3-Year-Old Killed at Del Mar – 11th Dead Racehorse at “Safest Track in North America”

And another: 3-year-old Koa “broke down,” collapsed, and was euthanized while training at Del Mar yesterday morning. He is the 5th dead horse in the ultra-short “Bing Crosby” Fall Meet (which ends today) and 11th on the year.

In an interview with the San Diego Reader back in July – when the Santa Anita crisis was still red-hot – Del Mar CEO Joe Harper boasted the following: “Del Mar is one of the safest, if not the safest, racetrack in North America. I can point to a Fall meet where we didn’t have a single breakdown.” First, if he’s referring to last year, which I assume he is, that last statement is categorically untrue. As to the rest, if this is what the “safest racetrack in North America” looks like, good luck.

Charge a Bunch, killed training at Del Mar Jul 18
Carson Valley, killed training at Del Mar Jul 18
Bowl of Soul, killed training at Del Mar Jul 29
unidentified, died in stall at Del Mar Jul 31-Aug 4
unidentified, died in stall at Del Mar Aug 5-Aug 11
Bri Bri, killed training at Del Mar Aug 12
Princess Dorian, killed racing at Del Mar Nov 10 (euth Nov 18)
Ghost Street, killed racing at Del Mar Nov 10
Prayer Warrior, killed racing at Del Mar Nov 10
Slewgoodtobetrue, killed training at Del Mar Nov 17
Koa, killed training at Del Mar Nov 30

As a postscript, in that same article, Harper praised PETA as “more reasonable” than “those folks with the signs who protest outside [his] gates.” When asked if he believed that those protesters’ ultimate goal is to end horseracing, Harper replied, “I seriously doubt whether an animal rights person will back off.” No we won’t, Joe. No we won’t.

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  1. Jerry Hollendorfer- trained. THAT Jerry. The one who has been banned from some tracks for killing so many horses this year. Too bad Del Mar didn’t uphold the ban too. Maybe poor Koa would still be alive.
    And to think – there are still many apologists who support this old bastard and whine that he was a scapegoat. THAT’S the reality of horse racing. Not the flowery “we love them like family”.

  2. It seems like every day there is at least one more horse dead because of horseracing. The public relations people are not going to reveal this ugly reality of the so-called “sport of kings” to the vast majority of the general public. Instead, they are going to twist the message of Horseracing Wrongs in order to continue their activities that are fatal to horses.

  3. The deaths of this many horses at Del Mar and other tracks is an atrocity and needs to be stopped. Has there historically been this frequent death rate of young strong horses? Does anyone know if this is only a current phenomena and if so , WHY?

    • For the time period (since 2013) I’ve been doing this, June, the killing has been constant and consistent. But surely, it’s been going on since the beginning. Horseracing kills horses, inherently.

  4. Don’t forget Elegant Bay a 2 year old filly by Uncle Mo out of A.P. Indy mare Oleanda Avenue. She broke down in the 2nd race at Churchill Downs. And they made no mention of it on TVG or on Twitter. Usually David Grening says something but now they just go on as if nothing happened. This beautiful well bred filly did not deserve this. I wonder what her owner Sandra Sexton thinks of her piece of garbage so called trainer John Alexander Ortiz. He just joined the ranks of the disgusting dirtbags like Mertkan Kantarmaci, Rudy Rodriguez, Jeremiah Englehart, Patricia Farro and Pig Gary Sciacca who killed a beautiful Big Brown colt on Friday at Aqueduct. I would like to know what happened to Elegant Bay. And I would like to see John Alexander Ortiz go back to making pizzas.

  5. This is horrible. I had no idea. I don’t think this is very well known. I’m not sure it would matter to hard core gamblers. I wonder how the owners feel about this. It’s a question of money but more so compassion for these poor horses. And race tracks make a lot of money. I guess once again it comes down to profit and greed. So sad. I will never go to a race track again!

  6. We were out protesting as usual at Del Mar on Saturday morning but the counter protestors were no where to be seen and we didn’t know why. Now we know. Probably too ashamed to show their faces after the death earlier that morning which we didn’t know about at the time of the protest.

    • Thank you, Melanie. It’s their classic cycle of shame.
      They go a couple days without a horse death (if they can somehow manage it, of course.) Then, their confidence boosted, they send out their troops to “celebrate” all that TLC given to the horses for the minimal portion of their lives that they are actually on the track. This is the point at which they are the most feisty and combative (talking about the counter-protestors, here, not the horses;).
      Then, the next horse death (or two, or three…) just “happens,” so they go scurrying, cockroach-like, back to the safety and comfort of their cohorts, where they commiserate only with their oh-so-benevolent, like-minded, horse racing enthusiasts.
      Then, while they are huddled, they write scathing indictments criticizing us, (the “crazy extremists”) detailing how we are trying to force all their workers and their families into homelessness, while we’re simultaneously causing the universal extinction of the thoroughbred horse. These essays are widely published, but only by the horse racing press, an infinitesimal subset of the legitimate “sports” press. Their self-soothing statements encourage (most of) them to re-commit to fighting for their livelihoods, even if those livelihoods are now considered by the public to be cruel and abusive to animals.
      Finally, their confidence in themselves restored to its previous glory, they regather their militant supporters (themselves), and march off to battle again.


