An article in the (Albany) Times Union Wednesday notes that with pandemic restrictions ended, “there is talk of [Saratoga] setting new records for attendance and handle” this summer. Trainer James Bond: “I think the place is ready to explode. Every person I have talked to about Saratoga can’t wait to get here and get going. I think it’s going to be a coming-out party like they’ve never seen before.” NYRA’s Dave O’Rourke added: “We encourage fans to join us for the start of a season to remember.”
Curiously, though, not a word was written or spoken on what all this giddy excitement will cost. I’m not talking, of course, about the cost NYRA incurs to stage this event. I’m talking about the cost that is measured in lives. I’m talking about the 15 horses that history says will be killed at Saratoga this summer. I’m talking about the 3-year-old filly Strong Moment in the 10th yesterday – just the second day of the meet:
“STRONG MOMENT was hustled from the start, dropped back leaving the backstretch, saved ground on the turn, suffered a catastrophic injury to her left foreleg inside the furlong marker and fell then was euthanized on the course.”
As to that “hustled from the start,” prominent veterinarian Sid Gustafson wrote (Twitter): “Strong Moment broke down two strides after a brutal whipping.” “A brutal whipping” – consider that while reading through all those prayers and wishes to the injured jockey, Luis Cardenas. By the way, I’d show it but the suits at NYRA decided that animal cruelty/murder doesn’t quite square with “a season to remember”:
For the record, while Strong Moment is the first racing victim, she is the third overall, as Saratoga has already notched a training death (Mister Bobby, May 13) and a stall death (Trucking Baron, June 29). In other words, right on pace, folks.