The Horror – Please Share

Through a FOIA request to the Maryland Racing Commission, I have confirmed the following kills at that state’s tracks in 2020. It should be noted that in the wake of Santa Anita, Maryland began releasing much more detail. Because these details, including vet testimony, are so powerful (and damning), I will post in multiple installments so as to give each death its proper due.

As always, please consider contacting Maryland politicians and media. Nothing as entrenched as horseracing will change without unrelenting pressure. The message need not be long; in fact, shorter is better – e.g., “Horseracing is animal cruelty, no different than dogracing, which has been banned on moral grounds in 41 states.” Then, copy and paste this list (and the other Maryland reports). Thank you.

Governor Hogan: contact form; twitter; instagram
Senate Majority Leader King: nancy.king@senate.state.md.us; 410-841-3686
House Speaker Jones: adrienne.jones@house.state.md.us; 410-841-3800
Senate members
House members

The Baltimore Sun: newstips@baltimoresun.com; 410-332-6100
ABC Baltimore: newsroom@wmar.com; 410-435-TIPS
CBS Baltimore: 410-578-7568
NBC Baltimore: newstips@wbaltv.com; 800-677-WBAL
Fox Baltimore: news@foxbaltimore.com; 410-467-5595

Yukon Eric, Jan 3, Pimlico T – “horse pulled up and appeared to be exhausted…fell to the track and died – apparent heart attack”; also: “stomach: acute ulcers – presumptive stress” (two years old)

Esterina, Jan 26, Laurel R – “[multiple] severe, open fractures with severe associated hemorrhage”; also: “chronic cartilage damage; chronic degenerative joint disease all four fetlocks; stomach: acute hemorrhage, chronic ulcers” (three years old)

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “The LH pastern was obviously fractured and I could see blood soaking through the rear bandage at lateral mid cannon bone. I euthanized…once Esterina was deceased, I palpated the LH leg and discovered both sesamoids displaced, P1 had comminuted fractures, and the lateral condyle was indeed fractured. There was also blood soaking through the bandage on the RF [different leg] ankle.”

Pickle Back, Jan 31, Pimlico T (euthanized Feb 3) – “comminuted knee fracture”

Dr. Meittinis (private vet): “Gerry [Brooks, owner/trainer] told Jared to have me inject the knees the first day he came from the farm. The knee was huge, but cold and tight, and he was sound. He wanted to inject anyway, so I did. The horse returned bad from first work off the layoff. Gerry was out of town and wanted to give the horse a few days to see if it [italics added] would sound up some. Gerry got back on Feb 3 and made decision to euthanize because she was still really lame.”

Birdies Honor, Feb 8, Laurel R – “finished the race…suddenly the horse collapsed and died – presumptive heart attack”; also: “chronic degenerative joint disease in distal limbs; chronic synovitis both carpal joints and both front fetlocks” (four years old)

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “It was determined after his death that he had been taking Thyro-L, a supplement for hypothyroidism. This horse was placed on this supplement without my approval…I would not have approved this supplement as Birdie’s Honor did not fit the clinical picture for hypothyroidism. I am concerned that this supplementation may have contributed to the death of Birdie’s Honor.”

Major Flirt, Feb 15, Laurel R – “fracture/dislocation of fetlock; comminuted, displaced sesamoid fractures; soft tissue damage; [torn] ligaments”; also: “chronic gastric ulcer”

Donald Barr (trainer): “Tough loss.”

Supercross, Mar 18, Pimlico T – “ran into a wall and died”

Dr. Meittinis (private vet): “The horse died on his own from head trauma before I could get there.”

The Magical One, Jun 20, Laurel R – “complete, displaced fractures and soft tissue rupture – vanned off and euthanized”

Irish Crossing, Aug 22, Laurel R – “broke down near 3/8 pole, in significant pain and trying to lie down, limb knuckling and dropped; three major fractures of left scapula, approximately 15 fragments; severed biceps; copious amount of hemorrhage – euthanized on track”; “jockey stated horse was nervous prior to the start of the race”

Polar Bear Pete, Sep 10, Laurel R – “five fractures, multiple pieces; presumed traumatic avulsion; intramuscular hemorrhage”; also: “acute gastric ulcers – acute stress; chronic degenerative joint disease all four fetlocks” (three years old)

One Fat Kat, Sep 18, Laurel R – “both [sesamoids] shattered with associated hemorrhage and ligament damage – euthanized on track”; also: “chronic degenerative joint disease [all four fetlocks]” (four years old)

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “Filly was very reluctant to come to the paddock [before start of race].”

