Through a FOIA request to the Maryland Racing Commission, I have confirmed the following kills at that state’s tracks thus far this year. (Because the details, including vet testimony, are so powerful – and damning – I will post in multiple installments so as to give each death its proper due.)
I’mthekatsmeow, Jan 13, Pimlico T
“This horse had been in training at Pimlico. She developed swelling…from the ankle up to at least the knee. No treatment helping…hair sloughing off. The owner has decided to put the mare down before she may founder.”
RF leg: “severe, chronic, active degenerative joint disease”
LF leg: “fractured bone; chronic degenerative joint disease; acute cartilage necrosis”
both hind fetlocks: “moderate chronic degenerative joint disease”
stomach: “chronic ulcers”
adrenal glands: “acute cortical hemorrhages”
Re-read that, and now consider that I’mthekatsmeow was only four years old.
Norma Jean, Feb 20, Laurel T (euthanized Feb 25)
“On February 20, the horse breezed…and returned to her barn. At that point, they noticed that the horse appeared lame. On Thursday the 25th, the horse was found down in the stall. Dr. Lockard determined [she] had suffered an open, comminuted tibia fracture. After consultation, [she] was euthanized.”
Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “I walked past the stall of Norma Jean and noticed that she was down in sternal recumbency on her left side. She did appear to be painful and kept looking back at her hind quarters, much like a horse with colic would. It was shortly after this that Norma Jean was euthanized and the diagnosis of a tibia fracture was made. I believe that she got down during the night and when she tried to get back up, her tibia…shattered completely. I wish that we had known about this lameness prior to this day. I also am concerned that, due to economics or lack of concern, Norma Jean was not adequately managed for pain on the morning of the 25th.”
“Due to economics or lack of concern, Norma Jean was not adequately managed for pain.” Bastards. Norma Jean was just two years old, a baby.
Gravity’s Rainbow, Mar 7, Laurel R
“Filly broke down around the 3/4 pole, shattering her left cannon bone. There is a compound fracture and the distal limb is dangling from strips of skin and tendon. The open wound and exposed surfaces are coated with sand. The cannon bone is shattered into three major fragments and multiple (>20) small fragments. [Both] front fetlocks [had] chronic cartilage erosion.”
Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “She had her shins/cannon bones pinfired, so most likely had bucked shins earlier in her career.”
Dr. Dilodovico (commission vet): “Old shins, but nothing significant.”
“Chronic cartilage erosion,” “old shins” – Gravity’s Rainbow had just turned three, an equine pubescent. But that’s horseracing: start ’em early, grind ’em up, spit ’em out.