Deaths at Oaklawn Up 64%; Reform Is a Lie

Wednesday, I reported on the 18 kills sent to me by the Arkansas Racing Commission for the recent Oaklawn meet. The Commission, however, also sent along this proviso:

“The ARC Vet, who is present on the track each race day, becomes involved in these incidents only when blood is drawn from the injured horse or there is reason to suspect a rule violation. The ARC has no other information responsive to your request.”

So, if the Commission vet (who, I’ve been told, is the sole keeper of records for the state) is only “becoming involved” under certain circumstances, it stands to reason that there were even more victims at/of Oaklawn – e.g., those euthanized back in the barn, where, presumably, no blood is drawn; those euthanized off premises entirely. With that in mind, here is a list of horses “vanned off” at Oaklawn this year but not reported dead by the Commission. All, as of this writing, remain missing in action.

A J Rock, Jan 31 (not “vanned” but “pulled up, DNF”)
Spunky Town, Feb 2
Caddo Daddo, Mar 7
Twin Farms, Mar 22
Railman, Mar 29
Mighty Manfred, Apr 3
Replete, Apr 9
Lieutenant Powell, Apr 16
Slovak, Apr 26

Then there’s this: Last year, the Commission disclosed 11 deaths. This year – one year after Santa Anita and all the supposed reform and hyper vigilance that that intense scrutiny engendered – 18. (I have actually confirmed 19: one – Spirogyra on Feb 2 – did not appear on the FOIA document; I confirmed through another source.) That’s a 64% increase. 64%. And this, at one of America’s premier tracks.

Look, I know this gets monotonous, folks, but “we can fix this” is a lie. While the numbers will fluctuate from meet to meet (I don’t expect Oaklawn to have a similar increase next year, or even an increase at all), track to track, state to state, death for the industry in the aggregate is unfailingly constant and, more or less, consistent (see my annual killed lists). Sure, there are things that can be done that would mitigate the killing somewhat, but because of horseracing’s very structure – how they’re bred, when they’re first put to work, what they’re forced to do, how and how often they’re forced to do it, etc. – not in any meaningful way. In short, horseracing guarantees a certain level of killing. Guarantees – for, I remind, nothing more than $2 bets.

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  1. Thank you for always keeping track and reporting, Patrick. That relentless research and reporting is, hopefully, going to ultimately cast such a painfully bright light on racing that, I believe, eventually the truth about this cruel industry will become common knowledge. Imagine: A 64% “increase “, not decrease, at Oaklawn, Arkansas, after the killings at Santa Anita. Yes, so much for “reform”!!

  2. If there was a way to calculate how many horses are sold to killbuyers and shipped to slaughter, the numbers of horses exploited and killed by the people in horseracing would be higher as well as appalling. To the best of my knowledge, a very high percentage of racehorses and all other horses bred for the racing industry are killed in very sickening and horrifying ways including at racetracks and slaughterhouses.

    • Hi Wanda. I’ve had this site bookmarked for quite some time and have followed with great interest for a number of years but (until now) I have never replied to any of the threads. Being very familiar with many of the challenges involved in gathering data from divergent sources I am impressed with the amount of effort expended to provide what I believe is the only “single-source” for this information.

      As to your specific question (“if there was a way to calculate….”) there is most definitely a way to provide a usable approximation of those numbers. Way too long ago (I am nearly 60 years old) I entered college at 18 with the intent of becoming a veterinarian. In my 5th year a career counselor suggested that my idealistic nature and a natural aptitude with research methodologies was a better fit for “discovery” roles in human medicine rather than what he felt would be a “frustratingly constrained” capacity in veterinary practice. While I have spent the last 35 years of my life in that alternative capacity, that idealism is still an innate part of me and so I wanted to respond to your query with a couple of suggestions.

      There are available numbers related to total populations of the Equus Genus as a whole, the number of that same population that pass through slaughterhouse gates, and the number of horse carcasses disposed of (not slaughtered) annually. Inasmuch as I would like to see the momentum of this effort continue I would strongly advise against attempting to frame and present equine mortality rates in a broader context. This isn’t because this organizations numbers are flawed in some way, it’s more a function of ratios and the paradox(es) associated with how the general public perceives and processes those numbers. In this particular case the TB/QH subset is the only grouping that provides any type of tracking mechanism that enables us to pull that subset from the total population. Because of this, we have to compare the “fate” of the racing breeds to all other members of the genus as a whole. I can assure you with absolute certainty that (as perceived) the collective “fate” of {AJ Rock, Spunky Town. etc….} appears to be more than acceptable (even optimal) when compared to the collective “fate” of the much larger body of {John Does} that comprise the group of all other genus members. This observation (commonly referred to as the base rate fallacy) is especially relevant at this point in our history as it is being hashed over ad nauseum in the context of COVID testing efficacy. The final, and in my mind most compelling argument to avoid framing racing breed deaths in a broader context is the unfortunate reality that, as a contributor to unnecessary/preventable deaths of Equine (and most other non-human species) the umbrella category of “neglect” far outweighs anything that could be categorized as “abuse”.

