Arthur Hancock III is a world-renowned Thoroughbred owner and breeder, a member of racing royalty. In an op-ed published by the Paulick Report (11/23/13), Hancock had this to say about his cherished sport:

“Sadly, the federal government’s compassion shown for pit bull dogs [speaking of the fed’s prosecution of Michael Vick] has been absent in the terrible mistreatment of Thoroughbred horses that is occurring daily at racetracks across America. According to the New York Times, every week in the United States, 24 Thoroughbred horses die while racing and countless others are broken down and maimed for the rest of their lives because they are being drugged to enhance their performance.

These wonderful animals are given countless numbers of so-called ‘therapeutic’ drugs that are in essence performance-enhancing drugs. These include painkillers like Butazolidin which thins the blood, causing horses to bleed and, of course, Lasix to remedy the bleeding. Lasix has also been proven to leach calcium from the bones of human beings, making them susceptible to more fractures, etc.”

Regrettably, Mr. Hancock, probably due to an unfortunate mix of DNA and from-birth immersion, stops short of full enlightenment: We should end the pervasive drugging because “these brave animals [once] pulled our covered wagons across America and carried us into battle,” not because whip-forcing them to run for gamblers is a self-evident wrong. In fact, Hancock cares deeply about those gamblers (of course, they pay the bills): “…is Washington callous to the consequences its citizens must endure from wagering on drugged horses?” Pity the poor played players.

Hancock ends thus: “And so the beat goes on. Next week, 24 more horses will die and countless others will be crippled. Four percent of our fans will have deserted us by the end of the year, as they do every year. It is my hope that the federal government will wake up and do something about all of this. Nobody else will. Nobody else can.”

Here’s hoping they don’t. Let a sinking ship sink.

The following, unless otherwise noted, were “vanned off” American tracks last week.

2-year-old As High as the Sky, Beulah, race 1
3-year-old Fatherscountrygirl, Beulah, race 5 (“broke down”)
5-year-old Master Splash, Finger Lakes, race 2 (“in distress”)
6-year-old Mam Bird, Parx, race 6 (“fell”)

5-year-old Brandy’s Big Guy, Aqueduct, race 9
3-year-old G’s Calling, Delta, race 4 (“broke down”)
4-year-old Pleasant Closing, Hawthorne, race 8
5-year-old My Fever, Hawthorne, race 9

3-year-old Sacred Ovation, Hollywood, race 5 (“bleeding from the nostrils”)
3-year-old Orangeyouacutie, Hollywood, race 5
3-year-old Monster Dinner, Charles Town, race 6 (not vanned but “bled”)
7-year-old Hammurabi, Golden Gate, race 6 (“broke down,” unclear on van off)
2-year-old Smokin Deal, Remington, race 1 (“pulled up in distress”)
4-year-old Cat Tail Cutie, Remington, race 3 (“broke down”)

4-year-old M One, Churchill, race 3
3-year-old Heza Tipping Fast, Evangeline, race 5
5-year-old Bo Devil, Retama, race 5

4-year-old Fiftyfour Forever, Aqueduct, race 9
8-year-old Henry the Lover (47th start), Charles Town, race 4
4-year-old Flavored Punch, Charles Town, race 7 (not vanned but “bleeding from nose”)
6-year-old Awesome David, Charles Town, race 9 (“pulled up lame”)
2-year-old Like a Deputy, Delta, race 3 (2nd consec DNF – “shied from whip” on 11/1)
2-year-old Dashing Nic, Evangeline, race 5 (confirmed dead)
2-year-old Jess Spicey (after winning), Evangeline, race 9

6-year-old Rock Solid Charm, Golden Gate, race 9
4-year-old Let’s Get Lucky, Hawthorne, race 6
2-year-old Jagger Br, Los Alamitos, race 9 (“took bad step,” “in distress”)
6-year-old Mufaajy, Portland, race 7 (“went wrong”)
8-year-old Joy of the Lord (60th start), Turf, race 6

Dashing Nic, two, was killed after finishing 8th in last evening’s 5th race (his fourth career start) at Evangeline Downs. The gelding was ridden by David Alvarez, trained by Robert Touchet, and owned by Clark Wayne Stout. Later in the Evangeline night, Jess Spicey, yet another 2-year-old running for the fourth time, was vanned off after winning her race.

Equine veterinarian Kraig Kulikowski (statement to the New York State Humane Association):

“A two year old horse is the equivalent to a six year old human. Neither species is mentally or physically mature at this age. Asking a six year old human to be exploited as a professional athlete for economic gain would be considered inhumane. Exploiting juvenile horses for economic gain is equally inhumane. They are subject to permanent mental and physical trauma that, in too many cases, is catastrophic and even fatal.”