CHRB: All Kills Are Not Created Equal (And Come to Think of It, Maybe We Shouldn’t Even Bother to Count Some of Them)

“Equine Fatalities Continue to Decline in California” – so reads a recent headline in BloodHorse. Sounds great, right? In truth, this is but another example of industry deception (and yes, BloodHorse is part of the industry). Begrudgingly, the article goes on to explain that while “musculoskeletal deaths” were down, overall deaths were, in fact, up:

“In the interest of full transparency, the CHRB also tracks fatalities caused by any non-exercise-related catastrophic injury. The most common cause of death in this other group is gastro-intestinal diseases, such as colic, colitis, and enteritis, followed by respiratory disease. Unfortunately, the number of ‘other’ deaths increased last year, and those 43 deaths, coupled with the 26 due to musculoskeletal injuries, brought the total to 69, or three more than the 66 the previous year.”

More deception: The above reads like all those “other deaths” were back in the stalls. Not true. There were racing and training kills among the 43 – on-track “sudden deaths” from cardiovascular collapse, pulmonary hemorrhage, blunt-force head trauma, etc. But no one wants to talk about those, just the “improvement” on the musculoskeletal front.

But even worse is this from Scott Chaney, executive director of the CHRB:

“I’ve considered several times the idea of not counting other [stall] deaths, the type that occur among horse populations anywhere in the world, including the popular riding stables and in the wild, but I’ve always decided that full transparency is the best way to go.”

First, those horses who died in their stalls were fully active, in between races, and most still in adolescence. Second, and Chaney surely knows this, racehorses are at a higher risk than other “horse populations” for things like colic, laminitis, and pleuropneumonia. Third, who cares? In a nutshell, any death in racing is by racing – just like the Civil War was wholly responsible for the camp deaths of soldiers from disease (which, by the way, accounted for some 2/3 of the total casualties).

Worst of all, however, is who said it. Chaney, again, works for the California Horse Racing Board – the state agency tasked with regulating horseracing. He should be an arms-length bureaucrat, an unbiased arbiter whose main focus is the welfare of the horses. And yet he talks like an industry stakeholder, like a racer. (In fact, Chaney was once an assistant trainer.) He’s “considered several times not counting other deaths”? For what purpose if not to make racing look better? In a word, shameful.

Follows are some, not all, “other” (stall) Cal deaths from last year. These are deaths that the CHRB suggests are basically to be disregarded. These are deaths, Scott Chaney says, that perhaps should not even be counted (and reported).

Hygh I. Q., Jan 5, Golden Gate
“Post-surgical sudden death – cause not identified.” Also: “severe gastric ulcerations in the stomach.” Hygh I. Q. was three years old and was last raced Nov 25.

Urban Dance, May 27, Los Alamitos
“Got loose on track…ran head first into barn at full gallop: complete, displaced, comminuted fracture; [multiple] ruptures; massive hemorrhage.” Also: “gastric ulceration.” Urban Dance was three years old and being prepped for her debut.

Untuckit, Jun 15, Los Alamitos
“Four-year-old found dead in stall – cause undetermined.” Again, four years old.

Resurrected Noble, Jun 17, Golden Gate
“Severe cellulitis of RH limb of 10 days duration, with two perforated skin ulcers. Laminitis of the LH hoof, [with] severe rotation of the distal phalange, tip pressing the sole.” Then this: “This horse has a history of chronic dorsal metacarpal disease [and had] shock wave treatment of both metacarpals on May 27.” Resurrected Noble was just three, and had been raced once, on May 15. Now go back and re-read his death.

yet-to-be-named 1-year-old, Aug 15, Pleasanton
“Horse crashed through a fence: catastrophic fractures of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th metacarpal bones with transection of the suspensory and lateral intercarpal ligaments and carporadial tendon; all fractures were open, complete, and comminuted – multiple fragments missing.” Again, one year old.

Little Princess, Aug 16, Los Alamitos
“Flipped, seizures, extensive hemorrhaging in skull, euthanized.” Also: “chronic ulcers.” Little Princess was two years old and being prepped for her debut.

Invictatatus, Sep 27, Los Alamitos
“Horse found down in stall – [euthanized].” Invictatatus was six years old and had been raced 22 times, most recently Apr 16.

