Is 72 Dead Horses Something to Celebrate? In California It Is.

The Racing press is celebrating – yes, that’s the right word – a decline in California fatalities last year. According to BloodHorse, the 71 deaths (it’s actually 72: see Bowies Hero) is the lowest total in California in 10 years. First, anyone who thinks there wasn’t some fudging going on to get to that number is either willfully ignorant or hopelessly naive. Rest assured, there were far more than 72. Second, and of much greater import, even if that figure were true, it would still be 72 horses killed – for $2 bets. Again, that’s 72 fully sentient beings destroyed for gambling. And they’re celebrating? Vile.

Perhaps even worse, among the supposed explanations (for the supposed decline) reeled off by BloodHorse is this: “The racing culture has also adapted to put equine safety more at the forefront.” Scott Chaney, CHRB executive director, added: “I think every stakeholder in California understands that animal welfare is the most important thing. It has to be because of the state in which we live….” Although he followed that with, “and because it’s the right thing to do,” the message couldn’t be any clearer. As I’ve said repeatedly in the wake of Santa Anita ’19, it’s only now – since racing’s been exposed as the cruel, deadly industry it is – that the horses supposedly matter. Hell, they even admit it, as illustrated above. Wake up, California. Wake up, America.

The 72 dead horses in California – that we know about:

Bowies Hero, Jan 2, Santa Anita R (euthanized Jan 18) – “laminitis”
Cali Caliente, Jan 9, Santa Anita T – “collapsed, got up, did circles, collapsed, death”
Noor Khan, Jan 17, Los Alamitos T – “staggered, collapsed, [died]” (four years old)
Don’t Stop Lookin, Jan 17, Los Alamitos T – “[multiple] fractures, [multiple] ruptures”
Scat’s Choice, Jan 23, Santa Anita R – “[multiple] open fractures, [multiple] ruptures”
Staredown, Jan 28, Golden Gate T – “massive hemorrhage, muscles severely torn”
Natural History, Feb 6, Santa Anita T – “[multiple] open fractures, complete ruptures”
Black Badge, Feb 8, San Luis Rey T – “rider heard ‘loud pop’ – catastrophic breakdown”
Munny, Feb 11, Golden Gate S – “surgery on 2/10…found deceased this morning”
Sweet Boy, Feb 20, Golden Gate T – “galloped out and fell over dead” (three years old)
My Three Kids, Feb 21, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Okoye, Feb 23, Golden Gate T – “ran into rail – penetrating wound, collapsed lung”
Rustic Canyon, Feb 26, San Luis Rey T – “collapsed, sudden death, spontaneously”
Squeaky Cheeky, Feb 28, Santa Anita R – “[multiple] open fractures/ruptures”
One Famous Prize, Mar 2, Los Alamitos T – “[multiple] fractures, [multiple] ruptures”
Surfside Sunset, Mar 5, Santa Anita S – “[stomach] rupture”
Squiggy, Mar 10, Golden Gate S – “spinal cord completely severed”
Mantra, Mar 21, Santa Anita R – “fractured ankle”
John’s Jewel, Mar 24, Golden Gate S – “pleuropneumonia” (two years old)
Nomadess, Mar 30, Los Alamitos T – “pulled up, dropped dead” (two years old)
yet-to-be-named, Apr 1, Golden Gate S – “accident”
Velocemente, Apr 3, Golden Gate R – “went wrong”
Call Sign Lucky, Apr 3, Los Alamitos T – “hit rail: open, displaced fracture”
My Child Sbud, Apr 17, Santa Anita R – “fracture of the LF ankle while racing”
Lady of the House, Apr 18, Golden Gate R – “went wrong”
Multiplier, Apr 18, Santa Anita R – “fractured ankle”
Champagneformybaby, Apr 20, Golden Gate S – “musculoskeletal”
Steamy, Apr 30, Los Alamitos R (euthanized May 4) – “compress[ed] spinal cord”
Noodles, May 22, Los Alamitos S – “pneumonia”
Big Wish, May 31, Golden Gate R – “went wrong crossing the finish line”
Agamemnon, May 31, Santa Anita R – “[multiple] fractures, [multiple] ruptures”
Meet At Dudley’s, Jun 9, Santa Anita T – “fractured [both] forelimbs”
Registrant, Jun 12, Los Alamitos R – “sudden death” (three years old)
Pushing Sixty, Jun 13, Santa Anita R – “fractured LF ankle…humane euthanasia”
Music Babe, Jun 16, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Snazzy Cazzy, Jun 17, Golden Gate S – “sudden death” (three years old)
Uncle Boogie, Jun 27, Santa Anita T – “fractured humerus while galloping”
Gutz, Jul 4, Santa Anita T – “fractured ankle…unrecoverable injury”
Square Dreamer, Jul 10, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Needless to Say, Jul 18, Del Mar T – “apparent heart attack” (three years old)
Arson, Jul 18, Del Mar T – “fractured leg, euthanized”
Arjun, Jul 28, San Luis Rey T – “musculoskeletal”
Bruce, Aug 2, Los Alamitos S – “sudden death – aortic rupture”
Shesgotattitude, Aug 6, Del Mar R – “flipped, struck head, euthanized”
Mark Whats Mine, Aug 12, Golden Gate S – “accident”
Moonlite Promise, Aug 29, Del Mar T – “musculoskeletal”
Esperada, Sep 5, Golden Gate T (two years old, being prepped for debut)
Honor Award, Sep 6, Del Mar R – “musculoskeletal”
Holdfast, Sep 16, Golden Gate T – “sudden death” (five years old)
Stopdropandroll, Sep 19, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Left Alone, Sep 19, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Seven Summers, Sep 30, Santa Anita T – “musculoskeletal”
Fight On Ron, Oct 1, Santa Anita R – “musculoskeletal”
Made in Karoo, Oct 7, Golden Gate S – “neurological”
Kakistocracy, Oct 14, Santa Anita T – “sudden death”
Favorite Doc, Oct 16, Los Alamitos R – “sudden death” (three years old)
Electric Ride, Oct 16, Santa Anita T – “non-musculoskeletal”
Luca’s Ride, Oct 17, Los Alamitos R – “fell, sudden death” (four years old)
Major Cabbie, Oct 23, Santa Anita R – “musculoskeletal”
Star of Africa, Oct 31, Santa Anita T – “non-musculoskeletal”
Set the Tone, Nov 3, Del Mar T – “hit pole”
Storm Spun, Nov 3, San Luis Rey T – “musculoskeletal”
Racer, Nov 6, Golden Gate S – “gastrointestinal, colic”
Galloping Slew, Nov 14, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Ima Rumbler, Nov 16, Golden Gate T – “musculoskeletal”
Inimitable, Nov 19, Golden Gate R – “fell…euthanized on the track”
Mary’s Great Hope, Nov 21, Golden Gate T – “pending”
Barbwire, Nov 21, San Luis Rey T – “musculoskeletal”
Restiany, Nov 25, Santa Anita T – “musculoskeletal”
Conchita, Nov 28, Los Alamitos R – “fell”
Not This World, Nov 28, Los Alamitos R (euthanized Dec 1) – “pending”
Medina Spirit, Dec 6, Santa Anita T – “collapsed and died” (three years old)

