Two more victims of the New York Racing Association (NYRA), as disclosed by the Gaming Commission:

Life Is Great, Tuesday at Belmont: “had a sudden death [while] recovering from surgery.” In all likelihood, the surgery had something to do with a late-April training session. Life was just three years old.

Daddy Frank, yesterday at Belmont: “collided with rail, could not stand after multiple attempts,” euthanized. He, too, was three years old.

This makes 31 dead horses at NYRA tracks (Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga) this year. And the yearly totals since 2009:

2009: 67 dead horses (partial: database went live in March)
2010: 109 dead horses
2011: 85 dead horses
2012: 95 dead horses
2013: 70 dead horses
2014: 79 dead horses
2015: 59 dead horses
2016: 66 dead horses
2017: 78 dead horses
2018: 60 dead horses
2019: 65 dead horses
2020: 83 dead horses
2021: 77 dead horses
2022: 31 dead horses

That, to be precise, is 1024 dead horses at the three NYRA tracks since 2009 (and these are only the ones we know about; surely, there were many more who fell through the cracks). As you can see, the 2020 carnage was the highest since 2012 – when, incidentally, NYRA and the Gaming Commission supposedly implemented a slew of “reforms” designed to curtail the killing. Speaking of which, earlier this year, when a bill was introduced to strip NY Racing of its obscene $230-million-dollar annual gift from taxpayers, Patrick McKenna, NYRA spokesperson, said this:

“NYRA is as healthy today as at any point in recent memory and sets the industry standard when it comes to safety and integrity.”

They lie because they have to: Their product is inherently cruel and inevitably deadly. And more and more, the public is getting it.

NYRA’s 2022 Victims, Thus Far:

Viking Zim, Jan 2, Belmont S – “laminitis”
Dunph, Jan 5, Belmont T – “fracture, lameness, euthanasia”
Cara’s Daydreamer, Jan 8, Aqueduct R – “injured past the wire”
Obsessed, Jan 8, Aqueduct R – “suffered an injury approaching the 3/4 pole”
Winetastic, Jan 20, Aqueduct R – “suffered an injury, euthanized on the track”
Devils Dare, Jan 21, Belmont S – “found in stall unable to stand…euthanized”
Derby Kisses, Jan 25, Belmont T – “suffered a complete P1 fracture”
Minit Maus, Feb 1, Belmont T – “pulled up lame…euthanized”
Pepe’s Pride, Feb 15, Belmont T – “humeral fracture”
Dazzle Time, Feb 18, Belmont S – “inoperable colic”
Happy Medium, Feb 24, Belmont T – “pulled up, splint, ambulanced, euthanized”
Johnny Fontaine, Feb 26, Aqueduct R – “suffered an injury nearing 1/8 pole”
Geno, Feb 26, Belmont T – “suffered an injury while galloping – euthanized”
Herecomesangelina, Mar 14, Belmont T – “collapsed and died” (two years old)
Steadfast Love, Mar 22, Belmont T – “humeral fracture, muscle atrophy”
A Colt Named Susie, Mar 25, Aqueduct R – “suffered an injury…euthanized on track”
Cazilda Fortytales, Mar 26, Aqueduct R – “collapsed fatally” (five years old)
Noble Thought, Mar 26, Belmont T – “injured…euthanized on track”
Five Alarm Robin, Apr 2, Belmont T – “collapsed and died breezing” (five years old)
Lord Licorice, Apr 10, Aqueduct R – “fell heavily, euthanized on track”
Dario’s Angel, Apr 11, Belmont S – “to [hospital] via ambulance, euthanized”
Sister Luck, Apr 14, Belmont T (euthanized Apr 17) – “suspected pelvic fracture”
Green Light Go, Apr 22, Belmont T – “unsalvageable injuries”
Baby I’m Perfect, Apr 28, Belmont R – “sustained an injury at the five-furlong pole”
Cozy Dancer, Apr 30, Belmont S – “injured in stall after getting cast”
Not So Grimm, Apr 30, Belmont R – “vanned off, euthanized in barn”
yet-to-be-named 2-year-old, May 5, Belmont S – “died in his stall”
Fast Getaway, May 5, Belmont T – “injured, ambulanced, euthanized”
Boca Kitten, May 21, Belmont R – “went wrong, struck by foe, euthanized on track”
Life Is Great, May 24, Belmont S – “sudden death [while] recovering from surgery”
Daddy Frank, May 25, Belmont T – “collided with rail”

A reminder on Preakness Day. Horses killed in Maryland last year:

I’mthekatsmeow, Jan 13, Pimlico T
“This horse had been in training at Pimlico. She developed swelling…from the ankle up to at least the knee. No treatment helping…hair sloughing off. The owner has decided to put the mare down before she may founder.”

