As previously reported, 3-year-old Miniconjou collapsed dead of “an apparent heart attack” immediately after the 11th race at Churchill June 11. Again, three years old.
Now, we learn that in his penultimate race, May 6 at Oaklawn, Mini ran on Class 2 (second worst kind) mepivacaine – an anesthetic. In its report filed just yesterday, the Arkansas Commission notes that “trainer Kelly Von Hemel availed his right to do a split sample and waived his right to a hearing.” In other words, guilty as charged. And all the Commission did was disqualify the now-dead horse and redistribute the purse money (Mini had “won” the race and $31K). No fine, no suspension.
(Not that it matters much, but sometime between those races Mini changed hands, with Thomas Amoss the trainer on death day.)
I write this not to imply there was a connection between the drug and Mini’s death (indeed the Kentucky Commission wrote: “no prohibited substances detected; no therapeutic medication detected above threshold concentrations”). Far from it. Fact is, adolescent racehorses collapse and die all the time, and they do, in my opinion, for the same reason they snap legs: their bodies are woefully unready for what they’re being forced to do. No, this is simply to underscore how this poor horse was abused prior to being killed – like, that is, every other casualty of this vile industry.
(Update: The following day, Arkansas did impose penalties on trainer Von Hemel: 15-day suspension, $500 fine. Still, for a Class 2 drugging, laughable.)