      Apologies for my lack of brevity but I feel as if these suggestions are the only way I can utilize my particular area of expertise to contribute to what I see as a very worthwhile effort. I did have 2 other suggestions unrelated to Wanda’s specific observation, but directed at the overall effort being made:

      1) I think we all agree that engaging a broader spectrum of the public is a necessary prerequisite to achieving most if not all of the goals of this organization. While I have been checking in on this site for quite some time now, I do make an effort to share the resource with friends and colleagues if and when they express an interest. Now, I know as parents we have all had the experience of being somewhat unaware of just how many developmental changes are occurring in our children when we interact with them daily, but then you go on a business trip as short as one week and you feel like you are coming home to an entirely different individual. In relation to that, because I visit this site frequently there is an emerging trend that I only became aware of through feedback from friends who I referred to the site (please remember I work with analytical types).

      A Cliff Notes synthesis of the feedback that I am consistently getting: “There is a lot of very good, compelling fact based information that I would definitely take into consideration if i could just read more than 1 or 2 postings. Unfortunately, the facts are interwoven with so much viterol, hyperbole and editorialization that I lose interest. The presentation is so reflective of the broader political climate that I can’t get myself to attach myself to it in any meaningful way.”

      2) Assuming that I am interpreting the mantra “End Horseracing” to promoting legislation that would make horse racing illegal I am not sold that this proposed remedy does not rely on historical amnesia to be considered an effective solution. There are innumerable efforts from this worlds past that have provided those of us willing to learn from the past that the net effect of making something illegal is to drive it underground, provide incentives for a set of previously non-existent related crimes and, most relevant to this effort, remove oversight. I will admit to being confused about the seemingly non congruent efforts to “shine sunlight on these atrocities” as a stepping stone to eclipsing those same UV rays. Horse racing does exist without oversight and numerous locations and I’m not certain anyone with empathy for other species would ever want to see what it looks like. In the same manner that prohibition shifted production to bathtub gin and other derivatives I think any thoughtful analysis of the true net effect of legislation intended to make racing illegal should be pragmatic and based on reality and most-likely scenarios. Overseas markets will continue to exist and the contraction of the overall market will place a premium on perfect confirmation and other physical/cosmetic attributes that will become the prime determinant(s) on whether a foal is considered viable.

      If the end goal of all of this is more reflective on an “If thine eyes offend thee…” or “Out of sight out of mind” perspective than I can definitely understand how the legislative approach would facilitate that although I would be disinclined to support such an egocentric effort. If the collective end goal is a sincere effort to better the collective fate and treatment of the breed then a much more pragmatic and well-thought out proposed solution would be have to be a component and it would have my unconditional support.

      I hope this is received as I intended it to be, suggestions from an individual that shares all of the same concerns and (based on personal experience) wishes to make a positive contribution through (selective) constructive critique.

      • Have you given your considerable analysis to the (near-) elimination of U.S. dog racing, Michael? Greyhound racing was on a very similar downward trajectory, and now it’s all but gone. It’s simply not an acceptable practice anymore. Nobody’s claiming its absence has solved the problem of nationwide canine abuse and neglect. It has not. But that doesn’t make its successful elimination an unworthy effort.
        U.S. horse racing will be similarly banned, because, as a culture, we’ve evolved beyond the cruelty of it. The previous social license it once enjoyed no longer exists. Nor should it. But I suspect the point of your post is less about “constructive critique” toward our ongoing efforts than it is about your own reasons for not supporting them.

        • Bonnie:
          Please read through this as it may appear initially I am attempting to diminish your question.

          I have always found it more effective to lead people to a conclusion they may form on their own rather than simply tell them what I believe they should do.

          On the surface your question: “Michael,should a horse have a leg snap off for human gambling?”

