Should Domestic Spending and Epicenter Be Dead Already?

Today, the second day of the Breeders’ Cup and one of global racing’s richest days, two horses were injured and “vanned off” the Keeneland track.

In the $2 million BC Mile, Domestic Spending suffered what trainer Chad Brown called “a serious pelvic fracture,” and was transported to Rood & Riddle Hospital. Three races later, in the $6 million Classic, Epicenter suffered a “displaced condylar fracture,” and he, too, was sent to Rood & Riddle, with surgery slated for tomorrow.

While I am not a veterinarian and was not privy to the exams, I have been doing this long enough – 9,000 documented kills and counting – to state with complete confidence that these two types of injuries mean immediate euthanasia about 95% of the time. This – the hospital, extensive imaging, surgeries – is only about a desperate industry desperately trying to avoid, or at least stave off, killing with the whole world watching. All this is not to say that Domestic and Epicenter are out of the woods. Far from it (see Barbaro). But in the meantime, their suffering continues. For shame.

36 Comments

  1. Horse safety-wise, this year’s Bleeders’ Cup was nothing short of a disaster. The only thing remotely amusing we can anticipate from the weekend’s bloody horror show is watching racing officials bluster and stammer their way through explanations and excuses.
    Furthermore, I fully expect those officials employed by the comically-titled HISA to have their heads explode while trying to answer Keeneland Carnage Questions from real news and sports reporters. (Thankfully for them, they’ll only need to field softballs from the highly-journalistic, fact-seeking racing press;)

  2. Yes, they’re dead, even if they’re kept breathing long enough to deny and deflect the reality of horseracing and that is that horseracing is not safe no matter how much smoke anyone in the industry blows.
    I don’t know how they can get away with denying that these two horses are racing deaths and be believed by anyone with a brain, but if it fits the “criteria” for their formula of not counting a racing death as a racing death, then that’s what they’re going with. They got nothing, except lies.

    • Epicenter has successfully undergone surgery and is expected to fully recover. No news on Domestic Spending yet but the assumption is he is alive and will be treated

      • I’m sure the horse feels great with broken bones and a lag screw or two to hold his bones together.

      • Emma Besko – being a condylar fracture, Epicenter will be very lucky to make a full recovery. And if he does recover the fixed up broken bone will be under a degree of stress each time he serves a mare. Cannot begin to tell you about the miserable solitary life of a serving stallion in the horseracing industry – some die from the physical and mental exhaustion.

      • So I heard, but let’s not boast too soon as I’ve seen, over the years, these repaired serious fractures get reinjured when the entire weight (about 1500 pounds) has to rest on 2 hind legs while mounting a mare.
        Of course I wish the best for EPICENTER, but he’s another example of these racehorses being literally run into the group just one dime to squeeze out of him because $2 million isn’t enough.
        These owners and trainers are outright parasites – nothing more or less.
        Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: EPICENTER should have been retired and put out to a grassy paddock without this injury.
        The unbelievable greed and bottomless pit egos on full display with this example.
        Rumor has it, that they are delaying the announcement on DOMESTIC SPENDING just to placate the public.
        No worries though because the more horse racing tries their physical and literary tarp to mask deaths the worse it’s going to get for them.
        If EPICENTER was a claimer he sure as hell would have been put down, but there’s more money to be made and that’s the only reason why he’s alive today.

  3. When I read about these two poor horses, Barbaro immediately came to mind. The torture Barbaro suffered was despicable. All done in a pathetic attempt to save his life when it was obvious that the ethical and humane thing to do was to euthanase him. And highly likely the insurance factored in. When I worked in the industry a young colt was seriously injured, vet came and the first thing he asked me was is he insured. Vet chose to do nothing until I found out – fortunately he was not insured. He was then euthanased. If he had’ve been insured …?
    Insurance policy requirements …?
    Perhaps someone else might know more about it.

    • Carolyn, you bring up a valid point regarding the insurance. I also thought of the insurance factor, because these horses are usually valued at somewhere in the six-digit range. I also thought of the fact that when you are needing to get in touch with an insurance agent and then provide the necessary information and documents to the insurance agent and claims representative, it takes time. It’s not like calling 9-1-1 when you are dealing with insurance companies. It’s just how it is. I am referring to auto insurance, but the time delay would be a factor with horses as well. Even though I have no personal experience with having insurance on a horse, it’s just common logic. With automobiles, you have to have a police report. With these world-class Thoroughbred racehorses, you would have to have the “prestigious” Rood & Riddle do the “investigation” and/or assessment of the “damages” which would be somewhat like the body shop in automobiles. It all means the horses are forced to suffer longer as you pointed out. It’s cold, callous greed to put these young horses through all of this exploitation from birth to training to racing and predictable injuries and inevitable death. It’s all about the money with these people.