RF leg: “severe, chronic, active degenerative joint disease”
LF leg: “fractured bone; chronic degenerative joint disease; acute cartilage necrosis”
both hind fetlocks: “moderate chronic degenerative joint disease”
stomach: “chronic ulcers”
adrenal glands: “acute cortical hemorrhages”

Re-read that, and now consider that I’mthekatsmeow was only four years old.

Norma Jean, Feb 20, Laurel T (euthanized Feb 25)
“On February 20, the horse breezed…and returned to her barn. At that point, they noticed that the horse appeared lame. On Thursday the 25th, the horse was found down in the stall. Dr. Lockard determined [she] had suffered an open, comminuted tibia fracture. After consultation, [she] was euthanized.”

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “I walked past the stall of Norma Jean and noticed that she was down in sternal recumbency on her left side. She did appear to be painful and kept looking back at her hind quarters, much like a horse with colic would. It was shortly after this that Norma Jean was euthanized and the diagnosis of a tibia fracture was made. I believe that she got down during the night and when she tried to get back up, her tibia…shattered completely. I wish that we had known about this lameness prior to this day. I also am concerned that, due to economics or lack of concern, Norma Jean was not adequately managed for pain on the morning of the 25th.”

“Due to economics or lack of concern, Norma Jean was not adequately managed for pain.” Bastards. Norma Jean was just two years old, a baby.

Gravity’s Rainbow, Mar 7, Laurel R
“Filly broke down around the 3/4 pole, shattering her left cannon bone. There is a compound fracture and the distal limb is dangling from strips of skin and tendon. The open wound and exposed surfaces are coated with sand. The cannon bone is shattered into three major fragments and multiple (>20) small fragments. [Both] front fetlocks [had] chronic cartilage erosion.”

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “She had her shins/cannon bones pinfired, so most likely had bucked shins earlier in her career.”

Dr. Dilodovico (commission vet): “Old shins, but nothing significant.”

“Chronic cartilage erosion,” “old shins” – Gravity’s Rainbow had just turned three, an equine pubescent. But that’s horseracing: start ’em early, grind ’em up, spit ’em out.

unidentified, Mar 12, Laurel S
“neurological”

Holly Blame, Mar 29, Laurel S
“The horse developed an infection in his left front foot…treated for six months, with several medications. The horse started to bleed…and then developed laminitis. Euthanized due to the severity of laminitis with 10 degrees of rotation.”

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “My concern with this situation is that this is the second horse from this trainer’s barn that has had to be euthanized under the same circumstances. I have suggested to his treating veterinarians that [Jose] Corrales and his help may need educating on proper foot care.”

Imagine that: a professional racehorse trainer “may need educating on proper foot care.”

Scoreswhenhewants, Mar 30, Laurel T
“When the horse reached the quarter pole, [he] broke down: complete, comminuted fracture, [numerous] fragments; extensive muscle damage and hemorrhage. Degenerative joint disease [all four limbs].”

Scores had just turned five. He also, by the way, had had prior surgery – in same limb that broke down – with three metal pins inserted.

Dreamingofsavannah, Apr 3, Laurel T
“Filly was toward the end of her breeze when she broke down. The left tibia is shattered…numerous fragments. There is acute hemorrhage in both [italics added] hind limbs. The acute traumatic damage to the RH fetlock joint and surrounding tendons is very interesting; we wonder if that damage might have occurred a step or two prior to the catastrophic step(s) that resulted in the tibial fracture.”

Also: “There is chronic degenerative joint disease in both left and right radiocarpal joints and in all four fetlock joints.” And: “Chronic ulcers in squamous mucosa [stomach] and acute stress ulcers in glandular mucosa.”

Dreaming was just three years old and had yet to be raced (i.e., all that “chronic joint disease” was strictly the result of training).

R Bs Rod, Apr 3, Laurel T (euthanized Apr 24)
“The horse returned from galloping lame – tibial fracture. [Three weeks later], private vet reported fracture had displaced…euthanized.”

Dr. Daniel (commission vet): “The goal was to keep the horse up for several weeks to allow the limb and fracture to stabilize…. At some point, apparently the ‘High Line’ broke and the colt laid down. Sadly, the fracture became much worse when he attempted to get back up. At this point, euthanasia was the humane option.”

Also, R Bs Rod, two, suffered from “chronic ulcers in the stomach,” “[some] chronic degenerative joint disease,” and “early laminitis – separation of laminae – [in three of the four] hooves.” Again, two years old. Bastards.

