Hiding the Death of a $3.65 Million Horse

The case of Cezanne belies, in a big way, this HISA-led proposition of a new more-honest, transparent racing industry. First, the facts, or as many as we’re able to glean at this point. Bred in 2017, the expectations surrounding Cezanne were stratospheric: He was sold as a 2-year-old for $3.65 million. Yes, $3,650,000. In June 2020, he “won” his debut under Bob Baffert at Santa Anita. Six more races followed, including a $120,000 Stakes win in March of this year. After another race (and another $80K) at Oaklawn in April, Cezanne simply disappeared. And now we know why.

The 5-year-old Cezanne is dead, having succumbed to infection and/or laminitis. The where and when I do not know – and nobody in racing is saying. He was, it should be noted, not under the care of Bob Baffert at the time, having been shipped to Todd Pletcher’s barn sometime after that April race. (Had that not happened, we’d probably know a bit more, as Bob Baffert is everyone’s favorite whipping boy.)

With horseracing under intense, unrelenting scrutiny (something we have much to do with), the incentive to euthanize off track property – which, as a rule, makes the death unreportable to the state racing commission – has never been greater. And if they can hide/cover-up the death of a $3.65 million horse, imagine how many dead claimers are falling through the cracks. In short, from the Santa Anita catastrophe (2019) on, take the reported kill numbers with a heavy dose of salt, most especially in the states with the most to lose – New York, Kentucky, California.

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  1. at next meeting under apa, i petition this horse racing commission to start keeping records of how the horses raced in nj die or sold to slaughter. it is time that we have full records on every horse that is raced in nj. we need to start finding out what happens to them. so many die ont he racetractk. if they die in stalls, we want to know about it.it is time to have thi s change made.every horse that races innj needs to have a name kept o record as to what happpened to that horse. we cannot continue the abuse of horse racing the way it is, where they vanish like this $.3678 million horse die in secrecy.

    i also want a petitoin heard on setting aside money from gambling on horses for horse retirement and sanctuaries. every horse borninnj should have money set aside fromt eh owner for that purpose. the way horses are being treated in nj is abominable.

    i also want a petiton that no horse shoudl be raced on any track in nj until is is 4 years old.we muis stop racing baby horse;s whose bodies are not developed for the rigor of racing so that they de on the track. stop teh tracing of bany horsesnow.

    this comment is for thepublic record.

    plese receipt. jean publiee jeanpublic1@gmail.com

  2. Integrity in the horseracing industry doesn’t mean being honest and forthcoming with the truth; it means doing whatever dishonest thing that die-hard, horse-abusing, horse-doping, horse killers figure must be done in order to preserve the horseracing industry itself.
    Since whoever the member or members of the “blue ribbon nominating committee” of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority is or are a secret to the public, and the whole organization is designed to keep horseracing a viable thing to be propped up with public funding, why would anyone believe that these people could ever be honest or forthcoming with the truth?
    It’s a known fact that this industry is made up of individuals who are given to lying and cheating to win fame, fortune, purse money, bets on racehorses and anything that is at the expense of the horses’ lives as well as to keep the public funding that should be going to benefit the needs of families with young children and grandchildren as well as college scholarships and other humanitarian services. This gambling racket is made up of individuals who are okay with abusing and killing horses (and deceiving the public) for money no matter who should rightfully be receiving the money.

  3. Finally. Cezanne is confirmed dead — well, sort of confirmed, anyway. The “journalists” who make up the (always diligent, truth-seeking, unbiased) racing press are really squirming with this story’s exposure; it best exemplifies their style of “coverage” when it comes to even mentioning most racehorse fatalities: (“Cezanne who? Please don’t sue.”)

  4. Todd Pletcher, don’t be shy talk about Cezanne, this very valuable and successful racehorse. Give an interview and explain what happened to him. You know like, he got sick with laminitis, you did everything you could to get him right so he could continue racing and please his owners. No doubt he was insured for $millions and the vet treating him did everything he could to save him.

    Horseracing is a public industry which cannot be sustained without the public’s money. These racehorses are put on public display and come under public scrutiny – the public has the right to know.

  5. I don’t know which is worse – concealing facts from the public or being forthcoming with facts but nobody cares enough to DO anything about it. :(

  6. Bob Baffert is just as responsible for the demise of CEZZANE as Todd Pletcher is.
    I would have thought readers and commenters on this site would know that by now instead of just focusing on Todd Pletcher.
    Oh, and to make things more laughable how about an investigation?
    We all know where their “investigations” go – a road to nowhere because it’s the hens guarding the hen house and this has been going on for years.
    Absolutely nothing has changed except for some transparency via this site and other news articles such as the biggest corruption scandal in horse racing history involving JUSTIFY as first reported by The Washington Post.
    Again, it doesn’t matter what they do because they STILL GET their hundreds of millions of dollars every single year compliments of our elected politicians.
    Seriously, we’ve been reading about racehorse kill after racehorse kill after severely abusive and inhumane treatment of racehorses on this site for years.
    I’ve been watching this go on FOR YEARS both as an insider and outsider.
    Sure there’s more transparency now FINALLY and the public is getting educated – all good, but still frustrating as hell that this business is even permitted to continue let alone get public subsidies.
    Please update on this poor victim of horse racing CEZANNE when you can.

