Churchill Downs is the host of today’s Kentucky Derby. Here are some (some, not all) of the racehorses killed at that track over just the past three years. Connect the dots.

(Prior to 2020, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission refused to give me names; hence all the “unidentifieds.”)

Ace of Aces: “Horse broke down at 1/16 pole: right humeral fracture – complete, comminuted; left scapular fracture – complete, comminuted; left sesamoid fracture.” That’s three different breaks. Also: “gastric ulcer disease.” Ace was five years old.

Kitten Strikesback: “Horse pulled up severely lame: comminuted condylar fracture.” Also: “multifocal ulceration; hepatitis.” Kitten was two years old and being prepped for her first race.

My Clay Girl: “Horse went down at the 1/4 pole with a severe injury…started exhibiting signs of shock and pain…euthanized: complete, comminuted humeral fracture.” My Clay Girl was three years old and being prepped for her first race.

Holiday Cruising: “Rider said he felt a pop and the horse went down: complete, comminuted humeral fracture with tearing of the muscles.” Also: “subacute to chronic squamous ulceration.” Holiday was four years old.

Little Feather: “Filly pulled up after the gallop-out severely lame RF limb: complete, comminuted fracture of the first phalanx.” Also: “acute, glandular stomach erosions; suppurative hepatitis.” Little was two years old and being prepped for her first race.

City Tavern: “Horse pulled up after the 1/4 pole with a catastrophic injury: slab fractures of the third and intermediate carpal bones, comminuted fracture of the ulnar carpal bone, small fracture of the fourth carpal bone; all carpal joints contain a large amount of blood, with variably-sized bone fragments.” City was three years old.

Devil’s Den: “Horse pulled up after breezing with a severe injury to the RF fetlock: multiple fractures, extensive soft tissue damage.” Also: “stomach ulceration.” Devil’s was two years old and being prepped for his first race.

Hard to Be Good: “Horse was galloping this morning and became shaky while pulling up; the rider jumped off and the horse collapsed and died – aortic rupture.” Also: “extensive stomach ulceration.” Hard to Be Good was seven years old.

All Fact: “Flipped over [before] race: skull fracture – multiple fragments.” Also: “degenerative joint disease, front fetlocks, right carpus.” All Fact was five years old.

Bodemeister Wind: “Horse pulled up after the wire lame left front: [multiple] fractures.” Also: “multifocal stomach ulceration.” Bodemeister was three years old.

Hitch Kick Double: “Complete, comminuted fracture of the third metatarsal bone with a large open wound; further fracture at the lateral-most aspect of the sagittal ridge resulting in complete separation of the ridge from the metatarsal; fractures are severely comminuted with fragments entirely free of the bone, some embedded in the ligament.” Also: “gastric ulceration; bilateral metacarpal disease.” Hitch was two years old and being prepped for her first race.

Crystal Got Even (probably sic): “Complete spiral fracture of the humerus, tearing of the muscles.” Also: “stomach ulceration, gastritis.” Crystal was three years old.

West Bank Baby: “Horse was being treated for a few weeks for chronic laminitis and founder [both forelimbs]; deteriorat[ed] this week when the coffin bones rotated through the soles.” Also: “suppurative hepatitis.” West Bank was four years old and had been raced 14 times.

Camellia Gal: “After galloping and getting into stall, horse became severely uncomfortable and violent even after two rounds of sedation – pelvic fracture, severe hemorrhage and tearing of the muscles.” Camellia was four years old.

Clear Steps: “Horse pulled up near the 3/8 with a catastrophic injury to RF fetlock: comminuted fracture of the medial sesamoid; soft tissue disruption is severe, including [multiple] tendon tears and [multiple] ligament ruptures.” According to the jockey, “The horse warmed up a little funny in the post parade, [and] she was sweating and seemed to be stressed.” Clear Steps was three years old.

Rouson: “Horse broke down at the 1/16 pole: [multiple] open, comminuted fractures with extensive soft tissue damage, including tearing of the superficial and deep digital flexors, rupture of the suspensory ligament, and rupture of the intersesamoidian ligament.” Also: “stomach ulceration.” Rouson was three years old.

Newt: “Broke down while breezing – [multiple] fractures, extensive soft tissue damage.” Also: “suppurative hepatitis.” Newt was two years old.

