On Preakness Day, Let Us Remember the Sacrificial Lambs of Maryland Racing

A reminder on Preakness Day. Horses killed in Maryland last year:

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.

unidentified, Mar 12, Laurel S
“neurological”

Holly Blame, Mar 29, Laurel S
“The horse developed an infection in his left front foot…treated for six months, with several medications. The horse started to bleed…and then developed laminitis. Euthanized due to the severity of laminitis with 10 degrees of rotation.”

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “My concern with this situation is that this is the second horse from this trainer’s barn that has had to be euthanized under the same circumstances. I have suggested to his treating veterinarians that [Jose] Corrales and his help may need educating on proper foot care.”

Imagine that: a professional racehorse trainer “may need educating on proper foot care.”

Scoreswhenhewants, Mar 30, Laurel T
“When the horse reached the quarter pole, [he] broke down: complete, comminuted fracture, [numerous] fragments; extensive muscle damage and hemorrhage. Degenerative joint disease [all four limbs].”

Scores had just turned five. He also, by the way, had had prior surgery – in same limb that broke down – with three metal pins inserted.

Dreamingofsavannah, Apr 3, Laurel T
“Filly was toward the end of her breeze when she broke down. The left tibia is shattered…numerous fragments. There is acute hemorrhage in both [italics added] hind limbs. The acute traumatic damage to the RH fetlock joint and surrounding tendons is very interesting; we wonder if that damage might have occurred a step or two prior to the catastrophic step(s) that resulted in the tibial fracture.”

Also: “There is chronic degenerative joint disease in both left and right radiocarpal joints and in all four fetlock joints.” And: “Chronic ulcers in squamous mucosa [stomach] and acute stress ulcers in glandular mucosa.”

Dreaming was just three years old and had yet to be raced (i.e., all that “chronic joint disease” was strictly the result of training).

R Bs Rod, Apr 3, Laurel T (euthanized Apr 24)
“The horse returned from galloping lame – tibial fracture. [Three weeks later], private vet reported fracture had displaced…euthanized.”

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “The goal was to keep the horse up for several weeks to allow the limb and fracture to stabilize…. At some point, apparently the ‘High Line’ broke and the colt laid down. Sadly, the fracture became much worse when he attempted to get back up. At this point, euthanasia was the humane option.”

Also, R Bs Rod, two, suffered from “chronic ulcers in the stomach,” “[some] chronic degenerative joint disease,” and “early laminitis – separation of laminae – [in three of the four] hooves.” Again, two years old. Bastards.

Friesian Days, Apr 13, Laurel S
“Trainer and horse were in barn preparing to go to the track. Trainer threw rider onto the horse and the horse reared up and started backing up. The horse then backed into the annex shed, striking its head on the wall and then flipping. The horse was then able to get outside of the barn and collapsed to the ground…unable to rise again or move back legs. [I]njuries were so severe – vertebral and brain trauma with spinal cord and brain hemorrhages/compressions – that the horse [was] euthanized.”

Then this: “History of a fracture in LH leg after a head trauma over 1 year ago, per owner.” And: “There is noted chronic degenerative joint disease in three of the four legs [and] subacute hemorrhage/ulcers in stomach.”

So, that’s two “head traumas,” the second fatal, in a little over a year; a prior fractured leg; “chronic degenerative joint disease”; and “hemorrhage/ulcers in stomach.” Friesian Days was just three years old.

Escapability, Apr 13, Laurel T
“Horse broke down near the finish line: [multiple] open [through the skin], complete, displaced fractures.”

Also: “Chronic degenerative joint disease in all four pastern and fetlock joints…most severe in front limbs.” And (of course): “stomach ulcers.” Escapability was two years old.

Vern H, May 13, Pimlico R
“The horse appeared to take a bad step. The horse took several more strides and then collapsed…catastrophic injury to the right front shoulder…euthanized on the track.”

Da Chrome, May 29, Pimlico R
“Broke down just past 5/16 pole…believed to have an open [through the skin] fracture of left front ankle…. The horse was euthanized off [italics added] the track.” Also: “The right lip fold is lacerated and the overlying skin is missing deep into the dermis. There is blood coming from the nostrils and the skin around the right eye has…hemorrhage. The skin of the scrotum is also partially missing. Severe ulcers [in] stomach.”

Da Chrome was just three years old. This poor, poor boy.

Military Commander, Jun 6, Pimlico R
“Military Commander suffered catastrophic [breakdown]: fetlock completely dropped to ground, [multiple] fractures, significant soft tissue disruption. The proximal edge of the fractured condyle came through the skin after the horse was placed in splint and allowed to bear on limb to load on ambo.” Also: “stomach ulcers [and] severe degenerative joint disease.” Military was three years old.

Strictly Business, Jun 17, Pimlico S
“History of colic, several days duration; horse became toxic and was euthanized.”

