On April 16, the Paulick Report quoted from an Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association email to members: “Due to the current events at Turf Paradise which have seen an unacceptable rise in horse injuries and euthanizations, the HBPA is strongly encouraging that our horsemen consider the current track conditions and uptick in injuries before you enter horses for races.”

In a Facebook response, the track’s GM, Vincent Francia, wrote: “Every race meet, near the end of the meet like we are now, we experience a rash of breakdowns. We’ve never been able to determine with certainty why that is. Is it the track? Are some horses over-raced and tired? Is it something we’re missing?”

And he wasn’t done: “Right now we’re experiencing strong late-afternoon winds which dry the surface of the track. … Are these drying winds contributing to the problem? Again we don’t know for sure. Are some of our horses tired from their campaign? … The point is, the solutions to taking corrective action begin with the fact that you have horses that race over a track and you have a track that horses race over. Sounds simplistic but that’s where the corrective measures begin.”

Vincent Francia: callous, clueless, and witless all rolled into one.

So how many horses did die, and was it a “rash”? To find those answers, I placed a FOIA to the Dept. of Gaming. From Jan 1 to Apr 30 – just four months – 26 horses died at Turf Paradise. Over a full year, that would be almost 80 deaths. Imagine that. As to the “rash,” partly true. From Apr 6 to Apr 28, 8 horses were killed while racing. However, during that period there were only 15 racedays; i.e., toward the end of the meet, at least one horse was dying in a race every other day. But as mentioned, 18 others – spread evenly throughout – joined them on the “Fatality Tracker”:

And now, the details…

Siculo, Jan 4, R – “acute, comminuted fractures; tendon and ligament tears with extensive soft tissue hemorrhage”; also: “multifocal, subacute, ulcerative gastritis”

From the Get Go, Jan 5, S – “sudden death” (just two years old)

He Doesnt Listen, Jan 7, T – “severe sesamoid fractures, ruptured tendons, rupture[d] ligament, extensive hemorrhage”; also: “mild, multifocal hepatitis” (just two years old)

Taylor’s Addiction, Jan 14, T – “severe, acute, comminuted fracture with associated severe, acute, regionally extensive subcutaneous hemorrhage”

“The first phalanx of the LF limb is fractured into greater than 7 pieces of variably sized, irregular bone fragments. The superficial digital flexor insertion is torn.”

“This horse had been off since its last race on 7/7/19. According to prerace exam records, the trainer reported the horse had LF ankle surgery in early 2020.”

Jd El Muneco, Jan 18, T – “complete, transverse, comminuted fracture through the neck of the right scapula; deep muscular hemorrhage”

“Other findings in this horse included chronic gastric ulcers and stomach worms.”

Jd El Muneco was just one year old. One – “chronic gastric ulcers, stomach worms.”

Sacatone, Jan 19, R (euthanized Jan 24) – “severe, acute, comminuted fractures with associated hemorrhage and edema”; also: “severe, chronic degenerative joint disease”

Abby Swan, Jan 27, R (euthanized Jan 28) – “severe, acute, open fracture of the RF fetlock with dislocation and associated severe subcutaneous hemorrhage; torn tendon; torn ligament; medially displaced distal limb”

Skarboni, Feb 2, R – “severe, comminuted sesamoidean fracture; bony fragments throughout surrounding soft tissue; torn ligament”; also: “chronic stomach ulceration”

El Cacheton, Feb 7, S – “colic” (just three years old, had been raced twice in January)

Sunny Kat, Feb 8, T – “fracture and dislocation below the RF fetlock”

“This horse had resumed training in Oct 2020 after a two year layoff.” (nine years old)

Sailing for Home, Mar 1, R – “fractured fetlock”

Ramona Lover, Mar 8, T – “compound, comminuted fracture of P1; P1 has been
obliterated and is in multiple fragments, some of which protruded through the skin”

George’s Chance, Mar 9, S – “stall accident – fracture” (just one year old)

Town Pearl, Mar 22, T – “severe, comminuted fracture of P1 (approximately 15 variably sized pieces) with severe, acute subcutaneous hemorrhage”

“This horse is reported to have a surgical repair using a screw in the LF [same leg that broke] ankle. [T]here was also evidence of degenerative joint disease.”