28 Comments

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  1. This is so sad! Some of these poor horses did their best to tell people they did not want to run & no one listened to them! Unapproved med.s used how bad is that! Feel very sad for these horses that died & no one took the time to listen to.

    • All I seem to read and see is horses not wanting to be put onto that track. Over and over and over again. These racers know perfectly well that the animal is scared for good reason! They are terrified! They know their bodies just as we humans do, their limits, all of it! The owners, breeders, trainers, veterinarians, jockeys, grooms understand better than the average non-horse person. They are around them all day, every day! This is the reason why we call them all psychopaths. That’s a term maybe too freely used these days, but the people who continue to submit these animals to such abuse are the real thing. They are degenerates. No exaggeration. And they KNOW what they are doing and DO NOT CARE. Money and prestige is what they care about, nothing else.

      • Have you ever considered looking at a horse’s behavior and other visual cues instead of only determining that horses don’t want to race because they might die? A lot of times horses have to be slowed down in a race, they don’t give a fart about their “limit.” Horses are fearless, and they don’t know the risks- that’s why good humans must take care of them. They’re not psychopaths because they know that horses want to race and that it is highly unlikely their horse dies in the process. Like less than a .033% chance. I’ve had 27 horses and hundreds of starters, not one died. I can tell you money and prestige is the last thing on my mind. And a few people on here are ex-owners, so I would watch who you call a psychopath.

        • Samuel H….horses are “fearless”? It’s time you took a CLASS on equines and equine behavior. Horses run in a race because their survival instincts tell them to – the horse at the back of the herd is the horse the predator catches. Of course horses don’t think they’re going to die in a race…but they do know when they hurt and they do know what lies ahead when being led over in the paddock pre-race.

          BTW, how many of the 27 horses you’ve had are you providing their forever homes for? I’d love to know their names.

        • Oh, boy, don’t get me going, Samuel H.! Experienced racers (owners, trainers, jockey’s, etc.) don’t care what I write because they don’t care for the horses in the first place! If they did, they, being likely as intelligent as the rest of us, have completely and totally ignored the truth and manufactured “truths” that fit their wants, not reality. They only care that they won’t look good to people who might serve their needs as owners/race track vets, trainers, jockeys. It doesn’t feel good for people to hear themselves called out for what they are, does it? But they are willing to put a horse’s life at risk of injury or death for whatever reason they might dream up. Yours is a lie. You lied!!! You are so ridiculous as to say that horses “want to race” and leave out the fact that indeed, many species love to run WHEN THEY SO DESIRE and under whatever conditions they chose. Not being pushed by some horse slave owner human. The horses are enslaved. Made to do what YOU want. But you won’t admit to that, will you? You know it’s not true that they want to be forced to live in stalls all day, not allowed to live in conditions normal for their species as herd animals who need, desperately, actually, social contact with other animals, ideally other equines and frequent, self chosen exercise each day, etc. Nope, you gotta LIE and say the “good humans must take care of them”. Frankly, you make me sick. You lie, lie lie lie to serve your own selfish interests. Anybody with half a brain knows that the horses are injured and die because of humans who make them run. I am not going to waste my time further trying to argue with you. Obviously, you have a stake in the deal and don’t want to stop supporting racing or condemn those who do. Oh, by the way, only a person who excuses horse abuse would say that it’s OK for a certain “tiny”, according to you, percentage die. ONE IS TOO MUCH. You have no God given right to put them at risk! You do not!! Any more than you do with a human child! So sorry to hear that you forced so many horses to risk their lives and permanent injury. You never even mentioned the injuries sustained by so many horses forced under the whip. How do you sleep at night on that one? No guilt. You aren’t going to hear people close to you tell you like it is, I guess. They don’t want to upset you. I am supposing. Well, I just told you the hard truth. After racing 27 horses, you have seen it all and you EXCUSE it, what you see. Keep this principle in mind, if you are at all open minded. Animals have equal rights to humans to live out their lives in species appropriate behaviors. Being raced is not their decision. They don’t need your help to know how and when to run. Give me a break! That is the most ridiculous excuse handed out by owners, bettors, etc. But more: as I said before, no horse in nature lives in a closed stall. Follow as close to nature as is possible. Being with the original herd, not being inseminated by humans to breed, continual daily freedom to exercise. I am sorry to say,. How could you have participated in an industry where horses died and so many are sent to the slaughterhouse pipeline? This is the complete absence of compassion and conscience. Hence, I used the term “psychopath”. I could go on but you know… I agree on not name calling, “psychopath”, but I would be lying to myself if I didn’t see an absence of conscience and basic empathy combined with delusional excuses that “we treat them so well”, in the racing industry, across the board and ALL the time. A final comment: It astounds me how people in your industry don’t feel guilty and say they love their horses. Incredible. So utterly delusional. Often so much lying, even conscious.

