’t – we don’t care about your jobs – none of you – there is far too much horse abuse in one of the worst forms at all of these race tracks and don’t tell me that you all REALLY CARE ABOUT THE HORSES – not a chance you do – you only care about the money – each and everyone of you. It is a disgusting sport and the pain inflicted upon these animals is just beyond words – theses tracks all need to be shut down and you bastards all just need to disappear because you aren’t worth breathing the air that these gorgeous horses do. Shame on all of you and shame on your spokesperson so called – ‘VET” professional. I agree with Barbara we need to get major newspapers involved, 60 Minutes – any type of news media that would work for the animals and not listen the whining bunch of assholes that pretend to act so caring – well we all know that you don’t give a shit – the media needs an involvement in this horrendous problem!!!

  4. So while O’Neill’s group is sitting and eating in “celebration” of their jobs, their horses are having food and water withheld before they are put on the track to run for their lives? – did I get that right?

    And since the racing writer/author of the article Patrick referred to neglected to mention it, I will mention it – O’Neill and friends are part of the “We Support Horse Racing” group…and they align themselves with the pro-slaughter organization Protect the Harvest. Horse racing – supporters of horse slaughter in word and in deed.

    • Absolutely Joy.
      Let’s not forget about all of their disposable commodities, the racehorses, who are sent to kill auctions, and end up on the slaughterhouse floor while the business boasts about “record breaking” profits.
      I suppose O’Neill and company quickly forgets about all of the racehorses they’ve dumped, but to continue this cycle proves that they don’t care.
      Yesterday was just a way for them to put on a display, to satisfy their demented egos because in the end they will lose – California residents will no longer stand for this and horse racing will be dismantled and subsequently shut down.
      It’s just a matter of time.
      Then I will fly out to California to celebrate.

  5. I don’t accept answers that say they don’t know why a horse drops dead so young! It’s time these people are held accountable and make sure their horses are healthy enough to race!

  6. Anytime Doug O’Neill’s name is mentioned, think on this name – Burna Dette…the 5-year-old mare he killed.

    From Jeremy Plonk’s ESPN piece, August 2010, the following; “The 5-year-old mare Burna Dette met her maker last Friday while running for a $2,000 claiming price only six weeks after she was purchased for $25,000 by the aforementioned duo. The mare struggled to keep pace, broke down on the far turn and catapulted rider Cesar De Alba head over heels. Minutes later, Burna Dette was euthanized, but the outrage already had flared.

    “This was not one of those unfortunate parts of the business’ kind of breakdowns that make all of us shudder. This was a red flag waving from the moment the overnight sheet came out with the entries. No amount of explanation from O’Neill, Guiol or the attending veterinarians at Los Alamitos is going to convince any fair-minded person otherwise.”

    O’Neill is just another exploiter who puts horses’ lives at risk for a living.

    RIP Burna Dette.

    • I implore everyone to simply google doug oneill violations, they results speak for themselves, hell you dont get called drug oneill for no reason. The story of burna dette and ill have another should by all means have this guy thrown in jail, but this is horseracing instead he is celebrated and “roasted” by his fellows abusers and touted as a good guy. His owners like paul reddam, and joe besecker are no different, they seek these “trainers” out because of the win at all cost attitudes its mearly buissness to them and the horses pay the ultimate price, yet they will tell you how much they care. I thank all of you for fighting this fight for the love of the horses, i wish people were more aware of the truth of what the horse racing industry truely is

  7. And one of O’Neill’s big owners, Paul Reddam Racing, the owner of I’ll Have Another, the Darby and Preaknes winner that was “injured” and scratched from the Belmont but was on his way to Japan within a few days in spite of the “injury”. It is a partnership worthy of note!!! Also worthy of note is the unprecedented security put in place for THAT running of the Belmont.
    This partnership has produced earnings of $31,954,882 since 2012. And that does not include the haul made from the sale of I’ll Have Another to Japan for breeding.

    • In addition, Reddam has a very interesting business history, to say the least.
      He fits well with O’Neill and, of course racing.

  8. Oh yeah, I bet all trainers wish they knew why their horses are dying.
    Try, the horses are so inbred, that of course recessive bad traits come to the genetic forefront. Things like weak ankles, a propensity for diseases or other physical weaknesses.
    Try, horses are physically stressed long before they are fully grown. Soft bones don’t hold up to rigorous training and racing schedules. They simply snap. And then the soft tissues tear.
    Try, these horses are so over medicated with drugs, they have up to 50 stomach ulcers. So, if their legs and joints aren’t killing them, their stomachs are. Imagine racing when your entire body is in agony.
    Or, numb from pain killers. So, horses do as the jockey directs, and runs. Until a numbed joint gives out.
    Or, try how horses nature’s are perverted. Horses are social animals who need to be in a herd for optimal physical and emotional health. Not shut up in a stall here all they can do is walk in a small circle. Getting more and more nervous and afraid, until they start weaving back and forth, cribbing, kicking the weals, even tearing up…which is probably how they are found dead in the morning, of a fractured skull or broken neck. Equine suicide. These horses are literally being driven crazy.
    So. There’s a few ideas on why your horses keep dying, trainers.

  9. Here’s the problem with the entire lot of you, and the incessant shrill tenor of Patrick B’s worn-out refrain: it’s misplaced, and ultimately insignificant in comparison to the myriad cases of animal neglect and abuse that occur in this country on a daily basis that are far more severe and sinister. Why not target how poorly most household “pets” are treated? Or if you truly love horses, why not target how poorly non-racehorses are (mis)treated on the average? I think I can answer both rhetorical questions. Horse racing is an easier, and more glamorous target. The unfortunate carnage which, of course is disturbing, is sexy to you folks. It’s protest pornography. And because it fits under the unified umbrella of organized sport, it’s a far easier target.