  4. Yesterday, on full display at the Breeders Cup was an industry deliberately and maliciously making racehorse’s suffer in order to avoid a public display of death.
    I can say with 100% certainty that both DOMESTIC SPENDING & EPICENTER should have been euthanized on the track because that was the humane thing to do.
    Instead, we observe an industry attempting to cover-up at the expense of the racehorse or, in the least, take them away from public view, let the public quickly turn their attention to the next race and certainly not show it on national T.V.
    Complicit, aiding and abetting such suffering are prominent equine vets who know damn well that these racehorse’s injuries would and should require euthanasia.
    This is the same modus operandi going on at Santa Anita who dreamed up this plan to offer free surgeries to racehorses mangled on their track.
    This is a deliberate public relations stunt intended to, yet again, fool the unsuspecting public by appearing to care so much about the racehorses that they will offer surgeries for free or give them a chance at life instead of euthanizing them.
    When really all that awaits them is a life of suffering, and most likely neglect because even the richest owners dump them and we have many examples listed on this site.
    DOMESTIC SPENDING had the biggest liability, through no fault of his own, when it comes to horse racing – he was a gelding .
    So what exactly do I mean?
    It’s a known fact that owners in this industry do not want to pay for a horse that is not earning, that is not making money despite any money that they have earned that should secure a safe retirement especially in this case.
    A gelding translates to no residual value as a stallion, and was costing them money since last year so it was time to risk his life and, oh well, if he dies then they don’t have to pay for him.
    That’s usually the plan and that’s probably why he was forced back into training
    DS earned $1,432,100 more than enough to pay for his retirement and do the right thing, but the owners KLARAVICH STABLES, Inc. have a pattern of dying racehorses with equine insurance policies in place in many instances.
    Where were all of those additional vets that they hired?
    His PP’s indicating a long layoff should have been enough to scratch him because we all know by now that a long layoff or former DNF’s in any racehorse record usually results in serious injuries or catastrophic breakdowns.
    Again, MONGOLIAN GROOM proved that additional vets means little because there were very few “vet scratches,” at the BC and we do not know how many were injured and are now back in their stalls forced to endure injuries that will be ignored throughout their life especially when they are dropped down into the claiming gallows.
    Not even close to $2 million dollars is enough for these parasites to give a good home to a racehorse who ran his ass-off for these ungrateful brutal bastards.
    EPICENTER. The same deal only this colt made $$2,940,639, was actively in training and did have residual value as a stallion, but not even all of this was enough for them to do the right thing because, I have no doubt, that they knew there was something wrong with his leg.
    Another thing on full display is this industries unwillingness to rid themselves of trainers with a long history of nefarious activities including killing racehorses.
    It’s all a sham and the races are fixed based on my direct experience and observations.
    The same trainers, year in and year out, and even trainers who are serial racehorse killers, multiple cheaters, and who set-up wagering scams were all represented yesterday.
    I’m reading about BARBARO’s breakdown in 2006 and DOMESTIC SPENDING/EPICENTER’s in 2022 and all I can say is this: 16 years later and absolutely nothing has changed.
    The reasonable conclusion that anybody, both insiders and outsiders, should arrive at is that horse racing kills racehorses and will continue to kill racehorses because no reforms, even the most extensive, will ever stop this except to shut it down.
    This is why I continue to support this site’s unequivocal stance to end horse racing.

    • If you are 100 per cent certain Epicenter should be dead you don’t know enough about consular fractures.

      • You are missing the point that horses are being abused for human greed and therefore are made to suffer horrendous pain and suffering, JEAN HART. This pelvic fracture is untold pain, suffering and agony for the horse while he is being held prisoner in a stall for the majority of his life.
        There is no doubt that the veterinarians in the horseracing industry are making “great strides” in exploiting injured horses to the maximum amount of money that they can possibly make off of the suffering of Grade One level racehorses.
        These injured horses with life-threatening fractures will suffer AND possibly to the point where infections and possible sepsis could become an additional threat to their lives. LAMINITIS is also a real threat to their lives in addition to the abuse and cruelty of being confined to stalls for 23 hours a day; or maybe it is 24 hours a day when they call it “stall rest” by the racing industry people.
        THESE INJURED HORSES ARE LAB RATS.
        Is it also possible that the pharmaceutical industry will gain some more information about how much pain-killing medication is needed to “manage” the EXCRUCIATING PAIN in horses?
        If these two horses were claiming level horses, they would not have been kept alive. That is because with the major fractures they’re suffering from, they’re not viable as racing horses and the claiming level owners and trainers don’t want to spend (and/or don’t have) the money to pour into the veterinary hospital bills. Also, the claiming level owners and trainers are not in the spotlight in the same way that the world-class level owners and trainers are.
        First and foremost, this industry exploits horses at all levels causing harm (INJURIES, pain, suffering) and death to horses. This is unacceptable cruelty at all levels.