          That question should have an easy answer. But it implies that gambling on the races themselves is the foundation for horse racing’s revenue stream, and that has not been true for quite some time. Gambling on non-racing games of pure chance in affiliated casinos provides the majority of racing’s revenue stream. Horses do not snap their legs off for human gambling, but human’s do have to gamble for horse’s to break down.

          In my recent posts I have mentioned that the tactic of simply abolishing horse racing carries with it a lot of collateral damage. I stand by this.

          On another topic, have you ever had a skin tag? Annoying little buggers. I was trying to figure out how to get rid of it. I heard you could simply cut it off, but that made you vulnerable to infections, scarring and even potential regrowth if you didn’t get all of it, even the invisible parts. I finally broke down and visited my doctor. He told me the best way to address the problem was to cut off the blood flow. It took awhile longer but it worked really well.

      • Michael,
        Thank you so much for your intellectual contribution to this site. One thing I think you said is that basically the number of horses going to slaughter that were bred for and by the racing industry would be an approximate number and not a verifiable number that would be 100% accurate. If that is what you meant, we are on the same page with that basic assumption. There have been previous comments in previous posts on Horseracing Wrongs saying that a certain range of percentages of racehorses, and/or horses not necessarily raced but of racing bloodlines, have been sent to slaughter. I think it was roughly in the 80% range. I don’t know how accurate that number is but I think it is relatively accurate as a ballpark figure. The main point of my comment was that horses bred for racing are basically treated as a commodity, which isn’t anything new, and that we don’t hear or see or read the NAMES of the many Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Appaloosas, Arabians, and Paint Horses dumped by the people in the horseracing industry in the United States. Some of the NAMES of Thoroughbreds standing in kill pens have been mentioned here but definitely not anywhere near all of the horses being dumped into the slaughter pipeline in the U.S. waiting to be either rescued or shipped to Mexico or Canada or possibly Japan.
        However, the false front that the people in horseracing put up is that they love their horses like family members. If that were true, they would not be running them to their deaths. I grew up with livestock and my dad raised Shetland ponies from before I was born in 1952 until 1963. The bottom fell out of the market for Shetland ponies in 1963. So, as a young child I had my own Shetland mare and read about horses such as Man O’ War and other prominent race horses. I read about Mrs. DuPont with her Thoroughbred gelding, Kelso. I grew up thinking horse racing was cool. As I got older, I began to become aware of the reality that there is a very dark side to horse racing. When I was growing up, I learned this thing called HORSEMANSHIP where running your horse or pony to death would be unthinkable!!!!! It would not be good horsemanship or true horsemanship. It would be completely unacceptable to run your horse or pony to death!!!!!!
        In this day and age when the technology allows people to receive information at lightning speed and all of that, I have become even more aware of just how dark the dark side of horseracing is in more vivid terms. I don’t go to the racetracks and see what goes on behind the scenes firsthand. I have watched videos on YouTube on my smartphone that show what other people have seen firsthand. I did work as a groom for a Thoroughbred race horse trainer in Lewiston, Idaho in 1977. I worked about one week and had a fairly sudden change of circumstances in my life. I decided to take the other road, figuratively speaking, and let the boss know. His previous groom got his job back. That particular groom referred to that circuit as “the leaky roof” circuit. They used the Lewiston Roundup grounds and racetrack as a training track in North Lewiston. There was live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing one summer in 1966 in Lewiston, Idaho. They lost money so decided against having future race meets. Some local men used it as a training track after that and went to places like what was then Longacres near Seattle, Washington and Portland Meadows in Oregon. The trainer I worked for was planning to go to Longacres and also Bay Meadows in California. That was in 1977. This is 2020 and I don’t think race horses get much time off these days, until they are disposed of in whatever way. That is a broad generalization and does not necessarily apply to every horse, but, I think it applies to a very large number of racehorses.
        Michael, thanks again for your comment and please share your thoughts and ideas about what you think could possibly be done to protect horses from the inhumane treatment we see, hear and/or read about in this day and age. The FBI has not busted all of the known offenders but they did name 19 (nineteen) names of guilty people involved in the corrupt business of doping and killing racehorses. Your suggestions would be welcomed by me for certain. I would like to hear what you think about more oversight in the enforcement against the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs for one and also, what, if anything, could possibly be done to stop the abuse of running yearlings as part of the preparation for consigning them to the auction houses such as Fasig-Tipton where they have exploited many yearlings for high-dollar amounts. There is a video of yearlings under saddle being run until their legs break and/or drop dead of heatstroke or heart attack. This is abuse. No eighteen-month-old (or thereabouts) colt or filly should ever be treated in such an abusive manner. The same is true for any horse of any age.