        • Samuel you justify the horrific Kill Lists stated above just because you’ve not had one die or so you state.
          However, I bet you 100% (and my bets don’t cost racehorse lives) that you’ve dumped some or all of your racehorses into claiming knowing that they have pre-existing conditions that led to their eventual death.
          Anybody who participates in this business in any capacity is responsible for what goes on in this industry because you’re supporting it in one form or another.
          That means you support the widespread massive pain, suffering, abuse, doping, beating/whipping, dumping, dying on the track, at a training center or on the slaughterhouse floor because all of this is required to keep this antiquated, torturous public abattoir that is an unnecessary gambling venue.
          Your comment speaks volumes about your lack of compassion for any racehorse who is forced to endure this daily torture that often leads to their death.
          You can call me a psychopath, animal rights activist or whatever you want, but I know that I’m on the right side of morality and I sure as hell know that this business is so wrong on every single level.
          The truth always wins in the end and we’ve got the truth on our side and I will forever use my voice to defend these voiceless victims from you blood/life sucking parasites.
          May the racehorses’ spirits rain down a living hell on this business and anybody who profits from it.

        • Samuel H., I’d like to know how many have had stress fractures, bowed tendons, degenerative joint disease, ulcers, supplements, injections, and permanent unsoundness of those 27?
          I too, was an owner. But I knew what my horses did every day, how they ate, what they ate, how their legs were, how their hooves were, how they behaved in their stalls, how they behaved at bath time, how they cooled out. I went in their stalls and brushed them every day, I would walk the shedrow with them, I would take them out to hand graze. How involved were you with 27 horses? I didn’t do it for prestige or money. I did it for the love of the horse. But when I realized that I was wasting a lot of money, and I was pacing because Of anxiety, and praying each time one of my horses ran, that they would come back to the barn in one piece, I realized this was no longer right, no longer love, and no longer healthy to me or the horses. And I couldn’t take seeing one more death on the track anymore. At one point I considered getting back into it. I seriously considered it. But then I remembered the pacing, praying, and anxiety, and I made the decision to be done for good.
          If you have to pray that your horse survives what it’s doing, it makes you realize it is wrong on so many levels.

          • “I realized this was no longer right, no longer love, and no longer healthy to me or the horses.”
            Thank-you Marie.
            This statement sums up the rightful conclusion that anybody who has ever been in this business or still is in this business should come to.
            We can walk away, but the racehorses can’t and many die for stupid gambling bets.

        • Psychopath is actually too nice a word. For what people like you do to horses on a daily basis, I would call you sadists.
          If their horses want to race so badly, why do so many of them refuse and fight against entering the gate? Why do jockeys have to hit them every second stride with whips? You try to say whips are for “guidance” – no horse needs that much “guidance”.
          If horses don’t know their limit, why do they try to slow down during a race? Isn’t that what a human does when they know they are tired and are pushing themselves too far?
          The problem with people like you is that you don’t see horses as anything other than a paycheck. They aren’t intelligent creatures capable of feelings, they are disposable objects that only exist to serve your purpose. Don’t try to paint yourself as some sort of benevolent father figure wanting only the best for his charges. You, and people like you, are fully aware that these horses are not sound, and you know exactly what will happen when you force them out on the track. You simply don’t care. You can see the pain, suffering, and death of horses on a daily basis and feel nothing. You have no conscience, and you have no soul.