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  1. I would really like to see all of these stakeholders identified by name. I expect the people behind the racing press including The Bloodhorse were/are among the numerous stakeholders in horseracing in California and anywhere else.
    It appears evident that the “stakeholders” have millions of dollars to gain by reporting false numbers of killed racehorses and paying lip service to “safety” and “honesty” and “integrity” and whatever other buzzword they can come up with to provide a smoke-screen to hide behind. You know, tell the public what the “stakeholders” want the public to hear as if everyone is still uninformed.

  2. Hi all. I’m curious, what happens to the bodies of the horses that die at the race tracks? Does each track have a rendering facility, or a crematory? How does a track “politely” discard the evidence?

    • The bodies are left lying in a designated area to be removed by an arranged rendering service. In the case of one racehorse, her body was found lying in a landfill with her racing bandages still on her legs.
      There is no “polite” way to discard the broken and mangled evidence of sentient beings destroyed and discarded for money and entertainment.

      • And so as not to shock, disgust, or otherwise upset the crowd at the track, how are the terribly injured, dying, or deceased horses removed from the track? I’ve seen pictures of the curtain or wall to hide the suffering creature, like authorities will shield a deceased person in public, but how does the “vanned off” work? I’ve been to Fairmont Park a few times, but never when a horse broke down in public view.

        • If they can somehow force a horse to load into the van, even with broken limbs, they will (and have) to try to hide yet another death on the track. If a horse is down and cannot be made to rise then they are winched or dragged into the van and hauled off. Make no mistake, it is called an “equine ambulance” but these horses are treated like carcasses even before they are dead.

    • Some of the horses killed on California racetracks are necropsied by the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. I don’t know what they do with the horses that they are purposely attempting to hide. Some racetracks have large pits. Some racetracks in some places as in West Virginia, for example, dumped horses killed by racing into the public landfill. I read that they changed that to having necropsies done in WV, but I wonder if they are consistent with that. You can Google BRIDGET MOLONEY horse.

