Fractures in both front limbs, and yet his suffering was extended. Care to guess why?

Last month, I reported on the death of Vertical Threat at Churchill November 6. Yesterday, the Racing Commission disclosed some details – details, to put it mildly, that reflect rather badly on the attending vets and, no surprise, the “connections.”

The chart, you may recall, said Vertical was “vanned off” (after falling) that day. And indeed that has been confirmed by the Commission: “[Vertical] required the horse ambulance [and] was later transported to a clinic for evaluation.” The Commission also added that Vertical “was severely lame after getting to his feet.” And now we know what was behind that lameness:

L forelimb: multiple fractures of the scapula and a large fracture on the head of the humerus; connective tissues surrounding the shoulder massively expanded by hemorrhage; severe tearing of the muscles surrounding [fractured bones]. R forelimb: complete fracture of the accessory carpal bone.”

So to recap, Vertical suffered fractures in both front limbs – “multiple” in the case of the left – hemorrhage around the shoulder (and, by the way, in the lungs too), and “severe” muscle tearing, and yet the medical “professionals,” the owners (MyRacehorse, Slam Dunk Racing), and whoever else was in on the process (trainer Richard Baltas?) opted to extend this poor animal’s suffering by the length of the ambulance/hospital fiasco. And why do you suppose that is? Well, there’s this: Vertical was coming off a Grade 1 at Del Mar and a Grade 2 at Santa Anita; the race in which he broke down was worth $300,000; he was averaging over $30K a start. In other words, he was a valuable asset, value that surely would have carried over to the breeding shed. For shame, to all involved.

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  1. They subjected him to this inhumane treatment that caused these horrific injuries in the first place so it is not really that much of a stretch to imagine that they would also prolong his suffering after he suffered severe injuries thinking that they could save him only to exploit him even more. If the insurance company, assuming that there was an insurance policy on VERTICAL THREAT, required proof that he could not be saved, they got their proof. It is sickening and vomit-worthy but the organization that sold shares of VERTICAL THREAT will continue to operate by selling shares of other horses.

  2. Now that racing’s killed off its Derby winner, I wonder if poor VT’s owners are planning on once again parading on to this site to try and publicly absolve themselves of any culpability in his horrific suffering and death.
    My best guess is a big no; any pride in (and public defense of) their sick game has since been flushed away.

    • Kelly, to my knowledge I am the only owner of Vertical Threat commenting, and its simply for some factual accuracy. I dont expect positive feedback!! Its virtually guaranteed small micro share owners such as myself lose money, that is specifically designed to be the case, and is known. I know the motive of having your own horse to watch train and race, root for, is additionally objectionable as well to you. Many of these new owners are demanding better treatment, the reason I am enduring the attacks. If the abolitionists would get off their moral superiority, we could join together for good reforms. If those didnt work, abolition would appeal to more.

      • James, If you believe that horseracing can be reformed, you have not done your homework. If you go back and read all of the reasons why horse racing is INHUMANE TREATMENT OF HORSES, you will be able to see why the protesters and activists are light-years ahead of you. Patrick Battuello has outlined in detail all of the reasons why horse racing must be banned and that there is no such kindness as reforming horse racing. Anyone who believes in reforming the abuse of horses for racing is in denial or an outright sadist.

      • “Moral superiority”? It’s more a case of people like you having no morals at all, willing to exploit a sentient being – who you know, as evidenced by your comments, isn’t going to be treated well – simply for personal gratification. And it’s funny you should use the term “abolitionists” since they were against slavery – are you implying that you see a connection between the human slaves of the past and these mentally and physically abused horses? Horse racing has had hundreds of years to reform itself. It simply doesn’t want to. You are one small part of an industry designed to dispose of its assets as soon as they no longer have any monetary value. You are as guilty as the trainers and owners who drug their horses, send them out injured to break down, and ship them to slaughter. Enjoy your place in that world.

        • Rebecca’s, I used the term “abolitionist” both because my understanding is many refer to themselves in that way, and it seems to fit. If its objectionable, please just say so
          Any sane person, irregardless of their view of horse racing, sees parallels to human slavery, civil rights, women’s right to reproductive freedom, and the abolition of human prisons. The only difference is the others adversely effects human beings, and horse racing effects horses, sentient beings. We could add sled dog racing, zoos, medical experiments on animals etc.
          I just dont put you in the category of John Brown, Nat Turner, and individuals like them. They went out and murdered others – it’s up to you, but perhaps not the way to go today

          • I wouldn’t use the word “abolitionist” to describe myself. I’m simply a moral and ethical human being who would never exploit a sentient being for profit or entertainment. You support a type of animal abuse that gives you personal gratification, and I do not and will not. There is the fundamental difference between us.