  2. I will put time into this all weekend and have shared. Thank you for your phenomenal help letting us know what goes on and how to stop this nightmare called “horse racing”. I was telling Joy Aten this and want to re-state it: If a person to follows this campaign to end horse racing, even though there are thousands of other animal rights violations needing attention, you are helping advance animal rights. Because you must talk about the fact of animals having a right to their own lives and chosen behaviors. Not the behaviors humans so choose for them.. And, so long as you let people know that there is a systematic attitude that horses and ALL animals are fair game for unbelievable cruelty and killing, you are an across-the-board animal rights activist. Always remember: Anytime an animal is used by humans for profit, prestige, food or competitions, they are subject to abuse because the wants of the humans come first. I am against all such instances for that very reason.

  3. The information about PICKLE BACK is very contradictory and somewhat confusing. The horse is referred to as both a “he” and a “she.”
    The horse has an obvious problem with at least one knee, which the owner/trainer wanted the private veterinarian to inject with “?” whether the veterinarian thought it was needed or not, by the way it sounds to me. “The knee was huge, but cold and tight, and he was sound.” Okay, that’s it! That is a FILTHY, STINKING LIE!!! The horse has an obvious UNSOUNDNESS!!!!
    The owner/trainer is a greedy, HEARTLESS user and abuser of horses and tells the “doctor of veterinary medicine” what to do. That is an EGREGIOUS ABUSE of the horse and shows a COMPLETE ABSENCE OF ETHICS!!!!!!! The State of Maryland ought to revoke the licenses of all private vets at racetracks and take away the money from HORSERACING, as well as take the rights and privileges away from these demented animal abusers who torture horses by FORCING the horses to perform for racing and gambling!!!!

      • You know better than I, Wanda, but isn’t that the job of a race track vet? To do whatever the owners/trainers want, regardless of the welfare of their “patient”? All of them need to have their licenses revoked. I am sickened when I see the equine hospital run by, of all places, a famous and prestigious veterinary school, Cornell!, right across from Belmont Park near where we live. Well, that tells you about the dodgy veterinary “standards”. Do no harm? Oh, well, unless you have lots of money to make….

        • Martha, my understanding is that the racetrack veterinarians do what they are told to do by the racetrack owners/operators. As Joy related in a previous blog post, the track vets may lose their job if they scratch too many horses.
          The private veterinarians are the ones who do what they’re told by the owners/trainers of the horses. Either way, it is egregious abuse of horses and ETHICS are something all of these people have to be completely VOID OF (completely lacking) TO PARTICIPATE in this organized crime of using horses as tools for generating revenue in the form of THE ALMIGHTY WAGERING HANDLE!

          • Some more facts about tracks vets directly from the “horses’ mouths”, Wanda…

            Christine Ross, DVM; “Why have examinations and definitive diagnoses been absent from race track veterinary bills for decades? What diagnosis justifies shockwave, NSAIDs and/or the intra-articular injection of 2,4,or 6 joints of any [horse] athlete in competition?”

            Matthew Clarke (racing trainer); “Track vets do not get paid for exams and diagnosis, they only get paid for medications and or procedures.”

            Clarke continues; “I know many trainers who resist even taking radiographs because they don’t want to know what’s going on. They fear that confirmation results in the loss of a day rate and possibly an owner.”

        • A track vet. wanted to euthanize a horse because, in her estimation/view, the situation was more or less untreatable. I challenged the vet. re her “diagnosis” without the aid of any diagnostic aids such as ultrasound. I had the horse transferred to a hospital where the diagnosis was not what the vet. claimed. The horse was treated and recovered without surgery. The horse is healthy, sound and happy going on 2years later!!

  4. Maryland horse racing was on the verge of total and complete collapse until Frank Stronach, acting on behalf of the formerly bankrupt Magna Entertainment (ME), proposed his “vision” to Maryland politicians about 20 years ago.
    Like California, ME cut backroom deals with Maryland politicians to take over the decrepit racetracks which included the gentrification of the surrounding poor and predominantly people of color neighborhoods.
    His vision required hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers money.
    It would mainly be funded by the public coffers and instead of this money going to help the communities directly it would meander its way through horse racing and pro-horse racing politicians.
    Fast forward 20 years and little to nothing was done, but where did the money go?
    Not a scarce mention about that for the most part.
    Enter apologist and pro-horse racing loyalist Senator Guy J. Guzzone whose in charge of the Maryland budget.
    Even after all this history and total rip-off of taxpayers money Sen. Guzzone is proposing yet another 340 million to horse racing so that they can run the Preakness!
    No, it’s not enough that the link between horse racing and politicians runs deep while the taxpayers, residents, and communities are all losers, but it’s the racehorses that are the biggest losers every single time.
    A federal complaint into the investigation of Senator Guy J. Guzzone for the accountability of taxpayers money is long overdue and so is the shutting down of this killing business.

