As the Bodies Keep Piling Up, the NYRA Lie Grows Bigger and Bigger

As expected, Johnny Fontaine, an “injured, vanned off” in the 3rd at Aqueduct yesterday, is dead. He was three years old. As an aside, it is particularly odious how the NYRA chartwriters attempt to put a positive spin on these kills: “[Johnny] was immediately placed to a strong protective hold, the rider looking around to ensure his rivals could clear before being expertly eased up….” On another note, and again coming as no surprise, here is the message from NYRA regarding this race:

Earlier in the NYRA day, Geno, also three, broke down training at Belmont – “euthanized due to injury.”

To hear the New York Racing Association tell it, they should be seen as synonymous with “safety.” Some excerpts from the past few years:

“The safety and welfare of horses…competing at NYRA tracks is our highest priority.” (2020)

“These extensive reforms and commitment to improving the safety of NYRA’s racing operations have led to demonstrably safer races.” (2019)

“[O]ther states look to New York for guidance in shaping their own regulatory and best-practice methods to ensure horse welfare.” (2017)

“There is no issue more important to NYRA than the safety of our equine athletes. That is why NYRA has implemented extensive reforms and made significant investments since 2013 to improve track surface conditions, upgrade equipment, provide vets with more authority to monitor thoroughbred health, establish committees to oversee safety measures, and actively seek out advice and guidance from independent experts and scientists.” (2017)

“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to identify the causes of death in all racing fatalities in New York. As stewards of the racehorse, we have a duty to do all that we can to honor and protect these incredible athletes.” (2014)

With that as backdrop, I present the kill totals at NYRA tracks (Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga) over the past five years:

2017: 78 dead horses
2018: 60 dead horses
2019: 65 dead horses
2020: 83 dead horses
2021: 76 dead horses

And, already 13 dead this year. To quote the great John Adams, facts are stubborn things.

18 Comments

  1. Gee, ny …. has it ever occurred to you that running horses on frozen dirt and slop mud conditions might kill the fragile horses? The horses have these thousand pounds plus bodies running on toothpick skinny legs,and you can’t figure out that running on rock hard frozen dirt might kill them? Are you that ignorant?

    • Yes running over adverse conditions does not help the situation but horses breakdown over all types of surfaces. They break down over perfect conditions and the worst conditions. Which tells me it’s not the surface in most cases, the problem is with the Vet Pre-Race ,the problem is with the trainer, and the horse suffers due to the ignorance of an industry to refuse to accept the importance of different ideas. That’s why I can admire the efforts of this web site,but realistically,Horse racing is here to stay,at least at the top levels.Too much money and corruption. That’s why everyone has to look elsewhere besides Drugs and Track surface,yes they have a negative effect but these are just a small part of catastrophic breakdowns. Please let’s look at “UNDIAGNOSED MUSCULAR DYSFUNCTION” maybe if we could get Patrick at least interested in this possibility,some progress will be made. Butting heads is not the answer. Please be smart enough to see this. I’ve treated dozens of horses with undiagnosed muscular dysfunction during a period of almost thirty years. Not one breakdown in that time period, not only no breakdowns but there is improved athletic performance in most cases if not all cases and staying sounder for over a longer period of time,without drugs!

      • Is it coincidence no chin todd hightails his horses he thinks he might have a slim chance to win a triple crown race out of ny ASAP?

  2. So how many times has the NYRA contacted you, Patrick Battuello, speaking of “actively seek out advice and guidance from independent experts and scientists” (2017) AND “We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to identify the causes of death in all racing fatalities in New York.”???
    We could identify the root cause of death in the racehorse fatalities, if the NYRA had the wherewithal to ask Horseracing Wrongs. I’m not holding my breath.
    Also, did they figure out what killed the horses in the barn fire? (Sarcasm)

    • Dear Wanda,You will never know anything of truth regarding the fire. In most cases, I believe most breakdowns occur from something I talked about in length a while ago. “Undiagnosed Muscular Dysfunction” it goes hand and hand with catastrophic breakdowns. This is a condition that most if not all horses have to some degree or another. It could effect the horse minimally and just interfere and lead to poor athletic performance,it could lead to lameness or catastrophic breakdown at its worse. Just because a horse has a trainer and he passes the pre-race vet exam.Doesn’t cut it. This is a concept that seems to puzzle the people that are responsible for the health,care and fitness of these horses.I know,I’ve personally have witnessed dozens of cases where this is the case.Most just don’t know,some don’t care.
      Most times Undiagnosed Muscular Dysfunction will go undetected. That’s when you have your breakdown. Muscular Dysfunction leads to an imbalance in the horses entire body,equivalent to driving your car with different air pressure in each tire. Eventually something is going to get an unequal amount of stress that will lead to damage in your car.

