On racing’s egregious meter, steeplechasing is practically unsurpassed. These are the kinds of races you watch with an expectation of horses falling – and breaking. This past Saturday saw the 118th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup, a 4-mile race – at times, run at 30 mph – featuring 22 5-foot-high solid timber fences. The final tally: 15 started, 4 finished; of the 11 who did not, 4 fell, 4 “pulled-up,” and 3 lost their riders. The Baltimore Sun reported thus: “The crowd, which covered a hillside overlooking the course, groaned in unison when the first horse fell at the third fence.” When a “sporting event” regularly elicits groans, perhaps it’s time for a bit of introspection.

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5-year-old Cuban Devil died in the 5th race at Atlantic City last night. His last six starts prior to Sunday – all under trainer/owner Bryant Taylor:

12/30/13, claiming race at Parx, 10th of 11
01/12/14, claiming race at Parx, last of 7, 37 3/4 lengths back
01/27/14, claiming race at Parx, 8th of 11
02/25/14, claiming race at Parx, 9th of 12
03/22/14, claiming race at Parx, last of 8
04/12/14, claiming race at Parx, last of 9

In total, the hapless gelding earned $1500 for Taylor over those six races – $250 each time out. Mr. Taylor, this horse was abused to death. The other complicit connections: jockey Jason Nguyen, breeders Stephen Quick/Donald Schmidt/WynOaks Farm, and all who once had a hand in Cuban Devil’s servitude. For shame.

The following racehorses were casualties on American tracks last week:

Monday
Bojax, Turf, race 2, vanned off

Tuesday
Bubba Blitz, Beulah, race 7, “in apparent distress”

Wednesday
Successful Review, Evangeline, race 3, vanned off
Genuine Windi Dash, Turf, race 2, vanned off
Mr Cacht, Turf, race 8, vanned off

Thursday
Seventy Six, Aqueduct, race 8, vanned off
Cluck for Bucks, Atlantic City, race 1, fell, DNF
Heroic Divide, Evangeline, race 4, vanned off
Jet Black Rio, Sam Houston, race 4, bled, vanned off

Friday
Aussi Austin, Aqueduct, race 8, vanned off (after winning)
Royal Love, Calder, race 2, vanned off
Lady Pilot Point, Delta, race 5, bled
Cubicle Queen, Finger Lakes, race 8, bled
Tahoe Strip, Golden Gate, race 6, vanned off (after winning)
Shelby WF, Lone Star, race 1, heat distress, vanned off
Jellena, SunRay, race 5, vanned off

Saturday
Palinized, Beulah, race 6, vanned off
Right Now, Charles Town, race 8, fell, DNF
Zoomin to the Moon, Delta, race 7, vanned off
Lucky Rave, Evangeline, race 9, vanned off
Marcelino Springs, Golden Gate, race 8, confirmed dead
Marine, Gulfstream, race 9, broke down
Dubai Perfecto, Los Alamitos, race 3, vanned off
Patti’s Dancer, Prairie, race 2, vanned off
Starting Bell, SunRay, race 7, vanned off
Nightfury, Tampa Bay, race 6, vanned off
Rock U Up, Turf, race 6, vanned off
Desert Wildcatter, Turf, race 8, vanned off

Sunday
Cuban Devil, Atlantic City, race 5, confirmed dead
Golden Mexico, Golden Gate, race 4, broke down
I Know It All, Gulfstream, race 7, vanned off
Sir Kipling, Hawthorne, race 3, bled, vanned off
La Jolla Cove, Santa Anita, race 2, vanned off
Visions of Candy, Santa Anita, race 4, vanned off
Stormy Miss, SunRay, race 6, vanned off

I was able to confirm that 4-year-old Marcelino Springs, who was reported as broke down/vanned off yesterday at Golden Gate (race 8), is dead. The complicit connections: jockey Catalino Martinez, trainer Doug Utley, owner John Battle, breeder Russell Drake.

To those who wager on horseracing, we implore you to reconsider. And ultimately, you hold all the cards: no more bets, no more races; no more races, no more kills. And – no more separating foals and moms, no more abusing unformed bodies, no more confining, no more whipping, no more drugging, no more doping, no more buying and selling and trading and dumping. No more auctions, no more kill-buyers, no more transport trucks, no more abattoirs. No more pain, no more suffering. No more.

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In a landscape that abounds with other gambling options – real sports involving autonomous human beings, casinos, lotteries – hasn’t the time at long last arrived to let the racing horse be? You, the bettor, have within the capacity for mercy. We ask only that you exercise it. Please. For the horses.