      • Just saw this, Mr. Mitchell. I’m afraid you were NOT the only (part-)owner of poor Vertical Threat to use this site, of all places, to try to justify your own involvement in his killing. (And I would have replied to the rest of your ridiculous post, but Wanda and Rebecca said all that needed to be said about our “morally superior” position;)

          • Always:) Hard to believe they weren’t both swayed by his plea to “come together for good reforms,” LOL.

            • Lol, right, as if we could be swayed by any self-serving narcissist who wants to have it their way, all day and every day. I don’t think he gets it that we are not here to serve him or cater to his whims or his willful refusal to admit to the whole truth of the matter.

    • MyRacehorse is wracking up the horses retired because of injuries, or death..
      Power Up Paynter, Joyful Addiction, Shared Empire, Ancient Royalty, (who ran into into a track rail and bled out), Vertical Threat…
      Joyful Addiction is reported to have “fragmental fractures in her left knee. While surgery is possible, the underlying bone disease is a concern for future soundness and racing.”
      “Frosted Oats who is on the farm waiting for a screw to fix her fracture in her left front shin”. (Will we read about her in a few years as a casualty at some crap track where the necropsy shows she broke the leg with the previous fracture and screw?!)
      “Fragmental fractures and underlying bone disease”, in a 3yo. SMH.
      So after crippling them, they then dump the fillies as broodmare prospects in the sales to recoup some of the cost. God forbid that suckers lose too much money in their pay for play scheme. All at the cost of the horses.

      • Great points, Marie. I believe ALL thoroughbred owners are seeing a GREATER breakdown/fatality rate than ever before. (I know I’m always blathering on and on about this, but nobody in the game or the racing press will ever dare try to dispute or disprove it.)
        These poor animals are so inbred for fragility and unsoundness — and now, through decades of drugging, isolation and other abuse factors in addition to their genetic flaws — they’ve become the man-made mutant freaks of the equine world. Increasingly, they’re showing us all what racing humans have done to them by keeling over dead in their infancy and adolescence, in addition to having their usual musculoskeletal “failures.” The name Medina Spirit comes to mind.
        So, the fine folks still in racing now have to HIDE more dead young horses in order to stay aligned with The Jockey Club and its perennially misleading claims of lower year-to-year equine mortality. And the problem with ownership groups like MyRacehorse, et al. is that they leave too many connections with loose lips when these horrors occur (the name James Mitchell comes to mind;). Unlike with a secretive, single-or-corporate-owned dead horse, word’s always gonna get out when a hundred or so “investors” see such a poor, um, rate of return.

      • Marie, “Alfred”, another MyRacehorse micro-share owner, shared “his” horse “Star Six Nine had to be retired due to injury”. Another one.

        • FYI…just looked up Star Six Nine – a two year old colt, not even raced yet. Already “retired” due to injury. SMH…

  3. This has to stop! I will never attend any horse race anywhere! My heart aches for these helpless animals. These poor horses give it all they’ve got on the race track. They are being forced to race even when they’re in extreme pain. What happened to the love between man and animal working together to win a race? What happened? We need to bring back the days when it was the horse owner, the jockey, the Veterinarian and the horse… remove the middle Money-man who has no conscious in this race. There should be a connection, trust, love and training together between horse and rider…
    Bring back the love of horses and their natural abilities to run fast because they want to, and love to…without force. Horses should not be drugged into submission to run with even a skin condition or any other health issue…if a horse has to be treated with any Steroid including a topical ointment it should not be allowed on the track period! I think the races are too long! I think the horses are driven too hard! I think the fun of the race has been taken away by the middleman, who’s only interest is winning and money!

    • Who would be the middleman? Knowing that this barbaric activity only leads to suffering and injuries to the horses is a good reason to get out of horseracing. I don’t expect people such as Frank Stronach, Ed Allred, or any person who does this INHUMANE TREATMENT OF HORSES for a “living” to get out of it. Frank Stronach and Ed Allred are examples of two people involved in horseracing who are making MILLIONS of dollars by EXPLOITING HORSES AND GAMBLING ADDICTS. Also, these two plus many other people are EXPLOITING the tax-paying public through tax breaks, dirty back-room deals, Video Lottery Terminal payments, subsidies which all amount to CORPORATE WELFARE TO keep this horse-abusing, horse-killing psychopathic industry going. Horseracing needs to be recognized as the INHUMANE TREATMENT OF HORSES that it is and be defunded and the racing participants need to be PUNISHED.
      Whipping horses to make them run fast and faster is CRUEL and INHUMANE!!!! It’s a standard practice for Jockeys to whip horses with the Riding crops. Who wants to see horses being whipped besides psychopathic animal abusers? Who wants to see horses confined to stalls for 23 hours a day when the horses need to be out on pastures roaming at will and grazing for their health and well-being…?! The horses are forced to be confined and forced to run in a setting that is entirely UNNATURAL FOR HORSES!