      • Horses are not cars and my car will never have a problem with lactic acidosis from over-exertion.

        • Obviously tunnel vision and way over your head. Sorry I even tried.I think the direction Wanda is going in will have more to do with a cardiovascular or a physiologic death. I’m referring to the catastrophic breakdown. Stop with the tunnel vision.

          • How do you define catastrophic breakdown? I categorize all fatal breakdowns as catastrophic whether bones are broken or heart and lungs. As long as you are defending the indefensible, we will not be on the same page, Sophie D. Please do not compare the problems of Living Things to Non-Living Things.

            • Dearest Wanda, Please, I am not defending anyone. I admire your laser focus,i just feel it’s tunnel vision and short sighted. I believe this business of horse racing is not ever going away. I just think the industry has to stop bullshitting the public ( which is just like breathing for them) .This industry can go on thinking the general public can be fooled forever, under the guise of “they don’t understand our business and we know best” in reality they don’t know best and it kills them to know,that there are people that understand way more than they would like people to understand. In the past,all their dirt could be swept under the carpet. Today,thanks to sites like this and other whistleblowers ,they are feeling the squeeze but this business is still ,not going away.If you really believe this business is going to shut down racetrack by racetrack,I believe you are beating a dead horse and being unrealistic. The charade of doing more research,trying to analyze racing surfaces and how,racing surfaces and drugs are the main culprit for these catastrophic breakdowns. Those are only a small part of the reason, why horses break down. If that is all they have,they’ll be spinning their wheels for a long time and they’ll be jerking and dragging all the people,that think they are going to shut racing down through a long slow trip from the 1/4 POLE to a dead end. There is no finish line,this charade will go on forever. They will still be in business and you’ll
              be protesting outside Belmont and Saratoga Racetracks pushing your walkers,chanting and harassing race goers,who will look at you like you’re the problem.

      • Sophie the only thing that horse racing apologists are suffering from is Brain and Heart Muscular Dysfunction that leads to delusional psychosis.
        My diagnosis is just as credible as yours.
        Unfortunately, the racehorses are victims of their BHMD which often leads to them dying on their tracks, training centers and in their stalls.
        Furthermore, the root cause of any racehorse death is horse racing itself.
        It simply needs to end and then racehorses won’t die.
        Finally, our elected politicians are suffering from BHMD as they continue to authorize hundreds of millions in taxpayer-funded subsidies to this killing business.
        What’s that saying?
        Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insane.
        Well you get my point.

        • Thank you GINA! Could not have been stated better. I’m so enraged right now about these needless deaths I’m literally shaking as I’m typing this.

        • Good one, Gina! The lies from this equicidal maniac industry just keep on coming, don’t they?!

  3. Hey Sophie these scumbags …. in this pure evil racket, only have this stupid thing … because it’s being propped up by taxpayer money. Take away that taxpayer money and “poof” gone. I’m sure we will all “dance on its grave”.

    • Hi Bonnie, Im sure you know at least a handful of these scumbags. So you know every opinion and knock on this corrupt industry doesn’t mean a thing to any of them. Unfortunately the upper crust of this industry control their politicians and the states that they represent.Too many people in high places and too much cash floating around,this is just the way it’s been and the way it will always be. Those are the true villains in your story.

      • Everyone who participates in this horse-abusing, horse-killing industry are villains and that includes the gamblers placing bets on the horses being exploited as gambling chips.

  4. Put it this way Sophie … even if questionable George Soros,who is the richest of the humans in this evil,sunk every last cent of his fortune into this pure evil … it still wouldn’t be enough,to keep going …. without the taxpayers propping this corny bullshit up. The George Soros is sf racing by the way. I’m not gonna say what I think of old George.

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