And more:

“On abdominal examination, the non-glandular mucosa has multifocal, variably sized areas of ulceration. There are three adult roundworms in the jejunum; the roundworms [are] 9-12 cm long and approximately 0.3-0.5 cm in diameter.”

Town Pearl was just three years old.

Sparkling Unicorn, Mar 30, S – “sudden death” (just four years old)

Big Ruby, Apr 1, S – “pneumonia” (had just turned two)

Silvanus, Apr 2, T – “severe, open, comminuted fracture of tibia and fibula with large amount of hemorrhage and muscle damage; sharp piece of bone protruding out of a 3.5×5.5 cm wound on the leg; multiple fragments of tibia within the hock joint”

“There are multiple incidental findings such as the gastric ulcers.”

Gastric ulcers as “incidental” – vile.

“This horse had 75 lifetime races. In its [‘its,’ not his] most recent race on 3/9/21, the horse stumbled out of the gate. That was the first race after a one year layoff.”

Silvanus was 12 years old.

Ap Adamari, Apr 6, R – “[fell after wire] fractured shoulder” (two years old, first race)

Fortified Effort, Apr 7, R – “fetlock fracture followed by traumatic dislocation of joint, collateral and annular ligaments ruptured”; also: “gastric ulceration and
suspected exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage”

Mr Right Now, Apr 9, R – “fractured sesamoids”

Sermon by the Sea, Apr 12, R – “multiple comminuted (multiple fragments) fractures, acute soft tissue hemorrhage”

Quality Line, Apr 13, R – “acute, severe, extensive, open fracture”

“There is an open fracture of the LH cannon bone that contains moderate debris of dirt and hair as well as a large amount of hemorrhage. The right side of the face and neck is bloody and covered in dirt and debris. Two ticks are in the deep left ear canal and four ticks in the right ear canal. There is also evidence of significant chronic
ulceration in the stomach.”

Tammy’s Window, Apr 14, R – “severe, acute, comminuted fractures with extensive hemorrhage and tearing of capsule and superficial digital flexor tendon”

McKale, Apr 16, S – “laminitis both front feet” (just five years old)

Long Gun, Apr 23, R – “fractured spine or pelvis”

If I Had a Nickel, Apr 28, R – “[multiple] fractures with associated tearing of ligaments”

Some other passages of note from the reports:

“Proximal sesamoid bone fractures may carry an occurrence rate as high as 41.5% in racing Thoroughbred horses. Approximately 80% of all forelimb proximal sesamoid bone fractures are biaxial (both the lateral and medial sesamoid bones are fractured). Racing puts excessive force on suspensory ligament attachments to the proximal aspect of these bones, and creates the condition of fetlock joint hyperextension, predisposing this location to injury.”

“The carpal bone injuries are relatively common findings in race horses, which are thought to be a consequence of repetitive impact trauma associated with fast exercise and training.”

“[Chronic ulcers are] a common finding in racehorses mostly attributed to stress, high grain diet, and higher use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”

Through a FOIA request to the Arizona Department of Gaming, I have confirmed the following kills at that state’s tracks in 2020.

notes:
Words in brackets and italics are mine.

Throughout, the Department refers to the horses as “its,” further underscoring how this industry truly views its “athletes.”

Covid significantly affected the numbers below. From the Department: “Turf Paradise ceased live racing on March 11, with the cancellation of that day’s card. For the balance of 2020, there was no live racing or training in Arizona.”

In some cases, I have included additional comments from the Department. As you will plainly see, portents were there, but, as the old saying goes, the show must go on.

Bad Girl, Jan 8, Turf T – “[multiple] fractures, [multiple] ligament ruptures RF”

“This horse was on the vet’s list at Hastings Race Course on 7/14/2019 for being lame in the left rear leg. It returned to racing on 7/23/2019.”

Secreto Primero, Jan 8, Turf R – “[multiple] acute, complete fractures LF; tear in ligament; tendon completely torn; severe, chronic, active ulcerative gastritis”

“In 2019, this horse had two entries on the CA vet’s list: 4/20/2019 for injury due to falling down. On 9/12/2019 the horse was claimed but was found grade 3/5 lame on the left front leg [same leg that broke down]. The horse worked to get off the vet’s list at Turf on 11/3/2019 but was lame on the left front [same leg that broke down] post work. It raced and won on 12/22/2019.” Next race – dead.