Friesian Days, Apr 13, Laurel S
“Trainer and horse were in barn preparing to go to the track. Trainer threw rider onto the horse and the horse reared up and started backing up. The horse then backed into the annex shed, striking its head on the wall and then flipping. The horse was then able to get outside of the barn and collapsed to the ground…unable to rise again or move back legs. [I]njuries were so severe – vertebral and brain trauma with spinal cord and brain hemorrhages/compressions – that the horse [was] euthanized.”

Then this: “History of a fracture in LH leg after a head trauma over 1 year ago, per owner.” And: “There is noted chronic degenerative joint disease in three of the four legs [and] subacute hemorrhage/ulcers in stomach.”

So, that’s two “head traumas,” the second fatal, in a little over a year; a prior fractured leg; “chronic degenerative joint disease”; and “hemorrhage/ulcers in stomach.” Friesian Days was just three years old.

Escapability, Apr 13, Laurel T
“Horse broke down near the finish line: [multiple] open [through the skin], complete, displaced fractures.”

Also: “Chronic degenerative joint disease in all four pastern and fetlock joints…most severe in front limbs.” And (of course): “stomach ulcers.” Escapability was two years old.

Vern H, May 13, Pimlico R
“The horse appeared to take a bad step. The horse took several more strides and then collapsed…catastrophic injury to the right front shoulder…euthanized on the track.”

Da Chrome, May 29, Pimlico R
“Broke down just past 5/16 pole…believed to have an open [through the skin] fracture of left front ankle…. The horse was euthanized off [italics added] the track.” Also: “The right lip fold is lacerated and the overlying skin is missing deep into the dermis. There is blood coming from the nostrils and the skin around the right eye has…hemorrhage. The skin of the scrotum is also partially missing. Severe ulcers [in] stomach.”

Da Chrome was just three years old. This poor, poor boy.

Military Commander, Jun 6, Pimlico R
“Military Commander suffered catastrophic [breakdown]: fetlock completely dropped to ground, [multiple] fractures, significant soft tissue disruption. The proximal edge of the fractured condyle came through the skin after the horse was placed in splint and allowed to bear on limb to load on ambo.” Also: “stomach ulcers [and] severe degenerative joint disease.” Military was three years old.

Strictly Business, Jun 17, Pimlico S
“History of colic, several days duration; horse became toxic and was euthanized.”

Dr. Daniel: “This was a long, complicated case of colic and enteritis that Dr. Maury did her best to treat in the field. It is unfortunate that referral for 24-hour care was declined multiple times by the trainer. I do feel that this horse may have been saved had this referral happened.” Strictly was three years old.

Kens Lady, Jun 20, Pimlico R
“The horse sustained a catastrophic injury and fell to the track.” Dr. Daniel: “When I arrived at the scene, I assessed…and determined quickly that she would need to be euthanized as she had an open, degloving fracture/dislocation of her LF fetlock.” Also: “stomach ulcers [and] degenerative joint disease.” Kens Lady was three years old.

Sweet Sassafrassy, Jun 20, Pimlico R
“The hind legs of Kens Lady clipped [Sweet Sassafrassy’s] front legs out from under her causing her to fall. [She] thrashed several times and ended up [recumbent]. Scapula shattered into [six] pieces. Euthanized [after being loaded and unloaded on/from ambulance two separate times].” Also: “gastric ulcers and severe degenerative joint disease [all four limbs].” Dr. Dilodovico also notes: “The filly had scars on both front legs from an incident as a baby.” Sweet was five years old.

Silver Sun, Jun 26, Timonium S (scheduled to be raced that day at Pimlico)
“The gelding was tied to the stall wall ready to come to the races. While the connections went to get the trailer, the horse flipped…suffer[ing] acute brain trauma.”

Wessington Springs, Jul 20, Timonium T
“While galloping [on Jul 19] the horse started to cough and the rider became concerned. Endoscopic exam proved clean. Galloping again on Jul 20, the colt pulled up and became unsteady. The horse then collapsed, bounced off rail twice, struck his head [and] died on the track. Hemorrhage at the base of the heart and in both lungs.”

Dr. Daniel: “The pulmonary hemorrhage in this young colt was overwhelming. I wish we could have determined an etiology…as [he] seemed to have a promising career.” Wessington was two years old.

Keepyourskateson, Aug 15, Pimlico R
“Pulled up and vanned off. Shattered carpal bone in right knee, multiple pieces.” Keepyourskateson was three years old.

