The following horses were casualties on American racetracks last week:

“Vanned Off” – carted away by ambulance, better-than-even chance dead
Il Toro D’Oro, Parx
Silver Crusader, Presque Isle
Boardwalk Baron, Thistledown
Miss Jesse, Albuquerque
Flashy Brass, Mountaineer
Lisa Sue, Zia
Thisgirlisacorker, Charles Town
Tangled Touch, Albuquerque
Lifesong, Charles Town
Andmoreexcuses, Churchill
Parke Miss, Indiana
Lilly of Gold, Belterra
Windsor’s Graduate, Charles Town
Oxnard, Churchill
Tiz Adonis, Churchill
Red Ridge, Emerald
A Oh K, Indiana
Council Thrill, Arlington
Coolington, Emerald
The One We Stole, Los Alamitos
Redheaded Witch, Thistledown
Kassino Kash, Zia
Blue Saphire, Gulfstream
Quenton, Los Alamitos
Satin N Pearls, Zia
Silverhill, Zia

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“Bled”; “Returned Bleeding From the Nostrils”
Bye Bye Corona, Indiana
Fat Kat, Parx
Nemos Treasure, Zia (also vanned off)

(source: Equibase)

Raceday Lasix is one of the more controversial issues in American horseracing. The critics say that the drug is but a performance-enhancer: A diuretic, Lasix helps shed water weight prior to a race – lighter equals faster – and as a system flush may also aid in concealing some of the illegal stuff. Supporters, on the other hand, call Lasix “humane”: Rapidly moving racehorses, they say, naturally bleed – from their lungs – “exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.” Prominent trainer Dale Romans (Paulick Report, 9/13/12): “Racing causes [EIPH] in 100% of horses. …one of the worst abuses that can be done to the racing horse is to ban Lasix.” Adds colleague Rick Violette (DRF, 8/11/11): “Horses bleed. That is a fact. To force an animal to race without [Lasix] is premeditated, borderline animal abuse.”

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That raceday Lasix – by the way, a uniquely North American thing – is primarily used to make horses faster is a pretty good bet. (While not all trainers particularly like it, practically all, so as not to cede any competitive ground, use it.) But what if the Romans/Violette crowd is also correct – that pulmonary bleeding is inherent in a racing-horse? Translated, this would mean that the “sport’s” fundamental physical action universally causes some level of pain or suffering. Of what other basic sporting motion can this be said? Throwing a baseball? Swinging a golf club? Kicking a soccer ball? If not for the deadly seriousness of it all, these people would be laughable.

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Totally Discreet was born on April 26, 2013. After being “trained,” in all probability, prior to his second birthday, he was raced for the first time this summer at Saratoga. And now he is dead – euthanized Tuesday, says the Gaming Commission, for “laminitis [in] both front feet.”

To be sure, neither NYRA nor the industry at-large will accept any responsibility for this child’s death. (Indeed, it has already been “filed” in the “non-racing” bin.) Simple misfortune, they’ll say – fickle nature. Well…while I could use many adjectives to describe what happened here, “natural” surely is not among them. After being created – unnaturally, and confined – unnaturally, and exploited – unnaturally, Totally Discreet died – unnaturally. No, nothing natural about his short, mean stay on this planet at all. Man made him; man killed him. And that’s that.

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