    • Horseracing is murder in any circumstance, it was the same in the so called “Good old days”. When you are using an animal to profit from it, when that animal is on danger of extreme injuries and death, that is wrong and should be banned. Horseracing, greyhound racing, dog fighting, sea world, etc these are all inhumane but as humans we are easily desensitised to others suffering, especially when they can’t talk our language, it’s easy to think that they are dumb and disposable.

  4. As one of the many small owners of VerticalThreat , the answer to your question is that he was able to walk, so xrays were first done to determine if he could live without racing further. He was heavily sedated on the track, and with the 2 humans he knew best

    • Not sure you meant to confirm the answer to Patrick’s question, Mr. Mitchell. But that’s exactly what you’ve done.
      (Helpful hint: go back and re-read the post, and pay special attention to the part about the BREEDING SHED.)

      • Absolutely Jennifer, Vertical Threat was forced to walk (hobble would be more accurate) into the van with multiple fractures involving both front legs – the AAEP’s Thoroughbred Race Day Injury Management Guidelines demand it – they want those injured and dying horses out of sight ASAP.

        From page 7 of the guidelines, this; “The regulatory veterinarian should make EVERY [caps are in the guidelines, I did not add them] effort to load the injured horse into the ambulance before euthanasia.”

        It goes on in disgusting detail on how to hide the dying horse from fans if loading is impossible – it even directs the veterinarian to “engage in humane conduct.” That’s damn telling, isn’t it? – that they feel the need to put in their guidelines “hey regulatory vet, make certain you appear humane”!

      • With his prior injuries, especially the bone chips which are more congenital than injury based, Vertical Threat wasnt going go to be a breeding success. If there is an evil, it would be the opposite, that he was still being raced because he didnt have breeding value.

        • James Mitchell, by your comment you appear to be what micro-share racehorse owners in these ownership groups are – uneducated about equines and even the racing industry.

          Bone chips are “congenital” and not “injury based”? – bone chips are not congenital no matter how many times your trainer told you that.

          I’m sure your trainer told you other things about horses – like how much they love isolation and confinement (although there might be a few quirky horses who need a Jolly Ball to be happy in their stall 23 hours a day)? – how good it is for them to eat from a hay bag at the level of their nose? – how much they love to race and how that’s evident when one continues to run with a dangling limb? – how backing, training and racing babies is good for their bones? Do they “educate” you on equine behavior and mental health, too? – I am very curious how they explain away a horse’s need for the safety and security of his own herd AND the detrimental effects of change of ownership, environment, and feed/schedules.

          Regarding injured colts or those with inherited soundness issues not having “stud value”? – for this industry, as long as they’re intact they are at risk for further exploitation in the breeding shed.

          Finally, were you aware your horse was unable to “withhold the pressure of standing” due to the injuries he endured? – the injuries he suffered having his life risked? – and the fact he was previously injured, just how SICK do you feel that Vertical Threat was raced to his grave and suffered greatly doing so?

          • Nice try to educate a micro- share owner of a racehorse — a now DEAD RACEHORSE — but I would be surprised if he actually gets it.

    • Heavily sedated yet still made to walk into the ambulance and endure the ride with horrific injuries just so the “humans he knew best” could see if there was any further profit to be made off of him. Don’t pretend that this horse was anything other than a dollar sign to you, James. It’s because of people like you that this horse is dead, and all for your personal gratification.

    • The two humans he knew best would most certainly be the two humans who abused him the most and betrayed his trust the most.

    • Hmmm, Mr. Mitchell – the press release from…verbatim; “Rood and Riddle’s staff reported Vertical Threat was unable to withhold the pressure of even standing.”

      • Joy, that makes more sense! As most people know, it is a horse’s natural instinct to struggle to get back on their feet providing that he or she is still alive and has any strength left, but how is it logical that a horse with both front limbs injured to the point that he goes down and can no longer run be able to walk instead? This whole industry and this incident in particular is a can of worms legally and morally.

