To anyone with a working knowledge of horseracing, the following comes as no surprise: Princess Dorian, the mare who “took a bad step” and sustained multiple fractures in the 2nd race at Del Mar last Sunday, is dead – euthanized today, says the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, after developing laminitis in both hind legs.

Here is my opinion, one shared, I’m sure, by the vast majority of the aforementioned in-the-know: This poor animal’s suffering was unnecessarily extended for public relations reasons. In other words, had this not been Del Mar, had not two other horses been killed in subsequent races that day, had this not come eight days after Mongolian Groom’s breakdown-heard-round-the-world in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Princess Dorian would have been rightly euthanized that very day.

So – just a few hours after I reported yesterday’s training kill, the list must be updated again. You’ll note that Princess Dorian is recorded here as a racing kill; according to a U-T article, however, “Princess Dorian’s death would not be counted [by the CHRB] as an official ‘racing’ fatality because she was ultimately euthanized because of post-surgery complications.” And that, folks, is Racing’s version of alternative facts.

The Del Mar 2019 Dead:

Charge a Bunch, killed training Jul 18
Carson Valley, killed training Jul 18
Bowl of Soul, killed training Jul 29
unidentified, died in stall Jul 31-Aug 4
unidentified, died in stall Aug 5-Aug 11
Bri Bri, killed training Aug 12
Princess Dorian, killed racing Nov 10 (euth Nov 18)
Ghost Street, killed racing Nov 10
Prayer Warrior, killed racing Nov 10
Slewgoodtobetrue, killed training Nov 17

Desperation – in plates and screws…

Sunday morning, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports, Slewgoodtobetrue “collapsed and died…after a workout” at Del Mar. She was three years old – “collapsed and died.” She is the ninth dead horse “where the turf meets the surf” this year:

Charge a Bunch, killed training Jul 18
Carson Valley, killed training Jul 18
Bowl of Soul, killed training Jul 29
unidentified, died in stall Jul 31-Aug 4
unidentified, died in stall Aug 5-Aug 11
Bri Bri, killed training Aug 12
Ghost Street, killed racing Nov 10
Prayer Warrior, killed racing Nov 10
Slewgoodtobetrue, killed training Nov 17

Last week in U.S. Thoroughbred and Quarterhorse races

Strike Rate “vanned off” at Turf
Tricky Gamble “vanned off” at Parx
Sheza Dandy R F “vanned off” at Zia
Doc’s Rocket “stopped in distress…euthanized” at Delta
Star Performer “vanned off” at Delta
Acoustic Storm “returned injured” at Mahoning
Final Flyer “took a bad step, vanned off” at Mountaineer
Take It All Back “fell, DNF” at Finger Lakes
Ercolano “got vanned off after the race” at Gulfstream W
Blessed by the Best “bled while racing” at Gulfstream W
Top Hat Darlin “collapsed…euthanized on the track” at Charles Town
Diva Day “went wrong” (typically means dead; I will confirm) at Churchill
Tf Shez Jess Dashin “fell after wire” at Evangeline
Start a Runnin “bleeding from the nostrils, vanned off” at Del Mar
Knokke by the Sea “vanned off” at Gulfstream W
Rosepath “vanned off” at Gulfstream W
Coronas Dashin Injun “fell, vanned off” at Zia
Justenuff Hope “was pulled up in apparent distress, vanned off” at Parx
Victorious Jess Jet “vanned off” at Zia
Dashing for Success “fell, DNF” at Zia
Rancers Dancer “fell, vanned off” at Zia

“Vanned Off”: unable to walk off course under own power; many of these horses will resurface on my FOIA kill-reports

“Bled,” “Returned Bleeding From Nostrils”: usually indicates pulmonary hemorrhage

(source: Equibase)

A recently received letter. Please read in its entirety. Then share.

October 28, 2019

Dear Patrick and Friends,

I say “friends” because I feel a united kinship with you and the regular commenters on HRW. I’ve followed HRW since its inception and I am grateful for the tracking you do on every death. Someone needs to remember the horses in a public way and, to me, the kill list reads like a memorial wall to their lives. They aren’t forgotten by everyone.

It is a shame that the owners and trainers and handlers don’t stand up for the horses. One need look no further than the horse racing “industry” to see the worst elements of human existence and the results of apathy and greed. Apathy begets greed. Greed is a hallmark of those without a soul.

I don’t want to reveal my identity or the identity of the TBs I will speak of here for fear of repercussion. I am long out of involvement directly with racing, but the names could alert people still involved. There are a lot of active racing folks who read HRW to find something to bitch amongst themselves about, to deride the information, to see if their names are mentioned there. I hope you understand.

I need very much to share the story of the horses whose names didn’t make it to the lists – private training track deaths, deaths on the farm. These beautiful beings were my friends; I’ve always been able to connect deeply with horses, to feel and understand their hearts and minds. For some time in my life, this made me valuable to the racing business. Horses were my greatest joy and the root of abject sorrow.

I treated horrific soft tissue injuries, helped the vet euthanize those too damaged to patch together anymore, consoled many who were beaten and terrified – so afraid that the sound of grain being poured into their feed bucket sent them bolting against the back of the stall, wild eyed. I have watched “trainers” whip and choke down young horses who were frightened and confused, and I’ve seen (like many of you have) horses keep running – because they were afraid to stop running – with horrific injuries. Yes, horses like to run, but no horse is born dreaming of being run at terror-response-level speeds in a circle.

The worst thing I’ve ever seen was a filly – let’s call her Miss Dee – not quite 18 months old, a magnificent blue-black with two socks and a white star and stripe on her face, gentle, fast, and compliant, in a speed trial under tack for the second time. That little girl was whipped to breakneck speed, and terrified, ran through the rail. She lost her rider but kept running, making a horrendous gasping. Then her guts fell out. She had eviscerated herself on the broken fence but…kept running.

She made it another 40 yards or so before she fell, a two-foot wide streak of purplish blood behind her. She staggered and made a final lunge forward, digging into the earth with her front hooves as she fell. She died with an indescribable expression of horror and pain on her face. It happened so quickly, yet years later, I can still see it and smell the blood.

Her entrails lay in a steaming heap where they fell. All was silent for some seconds as those watching looked on in shock. I went to her and slid the bridle off of her head and just kneeled there, unable to speak. I don’t know how long it was, but then I became aware of people moving around me, and someone telling me to go get a wheelbarrow and haul those guts to the manure pile. Somebody else had already started the tractor to go bury her. In 20 minutes, she was gone. Just gone. No marker for her grave, not even buried whole.

That day was the end of many things for me. It took me years to be able to even talk about that day and that poor baby. I couldn’t work around the horses anymore; although I am just about ready to adopt some of racing’s throwaways and give back to the horses, I feel like I will need the support of like-minded people. Her death broke me, too.

Recently, I drove past and saw that where her unmarked grave was, there is now a small pond and it made me angry and sad that even in death, she was not left in peace.

Please, please share her story if you feel it appropriate. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and how much she meant to me and how very little she meant to others who should have cared.

If you do share her story, please do not identify the state from which you received this letter. Thank you for caring about the horses. God bless you.


Top Hat Darlin in the 5th at Charles Town last night: “chased the pace inside, showed no response leaving the turn, collapsed post race and was euthanized on the track” (Equibase). Dead. Top Hat Darlin was three; ’twas her third time under the whip.

In the race replay (here – hit “Replays,” 15th, race 5, pick up around 3:20 mark), the van carrying the dead Top Hat Darlin off the track can be seen passing by as the “winner” readies for the photo op. You can’t make this stuff up.