“Then it happened suddenly. Cabezudo heard an explosive crack, he would later testify, like that of a tree branch snapping, then Rivera scream. He continued looking straight ahead, but the sound was gut-wrenching. He knew what it meant.

“White arrived less than five minutes later to find a sickening sight: The filly’s right foreleg was held together by nothing more than hide and ligaments. Her cannon bone, slightly above the ankle, looked like it had detonated. But that wouldn’t have killed her on the spot. She must have fractured her neck or spine, or maybe suffered a heart attack as she crashed to the ground.”

The preceding excerpts are from an explosive new article from Ryan Goldberg on Vice: “The Death of a Racehorse.” Last year, you might remember, Ryan highlighted our work in Deadspin. His latest is long but worth every bit of your time – in equal measures exhaustive, shocking, and gripping. Please read, then share widely.

“Top Hat Thoroughbreds” is an ownership/investment group that promises “Thoroughbred Ownership at a Fraction of the Cost.” In other words, a chance to buy in, on the cheap. On its available page, Kaliche Gold is proudly offered, complete with a link to his Equibase profile. Problem is, Kaliche is dead – euthanized a full eight days ago for an “unresolved training injury.” Top Hat was Kaliche’s owner; surely they know he is dead. And yet they can’t be bothered to remove the post. “Just like family,” right?

While I’ve said all I need to say on the-former-jockey-turned-analyst Donna Brothers (here, here), there may be some newcomers to the site who don’t fully understand the depths of delusion we’re dealing with. So here we go again. Follows is a recent response from Ms. Brothers to a statement from our own Joy Aten. (note: Please ignore her ridiculous “safety rate”; it’s a gross deception. The rest speaks for itself.)

Jockey Denny Velazquez has been suspended by the Minnesota Racing Commission after a vehicle search allegedly turned up a “buzzer” (aka a “machine,” aka a “battery”) – a device used to shock racehorses into running faster. A tentative hearing is slated for next Thursday at Canterbury Park. The 26-year-old Velazquez is a hugely successful jockey – third in the current “standings” at Canterbury, with over 500 first-place finishes in his still-young career (and party to over $9 million in earnings).

For those who may think these (obviously abusive) buzzers are rare, I refer you to statements made during a 2013 PETA investigation of trainer Steve Asmussen:

Scott Blasi, an Asmussen assistant: “I’d tell [jockey Ricardo Santana Jr], ‘You got the maquina [shocker]?’ ‘Boss, I got the maquina.'”

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens: “So, long story short, I win the race…and I reach over to pull this off, and I, I shock the shit out of myself [audible laughing around the table].”

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “Well, we used to go behind the gate at Ruidoso. And it was just like it was a full-blown orchestra. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Everybody had one. Everybody had one.”

Cruelty, thy name is horseracing.

(my original post on the aforementioned investigation)

Bob Baffert, again. The superstar trainer with 15 Triple-Crown-races wins is back in the hot seat for drug positives. Last fall, you may recall, The New York Times reported that Justify, Baffert’s 2018 “champion,” failed a drug test in a qualifying race in California before going on to win the Kentucky Derby that year. As the Times said, “That meant Justify should not have run in the Derby, if the sport’s rules were followed.” But California officials dragged their feet for months, allowing Baffert time to win his second TC in four years. Eventually, the CHRB cleared Baffert. Its reasoning (and Baffert’s defense): “environmental contamination” (jimson weed in feed/straw).

(On that determination, the Times’ Joe Drape wrote: “Baffert has denied any wrongdoing, but the quantity of the drug found in Justify suggested that it was present not because of contamination in his feed or his bedding but rather because of an effort to enhance performance, according to Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018.”)

Now, word comes that two more of Baffert’s horses – once again, elite ones – tested positive for overages of lidocaine at Oaklawn in May. Baffert’s defense, again: “environmental contamination.” His lawyer, Craig Robertson III, explains (BloodHorse):

“Even though lidocaine is a lawful, widely available therapeutic medication, it was never intentionally administered to either Gamine or Charlatan. When test results indicated that trace [questionable word choice] amounts of lidocaine were found in both horses after their respective races on May 2, Bob Baffert and his team were shocked. … After investigation, it is our belief that both Gamine and Charlatan were unknowingly and innocently exposed to lidocaine by one of Bob’s employees.

“The employee previously broke his pelvis and had been suffering from back pain over the two days leading up to May 2. As a result, he wore a Salonpas patch on his back that he personally applied. That brand of patch contains small amounts of lidocaine. It is believed that lidocaine from that patch was innocently transferred from the employee’s hands to the horses through the application of tongue ties….” (“Tongue ties,” by the way, are abusive in and of themselves.)

Pity this hapless Hall of Famer, he just can’t catch a break.