Three Confirmed Kills on Derby Day, Including 79th 2020 Death in California (Report That, LA Times)

According to the (Equibase) chart, Mean Sophia “stumbled badly at the start” of the 7th at Del Mar yesterday, “[was] injured and vanned off following the race.” We now know that the 3-year-old is dead, euthanized for a snapped leg. The Los Angeles Times, consistent with its pro-racing bias, opened its report of the kill thus:

“The first racing fatality at Del Mar’s summer meeting since 2018 occurred Saturday when the 3-year-old filly Mean Sophia was euthanized….”

To those who don’t know much about horseracing – which is to say, the great majority of Americans – this sounds real good: first death in two years. But at best, it’s grossly misleading; at worst, it’s irresponsible journalism. While it is technically true, when Del Mar returned for its fall program last year, three horses were killed racing on the same day. What’s more, including training and stall, there were 11 – yes, 11 – deaths at Del Mar in 2019. And, Mean Sophia now makes it 5 dead thus far this year. Disgusting.

But it gets worse. While the Times notes (at the end of the write-up, of course) that “there were four deaths in training” last summer, it goes on to say that “two of those [came] in a freak collision,” with the implication being clear as day. In addition, the Times says “there were two racing deaths in the fall meeting last year,” explicitly omitting Princess Dorian, who was euthanized eight days after sustaining her racing injury. And this is one of the leading papers in the nation? Is it a surprise, then, that garnering full and accurate coverage of our work is so challenging? For shame.

Meanwhile, in the 3rd at Charles Town last night, Island Rock “was reluctant to load…showed no response to steady urging in the five path of the turn, returned lame and had to be euthanized on the track.” Island Rock was just two years old – an equine babe – and this was his very first time under the whip. Now, go back and reread the note: “reluctant to load,” “showed no response to steady urging” (whipping, that is). Then, dead. This industry’s depravity knows no bounds.

With the laminitis death at Saratoga, this makes three confirmed kills at U.S. tracks on “Derby Day.” But this number is sure to increase as several others were “vanned off” yesterday and nothing yet (until I file my FOIA requests) for the training hours. So I ask all those who celebrated “The Run for the Roses”: Was it worth it?

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  1. Cruelty to animals is so disturbing and so sickeningly a common every day occurrence. It needs to be stopped by people that have some scrupulous discernment between right and wrong!!!!

  2. One life taken is one too many and this is something that has been said here over and over again. We will continue saying it and doing as much as we can to put a STOP to the abuse, cruelty, heartlessness and death. There is not a day that goes by without a baby being killed.
    Heard late yesterday that Thousand Words was scratched from the derby. Went and checked today if he was ok. His rearing and subsequent fall in the paddock gave me chills of the horrifying kind. Poor baby… probably the only way to tell his bastard connections he did NOT want to run. Of course Teflon Bob was more worried about one of his goons who allegedly broke an arm during the incident. The track vet assured everyone though that Thousand Words is ok and ready to be returned to “service”!!!! Because all these beautiful, kind, majestic beings are is simply slaves. They don’t even have the decency to hide their true feelings anymore. Perhaps the best thing was poor Authentic knocking Baffert down in the winner’s circle! He should have done a better job at that! I am sure these babies are loved, respected and cared for as they should be…right Baffert and all you other excrements out there??!!!

    • And the vet on duty stated that Thousand Words had ‘misbehaved’ in the paddock and was fine, etc.
      A qualified equine vet says the horse had MISBEHAVED ?
      It appears that this vet is not familiar with equine behaviour which is the only way the horse can communicate and display how he is feeling, especially if he is in discomfort as was the case here.

      This 3 year old was distressed in the pre-race parade.
      Clearly something was up with TW for so many handlers trying to control him.

      • Carolyn, the veterinarian must have been a track veterinarian, you know, the kind of vet that is paid to approve injured horses to race during the times when they can get away with such horrendously unethical behavior.

      • Absolutely Carolyn! And I do not believe for a second that he is perfectly fine after that fall. Poor thing. Yeah right… he “misbehaved”…liars and abusers!

  3. It would not surprise me if the Los Angeles Times is owned by the Murdoch press.
    Shame on the LA Times for its biased reporting and deliberate non-disclosure of the truth.
    Gutter journalism it most certainly is.

    • This piece was freelanced for the San Diego Union-Tribune, which is under shared ownership with the Los Angeles Times. Both papers also share coverage of Southern California horse racing “news” (i.e., the non-stop fatalities), with SDUT concentrating on their home track, Del Mar, and LAT coverage falling largely to John Cherwa, their go-to guy for all things Santa Anita Dead Horse.
      For some reason, both papers maintain a suspicious allegiance to Los Alamitos, which is the only other remaining SoCal track (and currently the most prolific killer of horses of the three.) Mr. Cherwa didn’t report on ANY of the 30-ish killings at Los Al this year, even the big-name ones like Tap the Wire’s. Only after the CHRB put them on Horse Killing Probation — then promptly took them off so they could continue their slaughterfest in earnest — did the LAT reluctantly start reporting on the mountain of dead horses at Los Al.

      Wonder if either paper will report anything at all about last night’s TWO van-offs. We shall see.

  4. Carolyn, since June 2018 the LA Times is owned by Patrick Soon-Shiong.
    Clearly this otherwise “progressive”
    paper must be in the “pocket” of racing. Hippocracy is everywhere !!!

    A good rule is to always follow the money….

