The “National Council of Legislators From Gaming States” is an umbrella organization of the state legislators responsible for the regulation of gaming across the country. The Council is holding its summer meeting in July. A primary area of focus will be horseracing. Here is how the Council is promoting this particular panel on its website:

“Most horse-racing tracks cannot fill all of the races they intend to run. Racing programs are inundated with short fields. Handles are declining proportionately. Racing is not attracting younger fans. A panel of experts will address these serious challenges at the Summer Meeting….”

– cannot fill all of the races
– short fields
– declining handles
– not attracting younger fans

Not even trying to hide it.

Then there’s this from Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak (in the Paulick Report yesterday) as he waits for final approval of corporate welfare for his beloved industry:

“This winter, before, during and after the Nebraska legislative session, I’ve been very outspoken in my efforts to communicate the dire straits that the Nebraska horse racing industry has fallen into. … I hoped to offer increased purses this year but couldn’t. The hard fact is that there is never a day of mutuel handle at Fonner Park that covers our purses for that day. … I remain bent on increased purses and am working all angles to achieve that – whether we have slot reels spinning by our 2023 condition book or not. … Truthfully, without casino operations, it’s a weak outlook.”

Again, there it is. Horseracing, as a rule, is a losing proposition in the 21st Century. Now, if only we can convince those legislators.

Laoban was a Grade 1-level horse whose last race was the prestigious Travers Stakes in 2016. “Retired” after only nine starts (and a half million in earnings), he was then, of course, moved on to stud duty. Last May, The Louisville Courier-Journal reports, Laoban died minutes after being injected with “Black Shot,” a “vitamin cocktail” intended to help “performance” (apparently Laoban was struggling to “cover”). The matter is in litigation – the insurance company, in denying the claim, says Laoban was administered expired drugs, and at multiple times the recommended dosage – but that’s not what’s important here.

Ignorant jokes aside, the breeding shed is its own kind of servitude, creating its own kind of suffering. With zero control over his own wants and needs, Laoban was but a machine, and when that machine began breaking down, the humane course – real retirement – was denied, with the prescribed fix destroying the machine outright. All so that a few more widgets – new racehorses, that is – could be produced. Disgusting.

Because his was not an on- or at-track kill, Laoban (below) will not make our list. But make no mistake about it, Horseracing, the industry, is wholly and unequivocally responsible for the death of this poor animal. Full stop.

Word comes of the death of breeding-stallion Half Ours in Louisiana Saturday: “paddock accident,” euthanized. He was 18.

The breeding shed is, sadly, an underreported part of the horseracing story. While it may sound innocuous enough, make no mistake these animals are still very much in servitude to the racing industry – a servitude, as you can see by the age above, that typically endures much longer than the racing part. The lives of these “studs” are wholly defined by the success of their “progeny” – the money their children earn. Follows is BloodHorse’s obit for the deceased:

“The 18-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song led his freshman sire class in Louisiana in 2011 with nearly $500,000 in progeny earnings and was the state’s only freshman sire with a black-type runner that year. He kept the momentum going in 2012 when he was Louisiana’s leading second-crop sire and remained among the top 10 sires going forward. Half Ours topped the Louisiana sire list twice in 2015-16, siring six black-type winners for each of those years and amassing nearly $5.8 million in progeny earnings over the two years.”

On and on the numbers went, detailing Half Ours’ worth as a being:

“a highly regarded yearling at the 2004 Keeneland September Yearling Sale where agent Buzz Chace bought him for $625,000”

“won the Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at 2 and the Richter Scale Sprint Championship Handicap (G2) at 4”

“retired with five wins and a second from seven starts and earned $319,680”

“sired 24 stakes winners, led by multiple grade 1-placed stakes winner Gentlemen’s Bet [who] earned $744,155”

“progeny won or placed 51 times during Louisiana Champions, LA Bred Premier Night, Louisiana Legends, and Louisiana Cup day races”

“11 of his stakes winners earn[ed] black-type at 2”

“his progeny were especially potent in the Louisiana Futurity divisions, for which he sired six winners between 2014-20”

And finally, summing it all so very nicely, the article closed thus: “To date, Half Ours’ progeny have earned more than $21.7 million and averaged $50,990 per starter.”

End of numbers. End of value. End of life.

Also reported by BloodHorse was the death of another stallion, Danza (below), who “died suddenly from an apparent heart attack June 23.” An “apparent heart attack” – at the tender age of 10 – an equine’s prime of life. Danza, the paper notes, was wildly successful on the track, finishing third in the ’14 Kentucky Derby and earning a cool $866,000 in only five total races. But, alas, he too is now gone, with so much money left on the table. Those poor, poor investors.