    Here’s the inconvenient truth about horse racing for HRW: these horses are given attention, shelter, food and love – yes love – for the most part. Horses are beasts of burden and always have been. If you want to examine the history of the horse since its interaction with mankind, you’ll discover a long list of exploitation. Is horse racing exploitative? Perhaps, but far less so than horses that were used in war, farming, transportation, etc, etc. The domestication of animals is exploitative in general, But it’s what human beings are known for in some sense. Race horses owe their existence to the sport, just as dogs and cats owe theirs to pet ownership. Some are treated well and enjoy lives of comfort and many do not. This, unfortunately, is the way of the world.

    • Absolutely agree about pet abuse. Absolutely agree about horses in general. I want that – animal cruelty of all kinds – to end, too. But here’s the thing: Before I came on the scene in 2013, the cruelty and carnage in the horseracing industry was largely unknown. This – Horseracing Wrongs – was necessary. That’s why we’re here. And save your declarations of “love” for the apologist rags. Not interested.

      • So you don’t think there are any decent people in racing who actually care for the animals in their barns? I’ve spent time on the backside as a writer and as a fan. Much of what I’ve witnessed is genuine day-to-day care for these animals that I wish were mirrored by pet owners.

        What exactly is the current stated goal of this site since abolishing horse racing will never happen and certainly not in any of our lifetimes. The only thing I see this accomplishing is to report every horse death that happens in the racing industry. It’s an unfortunate thing that these horses die and continue to do so, but it’s simply not the cruel, grave injustice you make it out to be. Go down to the local animal shelter in any large city and ask how many dogs/cats were euthanized that were perfectly healthy but unwanted. That’s a much bigger problem on a much bigger scale. Perspective is something you people lack in great measure. I’d suggest gainful employment as a distraction.

    • Brandon maybe you don’t realize how many of us here were involved in racing, and were on the backside of tracks. Your rhetoric will not fly with me. I know what I dealt with, what I saw, and what I heard. And NONE of it involved love for the horses or had their welfare in mind. It’s easy to try to detract from the abuses in racing by pointing out household pets, blah blah. But household pets have more proactive eyes and protection on them than racehorses do, so we are here to look out for racehorses. Since you have your head up your butt and don’t see that- don’t come on this site. You don’t need to be here. All of what you said is not the truth.

    • Not you again. Okay, Brandon, let’s reemphasize – you can’t justify the existence of an abuse form you personally enjoy by pointing to other instances of abuse and insisting that they are worse. And I think its ironic you comment on “the shrill tenor of Patrick’s worn-out refrain” when the racing industry has been using the same excuses for horse deaths for decades. And “protest pornography”? Now I think you’re just projecting, Brandon.
      So these horses are given attention, shelter, food, and love? Shelter – you mean confined and isolated in a 12 x 12 box for 23 hours a day. Attention? Yeah, when the trainer stops by to jab a needle full of shit into their veins or freeze their legs for the next race. Love? Oh, yeah, they love them to death. As long as these horses are bringing in money they get all the love they can stomach. If you truly love an animal you would never think about putting him or her in a situation that might cause harm for any amount of money, but these horses are sent out to run with known injuries on shitty tracks and traded off the second they aren’t turning a profit. And they owe their existence to the ” sport”? You are claiming that these horses are literally created for exploitation and entertainment, and there is somehow a debt of gratitude that the racing industry allows them to exist at all. Yes, animal suffering is rampant in the world today, but it’s because of people like YOU, Brandon, who choose to defend the kind of abuse that gives them gratification.
      Go back to the Paulick Report or whatever other hole you crawled out of. You don’t give a shit about the abuse of any animal. You are simply trying to make your personal entertainment look slightly better in comparison to the rest of the animal abuse out there. And it isn’t.

    • Given your two cents, Brandon Quick, one can safely declare you do nothing for any exploited, neglected or abused animal. And unfortunately, it’s folks like you that explains the “way of the world”.

  10. Brandon, of course there is animal abuse going, on and unfortunately it will continue to some degre as long as there are humans around. However, it is now overwhelmiengly rejected by society. Of course there is still a lot of work to be done.
    Also, there was a time when child labor was “accepted” as well as countless other injustices.
    It is an evolution in thinking. But some in society seem to be stuck in the past.
    Horseracing is a classic example of a “pocket” of society living the archaic abuse of the horse .

    PS If your mindset of abuse being the “way of the world” were to prevail there would be no progress in the treatment of any living creature.

  11. I have owned horses since I was 5 years old and I am 76. In that entire time I have lost 4 horses. One from a serious injury. And 3 to founder. For the life of me I do not understand how a race track could lose 40 horses in ONE YEAR!!!!! The problem stems for the love of money. They start racing these horses before they have even finished growing. So to speak. They run these babies at 2 years old and more than likely their knees haven’t closed by then. But it’s all about the money in racing so they just don’t give a flying rats ass if it’s hard on their legs to start them very young, so by 2 yrs old they are on the track entered in races. It’s all so sad.

    • And then the industry and its “veterinarians” wonder why horses not even done growing, have such huge arthritis problems, that are seen only in old horses, in other horse breeds. You’re right. From breeding to kill auctions, racing is all about money, and no one cares about the horses. The horses may as well be born green with pictures of dead presidents in their hides, and dollar signs for ears.

Comments are closed.