Cover This, CNN, NY Times: Belmont Park at 52 Dead Horses on Year

Belmont Park is one of America’s elite racetracks, if not Santa Anita’s equal, pretty close. Yet somehow, while Santa Anita’s bloody spring of 2019 garnered international attention (even though they were killing at the same rate they always have), this year’s far worse carnage at Belmont has, with few exceptions, flown under the radar. Last Wednesday, the Gaming Commission is only now reporting, Vermont Billy “sustained LF leg injury while training” at Belmont – “euthanized due to poor prognosis.” He was three years old. With this, Belmont now counts 52 dead horses on the year – over 20% more than SA in 2019. Quite a standard to emulate, New York.

The Commission has also just released a death at Tioga Downs – from September. Gold Star Babs, they say, was “unresponsiove [sic] to treatment…subsequently euthanized due to colitis.”

19 Comments

  1. Well, they’re all guilty so I wonder if they draw straws or something to see who’s going to be the scapegoat???

  2. New York wins!

    Sorry to keep repeating this over and over (and over) again, HW friends, but Cali stopped having a shot at the coveted title on Sept. 1st, when the CHRB drastically changed up the rules on its “Mandatory” Dead Racehorse Reporting. They chalked up all their “sudden safety” to make-believe effectiveness of their new rules and protocols. But they really just got more strict on quantifying which of their dead horses DIED ON CHRB-licensed property grounds.
    If Vermont Billy had broken his leg while training at Santa Anita, for instance, all the humane staffers at the SADT would have had to do to avoid the state kill list is haul him off track grounds, put him down literally ANYWHERE ELSE, and, Ta-da! No training death to list. Not ever. It literally matters not at all to the CHRB that the poor equine victim’s horrifying injury that necessitated euthanasia occurred ON track property. If his heart was still beating when he was hauled half a mile away, that’s good enough for the Super-Scientific CHRB. So. not exactly a fair fight between NY and CA.
    Don’t believe me? Just ask Dr. Rick Arthur, DVM. He’s their Equine Medical Director, and he (sort of) explained the process at their fun-filled public meeting back in September or October. I’m sure he’ll be happy as ever to reiterate the statements he made in that report;)

    • Thank you, Kelly, for your insight. Somewhere, somehow there should be an authority that says veterinarians cannot inflict or prescribe more cruelty onto a horse, just because veterinarians should stand for virtues like health and healing, or at the very least, humane treatment. I know in the world of reality, that is asking a lot; more than some veterinarians are capable of giving or delivering to their equine patients.

      • This is one instance where we really can’t place blame on the vets. Well, at least the vets not named Rick Arthur;)
        Mostly it’s the trainer who is authorized to make such decisions for the horse’s owner, when the need to euthanize immediately arises. The vet (as usual) just does what the trainer says.
        So, the new CHRB reporting policy only motivates the horse’s connections to MOVE the poor horse off-property for the euth. This way, they all get to join track officials (with a wink and a nudge) in celebrating all these sudden “fatality-free” meets.
        I wonder if anyone at the CHRB realizes (or cares) that they’re actually causing MORE equine suffering with this bone-headed policy?

    • Please Kelly…feel free to rinse AND repeat. Any state that allows a habitual ne’er do well like good ole bob baffert to continually evade prosecution for cheating (for decades), well you GET my point. Ca., you like kinda suck.

      • Bonnie, how Bob Baffert got to be the “trainer” who brought the Thoroughbred racing industry two Triple Crown winners is better left for someone else, not me, to explain. We know he cheated, but it took a lot of people around him to do their own share of cheating in collaboration with him, including giving him “the free pass” to do illegal doping and get away with it. The Triple Crown doesn’t really mean anything knowing that it can be had by cheating, illegally doping sore horses (owned by rich people), not to mention the obvious fact that the abuse to the Thoroughbreds begins as babies.