        • They want the poor horses to load themselves up so the “humans” don’t have to exert themselves musclewise. And heaven forbid they have to unroll those stupid privacy curtains to hide the reality

          • The horse had life-ending injuries and instead of euthanizing VERTICAL THREAT and then using the winch to pull his (what would have been) lifeless, but still warm, body into the van, they wanted to see if there was any possibility, no matter how remote, that they could keep him alive for stud duty. He was worth approximately $30,000 per race in purse winnings alone. I don’t know what they would have charged for stud fees but it would have been a significant amount, not exactly chump change. So the absolute cruelty of these modern day barbarians exploiting Thoroughbreds for “fun and profit” knows no boundaries except to put on a false narrative that this was all “humane” rather than what it actually was and still is — INHUMANE TREATMENT OF HORSES FOR MONEY.

    • Thank you, Marie. It’s a just a real puzzle how the horse didn’t heal himself so he could be abused and tortured all over again — you know, because horses love this shit so much. (Sarcasm for the connections.)

  5. James, what the whole pathetic sad saga boils down to …. you humans go out and earn your own living. Go think up an idea …you know like playing upon people’s fear like maybe they are not getting enough nutrition. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Hopefully James you will “catch my drift”, who on earth could that apply to 🤔? Let’s just leave animals out of the whole pathetic human scumbag gambling thing. Go gamble on dumb ass humans. Because, they have a choice. Animals don’t have a choice, hell,they can’t even talk.

  6. Wanda, perhaps you dont know Vertical Threat’s prior medical history, including the bone chips. Its unrealistic to think he had stud value. Somebody else mentioned a delay due to establishing sufficient information prior to euthanasia to collect insurance. There was insurance. I hope to know the details. That seems more realistic.

    • “Unrealistic to think he had stud value”. Thanks for putting it in perspective for us. Oh, and let’s not forget that delicious insurance money y’all are waiting on after running a horse into the ground with bone chips in his legs. I wish to God petty schemers like you were forced to stand next to one of these horses right after their leg or spine shatters, watch them laying there trembling, covered in froth and sweat, their eyes wide in pain and fear while their breath heaves in and out. You should be made to kneel in that bloody dirt as a needle is callously shoved into their neck – or worse, they are winched in agony into a waiting van just to get them off the track to hide yet another death caused by this industry you are so happy to be a part of. You should have to go to the pits behind the barns where the twisted, broken carcasses are left for the rendering truck, to look into the lifeless eyes of what were once gentle, sentient creatures who never asked to be used and discarded. You should be sent to the slaughterhouses to watch horses who no longer have any value to their tormentors be stabbed, shot, shackled, strung up, and bled out. I wish to God you were forced to live through the horror these horses endure on a daily basis. Maybe then you could come back and talk to us about the value of life.

      • Oh my gosh Rebecca, you said this all so perfectly, I got chills reading this. I’ve seen all that first- hand, except the slaughterhouses. God willing I never see that in person. But the lifeless eyes and the mangled legs are what I will never forget, and to this day I literally have nightmares of. I’ll never forget the poor horses scrambling to try to get up on broken limbs, only to be jumped on by a bunch of humans to hold them down until the vet got to them.

  7. Wanda, that’s what they said about civil rights and Dr. King proved them wrong. I would say perhaps more likely persons just aren’t willing to personally sacrifice. I realize your views, and it’s frustrating in that change doesnt come soon enough. In my case recently at Los Alamitos several protestors threw a bag of shit at me and pointed a pistol. I refused to press charges. Honestly they were little juvenile wimps. What you are saying is you would refuse to save the lives of perhaps 25% – 50% of the horses today and now for some future glory

  8. To James Mitchell, Jr.: Congratulations! Pat yourself on the back for doing such a wonderful job of protecting VERTICAL THREAT and making sure that he was treated well. He is dead, isn’t he?!!! This is why HORSERACING WRONGS exists because horseracing participants treat their horses so well.

  9. James Mitchell, if I was a billionaire like say repole … I would not use my luckier than hell gaines to further this corny ass bs. I would use my BILLIONS to save the animals who are used for corny gambling.mike will not be able to spend his vitamin water money if he lived forever. mike, you were very lucky in your life, let’s use your insane amount of wealth to SAVE horses,who fought wars with us,plowed our fields,provided emergency transport to hospitals etc. The uber wealthy in our society need to start putting their obscene undeserved wealth towards positive causes. I wish the first thing repole would do is bring our AMERICAN bred innocent horses HOME from Puerto Rico. That would at least be a start. He could write a multi million dollar check without blinking an eye. And, you know it.Let’s first get them HOME from Puerto Rico.That hell hole it is!

  10. If I were one of the uber wealthy, I would sooooo be like “And, you get a horse,and you get a horse”🤣. Channeling Oprah much?🤣😂🤣😂 AND …I know you guys know I would. #AnythingForTheAnimals.

    • Bonnie, you would have the financial wherewithal to help get that measure on the ballot in the State of California to vote horse racing out of existence in California! Yay!

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