Great Cause, Aug 20, Pimlico R
“The filly flipped [in paddock] and struck her head hard on the wall. [She] was recumbent, loaded on the ambulance, transported to barn, and euthanized.” Great Cause, three, had just been sold seven days prior.

Cash Comes First, Sep 7, Pimlico T
“The horse sustained open, comminuted, displaced fractures [in] his left forelimb; avulsed pieces of the ligament [through the skin].” Also: “chronic degenerative joint disease in all four coffin, pastern, and fetlock joints; chronic degenerative joint disease in both the left and right carpus joints; stomach ulcers.”

Dr. Daniel: “The degree of degenerative joint disease in such a young horse is somewhat alarming.” Trainer Henry Walters: “[Previous] surgery was performed on both knees and possibly one ankle.” Cash was three years old.

Valley Vibe, Sep, Timonium T (euthanized Sep 27 at Laurel)
“Left hind fracture, surgery. Developed laminitis [with] separation of the lamina from the hoof wall and marked downward rotation of the coffin bone to the sole involving both [emphasis mine] front limbs.” Valley was two and being prepped for his first race.

Tremendous, Oct 1, Laurel R
“The [horse] flipped over backward in the post parade and landed on his head. The horse thrashed some, but he made no effort to rise. He was bleeding profusely from his mouth, ears, and nose and developed nystagmus – euthanized due to severity of the head trauma.” Also: “severe degenerative joint disease of the fetlock [both front limbs].” Tremendous was three years old.

Kyosha, Oct 3, Laurel R
“Pulled up, unstable, vanned off. Complete, displaced, comminuted fracture – numerous pieces – of both wings of the pelvis [with] abundant hemorrhage.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [both] hind limbs.” Kyosha was three years old.

Bella Thyme, Nov 6, Laurel T
“The horse broke down near the 1/4 pole: complete, open fracture of cannon; left pelvis shattered into four large pieces; abundant hemorrhage into the body cavity.”

Not On My Watch, Nov 6, Laurel T
“The horse collapsed, appeared to be in distress, died – suspect bilateral pulmonary hemorrhage.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [both front limbs]; stomach ulcers.”

Dr. Daniel: “I am surprised to see the degree of degenerative joint disease found on necropsy. It is suspected that Not On My Watch bled severely. I would concur due to the amount of blood found in the horse ambulance coming from the nostrils. It is always a concern that pain is a contributing factor to EIPH. I wonder if joint pain contributed in this case.” Not On My Watch was three years old.

Bust’em Kurt, Nov 13, Laurel R
“Broke down near the 1/4 pole: dislocated fetlock, [multiple] fractures…euthanized on the track.” Also: “severe degenerative joint disease; stomach ulcers.”

Dr. Daniel: “The condylar fracture most likely occurred first. I would say that the sesamoid fractures occurred next, and the total dislocation of the ankle occurred as he was being pulled up. Given the degree of DJD, I would have to think there was a multifactorial cause for this devastating breakdown.” Bust’em was two years old.

Gale Winds, Nov 19, Laurel R
“The horse was removed from the track by ambulance. While at the barn, the horse made several attempts to stand and then fell through the outer wall of the shedrow. Catastrophic fracture of right femoral neck [which] caused catastrophic and irreparable bleeding; Gale Winds was bleeding out.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [all four legs]; stomach ulcers.” Gale was three years old.

Moquist, Nov 21, Laurel T
“Moquist was working this morning and broke down near the 3/8 pole: open [through the skin] fracture; dislocation of fetlock; fractured condyle.” Also: “There is preexisting chronic degenerative joint disease in all four legs, most severe in the front; a prior surgery [with] two screws in right ankle; and stomach ulcers.”

Manicomio, Nov 25, Laurel R
“The horse suffered a catastrophic injury then tumbled forward to the track: open fracture [and] dislocation of the right fetlock; [multiple] sesamoid fractures; tremendous soft tissue destruction; joint affixed to the body by a small piece of skin.” Also: “severe degenerative joint disease.” Manicomio was five years old.

yet-to-be-named 2-year-old, Nov 27, Laurel T
“Broke down near the 3/16 pole and euthanized on the track. RF leg: severe open, comminuted fractures of MC2, MC3, and MC4; flexor tendon rupture. RH leg: femoral neck fracture.” That’s two broken legs. Also: “degenerative joint disease in LF leg [and] subacute hemorrhage/ulcers [in] stomach.”

Dr. Daniel: “It is always surprising to me to see the degree of degenerative joint disease present even in a young horse….” Again, two years old.

American Playboy, Nov 28, Laurel R
“Open, compound, comminuted fracture of the RF cannon…euthanized on the track.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [both front limbs]; stomach ulcers.” Dr. Daniel: “[The] joint disease may be a result of hard training.” American was two years old.

