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

“Vanned Off”: horse required an ambulance to get off the track; while not all the “vanned” end up dead, most do, as borne out by my FOIA reports

“Bled”: typically indicates pulmonary hemorrhage

Barcode “suffered a catastrophic injury” at Parx
Expensive Lesson “pulled up in distress, vanned off” at Remington
Yours Completely “in apparent distress, vanned off” at Parx
Operation Stevie “vanned off” at Indiana
Foalsfillyspecial “vanned off” at Penn
Two in the Bush “vanned off” at Charles Town
Jessbye Train “vanned off” at Evangeline
Moochie “injured, euthanized on the track” at Laurel
Ekg Paint Me a Jess “vanned off” at Evangeline
Ho Lotta Patriot “vanned off” at Evangeline
May On the Run “vanned off” at Laurel
Hinton “vanned off” at Hawthorne
Mr. Tag “vanned off,” dead at Aqueduct
Sky of Hook “vanned off” at Aqueduct
R Sea Smoke “went wrong, vanned off” at Gulfstream W
Majestic Maiara “pulled up in distress, vanned off” at Gulfstream W
Jess Agree “vanned off” at Los Alamitos

Astonishingly, the “demonstrably safer” New York Racing Association keeps killing horses. In the 1st today at Aqueduct, Mr. Tag, three, was “vanned off” and subsequently euthanized. (The Gaming Commission appended this consolation: “no apparent injury to rider.”) In this, a covid-impacted year, an unconscionable 75 racehorses have died at the three NYRA tracks (Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga). 75. America, you’ve been had. “The Sport of Kings” is nothing more than garden-variety animal cruelty – and mass animal murder.

The chart note for Hinton in the 2nd at Hawthorne yesterday: “a bit reluctant to load, was urged along the inside disputing the pace in the opening half, gave way racing into the far turn, was pulled up entering the lane, then was vanned off the course.”

“a bit reluctant to load”

“was urged along”

“was pulled up”

“was vanned off the course”

Translation: He did not want to “race.” He was forced to anyway – and whipped in the process. He was injured, maybe before the race even started. He was ambulanced away, which means it’s a good (better than even) chance he’s dead today. (I will definitively find out with a FOIA request.) The 6-year-old was under the whip for the 20th time; he had not “won” a race in almost three years. Oh, and he was also “For Sale” at the bargain-bin price of $5,000 prior to. Trainer, Ingrid Mason; owner, Muddy Water Stables; jockey, Charles Roberts.

When its current meet ends on November 28, Scarborough Downs, a harness track in Maine, will be closing – for good. This will leave one active racetrack in Maine (Bangor Raceway) and but two in the whole of New England (the other, Plainridge Park in Massachusetts). Relatedly, both of the remaining tracks are racinos, meaning they are being wholly propped up by government subsidies.

Scarborough opened in 1950 as a Thoroughbred track, but it eventually (1970s) went exclusively harness. Like most of horseracing in general, and virtually all of the harness variety, Scarborough has been in incessant decline for decades. To make matters worse, back in 2016 the track was forced to remove all its horse barns because manure was seeping into local groundwater. The final nail came in 2018 when the massive property was sold to a developer with an eye, the Press Herald reports, toward “a town center with housing, shopping, dining, offices, an interconnected road network, trails, recreation facilities and more.” Yeah, I’d say that’s a whole lot more appealing – not to mention economically stimulating – than an archaic, decrepit racetrack. And an added bonus of a little something called moral progress.

Shuttered U.S. Racetracks (Since 2000)

The Redevelopment of Shuttered Tracks