      • EPICENTER’s condylar fracture has been “repaired” with lag screws and supposedly he will be on 30 days “stall rest” and then 30 days of handwalking. It sounds like they’re sort of playing it by ear to see if they can race him again before 1) they kill him or 2) they exploit him as a stud horse. Either way, the horse is being kept alive to be exploited by all of the people who are involved with him.

      • You need to be educated about fractures.
        There are different types of fractures and they indicated that it was “displaced,” which is one of the worse case scenarios.
        You don’t seem to know enough about the sad truth about horse racing.
        The only reason why EPICENTER is alive today is because he has residual value as a stallion.
        In other words, there is more money to squeeze out of him even if it means regular doping to keep him mounting mares.
        Like we need more unwanted racehorses.
        Nevertheless, the trouble is the owner and trainer of EPICENTER doesn’t know much about racehorses.
        I highly suggest you contact them and ask them why they ran a horse that they knew had issues (I’ve seen the medical reports check them out) and risked his life after he made $2 million dollars.
        It’s obvious that money over the health and welfare of the horse is the primary goal of anybody in this business.
        If they truly cared about the horse then they would give him a forever grassy paddock that he EARNED not you Jean nor the owners or trainer.
        That would have been the right thing to do if they knew anything about a racehorse.

        • To these die-hard horse-abusing, horse-doping, horse-killing people, “racehorse” equals “exploitable” and “expendable”. It’s like “what else do you need to know?” as far as their mentality is concerned. Empathy is not in their vocabulary.

        • Exactly, Gina. And if Jean Hart gave a rat’s ass about the COUNTLESS “cheap claimers” who suffer displaced condylar fractures and not just the millionaires who do, she’d understand why if Epicenter was (most) any other racehorse with that injury, he would be dead already, suffering in some cheap track’s backside stall or already on his way to a kill buyer’s lot.

    • I’m not a fan of racing however for you to say those horses should have been euthanized on the track I whole heartedly disagree.
      I have personally rehabbed many horses through serious injuries including many broken bones
      (hip,hock,sesimoid,cannon and pedal bone fractures) They all came through and had enjoyable lives most returned to light work. All were loved and their life force respected. We all go through some pain and discomfort in life it shouldn’t automatically mean a death sentence.
      Animals have a remarkable will to live and are amazingly more resilient.

      • The point is they shouldn’t have ran a horse that made $2 million that EARNED $2 million to risk his life.
        I’m 100% certain that EPICENTER would prefer to be running around a paddock WITHOUT the injuries he must live with for the rest of his life.
        Your comment is glorifying a mangled racehorse and it’s a sad reflection on all of you.

        • Exactly, because these injuries were forced upon these horses. The INJURIES inflicted on these horses were from being exploited on PURPOSE. These horses are not victims of random accidents; THESE HORSES ARE VICTIMS OF PRE-MEDITATED GREED AND ABUSE.

    • Your comments justify the continued mangling and permanent crippling of racehorses and they are downright horrific.
      Your voice speaks volumes about the people in horse racing and that’s why it needs to shut down.

      • I am not in the racing industry in any way except helping some former racehorses find a better life.
        My comment was only to point out many horses can be successfully rehabbed from serious injuries. Its much easier to just euthanize than to care for a horse and get them through to the other side. Racing is a cruel sport in many ways but to just assume those horses needed to die cause of their injuries is wrong.

        • To not do anything to help stop the abuse, the brutality, the cruelty, the torture, the INHUMANE TREATMENT of horses exploited for racing, wagering and breeding (not to mention being used as lab rats for Rood and Riddle, Dr. Lawrence Bramlege, and that whole can of worms) is wrong. The inhumane treatment of horses is synonymous with the horseracing industry. It needs to be recognized by law as the criminal activity that it is.

