“Found Dead” at Belmont – NYRA’s 49th Kill This Year

Yet another death at a New York Racing Association track. Wayward Ghost, says the Gaming Commission, was “found dead” in his Belmont stall Saturday – “found dead,” that is, at the tender age of three. He had been under the whip only twice, the second of which came Jul 26 at Saratoga: 11th, 52 lengths back. It’s worth noting that despite that finish, and because of the gifted slots revenue from the Aqueduct racino, Wayward’s exploiters – breeder/owner Albert Fried Jr., trainer Charlton Baker – still “won” $215.

For NYRA, which never fails to remind us that the “safety and welfare of the equine athletes is [their] highest priority,” this makes 49 (that we know about) kills on the year.

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  1. I think of my Winnipeg, Canada farm sanctuary friends who rescue formerly raced horses at auction (often, to be sent live by plane to Japan to become someone’s steak dinner) and how they provide what is essentially end of life care. The horses are very damaged and sickly. This sanctuary provides however many months or years the horses can live in reasonable comfort with excellent, close veterinary care, and then a truly loving euthanasia when it is too much to bear for the horses. Contrast that with Wayward Ghost’s end AT THREE YEARS OLD, all alone, a baby, really, too, deprived of his mother and of anyone being there as he suffered and died alone. This is the height of cruelty and any decent person would hang their hat and say, “No more” and spend the rest of their lives, as Jo Anne Normile, author of “Saving Baby” and horse rescuer, has done in an attempt at restitution for (in her case, not realizing what could happen) what has happened to a raced horse. What do these remorseless owners do? Collect their “earnings”, in this case, under $300!! On a horse who was clearly suffering on the track!! AND then they move on to the next horse to torture!

    Patrick, on Thursday I drove my friend ,Tess Faulkner, (she was at the AR March this weekend) past Belmont to show her what it looked like. I told her that it always looks so quiet and “nothing going on” because the horses are kept in the stalls for 23 hours a day, all alone. And how you and Dr. Nicholas Dodman speak so often of the severe suffering of the animals kept that way, 365 days a year. Tess said that this fact ought to be emphasized, especially the phrase I used ” they don’t get to go to pasture, ever, most of them” because it hit her hard learning this fact. I know you already DO emphasize this fact but I will try to say it more clearly and emphatically to people who are learning.

    • Martha, thank you for pointing out the significance of the suffering that horses endure regarding being kept confined in stalls 23-hours a day, seven days a week. I’ve been aware of this type of cruelty to horses for several years. I saw how some horses tolerate it differently up close and personal in 1977 when I worked for a Thoroughbred racehorse trainer as a groom for about 8 days. (My circumstances were such that I went a different direction to make a long story short.) I grew up with the set of circumstances where our horses (not racehorses) and ponies could be turned out to pasture of about 250 to 300 Acres. It’s a far cry from the environment of racetrack confinement.
      There might be some videos still available on the internet showing how horses suffer from being confined to stalls for such an abnormal amount of time. I have seen a video showing the condition of “stall walking” and it’s very disturbing to know how much horses are forced to suffer by the very act of confining horses to stalls for 23/7. There are several different behaviors that horses develop when forced to be confined to small spaces. They usually are called “vices” such as cribbing and weaving. It’s painfully disturbing to watch and not have any say-so or control over how other people keep their horses confined.
      Somewhere on the internet there’s a source that says horses should not be locked up in a stall longer than 10 hours a day. I’m up for that, you know, but that’s not how race tracks operate.
      I have seen the picture on the internet of Del Mar. It’s sickening to see the rows of stalls from the view from the air overhead. It’s like the horses are being “warehoused” in rows and rows of stalls for 23/7. It’s torture for the horses.

  2. I visited a boarding stable that kept their horses confined to stalls the way race tracks do. There was one horse standing with his head in the corner, repeatedly rocking forward and banging his head into the wall, and another horse kicking the wall over and over again. All of the horses showed signs of aggression when approached, and almost every stall looked as though it had been attacked by a swarm of beavers.
    My own baby, who died last year, came from the track and was a horrible wood chewer. He would also become extremely agitated anytime he was confined, pacing and banging the door repeatedly.
    Think about it: how do they punish humans in jail? Solitary confinement. How is a stall any different?

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