Last year, California enacted a law that gives the California Horse Racing Board the authority to “at any time, immediately suspend a license to conduct a racing meeting when necessary to protect the health and safety of the horses…. The suspension shall remain in effect until the board determines that the matters jeopardizing the health and safety of the horses…have been adequately addressed.” It was, of course, a direct response to the Santa Anita Spring, at which, at the time, 36 horses lay dead. To date, this authority has yet to be exercised.

This year, Santa Anita’s neighbor, Los Alamitos, has claimed 29 lives. With pressure mounting, the CHRB held an emergency meeting Thursday, with the prospect of a shutdown (which surely would be only temporary) on the horizon. I mean, if 29 kills in a little over six months doesn’t set a threshold, what will? Well, Friday the CHRB decided to kick that question down the road. Los Al will remain open, but is on a 10-day probation during which it must come up with a “plan” to address the carnage. A “plan” – ‘twould be risible if not for the fact that horses are suffering and dying.

In defense of the track, Bob Baffert – yes, that Bob Baffert – told the Board Friday, “As a track surface, I consider it the best surface. Los Alamitos is sort of the standard of all track surfaces. That is the safest racing surface that I’ve trained on.”

Greg Avioli, president and CEO of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, concurred: “The TOC would support the continuation of training and racing at Los Alamitos.”

And Dr. Rick Arthur, the Board’s equine medical director: “I see no evidence that it’s a track surface problem. I do not believe that Los Alamitos is an unsafe track.”

“Best.” “The standard.” “Safest.” 20 – count them, 20 – killed racing or training on that surface (an additional 9 have perished back in their stalls). And now this track, on “probation,” working diligently on its “plan,” has probably claimed another. In the 6th yesterday, 2-year-old Alltime Favorite was, according to the chartwriter, “injured, vanned off.” As I’ve oft written, that description at that track almost always means dead. (I have reached out to the CHRB for confirmation. Nothing yet.)

So the question, California, is where do you go from here? If the ethics of animal use are to be taken seriously, if the phrase “animal cruelty” is to have any meaning, then you, as the nation’s leader on matters like these, must act now. End this madness.

Voice your outrage: Link this post. Cite data from this website. Tell them horseracing is animal cruelty; horseracing must end.

Governor Newsom
Senator Feinstein
Senator Harris
California state legislators

Wednesday, I reported on the 18 kills sent to me by the Arkansas Racing Commission for the recent Oaklawn meet. The Commission, however, also sent along this proviso:

“The ARC Vet, who is present on the track each race day, becomes involved in these incidents only when blood is drawn from the injured horse or there is reason to suspect a rule violation. The ARC has no other information responsive to your request.”

So, if the Commission vet (who, I’ve been told, is the sole keeper of records for the state) is only “becoming involved” under certain circumstances, it stands to reason that there were even more victims at/of Oaklawn – e.g., those euthanized back in the barn, where, presumably, no blood is drawn; those euthanized off premises entirely. With that in mind, here is a list of horses “vanned off” at Oaklawn this year but not reported dead by the Commission. All, as of this writing, remain missing in action.

A J Rock, Jan 31 (not “vanned” but “pulled up, DNF”)
Spunky Town, Feb 2
Caddo Daddo, Mar 7
Twin Farms, Mar 22
Railman, Mar 29
Mighty Manfred, Apr 3
Replete, Apr 9
Lieutenant Powell, Apr 16
Slovak, Apr 26

Then there’s this: Last year, the Commission disclosed 11 deaths. This year – one year after Santa Anita and all the supposed reform and hyper vigilance that that intense scrutiny engendered – 18. (I have actually confirmed 19: one – Spirogyra on Feb 2 – did not appear on the FOIA document; I confirmed through another source.) That’s a 64% increase. 64%. And this, at one of America’s premier tracks.

Look, I know this gets monotonous, folks, but “we can fix this” is a lie. While the numbers will fluctuate from meet to meet (I don’t expect Oaklawn to have a similar increase next year, or even an increase at all), track to track, state to state, death for the industry in the aggregate is unfailingly constant and, more or less, consistent (see my annual killed lists). Sure, there are things that can be done that would mitigate the killing somewhat, but because of horseracing’s very structure – how they’re bred, when they’re first put to work, what they’re forced to do, how and how often they’re forced to do it, etc. – not in any meaningful way. In short, horseracing guarantees a certain level of killing. Guarantees – for, I remind, nothing more than $2 bets.

Yesterday, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) released a statement regarding a resumption of racing at Belmont Park. Besides the blatant kissing up to an unimpressed Governor Cuomo, the theme was safety:

“NYRA joins the entire racing community in applauding Governor Cuomo’s steady leadership throughout this unprecedented public health crisis. We recognize that decisions about large scale events are rightly left to our elected leaders and public health officials. At the same time, horseracing is in a unique position as a sport that can be safely staged without attendees.