      • Yes, but ALL the racing states (with the possible exception of New York) do this bait and switch kind of thing with their carnage. So, yeah, they ALL suck. New York just happens to suck the least right now. But Cali is the one facing the most immediate anti-racing crisis — and will be the first to abolish it — so they kinda have to hide more kills:)

    • Hi Kelly. Not sure where you are getting your information but all injuries that occur on a CHRB-licensed facility are required by law to be reported. Even if a horse is injured and taken to the hospital where I work, and the injury requires euthanasia, we are required to report that. We cannot just euthanize a horse and pretend it never happened. Hope this helps.

      • Yes, required by law to be “reported.” This does not mean required to be labelled as a racing death (or a training death, or a stall/other death) on the CHRB’s PUBLIC Equine Fatalities list. Surely you can explain why, for instance, horses such as Tap the Wire and Hendavid have STILL not been PUBLICLY reported by the CHRB. These are two deaths that occurred as a direct result of on-track racing injuries, and confirmed through other sources. Yet they will never be acknowledged officially. And there’s others, of course. I’m sure you hear of them every month, when horse advocates call in to each CHRB meeting and rattle off the names of the “mysteriously disappeared.”
        So, of course you can’t just put a racehorse down and pretend it never happened. Whether it’s admitted as such TO THE PUBLIC is an entirely different story.

      • You might report it to them but the CHRB does not report it to the public. If you look at their annual reports they list racing, training, and “other” fatalities at each track. They do not report deaths that don’t take place at the track.

      • Within 72 hours of racing or being injured correct? That is what the equine injury database has as golden rules, just trying to clarify.

      • Hello? Lauren? I feel like I lost you there. Thank you for being cordial in your response to my position. I hope you understand who it is I believe is betraying the public — not to mention the horses. I have no gripe with private veterinary staff just doing their jobs legally. As an OTTB owner, I understand the fine line most of you have to tip-toe in order to accommodate horse owners of every discipline. And it’s exacerbated by the deliberate secrecy of those who engage in something as controversial and dangerous as racing. Again, it’s the CHRB who’s enabling and encouraging the UNDERCOUNTING of dead Cali racehorses. And, of course, each track, owner, and trainer benefits directly when one of their dead manages to stay off the public Fatalities list. Begs the question: why even have a list at all?

  3. Hey, you guys (Wanda,Kelly) can we give it up for the vet at Penn tonight… he/she was smart enough to scratch Our Claire Bear, who otherwise probably would have perished in a face-plant. I WANT to save ALL of them. PERIOD

    • Thanks, Bonnie. That is definitely a good thing! If the wagering handle is less than break-even at Penn National, they will shut racing down temporarily. The break-even point is $1.4 Million per night from what I read.

  4. Horse racing should simply be re-named Recreational Slaughter for that is exactly what it is. I don’t understand why lame-stream media isn’t picking this up? Are they treating this terrible

  5. carnage with the seriousness it deserves. These are flesh and blood beings; innocent, helpless. They rely on humans to take care of them and all their owners and trainers do is exploit and abuse them. Horse-racing needs to rot on the pile of other despicable human endeavors. I am so frequently ashamed to be human.

  6. Can you imagine if 52 animals died at the hands of their zoo “keepers” what a public outrage it would be?
    They would, most likely, be immediately shut down while under investigation.
    Yet, year after year horse racing is getting away with this.
    Vermont Billy died under the care, custody and control of multiple racehorse killer Mike Maker.
    Many of these deaths appear to be rather suspicious and fill a pattern.
    Vermont Billy was purchased for $475,000 so almost certain policy in place, doesn’t perform, and winds up dead.
    Another weird link is multiple racehorse killer George Weaver who has owned horses for a very short duration and they then get passed on to Mike Maker and die.
    Well there’s one thing these racehorse killers have in common: they all trained under D. Wayne Lukas or Todd Pletcher – both of them multiple racehorse killers with some deaths under suspicious circumstances.
    This business is vile to its rotten core.

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