Santa Anita’s Back – and so is the Killing

Buried deep in the ethically-challenged John Cherwa’s Santa Anita kickoff column in the LA Times last evening was this: “However, there was a fatality Dec. 26…Truest Reward, a 3-year-old gelding, broke his left front leg on the training track…” Perhaps he and the Times thought no one would notice – especially with the article brazenly titled “Santa Anita opener goes off without a hitch.” Truest Reward, incidentally, was trained by the equally challenged Doug O’Neill – yes, the same $133 million-earning Doug O’Neill who cynically leads a bunch of lowly-paid backstretch workers in “counter” at our track protests. Vile people. Vile industry.

Santa Anita’s 43 dead racehorses, 2019 – with still a few days to go:

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
Satchel Paige, killed racing at Santa Anita October 19, 2019
G Q Covergirl, killed training at Santa Anita October 25, 2019
Bye Bye Beautiful, killed racing at Santa Anita October 27, 2019
Mongolian Groom, killed racing at Santa Anita November 2, 2019
Truest Reward, killed training at Santa Anita December 26, 2019

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  1. Ethically-challenged is a fair description of the report that the Santa Anita race meet went “off without a hitch” and mentions the death of one three-year-old gelding as, more or less, a side note. It is so disturbing and disgusting!!!!
    May TRUEST REWARD rest in peace and may someone have the wherewithal to make and carry a headstone-shaped sign with his name on it at the Santa Anita protests.

      • Heather, your efforts are appreciated so much! Thank you so much for all that you do for the horses! ❤💔❤

      • Phil, thank you for being supportive to bring awareness to the morbid cruelty and torture of racehorses. 🙏😞🙏💔🙏😔

  2. I was hopeful when I hadn’t read about a n unnecessary death in 2 days…but unfortunately it was short lived. Hurtful, shameful, disgusting!
    RIP TRUEST REWARD. We will continue fighting for you and all those who died at the hands of criminals such as O’Neill! And will be victorious!
    My heart broke a little more… yet again.

    • The only reason for that Andreea….was because there wasn’t racing because of holidays. I’m afraid it’s not a case of them caring.

  3. Thank you, Patrick. That’s another Santa Anita Horse Death (the biggest Cali ‘sports’ story of 2019, not-incidentally) that the real media didn’t latch on to at the time. I missed it, as well. Guess I should have slogged through Cherwa’s and the Times’ whole, insipid “Racing!” feature.
    I wonder how SA will spin Truest Reward’s death, in light of their groundbreaking, world-class safety reforms?

    • Their spin, Kelly, is they just don’t talk about it. Had this death on the training track not been a winless, unknown gelding, but instead say, Omaha Beach, there would be articles in every racing publication with countless comments of mourning his death. The killing of horses matters not to racing, fans and apologists unless it happens to one of monetary value. They prove that fact time and time again – it’s all about the MONEY. Aside from that, they simply DO NOT CARE.

      • True, they don’t care, Joy.
        But isn’t it just a little bit gratifying to watch them PRETEND to care? They’re so busy gloating over their super-safe, opening day safety record (the one that went off “without a hitch”) that apparently they need to be reminded to act shocked and saddened when the inevitable happens.

  4. Since the racing industry doesn’t pretend to care about the death of a horse that isn’t actively lining their pockets, I suppose that “without a hitch” is exactly how they thought the opening day went. And of course the apologist will point out that this fatality wasn’t during an actual race so somehow it doesn’t count. I wonder if this innocent colt’s death was part of the improvements Santa Anita has been bragging about?

    • Rebecca Paquette, I googled TRUEST REWARD gelding and one of the things that came up was that he broke his leg on the “training track” “considered to be the safest” track around. Can you believe it… I am appalled by the gaul of these people… It’s so stinking sad as well as disheartening and disgusting!!!!

      • ” the training track, considered the safest surface.” He was winless in four starts…

  5. This is insane, you can gamble so many other ways that do not cause pain, suffering and death to these magnificent creatures. The horse manure is in the grandstand, not the stable.

  6. There is no concern for the poor horses! The perpetrators are there to fill their pockets. This needs to be illegal everywhere!

  7. It is inevitable the without a hitch will end sooner than later. They had those Outriders on their toes yesterday.

    • Yes, and their green-screen carriers need to be in top physical condition, too. Did you see how fast those guys hauled-ass to shield all eyes from the sight of poor Mongolian Groom? Should’ve bet on them in the Bleeders’ Cup Classic.

