According to Equibase, Secreto Primero was “pulled up in distress and vanned off” in the 4th at Turf January 8. He is in fact dead – euthanized, say the stewards, for broken sesamoids. Secreto was seven years old and under the whip for the 41st time.

Indian Brew, on the other hand, apparently finished his race without incident on the 13th. After “walking off,” however, “exam and radiographs found [a] fractured right knee – euthanized.” Indian Brew was two and under the whip for just the 2nd time.

This is horseracing – every day.

As the Stronachs and Gulfstream ready for their big day tomorrow – the $3 million Pegasus – today it was but business as usual. About two hours ago, in the 2nd race of the day, this for the 2-year-old filly Strong Performance: “…fell while in distress nearing the seven sixteenths pole and euthanized” (Equibase). What are the odds for a moment of silence before the Pegasus goes off tomorrow? Please. This (relatively) cheap horse has already been forgotten. Vile – to the core.

In a recent blog post, Craig Bernick, president/CEO of Glen Hill Farm, a major breeding/racing operation, laments that most of his beloved industry remains dependent on the corporate welfare that flows in from slots and other gaming:

“At some point the horse racing industry…stopped caring about gambling on live horse racing. … Without question, horse owners have enjoyed the benefits of expanded gambling in many states via purse supplements. … As great as these benefits are to today’s horse owner, they have warped the sport. Actual gambling on racing is almost inconsequential to running racing in states that have such supplements.

Racetracks are now mostly owned by gaming companies whose aim is to maximize shareholder value. … Since January 1, 2000, the share price of Churchill Downs Incorporated has increased from $7.67 to roughly $140 today for a market cap of $5.6 billion. In that time Churchill has shifted from a horse racing company to a diversified gaming corporation. … While their mission has evolved, it is unthinkable to blame them for doing what is in the best interest of their investors.

“Owners will always push for the highest purses. ‘Protecting the purse account’ is seen as the single most important issue for horsemen’s groups. They’ve been largely successful – purses have stayed level for twenty years, while total races run have dropped by 35%. … The future is likely going to be significantly different.

Racing is facing decoupling – allowing tracks to stop racing while retaining licenses to operate alternative gaming. This has spread significantly across greyhound racing and will shift to Thoroughbreds in the future. The majority of racetracks don’t care about racing. That’s a dangerous sentiment from the perspective of owners and breeders, but it is reality.

“Recap stories from 2019 summarized the overall financial picture of racing in four words – handle down, purses up.

“Gamblers today have so many options…. Wagering on Thoroughbred racing is already down roughly 50% adjusted for inflation over the last 15 years. … Purse subsidies have benefitted many, but we should not expect them to sustain our business indefinitely, particularly as decoupling spreads. Racing needs to be more sustainable on its own. Currently, it isn’t. … Let’s start while there’s still time.”

Good luck with that, Mr. Bernick. The writing, as they say, is on the wall. As more legislators become educated on this egregious corporate welfare (egregious because in propping up an archaic gambling business, states are taking money away from children’s education, infrastructure repair, etc.) and the cash spigot gets shut off, tracks will continue to close. As this unfolds, we Americans will doubly benefit: more money for the public good, and more important – moral progress.

The California Horse Racing Board has disclosed the following kills:

Katies Easy Moves at Los Alamitos Sunday. Katies was “injured and vanned off” after finishing 4th (and “winning” $600 for his people) in the 6th race, and subsequently euthanized. He was six years old and under the whip for the 38th time.

Super Beauty at Golden Gate Saturday. The Board says “gastrointestinal,” but curiously the 2-year-old filly was, according to Equibase, “worked out” that day.

As California Racing continues to tell the world how they are leading the way on safety reforms, the bodies continue to pile up. Thus far, 2020:

Ruby Roundhouse, Jan 1, Los Alamitos S – “gastrointestinal”
Golden Birthday, Jan 1, Santa Anita R – “took a bad step” (broken leg)
Elegant Sundown, Jan 5, Golden Gate R – “catastrophic injury…euthanized in the van”
Jest Famous, Jan 7, Los Alamitos S – “gastrointestinal”
Buckstopper Kit, Jan 7, Santa Anita S
Eyell Be Back, Jan 10, Los Alamitos R (euthanized Jan 12) – “carpus”
Harliss, Jan 17, Santa Anita R – “fractured RF ankle”
Super Beauty, Jan 18, Golden Gate T – “gastrointestinal”
Uncontainable, Jan 18, Santa Anita R – “fractured ankle”
Katies Easy Moves, Jan 19, Los Alamitos R – “fetlock”
Tikkun Olam, Jan 19, Santa Anita T – “head-on collision”

In a FOIA request to the Illinois Racing Board, I have confirmed the following deaths at that state’s tracks in 2019. (This is Part 2; Part 1 can be found here.)

Neuqua, Jul 27, Arlington R – “sesamoid fractures…humanely euthanized”

Crafty Attack, Aug 10, Fairmount R – “fractured carpus”

R Rocket Man, Oct 12, Hawthorne R – “open, comminuted fx…euthanized on track”
(Equibase says the 2-year-old colt, about to be whip-raced for the very first time, was “restless in the gate before the start.”)

Go Oshie Go, Oct 12, Hawthorne R – “dropped dead on track” (five years old)
(This was the very next race after R Rocket was euthanized on the track. The chartwriter said Go Oshie fell after “[taking] a few erratic steps.”)

Magic Dragon, Oct 22, Hawthorne T – “collapsed and died on track” (four years old)

Royal’s Position, Oct 26, Hawthorne T – “[multiple] fractures – multiple fragments”

Mummy Troll, Nov 10, Hawthorne T (euthanized Nov 12) – “MCIII fracture”

Kinsella, Nov 14, Hawthorne R (euthanized Nov 19) – “joint collapse”

Echoes of Laughter, Nov 24, Hawthorne T (euthanized Nov 25) – “joint collapse”

Snapperette, Dec 13, Hawthorne R – “complete, open fetlock disarticulation”