During Keeneland’s 5th race Friday afternoon, three-year-old Order of Magnitude “went wrong nearing the furlong marker, was pulled up and vanned off.” Racehorse Memorial reports that the colt fractured sesamoids and was euthanized. Saturday at Delaware Park, Paskha, a three-year-old filly, “broke down and fell in deep stretch [of 4th race].” Sunday at Albuquerque, five-year-old My Sweet Magnolia “was pulled up in distress” in the 6th race. Also on Sunday, two horses were “vanned off” at Belmont (Rewrite History, two, race 6; Trusted Choice, four, race 11) and one at Santa Anita (Smogcutter, two, race 4).
“This is what they are reduced to. After the glory, fame, adulation, they end up on a windy plain at a knackery waiting for a bullet in the head. They communicate with each other. They suffer, they quiver, they shake, they mourn. There is absolutely no dignity for horses who have kept people employed and made them money.” (Ward Young, Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9/28/13)
“I do have a soft spot for some horses. But it is business and I can’t afford to get too attached.” (prominent Australian trainer Peter Moody)
In Australia, roughly two-thirds of the 18,000 Thoroughbreds born each year (the second largest “crop” in the world) will never see a starting gate. The “wastage” – an industry term for the young, relatively healthy horses who do not (or no longer) make the cut – usually ends up as part of the 40,000 horses slaughtered annually for dog food and European palates. The Herald article sets the scene:
“It is hard to imagine a more dispiriting place than the Echuca Saleyards, known as “the doggers”. Here, the horses that are not sold as riding horses, or not rescued, go to the kill pens – to be sold as dog meat. Among the depressed, neglected horses with swollen legs, protruding bones and bad hooves are young, beautiful thoroughbreds and yearlings who were not good enough. Distressed and frightened, the whites of their eyes rolling, neither well fed nor cared for, the horses sense that something is very wrong.
Some of the horses comfort each other, others step forward with trust in their huge liquid eyes as the auctioneer comes to them, shouting, and they are sold for $200 to pet-meat knackeries. One horse is so frightened by the noise it tries to leap out of the high metal pen. It is deeply upsetting to see them driven out in trucks bound for the knackery, where they will spend their last minutes on earth in a corrugated iron shed with ‘Fresh Pet Meat’ crudely painted on it. They will be rounded up and taken one by one into the killing box, where they will be shot in front of each other.”
A world away from the $6 million Melbourne Cup…
Lavalette Gold imploded after crossing the finish line in Thursday’s 4th race at Belmont, and this time the NYRA cameras couldn’t help but capture the ugliness…around the 1:40 mark (Race Replays, Thursday, Race 4). Dead at three. The video, of course, tells another story, one of cover-up and callousness: While the announcer remains dutifully silent – not a word – on the filly’s fall, which was as plain as the nose on his face, the winner’s people gather for their repugnant photo-shoot, proving once more that common decency in these circles is a commodity, unlike the racehorse itself, in short supply.
Also Thursday, Quarter Horse Bt My First Picture died after breaking down in the 9th race at Evangeline Downs (Louisiana). Priced at $5,000 before the gun, she is now worth considerably less. And finally, on Wednesday, two-year-old For Riches was destroyed on-track at Saratoga Race Course after “sustaining [an] injury galloping.” Galloping. Just a baby, he had yet to run a race.
With the deaths of Standardbred Ideal Joe (“possible heart attack” at Vernon Downs) and Thoroughbred Two Comma Guy (while training at Belmont), New York has tallied 85 racehorse deaths through the first 3 quarters of 2013, a statistic not likely to make the “I Love NY” tourism guide.
Finger Lakes: 32
Saratoga Race Course: 8
Saratoga Gaming: 1
Equibase reports that four-year-old Kentucky Hannah, running in yesterday’s 6th race at Penn National, “broke down and fell nearing the turn then was humanely euthanized.” (By the way, to imply that somehow credit is due for ending the misery you – racing – caused is contemptible.) Pity trainer/owner Stephanie Beattie, her earning with Kentucky Hannah had only just begun, and with two wins in four races, the filly was well on her way to becoming a fine revenue stream. To add insult to injury, Beattie is also saddled with disposal costs.
On Tuesday, three-year-old Flashy Eyed Pearl “clipped heels and fell heavily” during the 5th race at Parx. Her status is unknown. That same day at Charles Town, Include Abigail, another pubescent filly, “jostled at the start [of the 9th race], trailed the field then broke down midway on the final turn.” The racing office was unable to update, though I was told that the “jock is fine.” Intentionally, neither Pennsylvania nor West Virginia have NY-type injury/death databases, so kill confirmations are difficult to obtain. This is horseracing.