        • Thanks for the thoughtful reply Wanda (and others).
          You are essentially correct in how you interpreted the data I presented. While we have specific information related to racing breed deaths, there really isn’t any other usable data for other breeds/purposes and so we are forced compare racing breeds to all other breeds as a single entity. The approximations and likely error aren’t the central issue when you try and make a comparison between 10% of Equines to the other 90%. Even if the numbers were precise you would end up with a skewed comparison which would be accurate but not readily understood by people. AS I mentioned, this is one of the central issues with the antibody testing. While the test itself may have 90% accuracy if you test positive (a good thing in this case!) the likelihood you actually are is far less than the 90% most people would believe. In the same manner, since racing breeds comprise less than 10% of the total population of all horses, it is very easy for people to misinterpret a comparison between the two, and this cuts in both directions, both in support of this cause and in facilitation of arguments against it. It’s just the world we live in.

          To clarify some things in response to other replies, we all have different perspectives, values and approaches and I feel it is critical we respect those perspectives and consider them, at least at a high level. In situations like this, a circumstance in which we have assigned ourselves as advocates for a species it is especially important not to fall into the trap of insular thinking. My specific role in health care exposes me to a number of very emotionally charged issues in which my groups prioritization can have an effect on large groups that we are most often not a part of, people with specific conditions etc. Therefore I am very accustomed to presenting rationalizations and viewpoints that almost universally support an effort while most often presented from an alternative perspective. I am more than willing to further clarify any perspective that may appear to differ from another individuals as long as it is done with mutual respect and an awareness that none of us, as individuals possess a holistic understanding of everything we should take into consideration.

          In a real world example of how I approach I can use the aforementioned greyhound racing abolition example: Advocating for others is a huge responsibility and in an example like Greyhound Racing, my responsibility is only beginning once the legislation is passed. Declaring victory upon passage of this type of legislation, or upon taking a specific treatment/medication out of circulation would be a purely egocentric act. In the greyhound racing example, the efficacy of the act should be evaluated by standard methods we apply to a plethora of other actions. I would be required to look at metrics from the remaining tracks to determine whether or not my action had forced the underlying industry(s) to truly contract (shrink) or simply became less visible. Easily obtainable data could provide the foundation of metrics such as “How many siblings from a given litter become racers?” Both before and after the legislation was passed. Asking a simple question such as this could provide infinitely more insight into whether or not my efforts resulted in a true net gain for the breed or simply a reduction on the consumer. I’m pretty certain it is obvious how this would relate to a medical background.

          There are numerous parallels between Greyhound racing and TB/QH events that would (as much as the industry would like to think otherwise) make the comparison relevant. Most often cited is the relative economic footprint of the 2 industries. As much as some believe it should be taken into consideration, economics are out of scope in the necessary first step of attempting to determine an optimal course of action in human/animal welfare. The differences that cannot be dismissed are the existence of a robust overseas market and the relative ease of assimilating a 70 pound canine vs. a 1,000 pound equine into alternative roles. Many of the considerations often repeated on here need to be brought forward in trying to determining if abolishing the sport is the optimal tact if we are truly advocating for this breed. The commodification, the moral characterizations that are routinely affixed to members of this industry. Extrapolating on quotes directly from this site, is it reasonable to assume that these “scumbags and criminals” will suddenly become respectful of the law while sitting on Million dollar assets while a robust buyers market exists overseas? Is it reasonable to assume that demand in that overseas market will actually shrink in the absence of American racing? In light of the (very real) commodification of the breed will breeders simply pension their stallions and furlough their mares or might the portfolio these commodities and simply play the law of averages and cull the foals with physical imperfections because there is no market for them?

          Again, there are so many astute observations on this site that I agree with, have great appreciation for and am in no way diminishing. But I know I and a number of you have lived through many situations in which we called out a number of real world concerns which formed the basis of something we felt compelled to support. Then we formulated our solution within a vacuum that ignored the realities our initial concern was based on. We’re advocating for others and that is a great responsibility.

      • Michael, I have but one goal and that is the end of racing. Period.
        Without going into details and citing everything that is despicable about this gambling business suffice to say there is no way racing can be reformed/resuscitated, it is too sick…
        Racing will die by a thousand cuts, many self-inflicted. I certainly don’t think there will be much help from the politicians.
        The fan base is dwindling and that will continue. The states will get tired of money from casinos going to prop up a “sport” that can’t support itself…
        So when the money is slowly but finally cut off, just like your skin tag, it will die from lack of sustenance.

