Through a FOIA request to the Maine Dept. of Agriculture, I was able to confirm the following death in Maine last year. However, this disclosure was basically a fluke, for as has been the case for the past several years the initial response was this:

“Mr. Battuello: Our Department does not possess this information as this is not something that is reported to nor tracked by the Department. You may want to contact the individual Maine tracks directly for the information you seek.”

To which I asked: “So who regulates horseracing in Maine? There must be a specific state agency and if so, shouldn’t it have knowledge of how many horses died?”

I then received the single death-report with this note: “The only record in our department’s possession regarding a horse that died in 2019 is attached.”

Unsatisfied, I wrote back: “Is there someone I can contact at the Maine Harness Racing Commission? There has to be an authority that keeps records of horse fatalities.”

Their answer: “This is the response directly from the Director of the Maine Harness Racing Commission… ‘We don’t track that information and we’re not inclined to. It’s just that we happened to have one responsive document this year.'”

They’re “not inclined” to keep track of their dead “athletes.” Just when you think they can no longer surprise – cannot more disgust – you, they lower the bar. Curiously, I did receive the requested information from this exact same department my very first try back in 2014. But nothing since. Anyhow, here is that dead horse:

unidentified Standardbred, Aug 5, Cumberland Fair S
“The horse was wavering on his feet…within seconds he fell…regained his feet with our assistance. He then unsteadily went down again. I gave him a corticosteroid, but he steadily decreased in his respiration and awareness until he died within a few minutes. He behaved as if heavily sedated, more in line with heart failure.”

Through a “Freedom of Access Act” request, I have confirmed the following 4 deaths on or at Maine harness tracks in 2014. (Note: Maine has no Thoroughbred racing.)

Scootin Keefe, January 14, Scarborough Downs: “Injured in New York during a race…transported to Scarborough for examination. The private practitioner determined the horse needed to be euthanized.” Owner, Gordon Dubois.

Our Desire, April 5, Scarborough Downs: “Diagnosed with a broken leg following a race and was euthanized by a private practitioner.” Owner, Randy Tompkins.

Redestrian, April 17, Scarborough Downs: “Diagnosed with colic and was euthanized by a private practitioner.” Owner, Michael Hubert.

Town Fool, May 20, Bangor Raceway: “Collapsed after a race and was pronounced dead by a private practitioner. After review it was determined the horse died of a heart attack following the race.” Owners, Robert and Kyle Gibbs.

Maine’s response came with this: “This is all of the information that was reported [italics added] to the track management and the State Racing Stewards in 2014.”

Surely, there were others.

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