Stacks Up: “Horse was half mile into a routine gallop when it broke down: complete spiral fracture of the humerus with tearing of the muscles.” Also: “grade 3 ulceration; suppurative hepatitis.” Stacks was two years old and being prepped for his first race.

Royal Commission: “Catastrophic injury – [multiple] fractures, extensive soft tissue damage.” Also: “severe stomach ulceration.” Royal was four years old.

All Bodes Well: “Horse flipped in gate, was severely painful and distressed, euthanized: complete, comminuted fracture of the femur; tearing of the muscle.” Also: “gastric ulceration.” All Bodes Well was three years old.

Ceeky: “Right forelimb: complete luxation of fetlock with massive damage to soft tissues; the straight, oblique, and cruciate ligaments are severely torn with complete rupture at base of sesamoids. Left forelimb: fracture resulting in acute cartilage damage.” Also: “grade 4 ulcer disease.” Ceeky was seven years old.

Vertical Threat: “Horse fell. Left forelimb: multiple fractures of the scapula, myriad spicules embedded within muscle; severe tearing. Right forelimb: complete fracture of the carpal bone.” That’s two broken legs. Vertical Threat was four years old.

Can to Man: “Became severely ataxic in hind limbs after galloping, severely painful response: lumbosacral subluxation with compressive myelopathy of the lumbar cord.” Can to Man was three years old and being prepped for his first race.

Alittlevodka: “comminuted fractures”

Bold Esther: “sudden death – hemoperitoneum”

Gold Credit: “sesamoid fractures”

Censored: “humeral fracture”

Chainsthatbindyou: “tibial fracture” (being prepped for first race)

yet-to-be-named: “MTIII fracture”

Kowalski: “comminuted sesamoid fractures”

Glissando: “sudden death” (being prepped for first race)

Urbana: “[multiple] fractures, massive soft tissue damage”

Tour Spuzz: “laminitis” (three years old, never been raced)

Lucky Asset: “fractures, tearing of tendons, rupture of ligament”

Tormenta: “[multiple] fractures, severe soft tissue damage”

unidentified: “neurological”

Pow Wow Indian: “[multiple] fractures” (being prepped for first race)

Uncle Robbie: “[multiple] fractures” (being prepped for first race)

Sir Winsalot: “fracture, large amount of hemorrhage”

Rebuff: “multiple open, disarticulated fractures both front legs”

Here Comes Josie: “comminuted P1 fracture”

Juggernaut: “[multiple] fractures”

Uni the Unicorn: “[multiple] fractures” (being prepped for first race)

Winning Impression: “comminuted fractures, hemorrhage”

Binge Watch: “open, disarticulated fracture”

Tenace: “P1 fracture” (being prepped for first race)

Night Candy: “comminuted fractures, severe soft tissue damage”

Alexander Hamilton: “fracture, ruptured ligaments”

Eclipse the Moon: “tibial fracture” (one – yes, one – year old)

Sharp and Strong: “open fracture” (being prepped for first race)

unidentified: “spontaneous hemorrhage from both nostrils and urethra; witness reports that subject was hesitant to leave stall, and when removed from stall to begin training, subject resisted…and spontaneously died…likely due to the compression of the brain from the subdural hemorrhage; the location of the [skull] fracture suggests a large amount of concentrated force to the area”

unidentified: “found dead: bronchopneumonia, severe gastric ulcer disease”

unidentified: “encephalitis, protozoal myelitis, acute colitis”

Mottaret: “large colon displacement”

Bless His Heart: “rupture with tearing”

unidentified: “[multiple] fractures; ruptured tendon, ligament”

unidentified: “open fractures”

unidentified: “open fractures, extensive soft tissue damage”

Believein: “[multiple] fractures, severe soft tissue damage”

unidentified: “comminuted fractures”

Allied Party: “[multiple] fractures, acute cartilage excoriation”

unidentified: “open fractures, severe soft tissue damage”

unidentified: “collapsed and died on the racetrack”

unidentified: “open, disarticulated fetlock”

Frank Senior: “comminuted fracture, marked tearing”

Tigers Rule: “[multiple] fractures with tearing of artery and vein”

Elegant Bay: “multiple fractures, soft tissue damage is severe”

