The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has confirmed that Alittlevodka, a “went wrong, vanned off” in the 3rd at Churchill May 31, is dead. From the official report:

“Gelding was racing in the pack and suddenly pulled up near the 7/16’s pole with an injury to his left front limb. The KHRC veterinarian summoned the equine ambulance and administered a sedative/analgesic to assist loading onto the ambulance and minimize further injury. He was ambulanced off the track and after consulting with the private veterinarian the decision was made to euthanize the gelding due to the extent of his injuries and a poor prognosis.”

Necropsy findings:

“Left forelimb: biaxial sesamoid fractures, comminuted. Right forelimb: There is a single lag screw fracture repair of the first phalanx. On interview with the trainer it was noted that the lag screw in the RF P1 was placed before the horse began racing.”

So: This poor animal suffered a fracture and was operated on prior to ever being entered in a race; was then put to the whip 31 times on a screwed-together leg; was killed when his other leg snapped. This industry’s wickedness knows no bounds.

Shedrow Secrets

Willow, the Final Chapter (chapter 1 here; chapter 2 here)

by Joy Aten

Willow, a recently-raced mare when found starving in October of last year, was humanely euthanized on June 24 with Laura, her rescuer and forever home, at her side. Willow’s severely damaged ankle could no longer support her, nor would it respond to pain management. Although Laura knew Willow’s life would be cut short because of what racing did to her, she had longed for more time with this sweet mare who had learned to trust, and been so easy to love.

Laura’s goodbye: “It was the hardest, yet at the same time the kindest, thing I had to do for Willow. She went to sleep peacefully. Duke and Bart [Willow’s herd mates] came to say goodbye to her, so they knew what happened to their beloved Willow.”

Willow was eight years old; her “forever” with Laura was 230 days.

Time for Parading – “Willow” – found injured and starving nine months after her last race:

Willow shortly after arrival at Laura’s November 7:

Willow enjoying her limited time with one of her mates, Duke. Although Laura was able to bring the starved mare back to a healthy weight, her damaged ankle continued to deteriorate:

Promising Willow she will always be loved:

Willow, a casualty that this vile industry will neither acknowledge nor record. But we will here. Goodbye gentle soul…

Bob Baffert, again. The superstar trainer with 15 Triple-Crown-races wins is back in the hot seat for drug positives. Last fall, you may recall, The New York Times reported that Justify, Baffert’s 2018 “champion,” failed a drug test in a qualifying race in California before going on to win the Kentucky Derby that year. As the Times said, “That meant Justify should not have run in the Derby, if the sport’s rules were followed.” But California officials dragged their feet for months, allowing Baffert time to win his second TC in four years. Eventually, the CHRB cleared Baffert. Its reasoning (and Baffert’s defense): “environmental contamination” (jimson weed in feed/straw).

(On that determination, the Times’ Joe Drape wrote: “Baffert has denied any wrongdoing, but the quantity of the drug found in Justify suggested that it was present not because of contamination in his feed or his bedding but rather because of an effort to enhance performance, according to Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018.”)

Now, word comes that two more of Baffert’s horses – once again, elite ones – tested positive for overages of lidocaine at Oaklawn in May. Baffert’s defense, again: “environmental contamination.” His lawyer, Craig Robertson III, explains (BloodHorse):

“Even though lidocaine is a lawful, widely available therapeutic medication, it was never intentionally administered to either Gamine or Charlatan. When test results indicated that trace [questionable word choice] amounts of lidocaine were found in both horses after their respective races on May 2, Bob Baffert and his team were shocked. … After investigation, it is our belief that both Gamine and Charlatan were unknowingly and innocently exposed to lidocaine by one of Bob’s employees.

“The employee previously broke his pelvis and had been suffering from back pain over the two days leading up to May 2. As a result, he wore a Salonpas patch on his back that he personally applied. That brand of patch contains small amounts of lidocaine. It is believed that lidocaine from that patch was innocently transferred from the employee’s hands to the horses through the application of tongue ties….” (“Tongue ties,” by the way, are abusive in and of themselves.)

Pity this hapless Hall of Famer, he just can’t catch a break.