Dr. Daniel: “This was a long, complicated case of colic and enteritis that Dr. Maury did her best to treat in the field. It is unfortunate that referral for 24-hour care was declined multiple times by the trainer. I do feel that this horse may have been saved had this referral happened.” Strictly was three years old.

Kens Lady, Jun 20, Pimlico R
“The horse sustained a catastrophic injury and fell to the track.” Dr. Daniel: “When I arrived at the scene, I assessed…and determined quickly that she would need to be euthanized as she had an open, degloving fracture/dislocation of her LF fetlock.” Also: “stomach ulcers [and] degenerative joint disease.” Kens Lady was three years old.

Sweet Sassafrassy, Jun 20, Pimlico R
“The hind legs of Kens Lady clipped [Sweet Sassafrassy’s] front legs out from under her causing her to fall. [She] thrashed several times and ended up [recumbent]. Scapula shattered into [six] pieces. Euthanized [after being loaded and unloaded on/from ambulance two separate times].” Also: “gastric ulcers and severe degenerative joint disease [all four limbs].” Dr. Dilodovico also notes: “The filly had scars on both front legs from an incident as a baby.” Sweet was five years old.

Silver Sun, Jun 26, Timonium S (scheduled to be raced that day at Pimlico)
“The gelding was tied to the stall wall ready to come to the races. While the connections went to get the trailer, the horse flipped…suffer[ing] acute brain trauma.”

Wessington Springs, Jul 20, Timonium T
“While galloping [on Jul 19] the horse started to cough and the rider became concerned. Endoscopic exam proved clean. Galloping again on Jul 20, the colt pulled up and became unsteady. The horse then collapsed, bounced off rail twice, struck his head [and] died on the track. Hemorrhage at the base of the heart and in both lungs.”

Dr. Daniel: “The pulmonary hemorrhage in this young colt was overwhelming. I wish we could have determined an etiology…as [he] seemed to have a promising career.” Wessington was two years old.

Keepyourskateson, Aug 15, Pimlico R
“Pulled up and vanned off. Shattered carpal bone in right knee, multiple pieces.” Keepyourskateson was three years old.

Great Cause, Aug 20, Pimlico R
“The filly flipped [in paddock] and struck her head hard on the wall. [She] was recumbent, loaded on the ambulance, transported to barn, and euthanized.” Great Cause, three, had just been sold seven days prior.

Cash Comes First, Sep 7, Pimlico T
“The horse sustained open, comminuted, displaced fractures [in] his left forelimb; avulsed pieces of the ligament [through the skin].” Also: “chronic degenerative joint disease in all four coffin, pastern, and fetlock joints; chronic degenerative joint disease in both the left and right carpus joints; stomach ulcers.”

Dr. Daniel: “The degree of degenerative joint disease in such a young horse is somewhat alarming.” Trainer Henry Walters: “[Previous] surgery was performed on both knees and possibly one ankle.” Cash was three years old.

Valley Vibe, Sep, Timonium T (euthanized Sep 27 at Laurel)
“Left hind fracture, surgery. Developed laminitis [with] separation of the lamina from the hoof wall and marked downward rotation of the coffin bone to the sole involving both [emphasis mine] front limbs.” Valley was two and being prepped for his first race.

Tremendous, Oct 1, Laurel R
“The [horse] flipped over backward in the post parade and landed on his head. The horse thrashed some, but he made no effort to rise. He was bleeding profusely from his mouth, ears, and nose and developed nystagmus – euthanized due to severity of the head trauma.” Also: “severe degenerative joint disease of the fetlock [both front limbs].” Tremendous was three years old.

Kyosha, Oct 3, Laurel R
“Pulled up, unstable, vanned off. Complete, displaced, comminuted fracture – numerous pieces – of both wings of the pelvis [with] abundant hemorrhage.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [both] hind limbs.” Kyosha was three years old.

Bella Thyme, Nov 6, Laurel T
“The horse broke down near the 1/4 pole: complete, open fracture of cannon; left pelvis shattered into four large pieces; abundant hemorrhage into the body cavity.”

Not On My Watch, Nov 6, Laurel T
“The horse collapsed, appeared to be in distress, died – suspect bilateral pulmonary hemorrhage.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [both front limbs]; stomach ulcers.”

Dr. Daniel: “I am surprised to see the degree of degenerative joint disease found on necropsy. It is suspected that Not On My Watch bled severely. I would concur due to the amount of blood found in the horse ambulance coming from the nostrils. It is always a concern that pain is a contributing factor to EIPH. I wonder if joint pain contributed in this case.” Not On My Watch was three years old.

Bust’em Kurt, Nov 13, Laurel R
“Broke down near the 1/4 pole: dislocated fetlock, [multiple] fractures…euthanized on the track.” Also: “severe degenerative joint disease; stomach ulcers.”