Indian Brew, Jan 13, Turf R – “[multiple] comminuted fractures, torn cartilage”

I’m Amore, Jan 15, Turf T – “multiple fractures, ruptured ligament, torn tendon”

“This horse was put on the CA vet’s list on 10/15/2019 because it had an intra-articular injection (joint not specified).”

Obligated to None, Jan 19, Turf R – “horse finished last, 36 back; once the horse returned to its stall, it laid down and could not get back up: complete pelvic fracture that resulted in extensive hemorrhage that involved the majority of the LH limb”

In his preceding five races, all at Turf, Obligated finished a combined 70 lengths back.

Celtic Warrior, Jan 25, Turf R – “multiple fractures with bone exposure LF fetlock; skin degloved, cartilage erosion, chip fracture LH limb; hemorrhage RF limb; hemorrhage, loose cartilage fragments RH limb”

That’s issues in all four limbs. Celtic was only three years old.

Raider Red, Feb 8, Turf S – “colic”

Raider had been raced 64 times, most recently three days before dying – finished last.

Roses for Laura, Feb 8, Turf T – “open fracture RF fetlock; there are multiple areas of gastric ulceration and hemorrhage in non-glandular portion of the stomach which is common finding in racing horse”

Buddy Princess, Feb 9, Rillito R – “open avulsion injury, segments of bones are missing; over 30% of distal metacarpal bone is exposed; surfaces of the bone, soft tissue, and tendons are covered in dirt; suspensory ligament is completely ruptured”

Buddy was 12 years old, and this was her 52nd race – but first in two years.

Adorned, Feb 9, Turf S – “cast in stall, fractured neck”

Randy’s Boy, Feb 15, Rillito R – “[multiple] fractures with severe hemorrhage”

“The horse had one vet list entry for a quarter crack in October 2018.”

Cowgirl Barbie, Feb 19, Turf T – “horse was working on the main track when it stumbled, fell and could not get back up – [cause of death] not determined; trainer observed some gait abnormalities prior to the work”

Cowgirl was just one year old.

Senor Grits, Feb 19, Turf R – “open fracture covered in dirt, sand, and mud; partially ruptured tendon; completely ruptured ligament; severe, chronic degenerative joint disease with joint fusion/capsular fibrosis LF [same leg that broke down]”

“This horse was put on the vet’s list 2/24/2019 for being lame on pre-race exam. It returned to racing 8/31/2019. This was the first race since then.”

Sedona Moon, Feb 21, Turf T – “comminuted fractures, tendon rupture”

Sedona was just one year old; this was his first training session.

Destiny’s Storm, Mar 3, Turf R – “[multiple] fractures; osteoarthritis multiple joints”

“This horse had a poor performance at Los Alamitos on 9/11/2019 and was put on stewards list.”

Destiny’s was just three years old – “osteoarthritis multiple joints.”

Stratton, Mar 7, Turf R – “numerous ligament ruptures, joint disarticulation; chronic degenerative joint disease both front fetlocks”

“This horse was put on the Steward’s list for a poor performance on 12/21/2019.” Three races later – dead.

Wit and Wisdom, Mar 9, Turf R – “[multiple] fractures LF; degenerative joint disease within both front fetlocks”

“This horse was on the California vet’s list as of 5/25/2019 for being cast in stall and injuring the LF leg [same leg that broke down]. On 6/8/2019, it was put on the CA vet’s list for being unsound on the LF leg [same leg that broke down] post race. Received 4 mg of Predef 2X in both front fetlocks on 2/15/2020, then raced on 2/18.” Next race after that – dead.

Devil’s Wildcat, Apr 14, Turf S – “colic”

Devil’s had been raced 49 times, most recently Mar 3.

Roman Pleasure, Dec 30, Turf S – “colic”

Roman had been raced 54 times, most recently Dec 7.

