Last Tuesday at Belmont, the Gaming Commission reports, Wicked Indeed “collapsed in shedrow, regained footing, walked outside and collapsed again.” He was then euthanized “due to ongoing seizure symptoms.” Wicked was five years old and had just been raced three days prior at Aqueduct, where, the chartwriter notes, he “was fractious in the gate” before the race. A sign of the impending collapse? Perhaps.

Friday, Dom’s Feisty Girl “broke down” while training at Belmont. While the horse is dead, the Commission happily reports that there was “no injury to trainer or rider.” Well thank heavens for that (sarcasm, folks), but how would the trainer have gotten hurt anyhow? Dom’s was three years old and had been put to the whip four times.

For the New York Racing Association (Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga), this makes 71 dead horses on the year. At all NYS tracks, we’ve hit the century mark. That’s right, 100 dead “athletes” – more than in each of the past two years. But “reform” is happening all the time, “safety protocols” are ever improving, right? If not for the gravity involved, the Patrick McKennas (NYRA spokesman) of the racing world would make for exquisite parody on Saturday Night Live.

The big news of the day – covered by ESPN, CNN, and everyone in between – is the death of Medina Spirit while training at Santa Anita this morning: “collapsed on the track and died suddenly of a probable cardiac event,” says the track. Pity trainer Bob Baffert as he had ostensibly received a bit of good news last week on Medina’s split test from the Kentucky Derby: the betamethasone positive came from an ointment and not an injection, at least according to his lawyer.

So, another pubescent racehorse (Medina was just three) has simply dropped dead. While this one is the most famous, let us not forget that this is a common occurrence in “The Sport of Kings.” Here are some of the others from just this year:

Treasured Bond, Jan 3, Mahoning T – “collapsed on track, deceased when arrived”
Doc Gardner, Jan 4, Mahoning S – “found dead”
From the Get Go, Jan 5, Turf S – “sudden death”
Cali Caliente, Jan 9, Santa Anita T – “collapsed, got up, did circles, collapsed, death”
That’s Official, Jan 12, Monticello T – “collapsed…died on track”
Favored, Jan 15, Gulfstream R – “fell and perished on the track”
Noor Khan, Jan 17, Los Alamitos T – “staggered, collapsed, [died]”
He’s a Gold Digger, Feb 17, Charles Town T – “heart attack”
Trivial, Feb 17, Hawthorne T – “after returning [to barn] horse collapsed dead”
Sweet Boy, Feb 20, Golden Gate T – “galloped out and fell over dead”
Wicksters Dream, Feb 24, Gulfstream R – “collapsed midway around the turn”
Rockshaw, Feb 25, Oaklawn T – “dropped dead after training”
Rustic Canyon, Feb 26, San Luis Rey T – “collapsed, sudden death, spontaneously”
Bm One Rare Rocket, Feb 27, Oaklawn S – “found dead”
Lunar Heat, Mar 2, Mahoning S – “found dead”
Ultimate Justice, Mar 6, Charles Town T – “sudden death”
Daddy’s Angel, Mar 6, Oaklawn T – “collapsed and died”
Cam Funny, Mar 8, Monticello S – “found dead”
Kiss Me Dave, Mar 20, Aqueduct R – “fell fatally”
Nomadess, Mar 30, Los Alamitos T – “pulled up, dropped dead”
Sparkling Unicorn, Mar 30, Turf S – “sudden death”
Officers Club, Apr 14, Hoosier R – “died on track, heart defect”
Three Babes, Apr 15, Hoosier R – “pulmonary hemorrhage”
T C’s Image, Apr 19, Will Rogers S – “cerebrum hemorrhage”
Pleasant Wish, Apr 24, Tampa Bay R – “cardiovascular event – sudden death”
Allgorilla, Apr 24, Tampa Bay R – “collapsed, sudden death”
Cougartown Blues, Apr 26, Indiana R – “collapsed on track, pulmonary hemorrhage”
S K Flyer, Apr 30, Tampa Bay R – “fell to the track, sudden death”
Communicator, May 3, Penn T – “sudden death”
Zeke the Streak, May 3, Thistledown S – “found deceased”
Wishful, May 9, Monmouth S – “found dead”
Runs for Luck, May 11, Parx R – “collapsed, sudden death”
Smoke ‘n’ Gloat, May 13, Gulfstream R – “collapsed”
Harvest, May 13, Hoosier R – “sudden death on track”
Mister Bobby, May 13, Saratoga T – “collapsed and died”
My Emmally, May 14, Charles Town R – “collapsed and died”
Charlie’s Heir, May 22, Arlington R – “horse went down, had a few spasms, and died”
Geometrico, May 24, Palm Meadows S – “found [dead]”
Pearls in Charge, May 25, Belterra R – “distress, pulled herself up, collapsed, died”
Bunnings, May 26, Indiana T – “pulmonary hemorrhage”
Tapitena, Jun 5, Finger Lakes S – “suddenly collapsed and expired”
Delicious Pursuit, Jun 5, Lone Star R – “acute death”
Apocalypse, Jun 11, Vernon R – “heart attack”
Registrant, Jun 12, Los Alamitos R – “sudden death”
G Q Girl, Jun 14, Thistledown R – “collapsed, died”
Music Babe, Jun 16, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Perrys Dinamite, Jun 17, Arizona T – “sudden death”
Snazzy Cazzy, Jun 17, Golden Gate S – “sudden death”
Tia Vicky, Jun 21, Belmont S – “found deceased”
Easy Return, Jun 24, Sam Houston T – “possible cardiac”
Charge Into War, Jun 26, Belmont R – “cardiac arrest”
Rio Seco, Jul 4, Arlington R – “[sudden death], [possible] heat exhaustion/stroke”
Straightupp, Jul 6, Ruidoso T – “collapsed, sudden death”
Needless to Say, Jul 18, Del Mar T – “apparent heart attack”
Bruce, Aug 2, Los Alamitos S – “sudden death – aortic rupture”
Wasn’t Me, Aug 26, Saratoga T – “possible heart attack”
Kat Eye Kylie, Sep 6, Ruidoso R – “unknown, [just died]”
Baltimore Bucko, Sep 16, Belmont R – “fell fatally to the ground”
Holdfast, Sep 16, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Left Alone, Sep 19, Golden Gate T – “sudden death”
Fulmini, Oct 9, Gulfstream R – “collapsed and died”
Kakistocracy, Oct 14, Santa Anita T – “sudden death”
Favorite Doc, Oct 16, Los Alamitos R – “sudden death”
Luca’s Ride, Oct 17, Los Alamitos R – “fell, sudden death”

The Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) reports that a “cluster of deaths” at Laurel Park has left the track scrambling, with racing canceled this weekend. According to the paper, eight horses have died racing or training there this fall – seven just since November 6. For their part, Laurel officials are focusing on the recently-installed track surface. Says TDN: “A portion of the surface has been dug up in mid-stretch to allow an influx of track maintenance consultants to try and discover if there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.”

Later in the article, there was talk of “colder weather” and “moisture” as possible factors. And as usual, the track people are throwing around loads of technical verbiage to project confidence, to assure the public that they’re “on this,” “no stone will be left unturned.” An example from Laurel’s track superintendent: “[The clay content in the new track] is higher than was anticipated, so we’ll be adding straight silica sand, which is 100% pure and has smaller grains. It will help break up the material a little bit, help loosen up the track, and help dry it out quicker. Moisture stays underneath, and the material is bonding, so we’ll introduce silica sand to break it up…. Silica sand is aggressive…so we’re going to do the process really slow.”

Does all this sound familiar? It should, for this is racing’s MO every time dead horses receive a bit of scrutiny. In fact, the surface (and how the weather affected it) was the exact same storyline – indeed, as here, the very first potential culprit – coming out of Santa Anita during its PR nightmare in the spring of 2019. Coincidentally (or not), Laurel and Santa Anita are both owned by The Stronach Group. In any event, here are the kill figures for Laurel over the past four full years:

2017: 34 dead horses
2018: 39 dead horses
2019: 29 dead horses
2020: 30 dead horses
thus far this year (with my FOIA for the second half still to come): 18 dead horses

In other words, this – this latest batch of kills – is business as usual, just as it was at Santa Anita. Here are those new kills as confirmed by the Racing Commission:

Kyosha, killed racing Oct 3
Bella Thyme, killed training Nov 6
Gale Winds, killed racing Nov 19
Moquist, killed training Nov 21
Golden Sky (sic), killed training Nov 27
American Playboy, killed racing Nov 28

(I already had Bust’em Kurt on Nov 13, and Manicomio on Nov 25.)