Dr. Daniel: “The condylar fracture most likely occurred first. I would say that the sesamoid fractures occurred next, and the total dislocation of the ankle occurred as he was being pulled up. Given the degree of DJD, I would have to think there was a multifactorial cause for this devastating breakdown.” Bust’em was two years old.

Gale Winds, Nov 19, Laurel R
“The horse was removed from the track by ambulance. While at the barn, the horse made several attempts to stand and then fell through the outer wall of the shedrow. Catastrophic fracture of right femoral neck [which] caused catastrophic and irreparable bleeding; Gale Winds was bleeding out.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [all four legs]; stomach ulcers.” Gale was three years old.

Moquist, Nov 21, Laurel T
“Moquist was working this morning and broke down near the 3/8 pole: open [through the skin] fracture; dislocation of fetlock; fractured condyle.” Also: “There is preexisting chronic degenerative joint disease in all four legs, most severe in the front; a prior surgery [with] two screws in right ankle; and stomach ulcers.”

Manicomio, Nov 25, Laurel R
“The horse suffered a catastrophic injury then tumbled forward to the track: open fracture [and] dislocation of the right fetlock; [multiple] sesamoid fractures; tremendous soft tissue destruction; joint affixed to the body by a small piece of skin.” Also: “severe degenerative joint disease.” Manicomio was five years old.

yet-to-be-named 2-year-old, Nov 27, Laurel T
“Broke down near the 3/16 pole and euthanized on the track. RF leg: severe open, comminuted fractures of MC2, MC3, and MC4; flexor tendon rupture. RH leg: femoral neck fracture.” That’s two broken legs. Also: “degenerative joint disease in LF leg [and] subacute hemorrhage/ulcers [in] stomach.”

Dr. Daniel: “It is always surprising to me to see the degree of degenerative joint disease present even in a young horse….” Again, two years old.

American Playboy, Nov 28, Laurel R
“Open, compound, comminuted fracture of the RF cannon…euthanized on the track.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [both front limbs]; stomach ulcers.” Dr. Daniel: “[The] joint disease may be a result of hard training.” American was two years old.

McElmore Avenue, Dec 26, Laurel R
“Walking back to the barn horse suddenly collapsed and fell to the ground; [vet] arrived on the scene and determined that the horse was dead – most likely pulmonary hemorrhage.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [all four fetlocks]; stomach ulcers.” McElmore was four years old.

20 Comments

  1. How is this not abuse? I am amazed they would put horses out on track in such terrible condition.

  2. The descriptions of these particular horses’ suffering leave me without adequate words of sorrow for them and acknowledgment of their stolen lives.

    Please join our tweet storm today. THANK YOU.

  3. WESSINGTON SPRINGS, July 20; A promising career…. These demented animal abusers from hell need to be put in jail for FELONY ANIMAL CRUELTY!!!!!!!!!
    What is wrong with people who can do this heinous cruelty to horses and keep on doing it without a conscience??????

  4. How can anyone read this and not conclude this business is nothing but torture for the horses.
    And in no way is this the exception. It is going on all over but much of the cruelty is never documented.
    The apologists, with their superior knowledge, come out of the woodwork to defend the post derby spectacle but there is nary a peep from them when the brutality of racing is laid bare in all its ugliness.
    What is wrong with these people??

  5. Words fail me. I only have tears left. The suffering these babies are subjected to is just unfathomable. And yet…they keep killing them EVERY SINGLE DAY with zero consequences. Damn these excrements!!
    RIP sweet souls. You were let down by every single “human” who calls him/herself your connection.

  6. Like everything touched by human greed there is no compassion or sympathy. There is no room for justice or a sense of right from wrong. Animals and people are just things to fatten the pockets of selfish self centered corrupt individuals.

  7. I did not realize the extent of degenerative disease in these horses! Horrible and cruel to continue with racing

  8. Horse racing must be abolished. These magnificent animals are suffering from animal cruelty.

  9. How can a veterinarian with any sort of morals or ethics continue to work on a racetrack? These injuries are what you would expect in a horse vs vehicle crash, not from running down a flat dirt track. And the severity of degeneration and ulcers found in almost all of the horses in racing stands in complete contradiction of the whole “loved like family, treated like royalty” BS. The absolute misery of these horses’ final moments is frozen forever on their faces.

  10. These horses are worth more than a lousy bet at the lame horse track. Let the great horses be free from this be a thing of the past. I vote shutdown all the racetracks worldwide to be respectful to horses.

  11. I wish more people were made aware of these details about horse racing. It’s so horrible it would have to make a difference. Very, very sad…it’s always about the $$$$$$$

    • Jan Horner, it does make a difference with some people — people who are capable of having empathy for the horses once they are aware of the degree of non-stop abuse of the horses. You’re absolutely right that more people need to become aware of the horrifying details of what racing does to horses!

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