  7. I used to be enthralled with horses and horse racing as a child. I watched every Derby, every Preakness, and every Belmont Stakes on television. Until I grew up. I now look at much of that as downright animal abuse and wish we could find a way to discontinue the whole theater! Horses are such lovely, sensitive creatures, and they need us just to love them and stop exploiting them!

  8. How do Bing Crosby’s family feel about this hecatomb being conducted in his name? Maybe the “safest in America” claim is really a statement about how bad things are elsewhere.

    • Wow, hecatomb. Great word to describe the constant and never-ending equine bloodbath at every track.
      But, I admit I had to consult my online dictionary for its meaning;)

  9. I was a CHRB Associate Steward back in 2005 and I worked the Del Mar meet. There were racehorses dying there almost every single day especially during training hours. Joe Harper was well aware of it then as he is now. Only back then nobody was interested in all the racehorses dying, the internet was a relatively new concept as was social media, our endless meetings full of empty words and proposals never, ever translated to meaningful changes to protect racehorses not even in a minimal way. They had the luxury of carrying on their maiming and killing show with no public or governmental pressure whatsoever. Fast forward 14 years and absolutely NOTHING has changed. Del Mar is an UNSAFE track, they know it, they’v known it for years, and throw into the mix the rest of the abusive daily business practices and you have an explosive situation that can only lead to racehorses dying. So to hear Joe Harper blatantly lie should indicate to anybody that these people are delusional at best and to think that effective reforms will make a difference you would have to be living in a fantasy world because it will never happen.
    KOA, purchased for $725,000, equine insurance policy most likely in place.
    About 10% or racehorses, especially if purchased for 6-figures, have an equine insurance policy in place.
    Racehorse killer, Jerry Hollenforfer, has a pattern of racehorses dropping dead when they don’t live up to their 6-figure price and KOA is not the first one.
    Where is the D.A’s office, Jackie Lacey, who has gone completely silent since June.
    No updates given over a long overdue neutral investigation into racehorses dying.
    This is incredulous.
    She’s up for re-election evidently so has the powerful Stronach Group cut yet another back room deal?
    What exactly is going on, and why has Ms. Lacey not updated the public?
    Repeated polite calls to her office goes unanswered and so do the questions.
    She and her entire office is paid for by public funds and they seem to be working for the horse racing industry not the public at this point unless proven otherwise.

  10. Is anyone familiar with horses Voiage,Areezo Hanover or Sue’s Destroyer all harness horses. They have been rescued and will be retrained in a veteran program called SpectraCare Foundation. Voiage was on thekill pen lot going to Mexico when he was saved

  11. Grey hound dog racing has been illegal for some time! We must include horse racing as cruelty to horses and hold these owners & trainers..

  12. We see no concern by the regulators and other supposed overseers/’managers’ of horse racing for the animals and their welfare. Just shoot them up with more drugs and push them out onto the track. If we had this type of carnage in any human sport, one can be sure there would be immediate and serious consequences. But, when it is JUST ANIMALS, and the horse owners, the race track owners and gamblers simply see the horses as money machines, they refuse to take any meaningful action for the horses’ protection. A sad, sad commentary about human greed, self-absorption and completely heartless humans who only care about their pecuniary interests.

  13. I am totally disgusted with the lies, the over ups, the insensitive horse owners using these magnificent horses simply to make cruel money. All race tracks must be simply closed down. Horses are shipped, and forced to run faster than what they naturally run causing at times internal bleeding and of course their broken legs. Stop all this criminal behavior on the part of the humans.


  15. I can’t help but feel so frustrated and even angry that even with all that has been exposed about the horror of horse racing, it is still going on and it’s almost 2020. Animal cruelty is now a federal crime and horse racing fits the description in every way possible, but every day another horse (or two or even three) dies and countless more suffer because of this antiquated death machine. And there are people – and I use that term loosely – who are defending it?!

  16. So many people just don’t care about animals. It’s everywhere. Money rules. Even if these horse races and everyone involved from the breeder, the trainer, the track owner, the CEO, cared about money AND animals, it could be somewhat exceptable. They bring it on themselves. They don’t even think about how they could be in the racing business and care about the only thing making them their milliions, the horses. Karma wins in the end.

  17. Why is there no info given on Koa’s injury? Usually they say if it was a RF or LR or shoulder or pelvic injury, but there was no info about what type of injury Koa sustained. Can you subpoena insurance records?
    What happened to Percussionista in Gulfstream’s 10 race on Sun. 12/8/19, vanned off.

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