Lone Star Park Friday…

Race 3, For Two-Year-Olds:
“SASSY DANCER veered in, bumped foe. AJ BRAZILIAN GIFT bumped early. EG CORONAS FOR ME bounced between early. NECTAR stumbled start, bumped, shut off. THRILL OF SWEETNESS bumped, shut off. OPEN ME CHAMPAGNE broke out, bumped foe.”

Race 4, For Two-Year-Olds:
“MAD FIRST CHAMP veered out, bumped foe. GRACE N DASH bumped hard early. CRTEQUILAONTHEROCKS bumped hard both sides. ZK SANTA FE bumped hard both sides.”

Race 5, For Two-Year-Olds:
“TIGER STONE exchanged bumps early. PERKS FAVORITECARTEL exchanged bumps early. RADAR LOVE bumped early. CRIMSON CASH bobbled, bumped start. CORONADOS LEGACY broke in, bumped foe. WHAT A DYNASTY broke in, bumped foe.”

Race 6, For Two-Year-Olds:
“A GAME OF CORONA exchanged bumps early. RUNAWAY DIAMANTE exchanged bumps early. JMG SPECIAL CAPO exchanged bumps early. LV STANLEY WINNER exchanged bumps early.”

Race 7, For Two-Year-Olds:
“CRYPTO stumbled start. FULL THROTTELL stumbled start. AMERICAN METTLE exchanged bumps start.”

Race 9, For Two-Year-Olds:
“PAINT HIM KOPPER bobbled start. JESSIE JONES FLASH bobbled, bumped start. HARD CANDY fractious gate, bumped start. TEMPTING QUATRO fractious gate.”

And yesterday…

Race 3, For Two-Year-Olds:
“COWBOY JESS bumped start. CURVEE bobbled, bumped foe start.”

Race 6, For Two-Year-Olds:
“COOKIN bobbled, bumped start. EAGLE BRAND bumped foe. DOLLARS DOLLY bumped foe start. THE MARFA MEMORIES bumped foe start. BAD CORONA SUMMER stumbled start, bumped both sides early.”

Two-year-old horses – babies – coerced into a big metal contraption by strange men, men who are pushing, shoving, pulling, yanking, goading, prodding, yelling, screaming. Then the gate opens, and other men are driving them to run at full speed now. And all the while, they’re bumping, often hard, into one another. Oh, their fear – dare I say terror. And all so that some men may gamble, others chase pots of gold.

Turfway opened its meet Wednesday with great fanfare, what with the newly-installed “Historical Racing Machines” – slots, basically – artificially jacking up the purses. As for the cruelty (and, probably, killing), that, too, is off to a rousing start.

In the very first race, Anytimeallthetime, says the chart, “stumbled at the start, went wrong past the 1/4 pole, took a bad step and fell while vanned off following the finish.” Several of racing’s favorite euphemisms packed into a single line: “stumbled,” “went wrong,” “took a bad step,” “vanned off.” Because the replay was (of course) edited, this rough cut from one of our activists is the best we could do. But you’ll get the idea…

A few races later, 2-year-old Acrimony, after being “antsy in gate,” was “pulled up” and eventually “vanned off.” Two races after that, Lightning Fire, also “antsy” beforehand, “stopped badly,” finishing some 30 lengths back (still, that slots cash allowed for a $500 payout to her exploiters). Then, in the 6th last night, Maotai and Baby No Worries, both three, “collided,” with neither finishing the race.

This is Turfway. This is horseracing.

A few notes from the Stewards Minutes for Del Mar’s opening weekend…

Nov 11: “We posted the inquiry sign to review the start of the 1st race involving the #6 Infinite Empire, who stumbled leaving the starting gate. In a unanimous opinion we felt the #6 caused her own issues when she stumbled, therefore no change.” Yes, the 3-year-old enslaved animal “caused her own issues.”

Nov 12: “We posted the inquiry sign after the 9th race to review the start of the #10 Azure Star, who broke very slow. When reviewing the video, the #10 was fractious in the starting gate and as the assistant starter was wrangling with the horse, the starter dispatched the field causing the #10 to be left behind.”

Nov 13: “Jockey Tyler Baze [was] in to review yesterday’s 8th race for an incident at the 1/4 pole…. Mr. Baze stated that all the horses in front of him were bouncing off each other which caused him not to be able to determine where to go.”

And best for last…

Nov 13: “[Jockey] Bravo stayed to represent Jockey Emily Ellingwood, who was called in to review her ride in yesterday’s 6th race in which she kept using her crop after she had reached her maximum placing. Mr. Bravo stated that Ms. Ellingwood told him that she was trying hard for the trainer to drum up business and the trainer asked her to educate the horse.” Ellingwood’s “penalty”: one-day suspension, $250 fine.

By the way, the horse – 2-year-old Beskar – finished 9th, 18+ lengths back, with the chartwriter noting that he, too, was “fractious” before the race.

This is horseracing.

As previously reported, 3-year-old Miniconjou collapsed dead of “an apparent heart attack” immediately after the 11th race at Churchill June 11. Again, three years old.

Now, we learn that in his penultimate race, May 6 at Oaklawn, Mini ran on Class 2 (second worst kind) mepivacaine – an anesthetic. In its report filed just yesterday, the Arkansas Commission notes that “trainer Kelly Von Hemel availed his right to do a split sample and waived his right to a hearing.” In other words, guilty as charged. And all the Commission did was disqualify the now-dead horse and redistribute the purse money (Mini had “won” the race and $31K). No fine, no suspension.

(Not that it matters much, but sometime between those races Mini changed hands, with Thomas Amoss the trainer on death day.)

I write this not to imply there was a connection between the drug and Mini’s death (indeed the Kentucky Commission wrote: “no prohibited substances detected; no therapeutic medication detected above threshold concentrations”). Far from it. Fact is, adolescent racehorses collapse and die all the time, and they do, in my opinion, for the same reason they snap legs: their bodies are woefully unready for what they’re being forced to do. No, this is simply to underscore how this poor horse was abused prior to being killed – like, that is, every other casualty of this vile industry.

(Update: The following day, Arkansas did impose penalties on trainer Von Hemel: 15-day suspension, $500 fine. Still, for a Class 2 drugging, laughable.)