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?