        • The point, Linda, is that had Domestic and Epicenter been claimers running at 95% of the tracks in this country, they almost surely would have been euthanized then and there. But more to the point, it probably would have been the right – the humane – thing to do. Equines make bad candidates for limb surgery/recovery. As a rule, it just extends their suffering. And all so the industry can save face and/or profit some more, as Gina has pointed out with Epicenter, in the breeding shed.

        • I never assumed you were involved with horse racing and never in my comment did I state that so whose making assumptions here?
          Barbaro should have been euthanized instead of being put through the suffering that he endured and it was all a public relations stunt in response to the huge public outcry.
          Some of the most reputable vets in the country stated that he should have been euthanized with those injuries and I agree with them.
          Secondly, 95% of racehorses would have been euthanized with these injuries because they are considered disposable trash especially with no residual value as a stallion.
          So it’s not so much easier for them to euthanize, as you claim, it’s because they don’t want to take personal or financial responsibility for a racehorse that they can no longer exploit.
          Perhaps we are saying the same thing, but in different ways.
          Rehab is not confined to just physical issues, as you probably know, but the majority of racehorses coming off the tracks have severe mental/emotional issues due to the stress of their confined unnatural environment and that almost always carries with them and I don’t consider that a successful rehab at all.
          At any given time, I had 12 racehorses in my barn that I rescued to rehab when they were about to board the kill auction truck after the season ended in Ontario.
          Not one of their former owners or trainers ever called me or came to visit their “family member” that they supposedly love – NOT ONE!
          Nor did any of them send a bale of hay (which would last for 1 feeding not even that!), a bag of oats or offer to pay for the immense vet bills that was incurred.
          Then came the next race season and to watch them go out and claim another racehorse for $5000 up to $20,000 while I was writing out vet checks for $8000 every month for racehorses that they dumped.
          Horse racing deliberately and maliciously sets up a system of dumping with no personal or financial responsibility to the very racehorses that pays the price for their profits.
          Just for the record, the Breeders Cup committee is boasting about their smashing wagering profits – $177 million in 2 days while none of them – not one of the pro-horse racing entities have implemented a mandatory 1% contribution for aftercare and refuse to do it.
          So there’s a lot behind the successful rehab of racehorses (my focus is racehorses) as you probably know or know now that I’ve provided some more detail behind the rehab scene.
          I say take all of their unwanted racehorse mess, their vile business operations, their antiquated business model full of racehorse cruelty, abuse, inhumane treatment and dying.
          Then stop the obscene subsidies – take all of this and dump it into a manure pile where it belongs because the only way to stop all of this is to end horse racing.

  5. It seems to me that there are more and more breakdowns in horse racing today than I recall years ago, when I was still betting. Perhaps I was just not as aware back then, but I do seem to remember someone telling me that the breed itself is becoming more and more fragile, with more delicate legs and bone structure inherent in the horses’ anatomy. As I understand, this takes an even greater physical toll on the animal from the incessant pounding that the horses’ legs endure on the track than it did in the past.

    Is this true? Is the breed itself more fragile now, than in previously?

    I welcome comments from all, of course, but there are some of you on this site who are very knowledgeable from experience in raising and care of thoroughbreds.

    Your thoughts, please.

    -Joe

    • That seems to be the prevailing attitude or belief. If you study genetics at all, you understand that inbreeding concentrates the certain characteristics that at least some of the breeders are breeding for. Some of these characteristics are desirable but at the same time there are those undesirable characteristics that don’t magically go away just because the breeder wants them to go away. In other words, the undesirable characteristics can become more pronounced as well.
      The stud farms want to charge as much as they can for each stallion’s fee and breed a maximum of 120 mares per stallion per breeding season. The Jockey Club wanted to reduce the number to 100 mares per stallion per season to “diversify” the gene pool in Thoroughbreds. Spendthrift Farm protested that idea. It appears obvious to me that the future of the breed is not a concern to the people at Spendthrift Farm, but rather the hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue that Spendthrift Farm would lose in the short term.
      Another factor is the declining foal crop numbers in Thoroughbreds. It’s evident that the gene pool is never going to be diversified in Thoroughbreds. With fewer and fewer mares to produce foals each year and the incessant greed of the stallion owners and the stud farms such as Spendthrift Farm, the future of the breed is possible extinction or close to it.
      I don’t think there is anyone holding a gun to a mare owner’s head to haul their “unwanted” broodmares to a livestock auction or selling their barren broodmares directly to the killbuyers. It’s all the responsibility of the people who breed Thoroughbreds, but I expect that there will be plenty of them that will pass the buck.
      With over 50,000 in population of new foals in 1986 to less than 20,000 per year in the last few years and continuing to decline, I don’t think the fragility problem in Thoroughbreds is ever going away. Besides that, an absolutely significant factor is that in the horseracing industry they have this asinine belief that it is “normal” to force young and underdeveloped colts and fillies to perform as though they are adults. This is a recipe for disaster from the very beginning. Also, perceptions may have changed somewhat with the development of high-tech electronic devices. In other words, we (being outside of the industry, more or less) know more about what is really going on in this industry (more so than ever before) so the powers-that-be cannot hide the killings the way they were able to in years gone by. Another factor in the disposing of the horses considered “unwanted” because they can’t run fast enough or can’t run at all is the time and distance to the nearest slaughterhouse. In previous decades, a lot of injured horses would have been hauled away to a slaughterhouse within the United States and sometimes within the same state in which they were being bred, trained and raced. Broken sesamoid? No problem, it’s not that far to the nearest slaughterhouse; past tense.