  5. The news of these deaths need to be in the newspapers with up-close photos of the horrendous injuries to these beautiful animals. No one has the guts to bring all of this to light. Shame to all who withhold the news and bring the truth to the American public. The horses are treated as unfeeling pieces of meat!! Disgusting and horrifying!

  6. Excellent article about human cruelty for money and I’m afraid it will never end! ALL lives matter!!

  7. Three racehorses died accidentally on Derby Day. Do you know how many died accidentally in their own pastures or paddocks the same day? Do you know how many horses were slaughtered for meat that same day? People should write about something the know and understand. Not try to drum up controversy. But I guess that’s what sells, right?

    • I approved this comment to illustrate the stupidity we’re facing here. First, the horses dying “accidentally” in a pasture are not being exploited for profit; in other words, they are not being killed. Second, the racing industry is directly responsible for up to 20,000 American horses going to slaughter annually. As I said, stupid.

      • We appreciate your openness in allowing most comments even those with foul language and whose opinions you disagree with.

    • The same old tired and ridiculous argument, comparing horses dying because of the corrupt and exploitive racing business to horses being injured in their pastures and paddocks.
      However, I do understand how impossible it must be to defend/rationalize the killing of horses for gambling and entertainment and sending the survivors to slaughter. Tough job!!

  8. They NEED to shut down HORSERACING,
    It’s a bunch of crap. These poor horses don’t deserve this. I CAN’T STAND PEOPLE.

    • Best post EVER. I feel the exact same way. Most people get on my nerves,they are so stupid.They don’t give a damn about animals…they are so self centered.

  9. Inge Moore,
    Please do your research before you write something of which you know nothing or very little about. There are several individuals who contribute to this site that have been involved in the horse racing industry first hand, not just watching the Kentucky Derby on television. Thank you for your time and effort. You are proof that we are not preaching to the choir. How many more people do we need to educate about the realities of horse racing before it can be enough to change the political will to stop government subsidies to the racing industry??? Without the government subsidies to the horse racing industry, it would not be able to continue to produce, race, and cause the horrific injuries to so many horses that necessitate euthanasia. Let us know what you discover once you have become educated by observing what happens in the real world.
    Yours truly,

  10. Without horse racing all the horses out there will be put down because the owners would not be able to take care of them. Own standardbred race horses and very rarely does one of these horses get injured on the track unless they fall down..

    • Specious, defined. As for harness racing, while true that Standardbreds do not break down with the same frequency as their Thoroughbred and Quarterhorse cousins, they do indeed break down. Having said that, life on the harness circuit is just as cruel and mean and in fact usually persists longer than the other forms of racing, with the typical Standardbred’s servitude lasting up to ten years and beyond; after the racing people have had their way, the abuse often continues under the heavy hand of groups like the Amish. Then, for many or most, those same Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses.

      • Everything you said is true! We once worked at a harness breeding farm in Washington state. The conditions those poor gentle nature horses had to live with were appalling! We always disliked all the equipment used on them. Very unnatural & confining! We have taught a few horses to harness & never used blinders or obstructions to a horses natural way of going.We relied on our relationship of trust with the horse as a basis for teaching a horse to be ridden or driven under harness.

  11. This is as heinous as bull fighting. When God created the world and everything in it…He gave man dominion over all the animals. Cruelty was not part of the plan.

  12. This is cruel, unneccesary and should be banned. I am disgusted at the way we treat horses especially with racing. Why does this continue? What is wrong with our society? There is overwhelming proof that racing is killing horses. Stol this cruelty NOW!

    • Temma, I have thought that same sentiment for a LONG time…”what is wrong with our society?”

  13. ALL those who are involved in these killings should be held under felony charges for animal abuse & murder!

  14. All these so called ‘sports’ should be abolished!! No more!! Just Greed😡
    Barbaric and no longer accepted!! Please STOP THE ABUSE & TORTURE of God’s creatures!!

  15. As much as I hate the waste of such beautiful lives, this will never stop. Too much money involved and too many unscrupulous people and politicians involved. Look at the Big Lick and how long that has been going on and fought against and still we have it going on 40 years after the PAST Act was passed. Remove the money and it will stop but where there is money involved, especially when it’s 7 figures, animals ARE going to suffer for it. They are just tools in a terrible game. It’s all about money, the almighty terrible dollar! The British horse racing industry is even worse!

  16. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I live in Kentucky in the heart of the Bluegrass.Horse racing, farms and horses everywhere you look. Most of the horses you see every day will end up in slaughter. There are not enough homes for all the breeding that goes on. Every Tom, Dick and Harry breeds their mares thinking this may be their chance for the next Triple Crown winner. These animals starting training at two years of age and most break down by five years of age. If they don’t go to the breeding sheds, they go to auction. From auction their life goes downhill until they go to slaughter either in Mexico or Canada under condition which are beyond horrifying. I’ve groomed on the track. Attended as at owner many times and spent hours watching racing. Never again. It’s for rich people’s entertainment and and horrific life for the animals.

  17. Corruption at its best, money before animal welfare these people should be held accountable!!

  18. So wrong! So tragic! Given that The Melbourne cup will be running this year while Melbourne is shut down I suggest we all get around in T shirts quoting The Cup That Stops The Virus! And also signs in house and car windows as well as #

  19. This is disgusting. Why do we continue to allow the abuse of animals. Stop the horse racing. Stop the damn killings and the abuse.
    This is undeniable abuse and murder.
    I don’t understand how this is legal and how the men racing these horses treat them that way. They should be imprisoned.

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