    • Gina, of course the infamous Bob Baffert (also known as “Teflon Bob” because he dopes the horses he is paid to “train” relentlessly and is enabled relentlessly by the racing Commissioners and his attorneys) is guilty of having a hand in the death by abuse of CEZANNE. What luck for barbaric Bob to have the owners of this horse hand him off to Todd Pletcher, the vodka promoter. I think if it were not for the gamblers that got “burned” and without them filing the RICO Act lawsuit against “Teflon Bob” and cohorts, he would have gotten away with doping MEDINA SPIRIT all the way to his (Baffert’s) third Triple Crown. This is my opinion based on logical deduction. It doesn’t mean that all of the other trainers that abuse and kill horses for racing and wagering are any less guilty. The whole industry is corrupt!

  7. If they are a registered thoroughbred with a registered name a birth DATE they should HAVE To have a registered death certificate – why isn’t this a HISA RULE ?!? Instead off euthanizing on the track they can van off and euthanize on private property to hide the death and lower the count – WRONG

  8. Of course Cezanne was insured for at least 3.65 million. The attitude is “it’s just another horse”. If it cost a million to insure a horse like that, look at the odds. The horse was worth way more dead and the track winnings paid room and board and training. Is it no wonder this horrible “business” continues? These poor beauties deserve to run free but as long as a dollar is paid at the window, it will never happen. Makes me nauseous.

      • I’m compelled to respond to your comment because I have extensive experience with equine insurance policies being a former owner and trainer.
        Just for the record, as a Trainer, I NEVER had a racehorse die under my care nor have I ever filed an equine insurance claim.
        About 10% of racehorses are insured and they are insured for the price that they are purchased for at auction.
        So in this case, Cezanne was insured for her purchase price of $3.65 million.
        That policy maintains its value when the racehorse is performing and he was.
        Had Cezanne made more than his purchase price of $3.65 million then the policy would have increased in value.
        So there is no “convincing” going on here, but black and white facts all based on numbers.
        That would be like saying a person has to “convince” an insurance company that their house is worth 1 million when they purchased it for that much.
        Many racehorses who are purchased at Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton for 6-figures are insured and part of the 10% category.
        When they can’t break their Maiden in Special Maiden Weight after about 5 tries, on average, then the policy is downgraded to the price dropped in for claiming IF they are dropped down because I have a whole list of racehorses who died under suspicious circumstances just before their policy was, most likely, going to get downgraded.
        Moreover, they died in the “top trainers” barns on a regular basis over the years.
        So one may ask the question why would an owners like Magnier keep sending their racehorses to the same Trainer that killed their previous ones?
        “Killed” meaning died while under their custody and control just to clarify.
        Incidentally, there were a small group of us, when I was in California, who tried hard to have a box on the euthanasia Death Report mandatory like this: “was this racehorse insured during the time of euthanasia? YES OR NO. Check box.
        It was met with strong opposition from the private vets and from those, yours truly, who had suspicious deaths going on at the time and look no further than, well, you knew who.

        • So I don’t work in the insurance industry but I am an actuary. What you say is true but only to a point. I’m sure the horse was insured for 3.65M when he left the sale pavilion. Purchase price is proof of value. However, the policy has to be renewed, probably annually, and the value is reassessed at renewal. In this case the horse was five years old, made seven starts, and earned only about 350K. At that point, the probability that he would ever earn 3.65M is about zero and I can’t imagine he had much breeding value with that record.

          Even though it’s commonly called mortality insurance it is actually property insurance and you can’t insure property for more than its value at the time of policy issuance. That’s a fundamental principal of property insurance. If I buy a new car for $50K I insure it for 50K. In five years if it’s worth $20K I can only insure it for 20K. Nobody will continue to insure it for 50K because I am then incentivized to destroy my 20K car and collect the extra 30K. The exact same thing is true of any property, including horses. If this horse was insured for 3.65M the owner would have large incentive to kill it.

          The value of your house probably increases with time so your coverage increases accordingly. The same thing can happen with a horse. For example, your horse wins the Kentucky Derby and its value increases because of its breeding potential. In this case I just don’t see the value of this horse increasing based on his age and record although I can’t say what any particular insurance company would be willing to do.