  8. Keep exposing the facts and demanding that the public wake up to the reality of this murderous sport. People are listening. This weekend I saw for the first time a demonstration by protesters at Gulfstream in South Florida.

  9. Whoops. This story is quickly growing legs. Sounds like SA officials tried to keep Truest Reward’s death under wraps, so it wouldn’t hinder their opening day “celebration.”
    Now, all the local news stations are on it, and asking the tough questions.
    Never thought I’d thank Cherwa, but I guess it’s due, so I’ll have to get on that. I’m sure he’ll love hearing from me;)

    • Kelly Griffin, thank you for the update and thank you for letting John Cherwa know how much his efforts to report the news is appreciated. I expect that someone will make an effort to emphasize that the death toll is lower than in previous years or decades; if anyone says that there are fewer horses “euthanized” or imply that the tracks are “actually safer now” I would like to see some facts to substantiate that claim. Even if someone was willing to do some valid reporting to verify the overall death toll of racehorses is lower (or not lower) now than in previous decades, it would certainly open up a can of worms that the proponents of racing certainly would not want to have in their faces. So, I am wondering just how far they can take that spin without repercussions.

      • You’re more than welcome, Wanda. I wonder if SA officials rescinded Cherwa’s press pass yet? I know he takes heat from both sides of this issue, but it’s probably a little premature for us to look for him wearing a Horseracing Wrongs t-shirt and carrying a sign at the next protest;)

    • There are more and more news stories about the death of Truest Reward, but again the racing industry is trying to deflect by saying this didn’t actually happen during a race. Another point was that Santa Anita has a lower fatality rate than other tracks, as if that’s something to be proud of. Telling the judge that you might have killed 5 people but look -Joe Schmo killed 10, doesn’t absolve you of guilt. Why are racehorse deaths still completely acceptable? With all the safety reforms and new track surfaces and now the (pointless) high tech shit you guys are waving around, you shouldn’t have a single death, training or otherwise. It’s 2020, and horses are still dying the same way they were 10, 20, even 30 years ago. The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
      Why don’t you just have the balls to come out and say “Look, we know racing cripples and destroys horses, we admit that we constantly use drugs and debilitating therapy to keep them running to get us a few extra bucks, we knowingly and willingly send horses to the horror of slaughterhouses, and we are fully aware that we contribute nothing useful to society. The point is, WE DON’T CARE. We don’t care that we’re an archaic death show, we don’t care that we have to be propped up by government support, and we sure as hell don’t give a shit about the living sentient beings being abused, crippled, and killed for entertainment. We enjoy our parasitic lifestyle, and all the media coverage and protests aren’t about to make us change.”

      • Rebecca, I know some sources say that horseracing is subsidized by government funds and some sources say horseracing contributes millions and/or billions of dollars to the economy. I don’t know the facts and figures that show credible proof. I think it is very important to have proof in a legal or political battle. I am hoping that Californians will be able to get the ban on horseracing on the ballot. I’d like to hear more about when that will be put on the ballot so hopefully an informed public can vote to have horseracing in California banned.

  10. When in God’s name will these stupid people stop what they are doing. Also, when will the people who watch these races stop their stupidity and spend their money somewhere else. These poor animals only want to do what is asked of them but, when you get humans {that don’t know how to get out of the rain} to run the show, this is the total disaster you get. It won’t be long and the good man upstairs will put an end to all of this abuse and will show all of you how he runs the game.

  11. The racing industry has yet to offer a single moral or ethical reason why the death of even a single horse should not only be accepted, but expected. “Risks inherent to the sport” is not an explanation, it’s an excuse, and a poor one at that, as is their continual comparison to the injuries and fatalities suffered in other sports comprised of CONSENTING human beings. What other venue actually brags of being able to maintain a consistent level of fatalities in its participants, instead of being horrified over the death of even one? Since when is causing the death of a sentient being something to be proud of? It’s not that people in the racing industry are deluded into believing their own propaganda, it’s merely that the majority of them have been feeding off the suffering and death of horses for so long that they don’t know how to do anything else, and more to the point, DON’T want to do anything else. Quick money, no responsibilities beyond the immediate, and easy disposal of the broken or unwanted pieces you left in your path. Absolutely disgusting.

  12. When money is at stake, animal suffering, use and abuse invariably takes a back seat to human greed and self-aggrandizement, as with recreational killers of wildlife and trappers. Horse racing needs to be banned altogether with the death toll and injuries mounting by the day at race tracks across the country. There is nothing the perpetrators of these frequent deaths can do to stop the carnage.

