Dashing Nic, two, was killed after finishing 8th in last evening’s 5th race (his fourth career start) at Evangeline Downs. The gelding was ridden by David Alvarez, trained by Robert Touchet, and owned by Clark Wayne Stout. Later in the Evangeline night, Jess Spicey, yet another 2-year-old running for the fourth time, was vanned off after winning her race.
Equine veterinarian Kraig Kulikowski (statement to the New York State Humane Association):
“A two year old horse is the equivalent to a six year old human. Neither species is mentally or physically mature at this age. Asking a six year old human to be exploited as a professional athlete for economic gain would be considered inhumane. Exploiting juvenile horses for economic gain is equally inhumane. They are subject to permanent mental and physical trauma that, in too many cases, is catastrophic and even fatal.”
Two Thoroughbreds broke down Thursday: 7-year-old Hammurabi in a claiming race at Golden Gate Fields and 4-year-old Cat Tail Cutie in a claiming race at Remington Park.
Earlier in the week, at Monticello Raceway, Standardbred John Henry broke a leg (in a non-racing fall) and was killed. This is Monticello’s 2nd death of the year (Standardbreds break down far less frequently than their Thoroughbred cousins), and NY’s 109th overall.
The NYS Gaming Commission has announced that 5-year-old M P Joe, who was listed on this weekend’s ambulance report, was, in fact, euthanized after being vanned off Saturday at Aqueduct. Of the 12 NY horses vanned off since we began reporting on this a month ago, 6 died later in the barn. (Two other NY horses, Formulaforsuccess and Miss McKeown, died on-track, and one, Congaree King, though not vanned off at Finger Lakes on October 15th, “appeared lame after race” and was killed the next day.)
NY is still the only state to publicly disclose track deaths as they happen. Last week, 30 horses were vanned off in other states, their fates, as of now, unknown. But using the NY average, a reasonable guess is that 15 or so are gone. This is horseracing.
In yesterday afternoon’s 9th race at Parx, 3-year-old National Prayer broke down and was killed. The colt, passed around like an unruly foster child, was under his fourth different trainer in the past 12 months. Worse, in that same span, he was sold twice and was on the market (for $7,500) again yesterday. So, I wonder, was National Prayer “like part of your family,” Brittany Stover? Top Racing? Cecil Clugston? Right.
Also on Saturday, 4-year-old Baby Harlow broke down in the 9th race at Charles Town, and 7-year-old Atthebuzzer, making his 61st start, broke down in race 7 at Delta Downs. 61 starts. This is horseracing.
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.”