Part of California’s “Safer Racing”: “Locked up during race, fell, unable to rise – catastrophic lumbar fracture, significant spinal cord compression.”

Through a FOIA request to the California Horse Racing Board, I have obtained the following details on some of that state’s kills this year.

Hygh I. Q., Jan 5, Golden Gate S
“Post-surgical sudden death – cause not identified.” Also: “severe gastric ulcerations in the stomach.” Hygh I. Q. was three years old.

Better Tomorrow, Jan 7, Golden Gate R (euth Jan 15)
“Suffered multiple fractures at the wire. Conservative therapy was attempted with splint, NSAIDs, and stall rest. Today [Jan 15], a fragment of the bone pierced the skin and the fracture became open and euthanasia was elected.” Also: “[multiple] severe, complete ruptures; severe arthritis; extensive cartilage erosion; gastric ulcers.” The 3-year-old Better was made to suffer for eight additional days like this.

Big Fabuloso, Jan 8, Los Alamitos R
“Locked up during race, fell, unable to rise. Catastrophic lumbar fracture: complete, displaced fractures of [multiple] vertebrae; massive subdural hemorrhage and significant spinal cord compression – multiple variably-shaped fragments within spinal canal.” Big Fabuloso was three years old.

Hi Fidelity, Jan 14, Cal Expo S
“Collapsed in barn, nystagmus, seizures, head trauma; hemorrhages in head, stomach, intestines.” Hi Fidelity was 14 years old.

Mugaritz, Jan 16, Golden Gate R
“Catastrophic fetlock breakdown: multiple comminuted fractures; [multiple] severe, complete ruptures.” Also: “severe osteochondral disease.” Mugaritz was six years old.


  1. There is just no way that horse racing can ever become humane or safe, no matter how many times racing officials swear they are making changes for the good. Its very nature is cruel. The types of injuries these poor horses endure! Neck and spine fractures, hemorrhages, spinal cord injuries…..can you imagine the pain?? I have been getting pop-up ads in my FB feed for a new blog called The Louisville Story Program. They are advertising a new book called Better Lucky Than Good. It’s all about how wonderful and beautiful life is for backstretch workers. Has anyone else seen this? Pure propaganda by Kentucky race tracks. I’m guessing it pops up on my page because I have horses and FB wrongly assumes I’d be interested in this subject.

    • I want these people (backstretch) illegal aliens to go back home ….so the horses can be saved, by ending this bull**** I’m ONLY about the animals!

  2. @Bonnie Sorry but I disagree. The workers are exploited just like the horses are. The whole industry has to be shut down and the states where these workers slave away their days should furnish opportunities for these workers to find other employment as our job market is overflowing with jobs. Not all workers are “illegal aliens.” But make no mistake, I will be protesting horse racing at Del Mar today as we do every weekend during the season. 85 years of exploiting horses, workers and the gamblers that frequent the tracks around the country. It is time to BAN HORSE RACING

    • Jackie, I have made that point ad nauseam, for far too long on this site. I told them (Apologists)their lame ass excuse about (what about the jobs?) is TOTAL bull****

    • I agree that the workers are exploited. That’s why I was so appalled by that book. It seemed to feature photographs that rely on old tropes, showing smiling African American workers, that frankly I would consider racist. I am not African American, so I can’t really say if this book would offend, but it seems so stereo typical.

      • And, actually Teresa, they are selling themselves short, by thinking this is it for them in life. It’s sad,and it’s totally exploitation of cheap labor(poop scoopers). You think todd pletcher is gonna scoop poop in his expensive tailored suits? And, yet, these trainers are CONSTANTLY getting caught cheating the illegals out of their money.

    • The industry survives by exploiting the vulnerable, the voiceless!!
      (Namely, the horses, the “border jumpers” and other workers “down on their luck” along with the gambling addicts)
      P.S. “Border jumpers” was how racing insiders referred to the workers here illegally.

      • Exactly, Rose. Let’s start with the billionaire horse owners, the politicians who serve them, the television personalities who always smile at us, and the corporate sponsors of their races.
        Not the poor and exploited.

  3. This isn’t about horse racing, but a horse all the same, and it has a good ending. Ryder, a carriage horse in NYC, collapsed in the street earlier this week as he was pulling a carriage. The driver whipped him in an effort to get him up. A crowd had gathered, and, when they arrived, police sprayed water on Ryder to revive him. They were able to get him up and to a vet. I don’t remember the name of the condition Ryder has, but he is being treated for it, is eating well, and is expected to recover. Later in the story, it was mentioned that the 14-year-old Ryder had been bought by the driver from an Amish farmer who no longer wanted him. Sounds like Ryder needs a new and better home when he is well again.

    Now for the good part, and I quote from the article “After the police got the horse up and off to the veterinarian, the [driver] picked up his own carriage and walked it away. Lots of people started shouting ‘How does it feel!?’ It was a very New York moment when they were all yelling at him,” according to the reporter. I bet it was!

