Carnage at the Gate, and How They Tried to Cover It Up

A guest post this morning from regular HW contributor Mary Johnson:

As most of you here know by now, the racing people rely on smoke and mirrors to minimize the carnage that occurs on their tracks and prefer to keep their dirty secrets behind closed doors. In other words, sanitizing their image is their main focus.

According to the official race chart, 3-year-old Dawgmentality was a simple “scratch” at Presque Isle October 10. No other information given. But I have learned from an eyewitness that day that Dawg in fact died at the gate. Here is that person’s description of what happened:

“At first the gate crew attempted to load a fractious Dawgmentality from the front by backing him into the gate. That attempt was almost successful, but before the front closed the horse reared up and leaped forward. An attempt was then made to load the horse from the back of the gate (the way most horses are normally loaded), but Dawgmentality never made it. When he got to the side of the gate, he put all four feet down and wouldn’t budge and refused to move forward. He then reared straight up, flipped over and fell to his left side.

“It looked as if Dawgmentality hit his head, and he didn’t move for approximately 15 seconds. He then attempted to get up but couldn’t, and appeared to be paralyzed and convulsive. He was flopping around with legs flailing but continued to try to stand up. Someone from the gate crew knelt on his neck to keep his head on the ground. The screen was then brought to the gate, and Dawgmentality was euthanized. At no time did the track vet or official starter intervene when it was quite obvious that this horse did not want to go near that starting gate.”

Horrible. Simply horrible. And a perfect illustration of how the racing industry whitewashes, or at least attempts to whitewash, its daily ugliness.

A source at the track has also confirmed these other deaths at Presque Isle during its recent meet. All four were merely reported as “vanned off,” nothing else.

5-year-old Magic Bomb, July 4 (“one of his front legs was dangling”)
5-year-old Truckin Tommy, August 8
6-year-old Eurobeliever, September 6
4-year-old Super Gremlin, September 19

It remains to be seen whether Patrick receives information on these horses from the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission. But we won’t hold our breaths.

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  1. All of this abuse, killing and inept and incompetent handling of horses and lack of training (schooling/teaching) of a horse to enter the gate reflects badly on their “sport” on a daily basis. How bad does it have to be for someone such as the members of the Racing Commission to understand this gross atrocity? How about The Jockey Club?

    Dear Sirs: The daily routine cruelty to Thoroughbred racehorses with multiple injured and subsequently dead horses as a consequence reflects badly not only on your “sport” but also on your characters as human beings. Treating horses inhumanely and attempting to hide it makes you look like thugs and criminals. Just stop. Get a job that makes a positive contribution to our society.

  2. Mary thank you for telling the real story behind the “scratch” of Dawgmentality.
    He was executed at the gate while one of his executioners sat on his neck.
    It is outrageous how much of the brutality and carnage never sees the light of day.

  3. Starting gate accidents have to be among the most catastrophic injuries a horse will have at the track. Whether from pain, fear, claustrophobia, lack of training, or human indifference, everyone who works at the track knows what disaster awaits a young Thoroughbred entering the gate. Accidents are waiting to happen even when a young TB enters and leaves a stall or stands in cross ties. No horse should be forced against his or her will to enter a starting gate. The fact that so many men are hired to force unwilling horses to load the gates proves how cruel humans can be plain and simple.

  4. Watch any race at any track. They are routinely shoving horses into the starting gates that refuse to load. It shows improper training at the very least and callous disregard for the horse’s life ultimately just for the bettors to have more options to throw the mighty dollar on. It’s beyond sad and most times it is nothing more than a pathetic exploitative action. Horse racing needs to go the way of dog racing . It is inhumane at the end of the day to subject these animals to the will of people who only want to bilk the last dollar out of them.
    Nothing contained in this recount of Dawg Mentality’s horrific death surprises me anymore about the extent that racing tries to sweep their dirty little secrets under the proverbial rug. I can only hope he didn’t suffer long. Rest in peace DM.

  5. There is a lot missing from this article about our horse, this is the result of pure negligence and ignorance from the starter who should have lost his job for this

    • Cassie, please feel free to fill in the “missing” parts. I wrote the story based on an eyewitness account. Dawgmentality deserved so much better than the treatment he received on that fateful day.

      • We owned half and trained him, the amount of people that seen this happen was alot, but they do not know the entirety and the behind the scene, Patrick has my phone number I reached out to him on this, and yes I myself train race horses and yes I reached out to him and spoke to him regarding this, feel free to get my phone number from him and contact me for the entire truth and negligence.

  6. We, who speak for the horses, are well aware of how the racing industry tries to cover up many of the atrocities that occur when horses put their “lives on the line” for betting entertainment but it isn’t just the industry itself that tries to sanitize its image. Those individuals who support the industry also try to discredit us whenever an opportunity presents itself. I call those individuals “babblers” and I’m going to give an example of one that I recently encountered.

    About three weeks ago, there was a post on FB from a Ms. Lydia Epner as she desperately tried to discredit Patrick Battuello and HW. This isn’t the first time I have observed posts from someone trying to sanitize racing’s image but it is the most recent. I had stated in a previous post that Mountaineer was a “hell hole” and Epner immediately pounced asking me if I had ever been there or was I just parroting what I saw someone else tweet. I responded that I had been to Mountaineer multiple times and thanked her for challenging me. She then stated, and I quote, “Horse Racing Wrongs has lists and lists of ‘dead horses’ posted, many of whom are hanging out on farms in Lexington, because they know that they can trick people like you (meaning ME) into thinking that every DNF is a fatality. It is a famously disreputable source.” Poor Ms. Epner. She is either delusional or ignorant, perhaps a bit of both. By accusing HW of being a “famously disreputable source,” she is actually criticizing the industry that she supports of being deceitful. ALL of the horses that HW lists as DEAD come directly from the racing industry itself through FOIA requests or from racing charts, so if Epner, or anyone else, has a problem with Patrick’s lists, they need to redirect their accusations to the industry they support. Finally, I asked Epner to post the names of the horses that HW has listed as DEAD that are actually hanging out on farms in Lexington. So far, all is quiet in Epner’s delusional world. Once again, a “babbler” comes up empty.

    • To say these horses that have been confirmed dead by the Racing Commission are “hanging out on farms in Lexington” is somewhat laughable but very nauseating.

  7. Sad to say, some people will actually believe this nonsense even though Ms. Ebner can’t produce a scintilla of evidence to support her ridiculous claim.

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