        • You’re welcome, Lisa.
          As far as racing participants causing fatal injuries to horses “politely” discarding the horses’ bodies, that’s a nice way to put it except these people aren’t nice. There is absolutely nothing nice about injuring and killing horses for wagering revenue and possible purse money. Some people are shocked and horrified. But, then there are those people who are not able to see anything wrong with killing a few horses here and a few horses there and a bunch of dead racehorses everywhere except hidden from view as much as possible.

    • Lisa, to add to the information shared by Wanda and Rebecca, according to the Thoroughbred Race Day Injury Guidelines, the following regarding injured racehorses…

      “The regulatory veterinarian should make EVERY effort to load the injured horse into the ambulance before euthanasia. If loading is not possible, screens should be deployed. Tall screens are preferable…the ambulance may also be used as a visual barrier.” FYI, I did not capitalize “EVERY”, they did – that goes to show how intentional the industry is in trying to hide the reality of dead horses for lousy betting fun. Vets will make a racehorse with a dangling limb load into a trailer…using EVERY effort.

      And I’ll add, Jeff Blea was on the AAEP Racing Committee when these guidelines were developed (as was Larry Bramlage, one of racing’s mouthpieces). Blea, equine medical director of the CHRB, has had his veterinary license temporarily suspended by the state’s Veterinary Medical Board after a complaint was filed against Blea and 2 other vets last month.

      “In the complaint, eight allegations were listed against Blea, preceding his time at the CHRB when he was in private practice as a racetrack veterinarian. The veterinary board said in the filing that it received an anonymous complaint that Blea and other veterinarians prescribed and administered medications, including thyroxine, a thyroid medication, to horses without an examination or medical necessity.” (BloodHorse, 1-5-2022)

      This industry is deeply rooted in corruption and cruelty. Even veterinarians, who take an oath to “first do no harm”, WILL harm and hurt horses if it benefits them. It’s so sick it’s indescribable.

    • Many are buried in the ground in the racetrack. Yes, you are probably walking on wall to wall dead horses…sitting on them buried under the stands. Sherry DeBoer, Political Animals

      • I’ve often wondered how many horses could have been buried on the grounds of Arlington International Racecourse/ Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois, especially where all of those beautiful flowers and such were planted. From 1927, there would have been a lot of things that were done differently over the years through the Great Depression and World War Two.

  3. Well, OF COURSE 72 dead horses is something to celebrate! When the REAL number of actual Cali horses killed by racing is, say, three to five TIMES that number…

    Then, yeah, the (high-integrity, super-transparent) CHRB certainly should be congratulating themselves on “only” 72 kills.

  4. If “animal welfare is the most important thing,” there would be no horse racing, full stop.

  5. Just as I predicted, the deeply corrupt CHRB and certain board members (Dr. Gregory Ferraro, Alex Solis) have come out defending Dr. Blea not the racehorses who are subjected to unsavory business practices that only care about the wins not the health and welfare of the racehorses clearly.
    It’s important to note that Dr. Gregory Ferraro was in charge of the doping process and/or had access to critical confidential information regarding what dope was being tested for and what dope was not at the California-Davis center for equine health and, evidently, treating racehorses at the track simultaneously.
    He would also control part(s) of the necropsy perhaps performing it or having the results.
    In fact, I know that the CHRB regularly contracts with California-Davis and has been for years, but just because a vet is not necessarily on-site at the track it doesn’t mean that they are not giving orders.
    Dr. Jeff Blea, while CHRB Equine Director was STILL treating racehorses in the stable area at California racetracks and we know this because “trainer” Richard Mandela sent a letter to the Board confirming that Dr. Blea has been actively treating his racehorses.
    You can’t make this stuff up.
    So here we have a handful of vets in charge of the entire doping process from testing a racehorse to knowing which dope is being tested for and, of course, being in charge of the results of those tests STILL treating active racehorses in training and racing!
    Furthermore, vets are required to sign the Death Certificates of racehorses on tracks so they even control the horrific death scenes playing out on a daily basis with some even treating those racehorses before they die knowing which ones have equine insurance policies and which ones do not including MEDINA SPIRIT.
    This entire set-up resembles the vet in the movie Beethoven who smiles in your face claims to love your pet, but in the back is using them for experiments and killing them.
    This is horse racing.

    • Horseracing is rife with conflicts of interest. The corruption in California horseracing is on display for the public to see! Anyone who is paying attention to what is going on and has an ounce of common sense ought to have the presence of mind to know it is wrong! Even the racing press documents the corruption in horseracing! They just don’t have a moral compass to stop the abuse and torture of horses. It’s their “bread and butter” to promote horses as gambling chips.

  6. The depraved indifference and unconscionable cruelty to the HORSES is jaw-dropping and heartbreaking – owing to such merciless, disrespectful People, this industry to this day STILL exists — HOW do you change such people!

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