A barn fire at Belmont Park last night has resulted in the deaths of two racehorses; the New York Racing Association has yet to release identifying information other than to say they were trained by Wayne Potts.

By now, you should know our position on this. While the racing people are busy consoling and congratulating themselves with talk of “tragedy” and “heroism” (for getting the other horses out), they utterly ignore the core, uncomfortable, inconvenient fact: Like the civil war soldiers who were felled by dysentery but still recorded (unequivocally) as casualties, so too are racehorses who die in their stalls industry kills – no matter the immediate cause. Yes, fires can and do happen anywhere, but if not for racing, those poor, terrified horses would not have been in that place, at that time. And lest we forget, as domesticated (read: enslaved) animals, their natural autonomy had long since been stripped. They were trapped – figuratively and literally – inside a system, inside a stall, wholly dependent on human beings for everything, including their lives. And that is a cruelty in and of itself. So, yes, this is a tragedy, but the larger tragedy is the industry that made it possible.

The 1st at Oaklawn Saturday was Downtown Boy’s first time under the whip – it was also his last. According to the chart, the 2-year-old was “pulled up in distress [and] vanned off.” In fact, he is dead. In fact, he was euthanized right there on the track. So, the only thing the “van” was toting was a thousand pounds of dead horse.

The 6th at Mahoning yesterday: “TO WIN avoided a spill past the five sixteenths pole…. BIG TRUCK allowed to settle, fell over a fallen rival just past the five sixteenths pole…. HAKMAN also fell over a fallen rival past the five sixteenths pole and was euthanized. STARTDFROMDABOTTOM fell just past the five sixteenths….”

Must have been an ugly scene indeed. (I’d show it but the cowards at Mahoning have declared the race “unavailable” for replay.) The one (confirmed) dead horse, Hakman, was three, and this was his 10th time under the whip.