Shortly after coming “under urging,” 5-year-old Sage Valley died from an “apparent cardiac arrest” in the 8th yesterday at Aqueduct. To remind, 5-year-old equines – the rough equivalents of human teenagers – should not be dropping dead of heart failure.

Rudy Rodriguez was Sage Valley’s handler for all but two of his 17 races, including the final one. This comes but five days after Rodriguez, a $23 million trainer, lost Quick Money on that same track.

The NYRA announcer (and cameraman), of course, utterly ignores the dying/dead horse in the official call (“Race Replays,” Wed, race 8).

The CHRB has confirmed the death of Sunny One at Golden Gate. Apparently, the 5-year-old was found dead in his stall on November 29th, just two days after finishing 2nd in a GG race. His trainer was Alex Sywak, his owner, Ingrid Sywak.

Other notes from the week:

Wednesday at Charles Town (8th), Beau American “was always outrun in the four path, remained under incessant urging throughout the length of the stretch and was vanned off.” “Incessant urging.”

Thursday at Finger Lakes (6th), Speedy Getaway “was whipped to the late stages for the win.” “Whipped for the win.”

Friday at Finger Lakes (7th), Dreamboat “was kept to pressure for the win.” “Kept to pressure for the win.”

Saturday at Laurel (8th), Eighttofasttocatch “pulled away [for win] under relentless right handed encouragement.” “Relentless right handed encouragement.”

Is this what horsemen mean by love to run, born to compete?

And finally, this from Friday’s 2nd at Laurel: Keep Me Informed “was pulled up soon past the three quarter pole then walked off on his own courage.” This is horseracing.

As oft repeated here, it is a bad sign when a horse cannot leave the track under his own power. In fact, through conversations with industry experts and my own research, I have concluded that most (easily) of the “vanned off” end up dead. Just another Racing euphemism meant to confuse, distract, deceive.

In Thursday’s 3rd race at Aqueduct, 3-year-old Warrior’s Hero was pulled up toward the end and vanned off. No further details. For all we knew at the time, he merely tweaked a muscle. But according to his trainer, Michael Wilson, WH’s knee was “shattered” and he was euthanized. Wilson’s Facebook drivel reads:

“Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life. Something I hoped would never happen during my training career. During the 3rd race at Aqueduct, Warrior’s Hero had just circled the field, looked like he was going to draw clear, and then all of a sudden was pulled up. By the time I had run down to the ambulance I heard the worst news possible, his knee was shattered. After speaking with the jockey, he said the horse was moving great and then felt like he stepped in a hole.

This horse belonged to my future father in law and was a devastating day for my fiancĂ© and I. We brought him back to the barn made him comfortable and took radiographs. The images showed three out of the six carpal bones were in pieces. Nothing could be done. All of the staff said their goodbyes, as Warrior’s Hero was the barn favorite and supposed to become another stable pony upon retirement. I held him in my hands as my fiancĂ© euthanized him. It is something I would never wish upon anybody.

There is no closure for something like this but I am committed now more than ever to do what is right for every horse under my care. R.I.P Warrior’s Hero. You are still loved and terribly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting you.”

Well, Mr. Wilson, if this truly was “one of the worst days of [your] life,” “something [you] would never wish upon anybody,” then cease and desist and work to end the cruel exploitation of a defenseless, weaker species.

A postscript: Aqueduct has at least four kills on the week: Princes On Thelake, Warrior’s Hero, Quick Money, Half Nelson. And a fifth, Cherokee Artist, was killed last Friday. This is horseracing.

images (6)