  6. So glad the owners of Flightline decided not to race him anymore but to retire him to stud as he is more valuable as a sire than a race horse – don’t know about Cody’s Wish if he will be retired have not heard – as for Domestic Spending because he is a gelding and now too injured to be retrained to do something else – they will sadly most likely put him down. As for Epicenter since he has value as a stud horse they may try to save him – there is a guy who makes artifical legs for animals – he is very good – even made one for a elephant so maybe he will be called on to try and save Epic center – just sad the whole racing public never see the suffering the horses go through and the fact that Domestic Spending had been on layoff from a previous injury seems as vets at Breeders Cup would have disqualified him from racing – more laws need to be written to protect horses.

  7. To all or any of you who try to promote the idea that most all racehorses get saved like EPICENTER or DOMESTIC SPENDING with the same or similar injuries read this:
    7/4/22 ENID broke down fetlock “luxated” fractures of the right forelimb EUTHANIZED.
    7/1/22 STICKY ISSUE broke down R forelimb bilateral sesamoid fractures. EUTHANIZED
    6/11/22 MINICONJOU broke down couldn’t perform necropsy.
    6/10/22 GINGRICH broke down LATERAL CONDYLAR FRACTURE (exactly the same injuries as EPICENTER only in this case the horse was euthanized! No value to pursue.
    5/9/22 HUNT THE FRONT had previous break down DNF, but was still cleared to run shortly after. (they had races to fill) Broke down L forelimb completely LUXATED! Euthanized NO VALUE.
    5/14/22 SCALES OF JUSTICE. broke down R forelimb. Fetlock LUXATED and complete breakdown of supporting structures. EUTHANIZED
    4/8/22 RUN THE TAP. PLEASE NOTE: this was pretty much the EXACT SAME PELVIC injury as DOMESTIC SPENDING. “fracture of left ilium.” “lesion on right ilium.” EUTHANIZED!!!!
    2/24/22 PEACE BE THE JOURNEY. broke down R forelimb “lateral condylar fracture,” ( and this was NOT displaced so, although serious, was not even near the severity of the fracture EPICENTER endured only in this case EUTHANIZED.

    All of the above racehorses have 3 things in common:
    1) they all raced and died on Kentucky tracks
    2) they had no residual value as a stallion or broodmare
    3) they were not in high profile races where the public is watching like the Breeders Cup
    4) they would have cost the owners a tremendous amount of money in vet bills and rehab so the choice to euthanize was mostly a financial one most likely

    There are 3 racehorses listed here that have extremely similar injuries as EPICENTER and DOMESTIC SPENDING, yet, they were euthanized.
    Just a reminder that this is just a small swatch of examples in Kentucky because this is going on nationally on every racetrack in America every damn day on any given track.

    So don’t come on here and tell me that the sole purpose of keeping EPICENTER and DOMESTIC SPENDING alive was not to placate the public, and/or exploit for reproductive purposes for more money.
    I rest my case.

    • Horseracing is all about abusing the horses to varying degrees regardless of what level it is and how much money is involved. The people that deliberately cause harm to horses should be charged with animal cruelty, felony animal cruelty. Horseracing and dogfighting are both cruel blood sports for money and egos.

  8. Owners of these 2 horses are doing the right thing by giving them a good chance of having a happy life. You are using this to inflame.Shame on you. They should be praised for their concern and care for the horses

    • Patricia WEBB, if you had a sense of right and wrong, you would know that it was wrong to put these horses in a position to be harmed in the first place.
      Your attempt to defend the indefensible cruelty of using horses as gambling objects and to win purse money suggests that you might be a sociopath and that you are friends with sociopaths.

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