Britain’s Animal Aid maintains a running list of Thoroughbreds killed on British tracks. It does so because, out of self-preservation, the racing people won’t. Sure, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) generously tells us “about 2 in every thousand runners are fatalities,” but not who they are and where they happen. Putting names and faces to the ugly stats doesn’t make for good business. So Animal Aid helps fill the void. The “Race Horse Death Watch” reports 117 kills in 2013 and 143 in 2012 – though Animal Aid believes these numbers, for obvious reasons, are understated by some 30%.
The BHA replies:
“No, racing is not cruel. Those in racing care about horses and provide excellent care.”
“Horses are herd animals and galloping alongside one another is a natural thing they do.”
“A person can only ask a horse to participate, he cannot make it race if it does not want to.”
“We do not kill horses for sport. Fatal injuries in racing do occur and, as in any sport, there is an element of risk for the participants.”
“Horses are like any athlete, they can pick up injuries whilst relaxing, whilst training and competing.”
The Daily Racing Form (11/14/13) reports that 6-year-old Turallure, two years removed from winning the Woodbine Mile, was killed today “shortly after breaking down in a routine gallop at Keeneland…” Trainer Charlie LoPresti: “This is just awful for all of us. Turallure was just like part of my family.” As per usual, racing’s conditioned fans are offering obtuse “condolences to the connections.” But amid the drivel, one brave soul left this on both the DRF and Paulick Report sites (though it appears to have been stricken from the latter): “How come when the 5k claimers break down and are euthanized…they are NEVER ‘part of the family’?” Hear, hear.
Turallure’s last 9 races:
Churchill Downs, 5/5/12, 7th of 11
Churchill Downs, 7/1/12, 4th of 5
Keeneland, 4/6/13, 6th of 7
Churchill Downs, 5/2/13, 6th of 9
Arlington, 6/8/13, 5th of 7
Saratoga, 7/24/13, 2nd of 9
Saratoga, 8/31/13, 4th of 5
Keeneland, 10/5/13, 9th of 10
Keeneland, 10/18/13, 6th of 12
Based on the above, and after winning his “family” almost $1.4 million, one would think that Turallure (pictured below) had earned a permanent respite. One would be wrong, for this, after all, is horseracing, squeezing till the bitter end.
The News 4 I-Team (Washington) reports (11/13/13) that the Charles Town racetrack in West Virginia – one of the nation’s busiest, running, basically, year-round – has recorded 54 2013 deaths (46 in-competition) through 9/4, and 144 over the past two years. In 2011, 47 horses perished. On the spike, a spokesman for Charles Town’s operator, Penn National Gaming (yes, Charles Town is a racino, with slots and table games jacking up purses for bottom-tier racing), said this:
“Charles Town is the venue. We have, however, limited impact on the races and those horses competing at our facilities. We maintain our track, surfaces and facilities at the highest standards. We have no control over the physical condition and training of horses entered in our races. We do not know if that horse has a prior injury, has been medicated beyond legal limits or has been trained too much or too little.” How comforting.
In yesterday’s 9th race at Parx, 3-year-old The Man Himself “broke down in the opening quarter mile and was humanely euthanized.” Had he lived, the colt, who was claimed prior to the race, would have been laboring under a 4th different trainer in 6 1/2 months:
2 starts (4/27, 6/9), William Mott (for Besilu Stables)
3 starts (8/16, 9/2, 9/29) Edward Plesa Jr (for Besilu Stables)
3 starts (10/23, 10/28, 11/11) Joseph Mazza (for Lucille Caruso-Mazza)
In the 10/23 race at Belmont, his first under Mazza, The Man Himself finished 9th (of 10) chasing a $40,000 purse. With no rest for the weary, the not-yet-fully-formed Thoroughbred was thrust into a $28,000 race at Parx just 5 days later; 14 days after that, he was dead.
Yesterday, a 5-year-old stallion named Parcel, who last raced in March 2012, fractured a leg while “breezing” at Aqueduct. He was killed. Also on Sunday, at Zia Park in New Mexico, a pair of 2-year-olds making their debuts were vanned off in consecutive races. To remind, Cafe Bonita and JC Storm are but children. And finally, in Saturday’s 2nd race at Delta Downs, 4-year-old Offshore Banker “was pulled up in mid stretch while bleeding and was vanned off,” making it two consecutive starts (Evangeline, 8/17) the gelding could not finish due to bleeding.