26 Kills at Turf in Just Four Months; Track’s GM: “Is it something we’re missing?”

On April 16, the Paulick Report quoted from an Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association email to members: “Due to the current events at Turf Paradise which have seen an unacceptable rise in horse injuries and euthanizations, the HBPA is strongly encouraging that our horsemen consider the current track conditions and uptick in injuries before you enter horses for races.”

In a Facebook response, the track’s GM, Vincent Francia, wrote: “Every race meet, near the end of the meet like we are now, we experience a rash of breakdowns. We’ve never been able to determine with certainty why that is. Is it the track? Are some horses over-raced and tired? Is it something we’re missing?”

And he wasn’t done: “Right now we’re experiencing strong late-afternoon winds which dry the surface of the track. … Are these drying winds contributing to the problem? Again we don’t know for sure. Are some of our horses tired from their campaign? … The point is, the solutions to taking corrective action begin with the fact that you have horses that race over a track and you have a track that horses race over. Sounds simplistic but that’s where the corrective measures begin.”

Vincent Francia: callous, clueless, and witless all rolled into one.

So how many horses did die, and was it a “rash”? To find those answers, I placed a FOIA to the Dept. of Gaming. From Jan 1 to Apr 30 – just four months – 26 horses died at Turf Paradise. Over a full year, that would be almost 80 deaths. Imagine that. As to the “rash,” partly true. From Apr 6 to Apr 28, 8 horses were killed while racing. However, during that period there were only 15 racedays; i.e., toward the end of the meet, at least one horse was dying in a race every other day. But as mentioned, 18 others – spread evenly throughout – joined them on the “Fatality Tracker”:

And now, the details…

Siculo, Jan 4, R – “acute, comminuted fractures; tendon and ligament tears with extensive soft tissue hemorrhage”; also: “multifocal, subacute, ulcerative gastritis”

From the Get Go, Jan 5, S – “sudden death” (just two years old)

He Doesnt Listen, Jan 7, T – “severe sesamoid fractures, ruptured tendons, rupture[d] ligament, extensive hemorrhage”; also: “mild, multifocal hepatitis” (just two years old)

Taylor’s Addiction, Jan 14, T – “severe, acute, comminuted fracture with associated severe, acute, regionally extensive subcutaneous hemorrhage”

“The first phalanx of the LF limb is fractured into greater than 7 pieces of variably sized, irregular bone fragments. The superficial digital flexor insertion is torn.”

“This horse had been off since its last race on 7/7/19. According to prerace exam records, the trainer reported the horse had LF ankle surgery in early 2020.”

Jd El Muneco, Jan 18, T – “complete, transverse, comminuted fracture through the neck of the right scapula; deep muscular hemorrhage”

“Other findings in this horse included chronic gastric ulcers and stomach worms.”

Jd El Muneco was just one year old. One – “chronic gastric ulcers, stomach worms.”

Sacatone, Jan 19, R (euthanized Jan 24) – “severe, acute, comminuted fractures with associated hemorrhage and edema”; also: “severe, chronic degenerative joint disease”

Abby Swan, Jan 27, R (euthanized Jan 28) – “severe, acute, open fracture of the RF fetlock with dislocation and associated severe subcutaneous hemorrhage; torn tendon; torn ligament; medially displaced distal limb”

Skarboni, Feb 2, R – “severe, comminuted sesamoidean fracture; bony fragments throughout surrounding soft tissue; torn ligament”; also: “chronic stomach ulceration”

El Cacheton, Feb 7, S – “colic” (just three years old, had been raced twice in January)

Sunny Kat, Feb 8, T – “fracture and dislocation below the RF fetlock”

“This horse had resumed training in Oct 2020 after a two year layoff.” (nine years old)

Sailing for Home, Mar 1, R – “fractured fetlock”

Ramona Lover, Mar 8, T – “compound, comminuted fracture of P1; P1 has been
obliterated and is in multiple fragments, some of which protruded through the skin”

George’s Chance, Mar 9, S – “stall accident – fracture” (just one year old)

Town Pearl, Mar 22, T – “severe, comminuted fracture of P1 (approximately 15 variably sized pieces) with severe, acute subcutaneous hemorrhage”

“This horse is reported to have a surgical repair using a screw in the LF [same leg that broke] ankle. [T]here was also evidence of degenerative joint disease.”

And more:

“On abdominal examination, the non-glandular mucosa has multifocal, variably sized areas of ulceration. There are three adult roundworms in the jejunum; the roundworms [are] 9-12 cm long and approximately 0.3-0.5 cm in diameter.”

Town Pearl was just three years old.

Sparkling Unicorn, Mar 30, S – “sudden death” (just four years old)

Big Ruby, Apr 1, S – “pneumonia” (had just turned two)

Silvanus, Apr 2, T – “severe, open, comminuted fracture of tibia and fibula with large amount of hemorrhage and muscle damage; sharp piece of bone protruding out of a 3.5×5.5 cm wound on the leg; multiple fragments of tibia within the hock joint”

“There are multiple incidental findings such as the gastric ulcers.”

Gastric ulcers as “incidental” – vile.

