According to the chartwriter at Indiana Grand yesterday, two horses, Bordini and Shadow of Justice, “bled and [were] vanned home.” That’s “bled,” as in hemorrhaged from the lungs. As for the “home” part, conveniently omitted is that “home” for these two is a tiny 12×12 stall where they are kept confined, alone, for the vast majority of their existences. How disconnected – how disgusting – are these people?

Deaths disclosed by the California Horse Racing Board today:

Favorite Doc, “sudden death” after “winning” the 8th at Los Alamitos Saturday. This “sudden death” – usually a cardiovascular collapse or pulmonary hemorrhage – was suffered by a 3-year-old, an equine pubescent.

Electric Ride, at Santa Anita Saturday. The Board is calling this an “other” (“anaphylactic shock,” they say), but the 2-year-old had a timed workout that very day.

Luca’s Ride, in the 2nd at Los Alamitos yesterday. The chart said, “fell, vanned off”; the Board says this, too, was a “sudden death.” Luca was just four.

And from NY:

On the Dean’s List dead at Saratoga Friday – “anaphylactic reaction to antibiotics.” The 3-year-old was coming off a training session at that same track four days prior.

Dead horses every day. This, America, is your “Sport of Kings.”

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about New Jersey’s new (this year) “stringent” whip restrictions – to be used “only for safety reasons.” It is, the Racing Commission boasts, the first of its kind in the nation. (The bettors apparently didn’t like it so much: Monmouth’s average daily handle this summer was down some 17% over last year.) For the jockeys, however, prohibiting their ability to “encourage” was akin to blasphemy. So, at least one enterprising chap went old school. A recent ruling from Monmouth:

“As a result of the evidence and testimony presented in the administrative hearing conducted on September 11 and continued on September 15, the Board of Stewards find that: Jockey Tomas Mejia rode the horse ‘Strongerthanuknow’ in the 7th race at Monmouth Park on September 3, 2021; upon entering the winners circle [yes, Stronger ‘won’] and prior to dismounting, Tomas Mejia was in possession of a prohibited electrical device.” Mejia’s credo: If you can’t whip ’em, shock ’em.

In this instance, the Commission got it right: “Jockey Tomas Mejia is hereby suspended for a period of ten years and fined the sum of $5,000. The period of suspension shall begin on September 10, 2021, and continue through and including September 9, 2031. [Almost laughably, Mejia has the full ten years to pay the fine.] In addition to the penalty issued herein, the Board of Stewards…recommends the permanent revocation of Mr. Mejia’s New Jersey Racing Commission license.”

Career, effectively, over. Still, I’m sure some of you are wondering why this was not charged and prosecuted as animal abuse per NJ law: “torment, torture…unnecessarily or cruelly abuse; inflict unnecessary cruelty upon a living animal or creature,” etc. The answer is quite simple: The state – as represented by police, prosecutors, and courts – maintains a hands-off policy on industries that use animals; those industries basically police themselves (and yes, the NJ Racing Commission is a subsidiary of NJ Horseracing). In other words, no real justice forthcoming. This miscreant may have to find a new line of work, but he’s still a free man, which means he’s free to find other kinds of animals to abuse, or he can simply find a gig jockeying horses at facilities not regulated by the Commission. So again, no justice, no victory.

Last week on U.S. flat tracks (racing only):

Graceful Holiday “vanned off” at Indiana
River Sonata “vanned off” at Parx
Nileator “vanned off” at Parx
Princess Power “vanned off” at Thistledown
Eskendulce “vanned off” at Thistledown
Count Them Again “vanned off” at Zia
O’Haire “returned bleeding from the nostrils” at Thistledown
Astute Warrior “vanned off” at Arapahoe
Joyrunner “vanned off” at Delaware
Enjoyitwhilewecan “went wrong, vanned off” at Keeneland
Maliciosa “vanned off” at Penn
Infinite Reward “collapsed past the wire” at Charles Town
It’s a Deal “fell, DNF” at Delta
Beyond Streetsmart “vanned off” at Hawthorne
Castle “vanned off” at Santa Anita
Higher Flyin Eagle “bled, vanned off” at Will Rogers
Turko “broke down, vanned off” at Arapahoe
Sharp Prospect “pulled up in distress, vanned off” at Belmont
Mo Delirio “vanned off” at Lone Star
Wild Cat Canyon “vanned off” at Los Alamitos
Frost Warning “vanned off” at Fresno
Tizaladybug “vanned off” at Hawthorne
Jillian’s Star “vanned off” at Keeneland
Luca’s Ride “fell, vanned off” at Los Alamitos

While not all the “vanned” end up dead, most do, as borne out by our year-end FOIA reports. But even if death is not the ultimate result, the above are victims nonetheless, suffering painful injuries – in the case of the bleeders, pulmonary hemorrhage – so that some men may gamble, others chase pots of gold. (For any new confirmed deaths during the week, please see our running annual list.)