Sick and Injured Horses at Churchill and Del Mar

Recent notes from the stewards at Churchill Downs and Del Mar, two of the most prestigious tracks in America. Again, it’s not just death; racehorses are suffering with various injuries and sicknesses every day, everywhere.

Churchill, Nov 19:
“Duplantis returned lame and required the horse ambulance.”
“Mariah’s Princess bled and required the horse ambulance.”

Churchill, Nov 24:
“Little Sister Sue was injured in the starting gate and scratched.”

Del Mar, Nov 11:
“American Refugee, vet scratch – sick.”

Del Mar, Nov 12:
“Whistler’s Style, vet scratch – injured.”
“Maqamat, vet scratch – unsound.”
“Wudi, vet scratch – injured.”
“Deep River, vet scratch – sick.”

Del Mar, Nov 13:
“Dr. Venkman, vet scratch – sick.”

Del Mar, Nov 18:
“Seek the Truth, vet scratch – sick.”
“The Giants Candy, vet scratch – injured.”
“Burton Way, vet scratch – unsound.”

Del Mar, Nov 19:
“Pioneering Papa, vet scratch – sick.”
“Micky From Wexford, vet scratch – injured.”
“Lord Sheldon, vet scratch – injured.”
“Gimme Mo Baby, vet scratch – sick.”

Del Mar, Nov 20:
“Bobs Blues Man, vanned off due to lameness.”
“Girl Named Doris, vet scratch – sick.”

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  1. Horseracing is horse-abuse. The premature death of hundreds (and thousands) of horses is a logical consequence of the abuse that racing subjects horses to on a daily basis.
    The people who refuse to disclose the ACTUAL NUMBER of horses killed by racing can do whatever they think will hide the killings of racehorses, but THEY CAN’T HIDE THE FACT THAT THEY INJURE AND KILL HORSES EVERYDAY.
    INJURIES and UNSOUNDNESS in horses goes hand in hand with the exploitation of horses for racing and the wagering handle; this FACT is a GIVEN, NOT A VARIABLE.

  2. The fact that the “loving” connections of these horses were going to send them out to race with known illness and/or injuries should tell you everything about these parasites.

    • Exactly what I was thinking, Rebecca. But like I was told often by a trainer a few years ago- “eh, it’s a long way from his heart!” and sent out horses with known issues. Not only is that gambling with horse lives, but also human lives. And they are ok with it.

  3. I have been told that the [Thoroughbred] breed is inherently more fragile today than, say 20, or 30 years ago. [note: is is true? There are people on this site that are much more knowledgeable about the breed than I am.] Your thoughts, please.

    If so, when you add that to the “win-at-all-costs mentality” that permeates horse racing today, it creates an even more toxic and lethal environment for disasters and fatalities than ever before, particularly when you factor in all the legal and illegal drugs and doping. None of the spectators and/or bettors at the race track like to see these breakdowns that seem to be occurring more and more – particularly when they’ve got money riding on them. Trainers and owners insure their horses, and to them, as long as they don’t lose money, I’ve found that by and large, they seem to care very little for their charges. NO surprise here.

    I DO remember that, many years ago, almost no horses were on Lasix unless they were ‘bleeders’ ; also NYRA actually had BANNED the use of Lasix entirely up until several years ago. Now, just about every single entrant is administered Lasix.

    All of this just seems to add up to a recipe for ongoing, continuing disaster. Certainly the industry has to do their best to hide the fatalities. It’s worse than I’d ever thought.

    I’ll say it again and again: stay away from this very bad game.

    • A brief article about Queen Elizabeth stated that she would send some of her broodmares to Kentucky to be bred by stallions in the United States because the horses in the USA are faster, according to the article. If Thoroughbreds in the USA are faster (as a general rule) than the Thoroughbred racehorses in Great Britain, it might also be very possible that the racehorses in the USA are more fragile.
      I think the British trainers give them more time to develop before they run them to death, but that might not be as true as my perception leads me to believe. In other words, I realize that I could be highly mistaken about the methods they use to condition young, underdeveloped colts and fillies for racing in Great Britain.

      • Wanda, based on my observations the races are run much faster in the USA.
        Basically the jockeys set the pace for the race.
        In the UK, they start at a sensible pace after jumping out of the gates so the horse gets the chance to get himself balanced and into a rhythm before going fast.
        I’ll never forget three (3) horses from the UK/Ireland in the Melbourne Cup some years ago whose riders were instructed to take the lead and leave the rest of the field behind. Being a long distance race for stayers, these 3 horses used up so much energy with this tactic they couldn’t stay and fatigued quickly. I guess the idea was to get so far ahead of the others there was a good chance of one of the trio winning the MC. Everyone was in shock with this tactic.
        I believe these poor horses were put on a plane the next day for the long flight home. If my memory serves me correctly, the trainer was Aidan O’Brien.

  4. Just prior to the vet exam, these “people” had to know their horse was “sick” or “lame” when presenting them to be examined before a scheduled race (scratched). If there were no “before race” exams these “people” would have put them on the track, slamming them into the starting gate, and then being propelled into purgatory.

  5. All seven horses scratched for being sick were at Del Mar. There is a recent BloodHorse article about a bunch of horses being quarantined at Churchill Downs for being sick with Equine Herpes Virus.
    What is the sickness at Del Mar? With seven horses being sick, it makes me wonder if it is something that is contagious.

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