Maureen Callahan is a prominent columnist for the New York Post, the nation’s fourth largest newspaper. Last night, after a phone interview with me, she published a piece calling for horseracing to end. As with recent board editorials from The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer, this is real, identifiable progress. No longer can we be dismissed as fringe activists with but a tenuous grip on reality. This (our) no-reform, it-must-go message grows stronger with each passing day. So thank you, Maureen. Please read her column – and share.

Last Tuesday at Belmont, the Gaming Commission reports, Wicked Indeed “collapsed in shedrow, regained footing, walked outside and collapsed again.” He was then euthanized “due to ongoing seizure symptoms.” Wicked was five years old and had just been raced three days prior at Aqueduct, where, the chartwriter notes, he “was fractious in the gate” before the race. A sign of the impending collapse? Perhaps.

Friday, Dom’s Feisty Girl “broke down” while training at Belmont. While the horse is dead, the Commission happily reports that there was “no injury to trainer or rider.” Well thank heavens for that (sarcasm, folks), but how would the trainer have gotten hurt anyhow? Dom’s was three years old and had been put to the whip four times.

For the New York Racing Association (Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga), this makes 71 dead horses on the year. At all NYS tracks, we’ve hit the century mark. That’s right, 100 dead “athletes” – more than in each of the past two years. But “reform” is happening all the time, “safety protocols” are ever improving, right? If not for the gravity involved, the Patrick McKennas (NYRA spokesman) of the racing world would make for exquisite parody on Saturday Night Live.

The big news of the day – covered by ESPN, CNN, and everyone in between – is the death of Medina Spirit while training at Santa Anita this morning: “collapsed on the track and died suddenly of a probable cardiac event,” says the track. Pity trainer Bob Baffert as he had ostensibly received a bit of good news last week on Medina’s split test from the Kentucky Derby: the betamethasone positive came from an ointment and not an injection, at least according to his lawyer.

So, another pubescent racehorse (Medina was just three) has simply dropped dead. While this one is the most famous, let us not forget that this is a common occurrence in “The Sport of Kings.” Here are some of the others from just this year:

Treasured Bond, Jan 3, Mahoning T – “collapsed on track, deceased when arrived”
Doc Gardner, Jan 4, Mahoning S – “found dead”
From the Get Go, Jan 5, Turf S – “sudden death”
Cali Caliente, Jan 9, Santa Anita T – “collapsed, got up, did circles, collapsed, death”
That’s Official, Jan 12, Monticello T – “collapsed…died on track”
Favored, Jan 15, Gulfstream R – “fell and perished on the track”
Noor Khan, Jan 17, Los Alamitos T – “staggered, collapsed, [died]”
He’s a Gold Digger, Feb 17, Charles Town T – “heart attack”
Trivial, Feb 17, Hawthorne T – “after returning [to barn] horse collapsed dead”
Sweet Boy, Feb 20, Golden Gate T – “galloped out and fell over dead”
Wicksters Dream, Feb 24, Gulfstream R – “collapsed midway around the turn”
Rockshaw, Feb 25, Oaklawn T – “dropped dead after training”
Rustic Canyon, Feb 26, San Luis Rey T – “collapsed, sudden death, spontaneously”
Bm One Rare Rocket, Feb 27, Oaklawn S – “found dead”
Lunar Heat, Mar 2, Mahoning S – “found dead”
Ultimate Justice, Mar 6, Charles Town T – “sudden death”
Daddy’s Angel, Mar 6, Oaklawn T – “collapsed and died”
Cam Funny, Mar 8, Monticello S – “found dead”
Kiss Me Dave, Mar 20, Aqueduct R – “fell fatally”
Nomadess, Mar 30, Los Alamitos T – “pulled up, dropped dead”
Sparkling Unicorn, Mar 30, Turf S – “sudden death”
Officers Club, Apr 14, Hoosier R – “died on track, heart defect”
Three Babes, Apr 15, Hoosier R – “pulmonary hemorrhage”
T C’s Image, Apr 19, Will Rogers S – “cerebrum hemorrhage”
Pleasant Wish, Apr 24, Tampa Bay R – “cardiovascular event – sudden death”
Allgorilla, Apr 24, Tampa Bay R – “collapsed, sudden death”
Cougartown Blues, Apr 26, Indiana R – “collapsed on track, pulmonary hemorrhage”
S K Flyer, Apr 30, Tampa Bay R – “fell to the track, sudden death”
Communicator, May 3, Penn T – “sudden death”
Zeke the Streak, May 3, Thistledown S – “found deceased”
Wishful, May 9, Monmouth S – “found dead”
Runs for Luck, May 11, Parx R – “collapsed, sudden death”
Smoke ‘n’ Gloat, May 13, Gulfstream R – “collapsed”
Harvest, May 13, Hoosier R – “sudden death on track”
Mister Bobby, May 13, Saratoga T – “collapsed and died”
My Emmally, May 14, Charles Town R – “collapsed and died”
Charlie’s Heir, May 22, Arlington R – “horse went down, had a few spasms, and died”
Geometrico, May 24, Palm Meadows S – “found [dead]”
Pearls in Charge, May 25, Belterra R – “distress, pulled herself up, collapsed, died”
Bunnings, May 26, Indiana T – “pulmonary hemorrhage”
Tapitena, Jun 5, Finger Lakes S – “suddenly collapsed and expired”
Delicious Pursuit, Jun 5, Lone Star R – “acute death”
Apocalypse, Jun 11, Vernon R – “heart attack”
Registrant, Jun 12, Los Alamitos R – “sudden death”
G Q Girl, Jun 14, Thistledown R – “collapsed, died”
Music Babe, Jun 16, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Perrys Dinamite, Jun 17, Arizona T – “sudden death”
Snazzy Cazzy, Jun 17, Golden Gate S – “sudden death”
Tia Vicky, Jun 21, Belmont S – “found deceased”
Easy Return, Jun 24, Sam Houston T – “possible cardiac”
Charge Into War, Jun 26, Belmont R – “cardiac arrest”
Rio Seco, Jul 4, Arlington R – “[sudden death], [possible] heat exhaustion/stroke”
Straightupp, Jul 6, Ruidoso T – “collapsed, sudden death”
Needless to Say, Jul 18, Del Mar T – “apparent heart attack”
Bruce, Aug 2, Los Alamitos S – “sudden death – aortic rupture”
Wasn’t Me, Aug 26, Saratoga T – “possible heart attack”
Kat Eye Kylie, Sep 6, Ruidoso R – “unknown, [just died]”
Baltimore Bucko, Sep 16, Belmont R – “fell fatally to the ground”
Holdfast, Sep 16, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Left Alone, Sep 19, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Fulmini, Oct 9, Gulfstream R – “collapsed and died”
Kakistocracy, Oct 14, Santa Anita T – “sudden death”
Favorite Doc, Oct 16, Los Alamitos R – “sudden death”
Luca’s Ride, Oct 17, Los Alamitos R – “fell, sudden death”

The vile Jorge Navarro is back in the news. The animal abuser is to be sentenced this month for his part in a doping ring that resulted in various federal indictments in 2020. He faces up to five years in prison and possible deportation. Last week, his defense presented reams of character references from family, friends, and, most despicably, racing people. Several focused on his relationship with the dead X Y Jet.

Veterinarian Joel Lugo: “Because of his delicate knee conditions [surgeries in both ’15 and ’17], [X Y Jet] stayed in Ocala for a few months of the year…to rest and rehab. We never discussed the use of any illegal or unethical treatment with him or with any of the other horses. The horse return [sic] to race when we though [sic] the horse was healthy and ready. There was never any pressure from Navarro or the owners. We even discussed his retirement on multiple occasions.” (Paulick Report)

Lugo: “[He] always considered the health and well-being of his horses. Decisions and treatments were made as animal lovers and not for any financial considerations or personal ambitions. I remember the day when X Y Jet passed away [passed away?]. Jorge called me crying…. I know [he] was devastated because he truly loved [him].” (Thoroughbred Daily News)

Navarro’s mother-in-law, Cindy Harries: “That horse loved Jorge; I mean I never seen anything like it. That horse was mean with everyone and not easy to deal with. When X Y Jet died walking in the shed row [yeah, just died walking – at the age of seven] after a routine gallop, a part of Jorge died too.” (Paulick) Meanwhile, former jockey Rene Douglas wrote about Navarro’s “care as a horseman and character as a person.”