Dub Town, Nov 16, Golden Gate
“Abdominal aortic rupture [with] aortic and intestinal hemorrhage – [horse] bled out.” Dub Town was six years old and had last been raced Oct 7.

yet-to-be-named 2-year-old, Nov 28, Golden Gate
“Bilateral atrioventricular valvular dysplasia with congestive heart failure.” Again, so young she didn’t even have a name yet. Congestive heart failure.

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  1. This also leaves out all the farm deaths. I know personally some foals have been put down because it is too costly to correct any small ‘defect’ and so they move on. Or just the lack of care. If they think a horse can’t run around a circle fast in doesn’t have any value. All horse death that has been touched by this greedy ‘sport’ should count.

    • It makes you wonder how many potential racehorses die before they even get to the track.

  2. Laminitis and rotation already and raced a month prior. The pain this horse was in and being raced. This doesn’t happen overnight.

  3. I believe the BLOODHORSE article headline should read: “Equine Fatalities *That the Racing Industry Including The Stronach Group Deems Important Enough to Count* Continue to Decline in California” in order to reflect the truth of the matter.

  4. Mr. “What-a-guy!” Scott Chaney is truly a vomit-inducing individual SUGGESTING that the racing industry in California should not be held ACCOUNTABLE for any horse exploited for racing and wagering that died from a cause that was not a racing-specific injury. BUT, he counts them anyway. Yeah, right. Everyone who just came out of a closet, or a cave, might think he’s honest. Like the fans should be patting him on the back. What a low-life vomit-inducing lie!!!!!
    The racing industry produces thousands of horses each year and the racing industry kills thousands of horses each year. Since racehorses are trafficked from one state to another and another and another plus sold and shipped to foreign countries including Puerto Rico, Korea, Japan and others as well as the slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada, plus, as Katie points out, the killings of foals, the true number of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses exploited and KILLED by anyone with a connection to horseracing in California will never be honestly documented by Scott Chaney or any member of the California Horse Racing Board.

  5. Once again I ask the question, “Why don’t animal cruelty laws seem to apply to horseracing?” The corrupt and cruel horseracing industry is allowed to police its self. This is absolutely insane.

    • Rick,
      Have you Google searched Section 1902.5 Animal Welfare Code of California? There is also an article in TDN dated Oct. 2021 about penalizing trainers for injured and subsequently euthanized horses in their “care” and how that would be like unraveling the thread that connects them to so many other people involved in this abuse and brutality against horses. The words about “unraveling a thread” are words I took from the article, but the words about “abuse and brutality against horses” are my words to paraphrase the article. I didn’t read the whole article yet. It feels like “oh, boy, here we go down a rathole” because for the members of the “regulatory system” in place in the State of California which is the CHRB to a great extent, they would have to, long story short, “penalize” themselves.
      Can you imagine the members of the CHRB admitting to their own offenses involving the doping, maiming and killings of racehorses and their own participation in the corruption involving the race-fixing, cheating and racketeering?! Jeff Blea was a licensed veterinarian and evidently he knows all the “preferred chosen words” to say as a public relations “expert” (I call him the silver-tongued devil of the CHRB), because the members of the CHRB want to keep him around even after Jeff Blea lost his license for prescribing drugs to horses without following the legally accepted methods, procedures and protocols of Veterinary Medicine of the State of California (or any state for that matter). In short, Jeff Blea is one of the criminals in California horseracing.

  6. Scott Chaney is my favorite (fictional) character in the fascinating world of state horse racing “regulators.”
    But California as a whole provides a ton of competition in that category; Docs Blea and Ferraro are in a dead heat for second, with Chairman Greg Ferraro slated to eke out the place honors for now. (His “sense of humor” about anti-racing advocates murdering racing officials — during a public meeting, no less — will likely put him ahead of Jeff “No Exam Necessary” Blea.
    (Too bad for all other states’ commission members, who have learned to keep a lower profile lest they’re forced to resign in disgrace;)

  7. This sickening hideous BULLSHIT must go in the dust pile of vomit worthy history.

  8. Can someone explain why a f***ing one-year-old was even on the track, in training? I’m sure part of has to do with that particular horse’s birthday, but even a two-year-old has no business being in training!

    • I suspect some morally depraved people with more money than brains interested only in themselves and what the baby horse could do for them and their egos were thinking something really stupid like, “Hey, it’s the Pleasanton fair, let’s take “it” to the races. Lol.” I can imagine what idiots would do that to a yearling because the racing people do this inhumane abuse to baby horses all the time without it necessarily becoming a matter of public record.

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