Pallaso: “complete fracture of humerus, tearing of musculature”

unidentified 3-year-old filly: “fracture sesamoid with disruption of the associated soft tissue structures”

Kinley Karole: “comminuted MC3 fracture; the cartilage loss was more severe than one would expect to see in a first time starter”

unidentified 2-year-old filly: “open, comminuted fractures of both sesamoids; soft tissue damage is extensive”

unidentified 14-year-old: “found dead in the stall this morning”

unidentified 2-year-old filly: “horse was breezing and broke down at the wire”

unidentified 3-year-old filly: “fractures [both front legs]”

High Beam: “pulled up with severe ataxia and white mucous membranes; horse collapsed and died within few minutes – massive pulmonary hemorrhage”

Will Call: “horse collapsed and died – massive hemorrhage within the thorax and abdomen; extensive hemorrhage over the spine, both sides of the neck, and the hip”

Today is Kentucky Derby Day, a day in which the The Big Lie is at its most obscene. NBC and mint juleps; “The Run for the Roses,” “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” But the truth is, today is but a hollow dog and pony show. Horseracing, everyday horseracing, is cold, violent, and merciless. And here’s another hard truth: Horseracing in America is not 100 disparate companies; it is a single entity. As such, a bet at one track is a bet at all; to patronize one race is to patronize all. In other words, if you support – watch, bet on – today’s race, you make possible the following.

(These lists – over 8,000 dead horses in case anyone was wondering – say nothing of racing’s many other wrongs, most prominently the intensive, unremitting solitary confinement to tiny spaces. Nor, of course, does this carnage reflect the fact that most racehorses active today will land in equine hell – the slaughterhouse – at the end of their usefulness. Need I go on?)

The Sacrificed, 2014
The Sacrificed, 2015
The Sacrificed, 2016
The Sacrificed, 2017
The Sacrificed, 2018
The Sacrificed, 2019
The Sacrificed, 2020
The Sacrificed, 2021
The Sacrificed, 2022






Pompano Park, the last remaining harness track in Florida, is now officially dead. Last May, you might remember, a bill passed allowing Pompano’s owner, Caesars Entertainment, to “decouple” its casino operation from the racing – i.e., it no longer would be forced to subsidize the horse people. Freed from the shackles of the moribund harness-racing industry, the result was predictable: Caesars said, we’re out (of the racing business, that is; reports have Caesars transforming the property into an upscale retail, dining, office and entertainment hub). The end came Sunday.

This is, of course, the future, not just on the harness end, but at the slew of propped-up flat tracks across the country as well. That future was readily acknowledged by the pro-racing writer Bill Finley of the Thoroughbred Daily News. Sunday, he wrote:

“So, what does this have to do with Thoroughbred racing? Plenty. If it can happen to Pompano Park it can happen to any racetrack running any breed. The threat of decoupling is real and it’s not going to go away. It is a huge and ominous threat.” He added: “Most every casino company that owns a racetrack doesn’t want to be in the horse racing business, and most don’t bother to hide their disdain for the sport.”

And so, Pompano has officially become the 41st U.S. track to close since 2000 – and they’re not opening new ones, folks. I’ll close with this quote from celebrated driver Wally Hennessey (pictured below): “I wouldn’t call it depression to talk about the ending of racing at Pompano, it’s more like a funeral.” One funeral I’m happy to attend.

A small minority of tracks in this country (Saratoga, Keeneland, Santa Anita, et al.) are profitable – profitable meaning they survive on their product alone. The rest are being wholly propped up by corporate welfare. If there was any doubt (though there shouldn’t be), witness the latest from Oregon, where billionaire Travis Boersma has been trying to get slot machines (he calls them something else, but that’s what they are) installed at the state’s lone remaining track, Grants Pass (some history here). That effort, at least for now, has failed. And yesterday, Travis released this:

“As a result of the Oregon Racing Commission’s vote to deny an operating license to The Flying Lark, Grants Pass Downs has lost its economic engine. While we remained hopeful we would be able to host a viable race meet, the uncertainty here and across the industry has resulted in a drastic reduction of racehorses at Grants Pass Downs. At this point, it’s clear running the meet isn’t feasible.”

Excellent, indeed.