        PS Meanwhile, thanks to Patrick, the documentation of the killing, maiming and cruelty will be exposed as never before.

  3. I believe the vet at all racetracks should be included in every death that occurs on the track or in the stalls. There should be records that record all deaths and the reason for the death. As far as I’m concerned, any vet that does not check into every death of the horses at the track, needs to get another job. Obviously they are just there for the money and could care less about every horse. Disgusting!

    • I agree the vet. should involved, Sharon. But these track vets are controlled by the tracks/commissions. They are not allowed to practice veterinary medicine as it is meant to be practiced. I also agree they need to get another job, unless of course this way of practicing their profession is what they like !!
      I have zero respect for these people.

  4. Smokey was one of the 18 dead horses listed by the Arkansas Racing Commission.
    He was foaled in FL. on 14 May, 2014 and had 4 starts at Gulfstream with 2 wins and earnings of $30,000.
    He was claimed twice during that time. The second claim was by Jorje Navarro.
    Navarro started him once on 3/9/2017 at Gulfstream. In that race he finished last, 13 lengths off the winner.

    Then nothing until he is listed as dead at Oaklawn on 2/16/2020 due to a brain hemorrhage. Since he didn’t race at Oaklawn the owner and trainer at the time of the “accident” are not disclosed….

    To say the least, there are gaps in Smokey’s story and death.

    • The only consolation, if you can call it that, is that Jorge Navarro was one of several people indicted on illegal doping charges. I feel sorry for the horses!!!!!!

  5. What never gets monotonous is watching and listening to racing supporters pretending to be shocked and horrified when the inevitable breakdowns/van-offs/euthanasias (or sudden disappearances) occur and reoccur, and reoccur again, and again, every few days. Some of these folks, particularly at Santa Anita, give Oscar-worthy performances of feigned outrage and almost-believable grief, even though they’ve all seen it happen literally hundreds of times before.
    What I find most amusing is those stuttering over their descriptors of any “spike” in horse deaths, now that the media and the public have been made aware of the horror show intrinsic to racing: “It was unprecedented! It was a disaster day (or week, or meet, or year)! This sort of thing almost never happens! This is our wake-up call as an industry, and we CAN and must make sure it doesn’t happen again!” This, they proclaim, knowing all the while that the next breakdown is only a couple days off.
    Seems Oaklawn takes a different, more subversive approach to their Dead Horse Problem by keeping it shrouded in secrecy; they just DENY, refuse comment, block outsiders as potential troublemakers, then deny again. So it comes as no surprise that there’s a whole new list of dead racehorses to be tacked on to their “official” list of dead racehorses.
    And we all understand that even this second list is far from a complete accounting of their dead.

