The first time I wrote on Salt On the Rim was in June. At the time, the 12-year-old mare had been raced 101 times. Since then, nine more – that makes it 110 turns under the whip. Now, I know what the officials at Mountaineer, her almost-exclusive track for the past three years, would say (and in fact have said): Salt is still “competitive,” finishing second in her most recent race three days ago. But should that be the only yardstick, what you can see, including results, on the outside?

In the states that give us full necropsies, we are seeing that a majority of not-yet-fully-mature horses (under five) are dying with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease – clear evidence of the incessant pounding their young bodies were forced to absorb. Again, these are pubescents/adolescents with, often, just a dozen (or even less) races on their resumes. Salt On the Rim will turn 13 in January. Her primary abusers remain Lois Meals and Country Acres Stables.

West Virginia Executive Director Joe Moore: 304-558-2150; joe.k.moore@wv.gov
West Virginia Commissioners: phones, emails
Mountaineer Chief Steward Jim O’Brien: 304-387-8371; jim.o’brien@wv.gov
Mountaineer Investigator Bret Smith: 304-387-8530; bret.smith@wv.gov
Mountaineer Contact Form; 800-804-0468 (ask for racing office)

In the 5th at Churchill Nov 2, Mint, said Equibase, “slammed his head” on the starting gate. In their report, the stewards added this: “After reviewing the replay and interviewing the starter, [we] determined that the horse caused his own trouble when he reared at the start.” Yes, it was the anxious, stressed, maybe terrified – oh, and enslaved – horse’s fault that he “slammed his head.”

Same day, the stewards say, Western River “suffered an injury and required the assistance of the horse ambulance.” The 3-year-old was then “transported by his connections to a Lexington clinic.” Could be one of those lost dead – you know, what happens off-site is none of our (Racing Commission) business.

Lastly, next day, the sales of 2-year-old She’ll Never Know and 3-year-old Loma Vista were “voided when they were placed on the Vet’s List while in the test barn.”

This is horseracing.

I previously reported the death of Song for Someone after “winning” a race at Montpelier Nov 5: “within 30 seconds it was apparent he was expiring and died very quickly.” In addition, there were these that day:

Race 1: “Rum Bobby was scratched by vet as he was lame in the pre-race exam.”

Race 2: “Top Brass was scratched by vet as he was lame in the pre-race exam.”

Again, these horses were lame – yet their “connections” tried to race them anyway.

Race 3: “Diva of Seville pulled up before the last fence…. This horse has not completed a course in her four tries over jumps and is on the Stewards’ List for poor performance. The trainer indicated that this was her last attempt at running.”

So nice that it only took four straight “DNFs” – all this year – for her people (trainer: Casey Pinkard) to cut her loose (from racing). Where she ends up is anyone’s guess.

Still in Race 3: “Refi returned lame.”

And finally, this closing remark from the stewards: “The horse ambulance needs to have two people…. One person is not enough to handle tarps etc.”

This is horseracing.

More steeplechase madness. According to the stewards at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Sunday, in only four races:

Lonely Weekend “fell at fence 11.”

Boutonniere “pulled up lame.”

Real Good Man “was pulled up” and did not finish.

And, “Tapped Off ran erratically early toward the rear…made some ground while still running inconsistently…. As jockey attempted to use her whip mid-stretch, the horse made a slight bobble and the jockey…became unseated. [Horse] ran back to the barn and fell over the outside fence and into the stabling area, where he remained for an extended period of time. He was [then] attended to by the course vet.”

Then there was this, last week at Churchill:

Mint, said the chartwriter, “reared as the gates were opening and slammed her [sic: Mint is male] head into the top of the stall.” The 4-year-old was raced anyway (of course), “[coming] out many lengths behind the field in the aftermath, then was distanced around the first turn before pulling up entering the backstretch.”

This is horseracing.