Saturday afternoon at the races:

9-year-old Miss Palatine was killed after a fall in Hawthorne’s 2nd race, a $4,000 claiming. In the start before this (November), Miss Palatine finished last, 15 1/2 lengths back. Nice work, trainer/owner Paul Lewellyn.

At Aqueduct, two 3-year-old fillies – Pleasant Shaker and Andromeda’s Coming – fell hard in the 3rd race. Replay here (“Race Replays,” Saturday, Race 3), around the 1:09 mark.

At Hialeah, 4-year-old Body of Evidence, coming off back-to-back wins, hit the gate in the 2nd race and broke down.

During the 2nd race at Fair Grounds, 3-year-old Sweet On You “ducked in when given three cracks of a right-handed whip at the furlong marker, hit the rail and completely lost action then dropped out.” Three cracks.

And finally, 13-year-old Foreign Melody has been “euthanized for severe colic” at Belmont Park. The gelding, who hadn’t raced in almost seven years, was being “used as a pony by Juan Galvez.” This is horseracing.

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Owner Ernie Moody has announced (Paulick Report, 2/18/14) that the Bob Baffert-trained Tiz the Truth (below) is dead from an infection, contracted, apparently, on the owner’s farm. The 3-year-old colt last raced at Santa Anita in the fall. Moody has since severed his working-relationship with Baffert, claiming no ill will, just hoping to reverse “some bad luck.” Baffert, remember, lost seven horses to “sudden death” in a recent 16-month period (’11-’13). No word on whether that figured into Moody’s decision.

photo credit: Mike Sekulic
photo credit: Mike Sekulic

We can also confirm that 3-year-old He’s Not Too Shaby is dead after breaking down in Monday’s 9th race at Santa Anita. The gelding was trained by Peter Miller and owned by Camille Paris Jr. This is Miller’s second death there in four days (Code of Conduct).

The Daily Racing Form reports that 5-year-old Code of Conduct was killed after a breakdown in Santa Anita’s 7th race Friday. One note from the chart caught my attention: “The stewards conducted an inquiry into the incident before ruling Code of Conduct broke down on his own.” No, he didn’t.

Code of Conduct endured three different trainers – Chad Brown (3 starts), Wayne Catalano (12 starts), and Peter Miller (5 starts) – and was owned first by Gary/Mary West, and at the end by Gary/Cecil Barber. This is horseracing.

In California-racing’s most recent fiscal year (7/1/12-6/30/13), 209 racehorses perished – 90 racing, 56 training, and 63 other (gastro-intestinal, respiratory, etc.). Because this represents a decrease from the previous year (278), the California Horse Racing Board is feeling pretty good about itself. Equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur: “It was a good year. All the efforts we’ve undertaken…I think it’s paid off.” The cheery report, however, conveniently omits the number of California’s “retired” who were auctioned and, ultimately, slaughtered, not to mention the rescued who were eventually euthanized due to old racing wounds. This is a time for back-slapping, not harsh truths.

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To the horse people, 90 raceday breakdowns (which, by the way, remained roughly unchanged from ’11-’12) weighed against thousands of starts qualifies as some sort of victory, revealing again how morally bankrupt this industry truly is: 90, no, 209 intelligent, sentient beings were sacrificed not for some (what was once thought) noble cause – carrying soldiers or settling a continent – but for $2 bets and pieces of silver. Progress, Dr. Arthur? More like disgrace. And when fatalities rise again – which they will, unless racing continues to contract – what will you say then?

3-year-old Chriselliam, winner of the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf in November, was euthanized Friday in England, unable to overcome a foot infection. With wisdom, owner Chris Wright reminds us that “only the good die young.” Pathetic.

photo credit: Racing Post
photo credit: Racing Post

The racing people are greatly offended when a death like this is lumped with an honest-to-goodness breakdown. A horse, they say, who impales himself, gets mowed down by the pace car, or develops a fatal infection just because is not the industry’s responsibility. (Then again, some apologists claim that all racehorse deaths are simple misfortune – you know, “He took a bad step.”) The Chriselliams should not count, at least not on The Big Board.

Two-thirds of the 600,000 soldier deaths in the Civil War were “noncombat.” But in discussions on war tallies, this is almost never brought up. And appropriately so. The men who died of disease were no less casualties than those who took a bullet. The war put them in a position to contract an illness. The same goes for racing. Chriselliam died of an infection in-career. Her death cannot be sanitized; horseracing killed her.