In the 2nd race at Emerald Downs yesterday, the 3-year-old filly Dame of the West “fell late and was vanned off.” That combination usually means dead; I will find out for sure with a FOIA. In the meantime, I thought I’d show you the replay. Oh, but wait, upon arriving at the Emerald site, here is what I found:
In August, I chronicled James Jungquist’s leaving-welts-on-the-horse “whip violation” at Running Aces Racetrack. Later that month, Jungquist again left welts. And now, like animal hoarders who, try as they might, cannot quite shake the urge (studies indicate a near-100% recidivism rate for hoarders), Jungquist strikes anew. From the Minnesota Racing Commission: “James Jungquist was the driver of Captain Terminator in the 8th race on 9/7/21. Captain Terminator was examined for welts…by Dr. Taylor. Welts were present. This is Mr. Jungquist’s 3rd welt offense in 2021 at Running Aces. The penalty is a $500 fine and a 5-day driving suspension.”
Three times, just this year and at the same track, Jungquist has inflicted (excessive) pain and suffering on a defenseless animal – and will live to whip another day (just five days hence, that is). Can this industry be any more abhorrent? (Incidentally, another RA driver, Brady Jenson, was cited for his second “welt offense” of 2021; penalty: $200 fine and a two-day suspension.)
Back in March, I reported that Churchill Downs Inc. is accepting bids for the property that houses Arlington Park – with zero intention of selling to other racing interests. The short of it: Arlington, one of the nation’s historic tracks, will be closing for good this year. Sunday, Tim Sullivan of the The Louisville Courier-Journal turned his keen eye on the impending closure. Excerpts follow (full piece here).
Though the move [closing, selling] might seem mystifying for a company whose roots are in racing and whose best-known product is the Kentucky Derby…there is nothing counterintuitive about CDI’s pursuit of profit. And, indisputably, there is quite a lot to recommend it. While shifting its emphasis from racetracks to casinos, Churchill management has rewarded investors with a 10-year total return of 1,334% through Friday’s market close…. Moreover, if Arlington is destined for the dustbin of history, as was Hollywood Park following CDI’s 2005 divestiture, this is in keeping with the industry’s trend toward contraction and, arguably, with Churchill management’s fiduciary responsibilities to its stockholders.
“Make no mistake about it, Churchill Downs is a gaming company. Horse racing, except for that day of the Derby, is listed in the ‘other’ category in their corporate reports. That tells you how relevant racing is to Churchill Downs,” said Mike Campbell, president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
With politicians such as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wondering about the wisdom of continuing to subsidize a sport susceptible to allegations of animal abuse and operators eager to decouple their casino investments from a business long in decline, relying on racing as a core enterprise entails considerable risk. [Gaming analyst] Howard Jay Klein has repeatedly urged CDI to distance itself from underperforming assets, claiming the company was “too deeply committed in legacy businesses” with terrible long-term demographics.
Churchill has since shed Florida’s Calder Race Course from its portfolio…. The final race at Calder…was run last November. Barring a sudden reversal, Arlington is next.
Two years ago, on Belmont Stakes Day, I posted the following. (For today, which, of course, is this year’s Stakes Day, I have updated the numbers.)
Tuesday, AP sportswriter Stephen Whyno published an article that could just as easily have come from the New York Racing Association’s PR department. He begins: “The home of the Belmont Stakes is laps ahead of other U.S. racetracks when it comes to keeping horses safe. Belmont Park…had some of the fewest horse deaths in the sport. Amid the 26 horse deaths at California’s Santa Anita Park since late December, the Belmont will be run Saturday on a track that national observers say is among the safest and best maintained in the country.”
“Laps ahead of other U.S. racetracks when it comes to keeping horses safe”? “Some of the fewest horse deaths in the sport”? Okay. Here are the kill totals at Belmont over the past five full calendar years.
2016: 39 dead horses 2017: 40 dead horses 2018: 30 dead horses 2019: 44 dead horses 2020: 53 dead horses
That’s an average of over 40 dead “athletes” every year. And this year? Already, just five months in, 22 horses have lost their lives at Belmont Park. Going back to 2009 (the first year for which we have data), the toll is 528. That’s 528 intelligent, sensitive beings sacrificed for $2 bets and the spectacle that is today. For shame, America.