In the 6th at Los Alamitos Saturday, Free Ricky was said (Equibase) to have taken a “bad step” – “vanned off.” Having done this for six years, I have a pretty good feel for the various styles of the various chartwriters. At Los Alamitos, “injured, vanned off” and “bad steps, vanned off” are, as a rule, ominous. So, I reached out to the CHRB and can now confirm that Free Ricky is indeed dead – euthanized for undisclosed injuries.

Los Alamitos’ 2019 Dead (14, and counting):

unidentified, Jan 5, training – “catastrophic right front fetlock breakdown”
Adroit, Jan 6, racing – “catastrophic injury…euthanized on track”
unidentified, Feb 19, training – “catastrophic right front fetlock breakdown”
Rosiescruella, Feb 24, racing – “vanned off, euthanized”
unidentified (could be Yes I’m Ready), Mar 15-Mar 17, racing
unidentified, Apr 5-Apr 7, racing or training
unidentified (good chance Bos Dream), Apr 26-Apr 28, racing
unidentified, Apr 26-Apr 28, racing or training
unidentified, May 14-May 19, racing or training
unidentified, Jul 8-Jul 14, stall
Cuervo Foose, Jul 20, racing – “shoulder fracture”
Always Checking, Aug 17, racing – “injured, vanned off, euthanized”
Da One Two Special, Sep 1, racing – “injured, vanned off, euthanized”
Free Ricky, Sep 7, racing – “took a bad step, vanned off, euthanized”

And NYRA – “demonstrably safer racing” NYRA – kills another: Saturday morning while training at Belmont, says the Gaming Commission, Mo Moxie “sustained a fracture and was euthanized on track.” Mo Moxie was four and had been put to the whip eight times, most recently at Saratoga August 21. This makes 25 dead horses at Belmont Park this year – 25 dead sentient beings for $2 bets and idle entertainment.

Brave Spirited in the 5th at Charles Town last night, as relayed by Equibase: “Brave Spirited chased the pace inside, was taken in hand past the quarter pole, collapsed midway on the turn and died on the track.”

“Collapsed…and died on the track” – Brave Spirited was but three years old. ‘Twas his first time under the whip.

And yet another at Saratoga. So Surprising broke down training yesterday morning. She was two and being prepped for her debut (probably at Belmont). For Saratoga, that’s 15 dead – now above its historical average – and counting:

Golden Julia, May 30, stall, “found distressed in stall…died from acute blood loss”
Golden Julia was two years old and coming off a training session just five days prior.

Investment Analyst, Jun 7, training, “sustained leg injury necessitating euthanasia”
Investment Analyst was two years old; he was being prepped for his first race.

Gattino Marrone, Jul 3, training, “fractured sesamoids, euthanized”
Gattino Marrone was three years old and had been put to the whip 6 times.

Fight Night, Jul 12, racing, “fell heavily after the wire, euthanized on track”
Fight Night was three years old, and this was her 5th time under the whip.

Total Fidelity, Jul 14, training, “suffered fracture to LF sesamoids, euthanized”
Total Fidelity was two years old; she was being prepped for her first race.

Overlord, Jul 15, stall, “colonic rupture, euthanized”
Overlord was three years old and coming off a training session just one week prior.

Verravanni, Jul 25, stall, “pleuropneumonia”
Verravanni was two years old and coming off a training session just eight days prior.

Misspent Youth, Jul 27, training, “cardiovascular collapse”
Misspent Youth was five years old and had been put to the whip 13 times.

Umetuka, Jul 31, training, “injured, vanned off, euthanized”
Umetuka was four years old and had been put to the whip 9 times.

Divine Miss Grey, Aug 3, racing (euth Aug 26), “complications [after] surgery”
Divine Miss Grey was five years old, and this was her 26th time under the whip.

Sundae On Sunday, Aug 4, racing, “collapsed, euthanized”
Sundae On Sunday was ten years old, and this was his 61st time under the whip.

Go Big Or Go Home, Aug 28, racing, “went wrong, euthanized”
Go Big Or Go Home was five, and this was his 22nd time under the whip.

Sister Beauty, Aug 31, training, “ambulanced to [hospital], inoperable, euthanized”
Sister Beauty was two years old and had been put to the whip twice.

Borough Boy, Sep 2, racing, “took a bad step, fell heavily”
Borough Boy was three years old, and this was his 6th time under the whip.

So Surprising, Sep 7, training, “fractured sesamoids, euthanized”
So Surprising was two years old; she was being prepped for her first race.

Belmont, after grabbing the NYRA baton from Saratoga, opened yesterday – with a kill. In the 3rd race, Passporttovictory, says Equibase, took some “bad steps” and was “vanned off”; the Gaming Commission confirms the 5-year-old mare dead. But there’s more. Earlier in the Belmont day, Royal Inheritance “collapsed and died while training” – she, too, was but five years old. This makes 24 dead horses at Belmont Park on the year – with almost four full months to go.

Meanwhile, yet another dead horse at Saratoga. Sister Beauty, two, broke down training August 31 – officially, “ambulanced to Rood & Riddle; inoperable fracture – euthanized due to poor prognosis.” That’s 14 dead for the “oldest sports venue in the nation” – right at its historical average. For all three NYRA tracks (including Aqueduct), 42 dead horses thus far in 2019. Juxtapose that with this from NYRA spokesman Patrick McKenna in the Times Union Saratoga recap:

“Safety at all levels is our highest priority. NYRA has a broad-based safety program and employs industry-best equine safety practices at all of our racetracks. These include measures such as the daily inspection and scientific analysis of all racing and training surfaces; examinations of equine athletes who must be cleared by NYRA veterinarians to race and a variety of capital improvements designed to enhance safety.”

Yet again, I implore the NY media to become more cynical. This is a rich, old industry well-schooled in the art of propaganda. But please, just follow the facts: “Demonstrably safer” is a lie, and horses will continue to die, guaranteed.

In one of my recent “Weekly Reports,” I noted that Mr. Frank “fell after crossing the finish line and was vanned off” at Golden Gate August 18. In fact, he is dead, with KRON noting “Mr. Frank had a cardiac event, possibly a heart attack.” Mr. Frank was three years old. Yes, three years old – “cardiac event,” “possible heart attack.”

While the station rightly points out that Mr. Frank is the 10th horse killed on-track (racing or training) at Golden Gate this year, there have been six other deaths – back in the stalls – at the Berkeley track, bringing the true toll to 16 thus far.