McElmore Avenue, Dec 26, Laurel R
“Walking back to the barn horse suddenly collapsed and fell to the ground; [vet] arrived on the scene and determined that the horse was dead – most likely pulmonary hemorrhage.” Also: “degenerative joint disease [all four fetlocks]; stomach ulcers.” McElmore was four years old.

When is an advocate not really an advocate? Or perhaps the better question, when we are discussing an advocate (I’m talking to you media), shouldn’t we at least identify for whom the advocacy is aimed?

A recent Fox Harrisburg article on the new “safety” regs rolled out by PA officials in January is entitled: “Advocates continue to fight against thoroughbred racehorse abuse and mistreatment in Pa.” But the piece, in fact, quotes only one “advocate,” prominent PA vet Bryan Langlois. The good vet was also featured in a May 4 “Letter to the Editor” at the Thoroughbred Daily News, saying things like: “The changes being announced, implemented, and backed up with action are extremely pleasing to see. … PA is finally taking the right steps to bring integrity and safety back to the sport.”

To the unsuspecting eye, all this sounds fine, even admirable. Don’t we want more vets, especially those outside the industry (Dr. Langlois is not employed in racing), speaking out on behalf of the horses? Well, in truth, Langlois is an unabashed horseracing fan. Yes, fan – as in someone who can’t imagine a world without it, as in someone who will do and say anything to reverse the industry’s recent public slide. I know this because I’ve had dealings with him.

Look, as I’ve said about “reformist” racing writers (Joe Drape, Ray Paulick, et al.), people like Bryan Langlois, with their impressive credentials, are, in many ways, our greatest enemies – wolves in sheep’s clothing. Undeniably intelligent and articulate, their opinions and ideas can, at least to the lay public, be utterly persuasive – you know, all Racing needs is a good housecleaning, a return to its roots, the “Horseracing Integrity Act.” But you see, in Dr. Langlois’ worldview, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with breeding and exploiting horses for gambling. By touting PA’s specious measures (see the fraud that is NYRA’s “reforms”: here and here), Langlois is helping the horseracing industry, thereby condemning countless more horses to lives of abject suffering and, more often than not (track/stall/slaughter), painful, premature death. In short, and in answer to the question at the top, the Bryan Langloises of the world are advocates for horseracing – not horses. And to that I say, for shame.

The Preakness, of course, is Saturday in Baltimore. The weather, however, is not cooperating: Forecast calls for high 90s with a heat index well over 100. Will the race be canceled? Not on your life. This is, after all, one of Racing’s high holy days. Still, the weather is/will be a hot topic of conversation. Here are some thoughts (BloodHorse) from participants (no, not the horses, silly).

Saffie Joseph Jr., trainer of Skippylongstocking: “Hopefully that’s to our advantage. He’s accustomed to the heat and has run on very hot days. It’s common in Florida. We can use every break we can get on Saturday.”

Alessandro Sano, asst. trainer of Simplification: “He’s Florida born and bred. Ever since he was a baby, he’s been exposed to the sun and hot days. He ran on hot days at Gulfstream in the summer. He broke his maiden on a very hot day at Gulfstream, so he shouldn’t be bothered by it much. Running in those kind of temperatures is not ideal for anyone but at least having the knowledge that our horse has performed with success in that kind of weather before gives us a little more confidence.”

Wayne Lukas, trainer of Secret Oath: “We’ll have to see. She hasn’t raced in that kind of heat before, but we’ll try to get through it. It will be the same for everyone. It will affect all of our horses but I will say it can affect some more than others, especially those that let their adrenaline base get a little high. Depending on the humidity, it could impact the oxygen intake a bit.”

Chad Brown, trainer of Early Voting: “I can’t predict how it will affect Early Voting. It’s unfortunate, especially for the horses, to have such a prestigious race and big weekend for everyone and to have to deal with such oppressive conditions.”

Craig Fravel of track owner The Stronach Group: “We run into this situation at all of our tracks. We routinely run with temperatures like that in Florida and on occasion during the fall meet at Santa Anita Park we’ll have a day like that.”

Regarding the fans, Fravel added: “We’re going to check with all the proper authorities about back-up generators and the air conditioning. There will be plenty of water around and places for people to be in the shade. There will be plenty of room inside the building if they need to be inside rather than in the sun.”

Oppressive for the horses, comfortable for the humans – that about sums it up. In any event, Nicole and I, MD organizers Jennifer Sully and Peter Herrera, and a host of other HW activists will be there – most definitely and most proudly not in air-conditioned environs.