  5. Why any horse at the racetrack has ulcers is ridiculous and unnecessary. Every horse at the track should be getting Succeed. The catch is….its very expensive. All the rest of that was incompetence and ignorance. People who train horses are people who can’t do anthing else. Now alot of men will take issue with that but when you see all the unnecessary destruction you know its true. And Gerald Brooks is not a human that I would entrust my horse to. The owners of these horses are as much to blame for this or more so. It costs alot to keep a horse at the racetrack. In the 80’s it was $1100 a month. Without vet bills. Do you think all the owners of these horses are paying their board? So the trainers have to cut corners and that combined with the fact that they are mostly stupid is why this happens. When animal cruelty laws catch up these people will be gone. If killing horses was a crime alot of men would be working at McDonalds.

    • So, you are another one who thinks that racing just needs “reforms”. No, racing needs banning as an inherently dangerous and unnatural activity to which horses are victimized. Yes, victimized. Rationalizations to continue racing abound, based on motives that are nothing good for a horse.

    • Mary , as Adam S. said at the first Impeachment trial..you can not trust him, he will do it again. In horse racing, especially, this is true ..and then some. Do you catch my drift?, they (the owners) will do it again and again,because like trump..there were NO consequences. Owners will do the same,because there are NO consequences. NONE. This post will be deleted,because it is a correct analogy. God forbid we offend the republicans.

    • You say some goofy things Mary. Succeed is a dietary supplement, it doesn’t magically cure ulcers and the manufacturer makes no such claim. The way to treat ulcers is to remove the stress and turn them out to graze, possibly treat them with real medication instead of another magic horse supplement, 95% of which are just plain bs invented to take money from stupid horse people.

    • If abusing horses were recognized as the heinous crime that it should definitely be recognized as, Frank Stronach and many others would have a job making little rocks out of big rocks. It would not be at McDonald’s.

    • The gold standard for treatment of gastric ulcers, including hindgut, is omeprazole. It costs around $1,000 for a course of treatment.
      Of course, prevention is always best. Racing, as we know, is the antithesis of anything that keeps horses healthy!!

  6. What does the horse racing industry do to “clean-up” the multiple doping violators who regularly kill racehorses under their custody over the years?
    Well, they induct them into their Racing Hall of (Sh)ame.
    Their list was just announced for the year and includes Todd Pletcher – a long history of serious doping violations including Mepivacaine which is a potent pain killer almost like synthetic heroin.
    He authorized his private vet to inject the lower limbs of racehorses that they knew were sore and had issues.
    This is done to mask their pain and chronic issues to keep them flipping a buck and the so-called “innocent” owners would have to know about this because they pay the bill.
    Mepivacaine masks pain in serious pre-existing conditions so a racehorse will not slow down to protect itself which usually results, eventually, in their bones snapping-off and them crumbling to the dirt.
    Nice guy this Pletcher huh?
    Pletcher was an Assistant Trainer under one of the biggest doping violators and racehorse killers of all time: D. Wayne Lukas.
    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and there are certain Trainers in this business that get away with things that other Trainers would be immediately suspended for.
    Anyways, here’s the pro-horse racing industry site where you can look at the Trainers and their violations.
    This link is the one to the long list of violations that Pletcher was found guilty of these are not allegations:
    https://www.thoroughbredrulings.com/default.asp?RRReport=11769&moveto=1&recount=17&From=SRCH&EPID=114342&L=Pletcher&M=A.&F=Todd&LAST=PLETCHER&DDS=1/1/2000&DDE=2/28/2021&BRD=&SHOWSEARCH=YES

    • The first time I ever saw (on TV) a horse suffer broken bones while running in a nationally televised horse race was a horse trained by Todd Pletcher.

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