    • Somebody was kind enough to put a pillow under his head when he was lying there. I know New Yorkers in general have a reputation,but when the chips are down they deliver. And the NYPD showed major compassion to this horse. Check out the video if you wish.

      • Nancy, I saw part of the video. It would not play very well on my device. I wonder if you’re talking about a second video? The horse looked very thin as he was lying down on his side on the pavement. His rib cage was showing. There were bystanders who knew more about horses than that guy did. He was really stupid and really abusive to the horse; another example of a horse being overworked, overheated, underfed and dehydrated while being forced to endure the torture of being exploited by a greedy individual.

        • Wanda, I saw the video being reported in multi.outlets so got a pretty good picture of the whole event. People applauded when horse got up and the guy with the carriage had to pull it away w/o horsepower. People shouted how do you like it? Being on this side of the world it was probably reported more throughly than other sections of the country.

        • When I lived in NYC in the 70s, I’d see the horse-drawn carriages lined up outside the Plaza Hotel, across from Central Park. It took only one look at them for me to know that I wouldn’t be one of those people who thinks it’s great to have them take me through the park. How could anyone, seeing the condition of the horse who is right in front of them, plodding away so they can have a ‘romantic’ experience?

          • I find it interesting that you’ve had that perspective since the 1970s. I haven’t been to New York City (yet) but I saw some pictures of some horses pulling carriages online. Of the photos I saw, there was one horse that looked really healthy. Most of the horses pictured portray a dismal look and not in very good condition. It’s depressing; certainly not romantic.

            • I’ve always loved horses, so I notice them wherever they are. And I don’t like to see them mistreated, which a lot of those carriage horses are, or, at best on the receiving end of benign neglect. Some owners (not enough) of those horses do the right thing by them–they are, after all, a meal ticket for their owners, aren’t they–so why would you not take care of them? It’s expensive, of course, but then so is buying another one. When asked which one wish I could have fulfilled, I always answer, that animals could speak. Think of how the would change!

      • New Yorkers have an unfair reputation in many ways. I lived there for a year and never experienced the cold shoulder they supposedly have. I’ve worked with several New Yorkers over the years and liked just about all of them. You meet them where they are, and you’ll get along fine. I did see a video of the pillow being put under Ryder’s head, and that kindness doesn’t surprise me at all. They DO come through when the chips are down, although I suppose the carriage driver wouldn’t see things quite that way, but who cares. 🙄

    • More to this story than reported.
      The picture I saw was of a horse with a body score of about a 2 ( “very thin” or “emaciated” according to the Henneke scoring system)
      The horse was being starved while being worked hard in excessive heat in NY traffic!!!! SHOCKING!!!
      One does not need to know anything about horses to see he was in very bad condition and report it BEFORE he collapsed.
      P.S. This can be pursued elsewhere.
      Thank you for your indulgence, Patrick.

      • Rose, this is par for the course. That’s why there is always an uproar about obliterating carriages from the cities of NY and Philadelphia. Horses in horrid weather and not taken care of in a loving manner. This horse was an Amish reject(usually sold for profit and not to the carriage horse business.

        • The horse looked like he had racing bloodlines. I thought he could have been an ex-racehorse and discarded by his racing connections. If he was exploited by the Amish, that would suggest that the horse was a Standardbred.

    • Apparently the cops chewed the driver’s ass out for beating the horse while he was down – the guy tried to say he was just trying to get the horse up but the cops weren’t buying it. And when they were finally able to get the horse up, the cops called their own equine ambulance to take him to the vet and refused to give him back to the driver. I hope that driver gets charged and fined through his ass. Jail would be better but we all know THAT won’t happen.

      • I hope the horse gets a forever home as a pasture ornament with someone who will take good care of him. He’s earned it at his age. And many thanks to the New York City cops who showed compassion and did the right thing (you don’t ever want to get chewed out by one of them!). On a beat in the streets of the city, they see what goes on with those horses day in and day out, and their hands are tied. I bet they probably were happy to finally be able to intervene in such a public way to help one of them. ❤

  4. The descriptions of the excruciatingly painful injuries to these horses as well as the horses from previous posts would not make a good “coffee table” book for the public relations departments of horseracing.
    But, the book that Teresa Melnick mentioned about glorifying the exploitation of horses and the low-paid backside track workers would supposedly make a “presentable” coffee table book for the people who are not aware of the dark side of racing, or who willfully choose to be delusional.
    I agree with Rose Smith that all horseracing is dark. The PAIN of the fractures to the spine of the horses listed above is just unimaginable!!! I have had a hairline fracture of my fourth vertebra in my neck. The pain was so excruciating!!!!! I can’t compare it to anything else. BIG FABULOSO, a Quarter Horse Gelding, born in Mexico, experienced so many horrendous fractures and consequential injuries in his spine that it’s unimaginable how much pain this horse suffered. Maybe he was paralyzed and couldn’t feel all of the pain. I don’t know, but it is not an excuse to keep abusing horses for racing and wagering.

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