Last year, the Oregon racing people were super excited in announcing that Grants Pass Downs would fill some of the void that was left when Portland Meadows, Oregon’s sole commercial track, closed. Horseracing lives in “The Beaver State”! Which, of course, means that horses will continue to die. This week, two have – so far.

Tuesday, Hellagood collapsed and died, says the Mail Tribune, “on his way back to the barn” after the 4th race. Although the temp at the track Tuesday hovered around the 100-degree mark, track vet Jack Root says it was a “busted aneurysm” that killed Hellagood, with the left chest “just full of blood.” Root: “This horse was likely born with a defect…and it was just a matter of time, no matter what. Then, of course, the exertion of a race raises the blood pressure and busted an otherwise very weak place.”

The next day, Hawks Main Interest, three, “broke down,” crumpled to the dirt, and was ultimately euthanized. Kills on back-to-back days, but this should make us activists feel better: “It’s one of those things that just breaks everybody’s heart,” said Root (who, by the way, has also been an owner, breeder, and trainer). “Everybody’s really bummed about it, to be honest with you. It’s a tragic loss that kind of sets everybody back.” He then added, “Fortunately, it hardly ever happens.” Liar. Liar.

Bonspiel, a 3-year-old being prepped for his debut, broke down training at Belmont Tuesday and was euthanized after emergency surgery failed. He is the 25th kill at Belmont this year. Now, juxtapose that what-should-be shocking number with this from a USA Today article (in which I was quoted) ahead of last week’s Belmont Stakes:

The New York Racing Association…is considered an industry leader in safety efforts and its high-profile tracks remain less deadly than other comparable tracks in the U.S….. “The safety and welfare of horses and jockeys competing at NYRA tracks is our highest priority,” the NYRA said in an emailed statement. “That is why NYRA is committed to providing the safest possible environment for racing and training by adopting and implementing the best proven safety practices in consultation with independent experts, veterinarians, horsemen and regulators.”

“industry leader in safety efforts”

“less deadly than other comparable tracks”

“safety and welfare…is our highest priority”

“best proven safety practices”

America, you’re being taken for a ride.

The Belmont Dead, 2020

Yorkiepoo Princess, Jan 3, Belmont S – “severe laminitis…euthanized in her stall”
Jewel Can Disco, Jan 20, Belmont T – “sustained an injury while breezing…euthanized”
A Freud of Mama, Jan 24, Belmont T (euthanized Feb 8) – “passed after complications”
yet-to-be-named, Jan 30, Belmont T – “shaft fracture…euthanized on the track”
Krugerrand, Mar 9, Belmont S – “severe laminitis” (two years old)
Starting Point, Mar 22, Belmont T – “sustained leg injury – euthanasia”
Peter’s Project, Apr 1, Belmont S – “colic, worsened throughout day…euthanasia”
Pals Invader, Apr 17, Belmont T – “sustained leg injury at the 7/8 pole”
Appealing Briefs, Apr 23, Belmont S – “euthanized due to poor prognosis of cellulitis”
O’Bushido, May 4, Belmont S – “found deceased in stall”
Call Paul, May 6, Belmont T – “sustained injury to LH leg…necessitating euthanasia”
Schiller’s Lit, May 18, Belmont T (euthanized May 21) – “acutely lame”
Lil Morning Star, May 21, Belmont T – “injury to left front leg”
Shock Therapy, May 25, Belmont S – “pleuropneumonia, laminitis”
Bluegrass Jamboree, May 28, Belmont T – “cardiovascular collapse – expired on track”
Truck Salesman, May 31, Belmont T – “leg injury while breezing, euthanized on track”
Brahe, May 31, Belmont T – “injuries to both front legs…euthanasia on track”
Abraxan, May 31, Belmont T – “leg injury necessitating euthanasia”
Too Fast to Pass, Jun 3, Belmont R (euthanized Jun 12) – “injury to left front”
Chouchou de Boo, Jun 4, Belmont T – “several injuries…euthanized”
Freedom Prince, Jun 5, Belmont S – “taken to hospital…euthanized”
Talako, Jun 7, Belmont R – “catastrophic injury…euthanized on track”
Mystical Song, Jun 17, Belmont S – “found dead in stall…gastrointestinal disease”
Smidge, Jun 18, Belmont R – “sustained injury to left rear leg”
Bonspiel, Jun 23, Belmont T – “fracture, surgical repair failed, euthanized”

In the 6th at Santa Anita Saturday, Strictly Biz was “vanned off” after finishing 6th (and “winning” $500 for his people). Then this, according to the track’s website:

“Fracture of the right knee on the gallop out after the race. Horse was transported to the Equine Hospital. After diagnostics and x-rays were performed, it was determined to be an unrecoverable injury and, per recommendation from the attending veterinarian, the horse was humanely euthanized.”

“unrecoverable”

“humanely euthanized”

This is horseracing.

Tun Tun’s “participation” in the 1st at Charles Town last night, as conveyed by the Equibase writer: “sprinted clear soon after the start, set the pace along the rail, took a bad step in deep stretch, lost the rider, returned lame and was euthanized on the track.” Tun Tun was three years old; ’twas his third time under the whip. Oh, and he was also “For Sale” (at the used car tag of $5,000) immediately prior to dying.

This is horseracing.

According to the chart for the 4th at Belmont June 3, “Too Fast to Pass…came under coaxing [was whipped] at the three-eighths…was easing to the finish when abruptly pulled up…suffering from an injury to the left front and was subsequently vanned off.” This morning, the Gaming Commission has disclosed that Too Fast to Pass was euthanized – nine days later. At the time of the incident, you may remember, his so-called connections happily reported that Too Fast would survive and be retired. How magnanimous, the racing people thought, a well-earned retirement for this “old warrior.” We advocates, of course, saw this in a different light: This poor, beaten-down animal had nothing left to give an industry that had sucked him dry, for you see, Too Fast was ten years old and that race on the 3rd was his 91st time under the whip. Vile.

Look, it’s really quite simple: If you bet on or watch today’s Belmont Stakes, you are supporting – indeed, making possible – the killing of horses.