Through a FOIA request to the Arizona Racing Commission, I have confirmed the following kills at that state’s tracks from May 1-Dec 31, 2019 (the first four months of the year can be found here).

La Reina Del Rancho, May 3, Turf S – “colic”
Tizjohndeersway, Jun 15, Arizona Downs R – “fracture LF”
Dashing Star, Jul 7, Arizona Downs T – “spinal injury”
High Profit, Jul 21, Arizona Downs T – “head trauma, cervical spine”
Jomelo, Aug 10, Arizona Downs R – “fractured sesamoids” (63rd race)
Nana’s Rule, Aug 10, Arizona Downs R – “cannon”
Dales Cash, Aug 25, Arizona Downs R – “shoulder”
Out Trump’d Her, Sep 17, Turf S – “colic”
Revykyroan, Oct 13, Turf S – “flipped, head [trauma]”
Whoodat, Oct 14, Turf S – “colic”
Absolute Royalty, Oct 14, Turf R – “fractured sesamoid”
Best It, Oct 14, Turf R – “fractured sesamoid”
Raspberry Punch, Oct 15, Turf S – “pneumonia” (raced 46 times)
Silver Band, Oct 16, Turf T – “fractured leg”
Cold Hard Luck, Oct 18, Turf T – “broken shoulder”
Full Access, Oct 22, Turf R – “fractured carpus”
Saltarin, Oct 28, Turf R – “fractured fetlock”
Erica’s Tiger, Oct 29, Turf T – “trauma”
Dw Carolina Flash, Nov 3, Turf R – “fractured sesamoid”
Survivour, Nov 5, Turf S – “colic”
Cash Money Always, Nov 8, Turf T – “fractured fetlock”
Truly Unusual, Nov 10, Turf S – “colic” (9 years old, raced 98 times)
Eva’s Classy Baby, Nov 10, Turf R – “fractured carpus”
Gottem All Buzzin, Nov 14, Turf T – “abdomen laceration”
Thunder Basin, Nov 24, Turf R – “fractured carpus”
United We Stand, Nov 26, Turf S – “colic”
Raise the Gamble, Nov 26, Turf R – “fracture”
Swayze, Dec 2, Turf R – “ligament tear”
Sierra Steel, Dec 7, Turf R – “fractured pelvis”
Justa Blue Hat, Dec 19, Turf T – “fracture”

Through a FOIA request to the Arizona Racing Commission, I have confirmed the following kills on that state’s tracks through April 30:

Popyhowuspelcupcak, Jan 1, Turf R – “fracture left front leg”
Tribal Hero, Jan 5, Turf T – “fracture left front leg”
Cause for Eviction, Jan 8, Turf R – “fracture pelvis”
Velocitation, Jan 13, Turf R – “fracture left front leg fetlock”
Unusually Striking, Jan 16, Turf R – “fracture left front leg”
Rose Dynasty, Jan 20, Turf R – “fracture spine or pelvis”
Dancin N Moonlight, Feb 2, Turf T – “cannon bone fracture”
Majesty Marie, Feb 9, Rillito T – “fracture left front cannon bone”
Junior G Man, Feb 20, Turf R – “fracture right front fetlock”
Serbian Syclone, Feb 25, Turf R (euthanized Apr 14) – “fracture front leg”
P T Bruiser, Feb 27, Turf T – “fracture right carpus”
Vergelito Two, Mar 3, Turf T – “fracture shoulder”
Ls Power, Mar 31, Turf R – “fracture spine”
Redneck Humor, Apr 7, Turf R – “fracture right front leg”
Lion Command, Apr 15, Turf R (euthanized Apr 16) – “fracture right front leg”
Caramelo P, Apr 28, Turf R – “fracture left rear leg”

In addition, these still-very-much-active racehorses died on track grounds from what the industry craftily calls “non-racing” causes. Technically true, perhaps, but morally they are no less casualties of this vile business than the ones above.

L ‘s Choice, Jan 10, Turf – “illness – lungs”
Top Hat Wildcat, Jan 23, Turf – “laceration abdomen”
Jubilance, Jan 27, Turf – “flipped in stall, hit head, spinal cord trauma”
Surely a Bullet, Feb 4, Turf – “weight loss, cancer”