And here is what Navarro himself said when he announced X Y’s death in Jan 2020:

“With deep regret, I am sorry to notify you that X Y Jet died this morning as a result of a heart attack. X Y Jet was more than a horse on my trained list, it [not ‘he’] was the one that took us through a wonderful and exciting roller coaster of emotions. He always fought against adversity and despite the injuries that affected him during his career, he always brought out that kind of champion he was.

“Beyond the racetracks, XY Jet becomes [sic] part of my family, was like the older brother of my children and of course, that affection extended to all those who in one way or another related to this swift, mood [sic], but noble racehorse.

“Since his arrival at my stable, I immediately felt that connection with him, which remained until today and will surely remain with me until the day of my departure. I owe X Y Jet so much, that I’m sure there are no words that can specify my thanks to his nobility and class. I do not say goodbye to a horse, I say goodbye to a friend that I will carry forever in my heart. Keep running fast to your next destination X Y Jet.”

And here is what the indictment said:

“[JORGE] NAVARRO and others administered several adulterated and misbranded PEDs to XY Jet prior to both the February 13 race in Florida and the March 30 race in Dubai. On or about February 9, 2019, NAVARRO and MARCOS ZULUETA had a telephone conversation in which they discussed NAVARRO’S need for a particular customized analgesic PED, referred to as a ‘blocker.’ NAVARRO specified that the PED was for administration to XY Jet, and ZULUETA agreed to supply that PED via an overnight shipment.

“NAVARRO further attempted to source additional PEDs for XY Jet…including additional doses of a ‘blocker’ PED. On February 10, NAVARRO wrote to OAKES: ‘Do u have any of that new block that dr makes [?],’ and in subsequent calls between NAVARRO and OAKES, OAKES agreed to procure and deliver the ‘blocker’ PED to NAVARRO in advance of XY Jet’s February 13 race.

“On or about February 11, NAVARRO complained to ZULUETA about XY Jet’s performance in a pre-competition run…. NAVARRO and OAKES discussed a plan to secretly introduce a bottle of the ‘blocker’ into the stable where XY Jet was being held prior to the February 13 race. OAKES confirmed that he would smuggle that PED into the racetrack and meet NAVARRO once inside.

“On or about February 13, the day of the Florida race, NAVARRO instructed OAKES to visit XY Jet to administer the PED, and to lie to racing officials if necessary to access the racehorse: ‘Drive through. If anything, if they stop you, you are an owner and you come to Navarro’s barn.’

“On or about March 22, while in the UAE with XY Jet, NAVARRO personally administered various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to XY Jet, including a substance NAVARRO referred to as ‘monkey.’ During an April 3 call between NAVARRO and MARCOS ZULUETA, the two discussed, among other things, NAVARRO’s administration of PEDs to XY Jet in the weeks leading up to, and on the day of, the race in Dubai, and NAVARRO explained: ‘I gave it to him through 50 injections. I gave it to him through the mouth.’

“Following XY Jet’s victory in Dubai, SETH FISHMAN [a veterinarian who was also indicted] congratulated NAVARRO on the win via text message, and NAVARRO replied, in part and among other things, ‘Thank u boss u are a big part of it.'”

To recap:

Navarro: “He always fought against adversity and despite the injuries that affected him during his career, he always brought out that kind of champion he was.”

FBI: “NAVARRO and OAKES discussed a plan to secretly introduce a bottle of the ‘blocker’ into the stable where XY Jet was being held prior to the February 13 race.”

Navarro: “Beyond the racetracks, XY Jet becomes [sic] part of my family, was like the older brother of my children.”

FBI: “NAVARRO instructed OAKES to visit XY Jet to administer the PED, and to lie to racing officials if necessary to access the racehorse.”

Navarro: “[I] immediately felt that connection with him, which remained until today and will surely remain with me until the day of my departure.”

FBI: “NAVARRO personally administered various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to XY Jet, including a substance NAVARRO referred to as ‘monkey.'”

Navarro: “I do not say goodbye to a horse, I say goodbye to a friend that I will carry forever in my heart. Keep running fast to your next destination X Y Jet.”

FBI: “‘I gave it to him through 50 injections. I gave it to him through the mouth.'”

Again, Jorge Navarro is an obscenity and deserves not a whit of sympathy.