“NYRA held races at Aqueduct Racetrack safely and securely under these conditions through March 15. Our experience during this period of time, as well as our ability to continue the training operation at Belmont Park throughout the pandemic, informs the strict safety protocols that we currently have in place at Belmont Park and would seek to implement at Saratoga Race Course.

“As such, NYRA is seeking to resume live racing at Belmont Park in the absence of fans and we have prepared operating plans that follow the same model for Saratoga. These plans prioritize the health and safety of employees, horsemen and the backstretch community and include a broad array of risk mitigation strategies developed according to the most updated heath guidance.

“By closing to the public, layering additional health and safety protocols to our ongoing practices, and reducing the number of employees on-property, NYRA is in a position to provide a small sense of normalcy for fans across the country who can watch on television and online. … This is a delicate balance, and one that must always prioritize health and safety. [W]e are committed to taking every step possible to keep our communities safe while providing entertainment and contributing to the New York economy as we collectively begin the return to a new normal.”

Conspicuous by its absence, of course, was any mention of the health and safety of their horses. Surprised? Shouldn’t be. Here are the kill totals for the three NYRA tracks – Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga – from 2009-2019:

Aqueduct, 225 dead racehorses
Belmont, 452 dead racehorses
Saratoga, 155 dead racehorses

That’s 832 animals sacrificed for “entertainment” in a little over a decade. Thus far this year (with an obvious asterisk), 14 more horses have perished – 3 at Aqueduct, 11 at Belmont – and Belmont has yet to even run a race.

Horseracing: safe and happy for all but the horses.

To paraphrase an old legal adage, if you have the facts on your side, pound the facts; if you have the truth on your side, pound the truth; if you have neither, pound the table and yell like hell. We – see this website – have the first two; they – the racing industry and its slow-witted apologists – are yelling, or distracting, like hell. With each passing day, as the desperation mounts, they search for something, anything, to hold on to; lately, it’s been all about “jobs,” or more specifically, what will become of all the hard-working folk of racing should we, the evil activists, get our wish and racing is defunded (has its subsidies stripped away) and/or outlawed. Well.

Here are some of the racetracks that have closed since the turn of the century and the redevelopment that has (is) followed (following). New jobs. New business. New tax revenue. New, in-demand replacing old, no-longer-viable – the American economic system as it was designed to function. And moral progress, to boot. Imagine that.

Hollywood Park, California, closed 2013
undergoing massive mixed-use redevelopmentjobs, lots of them

Bay Meadows, California, closed 2008
underwent a massive mixed-use redevelopment – homes, offices, retail, parks

Suffolk Downs, Massachusetts, closed 2019
plans for massive mixed-use redevelopment – commercial, retail, residential

Portland Meadows, Oregon, closed 2019
plans for industrial redevelopment – warehousing, distribution, light manufacturing

Hazel Park, Michigan, closed 2018
undergoing commercial redevelopment

Maywood Park, Illinois, closed 2015
undergoing major industrial and retail redevelopment with a projected 700 new jobs

Anthony Downs, Kansas, closed 2009
residential redevelopment

Rockingham Park, New Hampshire, closed 2009
undergoing massive mixed-use redevelopment – with a projected 6,000 jobs

Jackson Harness Raceway, Michigan, closed 2008
plans for a new convention center

Sportsman’s Park, Illinois, closed 2002
redeveloped as a shopping center

Garden State Park Racetrack, New Jersey, closed 2001
underwent a massive mixed-use redevelopment – homes, retail, restaurants

Playfair Race Course, Washington, closed 2001
underwent massive industrial/commercial redevelopment

I compiled this list for a fellow activist in Maryland. It speaks for itself.

Horses killed on (racing or training) the Laurel Park racetrack since 2014:

Trick the Queen, January 18, racing
Love Is Enough, January 31, training
Victory Unveiled, February 1, training
One to a Royal, February 1, training
Salt Block, February 6, racing
Marie B, February 20, training
Giant Indian, February 26, racing
Tropical Treasure, March 5, training
Bravo Romeo, March 7, racing
Spookorific, March 9, training
Cooper River, March 14 (euthanized March 29), racing
Pure Afleet, March 19 (euthanized March 24), racing
Diva On Demand, March 22, racing
Jump Two, September 5, training
Boastful Dancer, September 11, racing
Charliesirishpride, September 20, racing
Tenleytown, October 2, racing
Angel of Mercy, October 11, racing
Cactus City Road, October 13, racing
Magnificent Moon, October 23 (euthanized November 14), racing
Springs R Loaded, November 1, training
Seeyouinthecountry, November 11, training
Midnight Music, November 14, racing
Tip It On Back, November 19, racing
Boca Babe, December 4, racing
Born to Sail, December 17, racing
Very Potent, December 20, training
Mo Bagels, December 26, racing
Silent Appeal, December 27, racing
Bonnet Carre, December 27 (euthanized December 29), racing

