Kentucky, one of America’s pre-eminent racing-states, is loath to give up its dead, repeatedly denying my FOIA requests on the basis of ignorance – “we just don’t know” – or confidentiality. Further complicating matters is the fact that the death-euphemism “broke down” is rarely (not once this year) found on Kentucky charts. This, of course, does not mean that horses are not dying on Bluegrass tracks, just that using nebulous, open-ended language helps better protect the brand. Just such language was used to describe Miss Pink Diva’s run in the 9th yesterday at storied Keeneland: “went wrong in the first turn, was pulled up and vanned off” (Equibase).

And that – dead or alive? who knows? – would have been that if not for the fact that this particular race was a $500,000 Grade 1. In other words, the kind of race that draws media coverage; much as they’d prefer to ignore such unpleasantries, the industry beat writers are almost obliged to disclose deaths in big races:

“Miss Pink Diva was pulled up sharply in the first turn, and appeared to have suffered an injury and had to be euthanized.” (Paulick Report)

“The Spinster was marred by the fatal breakdown of Miss Pink Diva, who went wrong going around the first turn and had to be euthanized…” (Lexington Herald-Leader)

“I’m a Chatterbox broke alertly and managed to avoid trouble early as Miss Pink Diva suffered a fatal injury on the first turn.” (Thoroughbred Daily News)

Miss Pink Diva – yet another sentient being sacrificed for $2 bets.

This is horseracing.

The following comes from the California Horse Racing Board.

Los Alamitos (Quarterhorse): “The weekly inspection was conducted on September 25. One equine death was reported this week due to racing injuries.”

Los Alamitos Fair (Thoroughbred): “Week of 9/19-9/25, Deceased: 6.”

While dead horses are sometimes identified in California stewards minutes, it (identifying) is not required by rule; in fact, my year-end FOIA requests for names are consistently rejected on the basis of confidentiality. So, these seven dead animals – at just one track, in just one week – will likely forever remain anonymous.

download (9)

From the most recent Oak Tree (California) Stewards Minutes:

“FEISTY’S CAUSE broke down entering the stretch [5th race, September 25]. The horse was euthanized on track due to compound fracture.”

In addition, there was this from the 8th, September 24: “Approaching the ¼ pole, BAMUEL TOI collapsed…horse stayed down for a few minutes and then rose, blood emanating from his nostrils. Track vet had the horse hosed off for a few minutes, after which the horse walked off the track on his own power.”

“Blood emanating from his nostrils” – but it’s okay, he walked off on his own power!

This is horseracing.

download (3)