          One of the fundamental principals of any property insurance is that you can’t insure anything for more than its value. Sometimes the value is easy to determine, sometimes it’s not. If you want to collect more than its value you do have to provide evidence of value. This differs from life insurance because we don’t buy and sell human beings, at least not legally.

        • Would an insurance company pay out, without an official Death Report on file (and copied to the insurance company) with the Jockey Club? Cezanne has no such report (which I would equate to another commenter’s wish that horses could have ‘death certificates’) noted, when you look him up under “Check Registration Status” on the Jockey Club Registry site (at least that which the public can access, with just a name & email address).

          • This horse was treated for a fungal infection at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, KY. He got better, but at some point he got worse again and euthanasia was recommended. I believe it would be on record at Hagyard that CEZANNE was euthanized because he was not able to recover from the fungal infection. (Thoroughbred Daily News, source.)

  9. If Cezanne came down with Laminitis, there is little hope for his recovery, especially to the point that he could race again. In fact, if he was a stallion, he wouldn’t have any value as a breeding stallion either as the Jockey Club does not allow artificial insemination (thank God! the number of horses would be off the charts). Laminitis (also known as founder) is a horrible and frequently fatal disease. In severe cases, the hooves actually separate from the bone. The pain is terrible. Poor Barbaro foundered in all four feet. It’s what caused his death. It appears that the insurance was a sweet way out for those involved with this horse. How utterly disgraceful!

    • A racing press publication article stated that CEZANNE had a “fungal infection” and proceeded to give NO DETAILS regarding the fungal infection whatsoever.

  10. Money on legs, nothing more nothing less. Their lives depending on how well they perform.
    Inhumane, barbaric, utterly compassionless. What a legacy left by inhabitants of the 21st Century, WELL DONE!!

  11. A fungal infection in the hoof is basic 101 horsemanship and totally preventable in most cases or, in the least, curable when addressed in the early stages.
    It’s usually caused by a racehorse standing in it’s own feces for long periods of time.
    For example, racehorses are intensely confined for 23 hours per day in a 10 ft. by 12 ft. stall.
    On average, a racehorse poops about 10 times over a 24 hour period.
    They literally have no way to get away from their bacteria heaps in their stalls unless it’s cleaned out on a regular basis, which usually occurs to prevent this.
    In some cases, they end up laying in their own poop and you see it on them when you come into the barn in the morning.
    I’m suggesting that, for whatever reason, CEZANNE’s stall was not regularly cleaned out.
    Pure unadulterated neglect if this occurred.
    However, the amount of fungus required to resist potent medication, as administered by Hagard, then to return and cause subsequent death defies logic.
    It’s almost as if Cezanne was injected with fungus that quickly spread through his body.
    The equine insurance payout probably occurred and that’s why they tried to cover it up.
    Pure speculation, but those secret vet records would probably reveal some sort of pattern.
    We will never know and I don’t think the joint injection caused this level of fungus either.
    Funny how all of the vets tongues gets tied in situations like this.

    • I thought of Thrush in the hooves but I think it might be more likely that it was something else. I am not an expert on fungal infections but there is a lot of interesting information about fungal infections on the internet. It seems like it had to be a “deep tissue” fungal infection and I suspect that CEZANNE also was under a lot of stress and had a compromised immune system for it to get so bad so fast that it could not be treated adequately by competent veterinarians, assuming that the owners and Todd Pletcher considered the services of at least one competent veterinarian knowledgeable in the diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections.
      The article on the report for CEZANNE did not give any information at all about whether he had a cough, or if he had skin problems (rash, lesions) or anything that would give a clue as to what type of fungal infection he suffered from. I would be interested to know if a necropsy is done and what exactly was the type of fungal infection that proved to be life-threatening for CEZANNE.

  12. There is still no DATE of euthanization given, despite Pletcher explaining the fungal infection. Is there an official date (not date story was reported). Was in it may? june? july? august? sept? I still don’t know and I’ve read every article.

    • May I ask what the explanation was? In the BloodHorse article, there was only an admission of fungal infection with no explanation of any kind as to what type of fungal infection; no clues, no details of any kind as to what type of fungal infection. For all I know, it could have been pneumonia. What other fungal infection can become fatal?
      The TDN article did reveal that CEZANNE was admitted to Hagyard Medical Center in Kentucky in June and recovered but got worse again and was readmitted to Hagyard. If he was first admitted to Hagyard Medical Center in June and recovered and treated again, it’s possible he was euthanized in September even though the date was not revealed in the article. Todd Pletcher (and the authors) gave no details on what type of fungal infection this horse suffered from in these two articles.

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