  6. Thank-you Patrick for dispersing your meticulous facts about this vile business.
    Yes this is getting old on all accounts.
    I will now detail my analysis of these facts.
    Apart from the horrible, immoral acts of killing and dying racehorses it’s the same killer “trainers” that kill racehorses year in and year out.
    It’s so revolting and the fact that nothing is ever done about should clearly show anybody how corrupt this industry is.
    Moreover, it shows a business that couldn’t care less about the racehorses and, in fact, sends these poor, voiceless souls to killers not unlike sending your “family member” to the same daycare that killed your 2 previous children.
    A J ROCK (AJR)
    Multiple killer “trainer” Peter Miller who regularly makes my “suspicious” death list.
    AJR first sold as a yearling for $85,000 to OWL BLOODSTOCK (whoever that is?) setting him up for his next increased value of $150,000 at the 2-year-old OBS sale.
    AJR didn’t show anything in his first 2 starts putting a potential equine insurance policy at risk.
    His next start? DEAD.
    Remember Bobby Abu Dhabi?
    Sold for $335,000 as a 2 year-old in training to the current owners subsequently made over $300,000 potentially increasing an equine insurance policy to over $600,000.
    Was it time to cash in?
    Appears that way – DEAD during training hours at Del Mar.
    Remember Eltoninadress?
    This was a sad story of a mare who deserved so much better than all of the parasites that sucked the life out of her including Peter Miller.
    How about FLY TO FREEDOM?
    DIED under the care, custody and control of multiple racehorse killer Peter Miller at Santa Anita.
    Not one, but broke TWO sesamoids and crumbled to the ground.
    Remember Chilled Mousse?
    Since he was a yet to start 2-year old they don’t list the details, but based on his breeding probably a very high tag or breeding policy.
    DIED during training hours (less scrutiny) at Del Mar.
    How about HE’S NOT TOO SHABBY?
    On 2/17/2014 Peter Miller sent him out to die most likely and he got the job done.
    DIED in Race 9 at Santa Anita – a horrific breakdown.
    It’s important to note that this was the 2nd racehorse to die under multiple racehorse killer Peter Miller in 4 days.
    The other was CODE OF CONDUCT (COC).
    COC was a $250.000 purchase, that didn’t perform very well.
    02/14/2014 Race 7 Santa Anita.
    Horrific collapse with a steward “investigation” that led to nowhere.
    High probability of equine insurance policy in place.
    We will never know because they keep this secret.
    Peter Miller has probably been killing racehorses since 1987, but became an efficient racehorse killing machine beginning back in 2006.
    So from 2006 up until now that’s 14 years of a killing “career,” with an industry that supports him with a plethora of stalls (he now has a bunch at Churchill Downs), and wherever he goes.
    It’s not only the killing trainers, but the owners – the “connections” whose names are consistently associated with racehorses who are dying usually under suspicious circumstances.
    Names like Ben Glass, Rockingham Farm, Gary and Cecil Barber.
    Gary and Cecil Barber spend millions on racehorses and when they don’t perform?
    They usually wind up dead or dumped like all of them I suppose.
    The infamous Jerry Hollendorfer has been singled out as he should, but all top trainers have a trail of dead racehorses behind them – every single one of them.
    Owners send high priced racehorses to them even if they’ve killed previous ones.
    So it begs the question: are there secret “agreements” in place that ensure they will get their money back if the horse doesn’t live up to their high level expectations?

    • Gina, your question is a logical one!

      [***Are there secret “agreements” in place that ensure they will get their money back if the horse doesn’t live up to their high level expectations?***]

      It seems very logical that the owners are in it for the money and whatever other sickening thrills they get out of routinely subjecting yearlings, two-year-olds, three-year-olds and any horse that is not matured to withstand the rigors of extreme training and racing. It defies common sense, common logic, and the principles of true horsemanship to run horses to their deaths. So, it makes logical sense that the morally depraved people involved in spending literally millions of dollars on horses would have insurance policies to “protect” their monetary investment. Of course, the drug dealers are there, right??? How can you have young, underdeveloped horses running and getting injuries without some drugs involved???

    • Bonnie, right you are! If the fact that Steve Asmussen is allowed to continue to be involved in horseracing and not be locked up for all of the criminal activity he has committed against horses, the illegal doping and fraudulent identification cards for his hired stable hands, and so on doesn’t prove that horseracing is absolutely corrupt, what does it take to prove it??? As you know, that is only one of the repulsive horse-killers in the business. There are so many more and they are not all just trainers. It has everything to do with the tradition of running baby races and the Triple Crown for three-year-olds and pari-mutuel wagering. Horses lives are sacrificed for this vile worship of money.

    • MIGHTY MANFRED – yet another victim of multiple racehorse killer “trainer” Steve Asmussen.
      Steve has been killing racehorses FOR YEARS
      Then there’s NEHRO – poor NEHRO with half his foot hanging off being forced to train and run.
      Brutal animal abuse.
      NEHRO couldn’t take the pain anymore which probably accounts for his severe colic, unnecessary suffering that led to his death.
      Despite Asmussen’s ongoing cruelty, abuse and dying of racehorses he’s STILL in business.
      Then there’s Doug O’Neill – need I say more?
      Then there’s Baffert.
      It’s incredulous that BB is STILL training, racing and winning with racehorses since he was involved with one of the biggest frauds in horse racing history – JUSTIFY.
      It’s not only BB, but willing stewards on racing commissions, CHRB, that knew about the positive and deliberately covered it up!
      It just goes on and on and why is BB not on trial for his participation in public fraud?
      Teflon Bob – he’s in with a high up, well-connected gang it seems.
      Reforms mean nothing because trainers can continue to kill racehorses with zippo accountability.
      In fact, the industry reveres, supports and sends racehorses to these killer “trainers.”
      So much for their little song and dance about caring for their “family members” right?
      It’s bewildering that this business comes out in full swing to support these killer “trainers,” but go completely silent when there are racehorses standing at kill auctions about to board the slaughterbound truck – totally disgusting.