“This horse had 75 lifetime races. In its [‘its,’ not his] most recent race on 3/9/21, the horse stumbled out of the gate. That was the first race after a one year layoff.”

Silvanus was 12 years old.

Ap Adamari, Apr 6, R – “[fell after wire] fractured shoulder” (two years old, first race)

Fortified Effort, Apr 7, R – “fetlock fracture followed by traumatic dislocation of joint, collateral and annular ligaments ruptured”; also: “gastric ulceration and
suspected exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage”

Mr Right Now, Apr 9, R – “fractured sesamoids”

Sermon by the Sea, Apr 12, R – “multiple comminuted (multiple fragments) fractures, acute soft tissue hemorrhage”

Quality Line, Apr 13, R – “acute, severe, extensive, open fracture”

“There is an open fracture of the LH cannon bone that contains moderate debris of dirt and hair as well as a large amount of hemorrhage. The right side of the face and neck is bloody and covered in dirt and debris. Two ticks are in the deep left ear canal and four ticks in the right ear canal. There is also evidence of significant chronic
ulceration in the stomach.”

Tammy’s Window, Apr 14, R – “severe, acute, comminuted fractures with extensive hemorrhage and tearing of capsule and superficial digital flexor tendon”

McKale, Apr 16, S – “laminitis both front feet” (just five years old)

Long Gun, Apr 23, R – “fractured spine or pelvis”

If I Had a Nickel, Apr 28, R – “[multiple] fractures with associated tearing of ligaments”

Some other passages of note from the reports:

“Proximal sesamoid bone fractures may carry an occurrence rate as high as 41.5% in racing Thoroughbred horses. Approximately 80% of all forelimb proximal sesamoid bone fractures are biaxial (both the lateral and medial sesamoid bones are fractured). Racing puts excessive force on suspensory ligament attachments to the proximal aspect of these bones, and creates the condition of fetlock joint hyperextension, predisposing this location to injury.”

“The carpal bone injuries are relatively common findings in race horses, which are thought to be a consequence of repetitive impact trauma associated with fast exercise and training.”

“[Chronic ulcers are] a common finding in racehorses mostly attributed to stress, high grain diet, and higher use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”

9 Comments

  1. Worms, ticks, and ulcers. Defend that, apologists.
    And while you’re at it, defend these atrocious injuries and broken bodies. Defend horses dropping dead before their second birthday. Defend their worn joints and legs held together with screws – AND STILL SENT OUT TO RACE. Look at these pictures and spew some more of your disgusting rhetoric that these horses are treated like royalty and are loved like children. Tell me again how we need the racing industry to give these horses a reason for existence, how all these horses would be killed if racing were to end.
    Look into their dead eyes and tell them they died horribly because “that’s just horse racing”.

  2. These graphic images are what it takes to drive the point home to some people that horseracing is Animal Cruelty everyday!!! As long as this level of abuse, brutality and cruelty is allowed to go on at racetracks and training tracks around the country and the whole world, the public that is propping it up with their tax dollars needs to know about it!!! The unaware and uninformed casual race fan needs to be educated on just how sadistic, immoral and corrupt that horseracing is in reality. It is not something that should ever be funded by government subsidies!!!

    As far as the fact that there are more breakdowns towards the end of the race meet, and the people responsible for it claim ignorance as an excuse, you know that after the majority of the people involved have been in this business of exploitation of horses for gambling bets for decades, it is an outrageous lie for the immoral and corrupt individuals to claim innocence by ignorance. You know, that kind of filthy lying makes me want to beat the crap out of these FILTHY horse-killing liars. Obviously, I am not going to beat the crap out of anyone, but the immoral and corrupt individuals involved in horseracing must be exposed for what they are and this egregious Animal Cruelty everyday needs to be DEFUNDED!!!

  3. And how difficult is it to check the overworking of the horses?!!! The fact is, horses are overworked all the time and the fact is, there are no rules to prevent it because overworking horses is integral to racing. Happens all the time.
    Incompetence is bad enough but adding the callous, dismissive attitude toward horse welfare results in horror, something we see all the time.

  4. If this business, based on past and current pictorial evidence, hasn’t shut down by now then the moral reprehensibility will never shut it down.
    Instead, the government handouts must END.
    When the massive tax breaks, taxpayers money and/or casino profits STOP going to support this deeply corrupt killing business than tracks depending on this financial sustenance will SHUT DOWN.
    Most residents, voters, and taxpayers aren’t aware of the obscene amount of money going to support this instead of education.
    A public campaign must be an integral part of stopping the funding and/or voting in a politician who is committed to the education of our children instead of racehorses being killed.
    That’s the choice.
    So sorry for all the above voiceless victims.
    It’s heartbreaking to look at those photos and to read the descriptions – it’s carnage to the max.

  5. Thank you, Patrick, for finally wrenching this horrible truth from the horse-killing jackals at Turf Pairo’Deaths and the Arizona Gaming Commission’s Racing Division. On second thought, actual jackals would probably not be able to pull off such an equine bloodbath as these human monsters have managed to in four months, so I retract that mischaracterization of TPD staff and the Racing Board. They’ll just have to settle for the title of Racehorse Serial Killers.

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