  13. The pro-horse racing public relations mouthpieces of Santa Anita are at it again.
    They glorified opening day and described it like it was some equine utopia.
    They even included flower pots for people to take selfies.
    Well, well, well…. while TRUEST REWARD was laying on the ground DEAD in a heap behind the public grandstands, Santa Anita and all it’s enablers of this dying was quick to cover it up only they can’t get away with this anymore.
    I wonder if any of the flower pot selfies showed the dead racehorse in the background?
    This hideous fact is another stubborn death isn’t it?
    The fact that they tried to cover it all shows how morally bankrupt these vile racehorse killers are and it also shows the business mentality of Frank Stronach, his daughter Belinda Stronach, all all their paid whores.
    They have always and continue to facilitate the massive pain, suffering, and dying of racehorses on their tracks all over America.
    They even praised racehorse beater Mike Smith.
    It was their own little private public relations show that emphasized the beauty of the surrounding mountains and such while completely ignoring the FACT that a sentient being, TRUEST FORM, snapped its leg-off.
    Not only does The Stronach Group attempt to mask the truth, but they also facilitate multiple doping abusive trainers who KILL racehorses on a regular basis like DOUG O”NEILL.
    The Stronach Group continues to facilitate pure evil while collecting billions in wagering profits, millions in taxpayers money and/or corporate welfare.
    Why don’t you support something that is compassionate that makes a positive difference in this world?
    I suppose that’s asking too much from morally bankrupt people who have nothing better to do than live off the avails of a defenseless, innocent, and voiceless animal right?
    They are parasites every single one of them.
    Your demise is inevitable it’s just a matter of time and it can’t come soon enough for the racehorses.

    • According to an article published April 5, 2019, Alex Waldrop claims that eliminating horse racing would be bad for the economy; and supposedly The American Horse Council says that it adds $16.4 million to California’s economy. The other figure of $xx billion is an estimate, which could very possibly be inflated to make it appear more significant to the economy than it is in reality. You may have read that article, Gina, and I discovered it again because I was attempting to research some of what you said about PETA and et cetera in a different post. Yes, I admit I felt lightyears behind you in firsthand knowledge of the people and their activities regarding horseracing.
      According to the article, it says that signature gatherers want $2, $3, up to $6 per signature for petitions. I don’t know how that works exactly that it would cost that much to get a signature. I have signed petitions online but I think I need to go back and check to see if there are more petitions regarding the ban on horseracing that I may have missed.

      • Wanda, in Ontario Canada (100 million per year of taxpayers money) where the horse racing economic claims were similar they were later proven to be completely over inflated and inaccurate.
        I don’t for one moment think that this number is correct.
        Nevertheless, true to industry form, they completely ignore the fact that if these tracks, especially in California, were developed into multi-faceted commercial and residential developments the economic impact would far exceed anything that horse racing offers including DECENT jobs and DECENCY instead of brutality and dying of living, breathing beings for a bunch of old men and their stupid $2 bets.
        The developments at Golden Gate in San Francisco and at Santa Anita would be a beautiful sight instead of racehorses getting beaten to perform while their legs are snapping-off.
        Not to mention the fact that this would be yearly revenue for local and state governments not massive property tax deferments, tax breaks, and/or corporate welfare for state-sanctioned, blatant racehorse cruelty.
        Everybody has knowledge and everybody has something positive to contribute and we must all pull together and spread our facts, out message, and educate.
        Your comments are just as important as mine.
        The most important entity here are the racehorses and that’s why this needs to shut down.

  14. Gina – not only is it costing taxpayer money to subsidize racing in many areas – but I know that I worked in a healthcare system that was near 2 tracks in my area. It also cost taxpayer money to care for the people at the track. We had numerous backside workers, including trainers, come in that had had strokes, needed open heart surgery, and had comorbitities of an unhealthy lifestyle, including severe copd, diabetes, etc. They were all on Medicaid, some were on Medicare. Drug and alcohol use and abuse is rampant, we had to treat a few people after drunk driving accidents, Since many of the workers are foreign, they would come to the hospital instead of doctors offices to be treated for simple things. Due to such a nomadic lifestyle, many were not established with doctors. So, taxpayers paid for that too, because many had no insurance or were on welfare, and many had families. Illegitimacy of children is another common problem, so because the children are born to such low paid workers, they also qualify for welfare. None of it was a pretty site, and it made me just a little angrier each time, because here I would be working overtime to support myself, but then I would also have to work extra to support the workforce behind the “sport of kings”. The number of TRAINERS coming in with taxpayer funded welfare was the main thing that pissed me off.

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