      • Gina, it goes back to your question about secret “agreements” between owners and trainers and whoever else is involved in especially high-dollar investments in racehorses. As you have pointed out more than once, many racehorses are owned by syndicates or limited liability companies or whatever they call themselves and the actual names of the people that are involved in the ownership of said horses would take some investigative work in itself.
        Equibase has a profile on Steve Asmussen that lists his Best Racing Class Achieved as Multiple Graded Stakes Winning Trainer. That’s enough to induce vomiting for me, figuratively speaking.
        I read in a library book in 2004 about money that it not only talks but sometimes it screams and sometimes money breaks the sound barrier. I think that money definitely breaks the sound barrier in horseracing!!!!! We are talking about an industry where the abusive exploitation of baby Thoroughbreds are put into training as yearlings and two-year-olds in order to “run for the roses” and, as 3-year-olds, possibly win purse money in the millions as Graded Stakes Winners.

  7. Well, Patrick might as well go ahead and write this one up, because the racing press certainly won’t, even when the death and destruction is being nationally televised. Fox Sports 1 is devoting its programming to our favorite blood sport today — since there’s apparently there’s nothing else they could possibly show that doesn’t involve killing animals. So, happy to oblige as always, Gulfstream Park sent out Pump Room in today’s 2nd, to take that ubiquitous “bad step,” fail to finish the race, and get vanned off.
    Of course, we don’t KNOW that Pump Room is dead yet. But if Twitter talk is any indication, his breakdown “looked bad.” I won’t look at the video, but there’s probably plenty who did see it live (“…on Fox Sports One: Your Home for Horse Killing!”) and can attest to his minimal chances for survival.

    • May 21 race 4 at Golden Gate. There was a disastrous beginning( I did not see). Announced the jockey was ok. Six horses with only 4 #1 and#6 Going away party and Aalsmeer DNF. Have not been able to get any info. Maybe all is well but disastous beginning not encouraging.

      • You know, I’m thinking this whole spectator-free, pandemic horse racing is the best thing to happen to these tracks. Their usual carnage cover-ups are now immensely simplified; only “essential” personnel are witness to the horrors, and they’re all hushed-up by non-disclosure agreements. So, many of these ugly incidents can (and will) be swept away into the dark recesses of oblivion, just as it’s done with every other aspect of this corruption-fueled anti-sport. How better to hide the most visually damning part of their sick game?

    • Kelly maybe now that racetrack goers are out of the habit, they have found another outlet to spend their time and money on.

      • Nancy, I wish that were true and I hope it is true. If people who want to gamble on horse races have a device with an internet connection, they can be enticed quite readily by TVG advertising. TVG advertises their wagering business on Equibase and possibly other pro-racing sites online. I am not certain where gambling addicts would get this money from but I would venture to say that they could “borrow” it from someone else in the event that they are broke. I think people that are addicted to placing bets on horses are not going to let COVID-19 stop them. I’m not saying it’s right, but I’m saying it’s what I believe is what fuels the wagering handle at any racetrack with actual racing at this time of a global health PANDEMIC. Obviously, the addicts most likely won’t care about any horse breaking down so they won’t be reporting it if and when a horse is killed, especially at their favorite go-to racetrack online. I can hope for a miracle though, right!?!

  8. There is a animal charity in the UK that also follows the fatalities of racehorses called Animal Aid. They also keep records of all horses killed or injured on the racecourses especially the ‘steeplechase or hurdles’ tracks and follow up the slaughter of such horses as well.

  9. Looks like Tap the Wire is dead.
    The Los Alamitos Death Track has officially done its best, sleaziest, most underhanded work yet — and that’s saying A LOT, since that dump represents Cali’s most unregulated, secretive, subversive, horse-killing hell-track in state history — in trying to hide his fatality. For those who are questioning why it wasn’t first printed here, at Horseracing Wrongs, well, apparently the CHRB wasn’t too eager to make Tap the Wire’s untimely demise publicly known, either (surprise,surprise). They somehow forgot to include that tidbit of information about his euthanasia with their state-mandated racehorse fatalities reports. Oops. Guess they were kind of busy not keeping track of all the Cali racehorses getting killed while NOT racing at every track in the state, except for one. Which one? You guessed it: Los Alamitos, Yay!
    Anyway, the whole, smarmy story goes waaaay back to a wildfire that killed a whole lot of horses in 2017. How many horses died in that fire? Well, not quite as many as Super-Safe Santa Anita kills off in an average year, but a big ol’ pile of horse carcasses nonetheless. So, Tap the Wire (may he rest in peace) survived that fire. In fact, he became a symbol of sorts: a symbol of thoroughbred survival and of the heartwarming, can-do, equine spirit that horse racing creeps love to point to when they’re not busy killing off the horses that are lacking in that same survivalist spirit. Anyway, there he was. Alive for nearly three whole years after that fire. Great, right? Not right.
    Enter Coronavirus and the temporary closure of every single racetrack but one: Los Al. On its surface, one would think Tap the Wire’s loving owners would relish the time to give this incredible horse a chance to relax, take a breather from his non-stop schedule of running through flames to safety and being whipped across dirt. Maybe he might have earned bit of downtime?

