The Melbourne Cup is one of the world’s richest and most prestigious horseraces – Australia’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont rolled into one. So you can imagine the handwringing today after yesterday’s 2014 edition saw two of its superstar entrants die in the arena:

Pre-race favorite Admire Rakti collapsed just minutes after “staggering to the line” (the jockey said his mount “shuddered”). Initial report: “acute heart failure.” The other – Araldo – was euthanized for a broken leg. According to The Age, “…as [Araldo] made his way back to the enclosure…he was apparently spooked by a woman waving an Australian flag. He kicked a steel running rail and fractured a cannon bone as he thrashed out in fright. Subsequent scans revealed he had suffered seven fractures. The surgeon said the injured area looked like a ‘bag of ice’.” A “bag of ice.”

While the industry quickly dismissed the kills as anomalies – freak occurences – The Coalition For The Protection Of Racehorses reminds that in the past year about 125 horses have died during or shortly after Australian races/training sessions.

Watch as Admire Rakti begins his slow fade, just minutes from death:

From the Paulick Report: “Fasig-Tipton’s one-day November Sale took place on Monday evening, when 23 horses sold for seven figures.” 4-year-old Princess of Sylmar, a Pletcher-trained multiple graded stakes winner, topped the bill at $3.1 million. (The “broker” says that owner Ed Stanco “was not at the sale, as he felt that it would be too painful to see the horse go.”)


The Thoroughbred auction is a modern-day equivalent of the slave block – you know, the kind where strapping bucks and pretty wenches were gathered and traded in the center of town. (As it’s a good bet that virtually every animal activist on the planet would have also embraced 19th Century abolitionism, no need to apologize for the parallel.) But the horse buyer can’t even claim economic survival – he subjugates as a hobby. This is horseracing.

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I have confirmed that 6-year-old Ansilta is dead after breaking down in the 8th yesterday at Thistledown. She was trained by Jim Tracy, owned by Raymond Nealy, and bred by Devorah Bishop.

Also, 5-year-old Antone Suavey went down in the 2nd today at Finger Lakes and was euthanized on-track. According to the Gaming Commission, the “investigation continues.” Any guesses on where that will lead? Surely not to trainer Sal Iorio, owner Mark Valentine, or breeder Albert Geldmacher. This is horseracing.

Virtually without exception, “broke down” is racing-speak for dead; “vanned off” translates to a better-than-even chance of dead.

Broke Down:
Summer Sunset, Oct 31, Aqueduct 2 (reported euthanized)
Flashy Dame, Oct 31, Golden Gate 4 (reported euthanized)
Ansilta, Nov 2, Thistledown 8

Vanned Off:
Sea Hunt, Oct 27, Gulfstream W 6
Mama Odie, Oct 27, Zia 10
Serenity Strawfly, Oct 28, Zia 4
El Pitucon, Oct 29, Turf 6
T Jays Affair, Oct 30, Churchill 7
Princess Nene, Oct 30, Gulfstream W 7
Courtroom Drama, Oct 30, Penn 3
Jesses Giant Dunk, Oct 31, Aqueduct 3 (later confirmed dead)
Nevada, Oct 31, Parx 1
Vicar’s in Trouble, Oct 31, Santa Anita 7
L.A. Liquid Gold, Nov 1, Thistledown 1
Avalon Rose, Nov 1, Thistledown 5
Lil Corona Swingin, Nov 1, Will Rogers 10
Seattle Sass, Nov 2, Churchill 5
Fast Tracking, Nov 2, Los Alamitos 5
I Like Em Hot, Nov 2, Zia 9

Dragon Lady, Oct 29, Mountaineer 1, bled
El Caballero, Oct 31, Charles Town 4, bled
Winoneforthezipper, Oct 31, Charles Town 6, bled
Brilladora, Nov 1, Gulfstream W 2, bled

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“We have come a very long way at The Big A. Investing $14 million in capital funds over the course of the past 16 months, we have transformed the very look and feel of Aqueduct Racetrack, and tried to further enhance the experience for our horseplayers and our fans.” With these words, NYRA’s Christopher Kay ushered in Aqueduct ’14-’15. Supposedly, things are better at The Big A – better, that is, for all except the beasts of burden.


On the third day of this long (six months), cruel (NY winter) meet, horses perished in consecutive races: Summer Sunset in the 2nd and Jesses Giant Dunk – but a van-off on the chart – in the 3rd. For the latter, it was an almost-predictable end.

This was the third time in the past six months that Jesses Giant Dunk had been raced twice in a nine-day span (all on NYRA tracks): 4/10, 4/16 under Linda Rice and Sunrise Stables; 5/16, 5/25 under Randi Persaud and Guyana Rocky; 10/22, 10/31 under Abigail Adsit and Z Squared Stables. Including John Terranova and Jeremiah Englehart, this throwaway horse had five trainers from February to death-day. But at least the Aqueduct barns were “power washed, cleaned and repainted…”