Del Mar recorded its 16th kill of the meet Thursday morning when 3-year-old Cause Im a Bigshot collapsed and died following a 50-second workout. According to U-T San Diego, she was felled by a “heart attack or aneurysm.” Trainer, Philip D’Amato; owner, Slam Dunk Racing. Cause Im a Bigshot is the second 3-year-old – comparable to a human pubescent – to simply drop dead (Chattering Gambler). Oh, and 2-year-old Mont Saint Michel was found dead in her stall back in July. This is horseracing.

The Del Mar 16:

4-year-old Corlett Drive, July 13, training
4-year-old Kokaltash, July 17, race 5
2-year-old Mont Saint Michel, July 24th, found dead in stall
3-year-old Dance With Fate, July 24, training
4-year-old Yes She’s Unusual, July 25, race 6
5-year-old Longview Drive, July 25, race 7
5-year-old Lil Swiss Echo, July 26, race 5
3-year-old J Kat, July 26, race 9
2-year-old Chilled Mousse, July 27, training
3-year-old Chattering Gambler, August 2, race 3
3-year-old Steppingood, August 13, race 8
4-year-old Serious, August 14, from July 31 race 7
3-year-old Bayview Drive, August 16, race 10
2-year-old Little Tower, August 22, race 3
7-year-old Magic Beam, August 24, training
3-year-old Cause Im a Bigshot, August 28, training

After six years – 64 races – of gross exploitation and abuse, 9-year-old Coaltown Legend (original post here) has finally been retired, owing in large part to exposure from advocate Deborah Jones. On July 28th, Susan Salk, she with the permanently affixed rose-tinted glasses, wrote a reprehensible piece on Coaltown’s “salvation.” In it, she recounts his return “home” – the place where he was bred to be used – and the contributions of former connections Kate Feron and Angelo DeFilippis toward that end.

Feron (who “cried when he arrived”): “To see him again, I can’t express what it was like. He always had a special place in my heart. This was my special horse.” ♥ (heart courtesy of Salk) Of DeFilippis, Salk writes, “De Fillipis [sic], who owned the horse at one point, but was forced to sell him during hard financial times, says he kept tabs on Coaltown Legend, and spent a few sleepless nights worrying.”

Here are some conveniently omitted facts: Kate Feron is a hugely successful trainer with over $2.5 million in earnings. She bred Coaltown and raced him 19 times before selling him in February 2010 (“claimed away from her,” as Salk asserts, is a euphemism). Her “special horse” would race for over four more years – almost all at the claiming level – without her intervention. Angelo DeFilippis is (was) a racehorse owner. He either owned or co-owned Coaltown for 2 1/2 years and 16 starts, including a July 2011 claiming race at Saratoga. In all, Coaltown Legend earned over $150,000 for Mr. DeFilippis.

Coaltown Legend and Kate Feron
Coaltown Legend and Kate Feron

Now to be fair, Angelo DeFilippis was the primary impetus behind Coaltown’s retirement. But while good for Coaltown Legend – assuming, that is, he survives; DeFilippis says he’s not doing very well – I will not commend anyone, even a rescuer, who refuses to categorically renounce horseracing: Though Mr. DeFilippis is currently inactive, it’s a matter of finances, not because he now sees racing as wrong.

So it appears, Mr. DeFilippis, we are at an impasse. Yes, you helped this horse, but your desire to climb back into an industry that chews them up and spits them out by the thousands tells me all I need to know. Mr. DeFilippis, Ms. Salk, and most especially Ms. Feron, exploitation and friendship are incompatible states. The line is clearly drawn – true equine advocates want no part of this sordid business. And that is what makes Salk’s writing – “there were many relieved past connections, and tears of joy when tired and weary Coaltown rolled into Akindale on Thursday” – so very shameful.

In addition to Manda Moo, two other horses have been reported as broke down this week and can be presumed dead:

On Monday, 8-year-old Be a Pro – a “pro” for 4 1/2 years, 41 starts – “took a bad step” in the 3rd race at Presque Isle.

Yesterday, 3-year-old Run for Papa – a relative newbie who made her first start this May – went down in the 1st race (a $4,000 claiming) at Fairmount.

Young, old, it matters not – racing doesn’t discriminate.

There is a reason why 90% of racing’s kills are reported as “broke down,” as opposed to “humanely euthanized” or some form thereof: The latter is so jarring, so definitive, so final – dead. Still, that phrase – “humanely euthanized” – is its own kind of deception, obscenity even: The racers, because horses are patently nonconsenting participants, force an animal into an act that causes him to break – and suffer – and then claim the high ground by giving said animal a “humane,” merciful death. How twisted and so very sordid.

As Parx is one of a small handful of tracks to disclose definitiveness, we can report the humane euthanasia of 3-year-old Manda Moo in yesterday’s 8th race – jockey Maria Remedio, trainer Patricia Farro, owner Andrew Sulley, and breeder Robert LaPenta.