    • Oh, no no no. Tap the Wire needed to get back out there and EARN. So, naturally, with all the other horse-killing tracks out of operation because of those pesky Corona-closures, his benevolent owners sent him…where? You guessed it, again: Los Al, Yay! But, since they figured such a horse as he could survive a fire such as that, and that he’d survived racing for a whopping three years plus(!!!), well, they might as well stick him in…A QUARTER HORSE RACE. Great idea, right? I mean, why not? If Los Al has the genius plan to card such a “mixed” breed spectacle, well, by golly, they’re gonna bute him up and run him. On May 9th, their shrewd business plan certainly paid off big-time for Tap the Wire’s connections, because HE WON. Until he didn’t. Video of his “victory” (which I forced myself to watch) shows his final strides across the wire stilted, hobbling, and in very obvious distress in front. He was vanned off, as per usual, and the chartwriter acknowledged the event, seemingly as accurately as it had occurred. That’s when Los Al’s usual secrecy kicked in, and nary a word of acknowledgement was issued about him, beyond the cursory “taken off-site for evaluation.”

      • Four days later, Michael Wrona, Los Al’s official track announcer, apparently got tired of fielding queries about Tap the Wire and his post-breakdown condition. Mr. Wrona knows his employer DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR DEATHS, EVER. Los Al is absolutely famous for refusing comment on any of their many breakdowns, training fatalities, and stall deaths. Their motto is: “Didn’t happen. No comment. *Click.” So, he decided to post to his Twitter page something to the effect of: “Great news! I’ve been told that Tap the Wire is still alive!” Seriously. To an inquiry on the poor horse’s medical condition, his response was a triumphant, “STILL ALIVE.”
        I chose this Twitter post as a good reason to question the veracity of the strange statement, so politely pointed out that his was not a helpful assessment of Tap the Wire’s condition. I was soon blocked by Mr. Wrona, which is too bad, because his wretched employer had had me blocked upon my very first Tweeted inquiry to them, as well. They’re not real receptive to questioning at good old Los Alamitos.
        So now, City News Service has posted a story on the FATALITY of Tap the Wire. Their entire source of the information? Michael Wrona on his Twitter page! They couldn’t even get confirmation from the CHRB about his death, and don’t even appear to know when, exactly, it occurred. How much more did he unnecessarily suffer so that Los Al could save face, and continue to be the only game in town? How sick are all of these people to force this corruption, this cruelty, this utter, unregulated, back-door sleaze on every single equine they get their blood-covered hands on?
        I’m sorry these posts have gone on (and on, and on…) but I’m absolutely sickened by this poor horse’s death, and all who facilitated its cover-up. Shame on all of them. And thanks, as always, to Horseracing Wrongs.

  10. Thank you, Kelly, for your report on TAP THE WIRE. I personally feel that no apology is necessary for long stories when you are sharing information relevant to the vile nature of the people involved in abusing horses to literal death. That’s the purpose of Horseracing Wrongs; shedding light on “the dirt under the rug” that was swept there by unscrupulous people.

  11. This poor horse survived the fire but could not survive racing Kelley! It takes a little digging through Equibase`s historical charts but eventually you can find the times and chart of Tap the Wire.How he was vanned off the track after finishing in a 4 furlong race.Appreciate the info you provided as the date of Tap the Wires last race was crucial to find the actual results chart.Oddly the last race does not show up on Tap the Wires own historical chart! The last race Tap the Wire was in only shows up on Los Alamitos historical charts for May 9th. Real good transparency there! None at all!

    • You need to click on the box at the top of Tap’s Equibase page and go to “MX Stats” (as opposed to “TB Stats”). You will find the May 9 race there.

  12. Thanks for the info Patrick. As former participants in this industry we appreciate all the hard work & time / efforts you do in exposing the truths.

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