Laurel Temporarily Closes as Bodies Pile Up (But It’s No Different Than Other Years)

The Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) reports that a “cluster of deaths” at Laurel Park has left the track scrambling, with racing canceled this weekend. According to the paper, eight horses have died racing or training there this fall – seven just since November 6. For their part, Laurel officials are focusing on the recently-installed track surface. Says TDN: “A portion of the surface has been dug up in mid-stretch to allow an influx of track maintenance consultants to try and discover if there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.”

Later in the article, there was talk of “colder weather” and “moisture” as possible factors. And as usual, the track people are throwing around loads of technical verbiage to project confidence, to assure the public that they’re “on this,” “no stone will be left unturned.” An example from Laurel’s track superintendent: “[The clay content in the new track] is higher than was anticipated, so we’ll be adding straight silica sand, which is 100% pure and has smaller grains. It will help break up the material a little bit, help loosen up the track, and help dry it out quicker. Moisture stays underneath, and the material is bonding, so we’ll introduce silica sand to break it up…. Silica sand is aggressive…so we’re going to do the process really slow.”

Does all this sound familiar? It should, for this is racing’s MO every time dead horses receive a bit of scrutiny. In fact, the surface (and how the weather affected it) was the exact same storyline – indeed, as here, the very first potential culprit – coming out of Santa Anita during its PR nightmare in the spring of 2019. Coincidentally (or not), Laurel and Santa Anita are both owned by The Stronach Group. In any event, here are the kill figures for Laurel over the past four full years:

2017: 34 dead horses
2018: 39 dead horses
2019: 29 dead horses
2020: 30 dead horses
thus far this year (with my FOIA for the second half still to come): 18 dead horses

In other words, this – this latest batch of kills – is business as usual, just as it was at Santa Anita. Here are those new kills as confirmed by the Racing Commission:

Kyosha, killed racing Oct 3
Bella Thyme, killed training Nov 6
Gale Winds, killed racing Nov 19
Moquist, killed training Nov 21
Golden Sky (sic), killed training Nov 27
American Playboy, killed racing Nov 28

(I already had Bust’em Kurt on Nov 13, and Manicomio on Nov 25.)

19 Comments

  1. When you pound horses repeatedly over ANY SURFACE at breakneck speeds (40 MPH) injuries and death result. The “sport” is inherently dangerous. Shut it down.

  2. Depending on how long the racetrack is temporarily closed, there might be a few horses that won’t be killed. It’s just a matter of time before the horses that would be killed will be killed. It isn’t rocket science. It’s just common logic based on what we already know.
    Horseracing is INHUMANE TREATMENT OF HORSES.

  3. There’s always some feeble excuse offered: the dirt was wrong, it was too wet, it was too dry, there was too much sun, there was too much shade, the planets didn’t align properly, etc. It must be nice not to have to take responsibility for near daily crippling and killing horses in the name of an antiquated butcher show.

  4. Oh, look, everyone: This time it’s the Maryland racing creeps who are pretending they’ve found the magic, arbitrary number of horse deaths per week (or month, or millennium…) that’s considered unacceptable. Wonder if the fine folks at (the comically-titled) HISA will help the tracks out by setting a finite Kill Limit they must abide by in order to keep running?
    That should help immensely to improve racehorse SAFETY;)

      • That’s my point; none of them will ever allow themselves to be pinned down by stating that a given number of dead horses is “TOO MANY.” Because no matter how high (low) their Acceptable Death Rate standards might be, they know ALL the tracks have exceeded it at one time or another. And will do so again.
        But it’s still fun to ask ’em;)

  5. A permanent shutdown must happen and not just Laurel, but every horseracing establishment!

  6. Is Irish Constitution still alive in a fall after finish line at Aqueduct yesterday race 2 with Joel Rosario the jockey?

      • Thank you Marie. They said Joel fell (and there was no info about the horse). In snooping around after posting I found somewhere the horse was caught by the outrider and brought back to the barn.

  7. If only the major networks would report on this racetrack being temporarily closed because of a high number of racehorses breaking down and being killed in such a short period of time. From November 6 to November 28, seven horses were fatally injured.
    Whereas numerous horses are killed daily and weekly in this despicable gambling and horse abusing game, but don’t get reported on by CBS, NBC, or ABC it should be noted that Stronach’s diabolical abuse of horses never stops. It just seems to be a bit more concentrated at Laurel Park during November 2021.
    Some people may have thought that only Santa Anita Park was bad for killing racehorses in 2019, because not everyone follows the racing industry’s daily abuse and killing of racehorses nationwide or worldwide.

    • Thank you for a great point and idea.
      I called ABC News and the number is
      818-460-7477. We need to expose these abusers for what they are. Immoral.

  8. Stop the madness! Stop finding ways to continue the torment and abuse and exploitation and cruelty of these innocent horses! Laurel Park needs to be shutdown for good! Open a venue that brings families and communities together with hurting these animals ! It’s an embarrassing site to drive by and see that death exists here

  9. Did anyone see what irad ortiz did yesterday at Aqueduct? He should be BANISHED for life, for that STUNT. These people are ALL f’n SICKOS.

    • Bonnie, I didn’t see it but I googled it and read the article about the incident being a litmus test for the stewards. It’s a kind of straining gnats and swallowing camels thing, because horseracing is horse killing. Irad Ortiz is referred to as a “future Hall of Famer” which I don’t thoroughly understand how that works. It sounds like he’s “golden” no matter what he does.

      • Wanda, all I’ll say is the RECKLESSNESS of that ride was beyond egregious,and could have killed lives. I don’t care if he’s in line to be the Pope.

  10. Horse racing (aka horse killing) is a brutal and ugly ‘sport’. Stop the killing of these beautiful horses. Stop exploiting them for lousy $2 bets!

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