Pop Pop Kiss, January 2, training
Ear D’Rhythm, January 9 (died January 10), racing
Cattagirl, January 21, training
Wonderfella, February 14, racing
Cosmic Gold, February 14, racing
Mr. Flexible, March 13, racing
Second Round, March 19 (euthanized March 23), racing
Eltham, March 21 (euthanized March 26), racing
Cherokee Empire, April 6, training
Cyclone Warrior, April 11, training
Mytrack Marie, April 11, training
Prayer Cloth, May 5, training
Evelyn’s Colors, July 4, training
Passionate Concern, August 4 (euthanized August 5), training
Minescape, August 8 (euthanized August 11), racing
Hertzalot, August 9 (euthanized August 12), racing
Sharp Richard, August 14, racing
Storming Sixty, August 21, training
Blue Deep, September 12, training
He’s Not Bluffin, September 13, racing
Great Smile, October 6, training
Margaret High, October 12, training
Me Darlin Jackie, October 24, training
Tygra, November 9, training
Do It for Fun, November 27, racing
Kind of Silver, December 29, training

Tsonga, January 1, racing
Minor Heir, January 3, racing
Whiskey Rock, January 13, training
Half Wed, January 29, racing
Rock Me Gently, February 12, racing
Carved in Stone, March 4, training
Tiz Stormy, March 7, training
Consistency, March 12, training
Personal Property, March 13, racing
Bruno and Me, March 14, training
Automagically, March 26, racing
Splitter, April 10, racing
Heather’s Rose, April 17, racing
Air Squadron, May 6, racing
Salsalito, May 7, racing
I.E. Flash, August 14, racing
Dannhauser, September 24, racing
Boston Strong, October 14 (euthanized November 12), racing
Cats Serenade, October 16, racing
Pauline’s Pride, October 26, training
Bluegrass Lady, October 30, racing
U.S.S. Boxer, November 6, racing
Arrogant Officer, November 13 (euthanized November 14), racing
Seeking the Sherif, December 20, training
Tactical Hero, December 23, racing
Beware the Fury, December 23, racing
Just Jack, December 31, racing

Nancy’s Spider, January 22, racing
Mr. Winter, February 2, training
Trudys Lucky, February 19, training
She Spoke French, March 4, training
Paranapiacaba, March 4, training
Royal Saint, March 11, racing
Kay’s Finesse, March 13, training
Find Your Revenge, March 25, training
Ideal Behavior, April 2, training
Stalk, April 2, racing
Worthy One, April 3, training
Really Big Bird, April 9, racing
AJ’s Wolf, April 23, training
Stick Shaker, May 6, training
Supero, June 9, racing
Pinkie Blu, June 30, training
Papa Vinny, July 8, racing
Wonderman, July 29, racing
Credit Ready, August 20, racing
Angel’s Gabriel, August 30, training
Inspired Flight, September 2, training
Niigon Express, September 8, racing
Regal Note, September 15, racing
Gloria Patri, September 16, racing
Seventy Niner, September 22, racing
Texarkana Rose, October 3, training
Wicked Heat, October 20, racing
Jerandson, October 21, racing
Broad Surprise, October 29, racing
Bistro, October 30, racing
Leather Goods, November 3 (euthanized November 19), racing
Eyesfirst, December 4, racing
Sunset Arch, December 10, training
Sippy Cup, December 15, racing

Not Above Love, January 7, training
D. K. Two Step, January 12, racing
No Love Lost, January 14, racing
Vua Saigon, January 26, racing
Vim, February 3 (euthanized February 4), racing
Arrivano, February 4, racing
Summer Gems, February 16, training
Gato Dolce, March 10, racing
Bandits Glory, March 23, training
Admiral Alexis, March 25, training
Little Jimmy B, March 29, training
Raging Regina, March 31, training
Sticksandbricks, April 14, training
Ice On the Severn, April 14, racing
Tango Delta, April 14, racing
Asian Trick, June 20, training
Royal Pass, June 24, racing
Minor Legend, July 14, racing
Kaitain, July 14 (euthanized July 21), racing
Defenestration, July 15, training
Markeesa, July 15, racing
Amigo, July 15, racing
Archie’s Revenge, July 22, racing
Menorah Lora, July 28, racing
Amplify, August 16, racing
Tiz a Trill, August 24, training
Crafty Estate, September 14, racing
Simpson, September 14, racing
Straight Tequila, October 5, racing
Rubys Fire, October 5, racing
Inorbit, October 14, training
Yankee’s Milestone, November 8, training
Reedini, November 9, training
Dove Dynasty, November 9, training
Whateverybodywants, November 14, training
Adversary, November 22, racing
Candlestick Nic, December 8, racing
Hazana, December 10, training

2019 (in progress)
Kimberly B., January 11, racing
Tuffy’s Way, January 11, racing
Rosuri, January 26, racing
She’s Stunning, February 1, racing
Doit for Spite, April 17, training
Let’s Blaze, May 3, training
Citi Party, May 5, racing
Hero’s Welcome, June 15, racing
Follow the Petals, June 16, racing
Hot Sriracha, June 29, racing