“Today was just so quiet. Looking over at the turf remembering that’s the spot where it happened and it’s all mangled up.” (Maxine Correa, exercise rider for trainer Nick Zito, Daily Racing Form, 8/27/13)
Ms. Correa’s somber tone comes from an accident that occurred yesterday at Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track. According to the DRF, Raymond Bulgado, a fellow Zito rider, suffered a broken neck when his mount, Ricochet Court, crumpled under the weight of two broken front legs. Mr. Bulgado remains at Albany Medical Center. The horse is dead. As of this writing, nary a word on the NYRA website. This is horseracing.
Four-year-old Sarava’s Dancer and five-year-old Kris Royal each fractured a leg yesterday in Saratoga. In the same race. Both were euthanized on-track. Watch Sarava’s Dancer (#7), leading at the half-mile mark, “pulling up.” And then, within a matter of seconds, Kris Royal (# 1), making a bid for the lead (“like a shot”), “fell, may have clipped heels.” That’s track-speak for two geldings snapping bones and suffering excruciating pain. To all who placed bets on this lazy, sun-soaked afternoon, for shame.
Wisdom Seeker, yet another seven-year-old forgotten claimer at Finger Lakes Deathtrack, has been euthanized after suffering an undisclosed injury on August 12th. Running in a $4,500 claiming race – the highest level she attained in her 3 1/2-year “career” – for $9,000 in purse money, Wisdom Seeker, Equibase reports, “ducked out at the start bumping with Emotional Trainwreck, saved ground and tired.”
Jill Golden, four, is also dead at Finger Lakes, euthanized Friday for what’s termed a “non-racing” issue. The filly last raced on June 18th – “no factor and was eased over the wire.” With these two, Finger Lakes can now boast 25 dead horses in the current meet. And just think, we have until December.
NEWS10 is reporting that Stillwater police have arrested horse trainer Joseph DeCarlo for abusing a Standardbred under his care. DeCarlo was charged under Article 26, Section 353 of the Ag and Markets Law (“overdriving, torturing and injuring animals”), a misdemeanor. NEWS10 says that the gelding suffered “severe and extensive internal and external mouth injuries.” More information to come.
Earlier this week, the NYS Gaming Commission and the NY Racing Association announced some “enhanced security measures” for Saturday’s $1 million Travers in Saratoga. Besides the out-of-competition drug testing done on Wednesday, the horses – and their vet treatments – are currently “subject to 24 hour monitoring,” with all “paraphernalia” being examined. Also, all persons entering the horse’s stall must be logged in and out. On raceday, the horses will be “escorted with security to the paddock.” Says Robert Williams, Acting Executive Director of the Gaming Commission, “The security protocols we have implemented here are sensible steps that underscore that New York horse racing operates with the highest integrity.”
Before issuing the protocols, here is what I imagine was said among the racing powers: Gentlemen, we have a serious problem on our hands. Our sport is rife with cheating, and trainers and veterinarians, even at this level, cannot be trusted. Our base, the betting public, is skeptical and eroding; the casinos and lotteries are killing us. The last thing we can afford is a tainted Travers horse. What we need, then, is security of proportions not seen in any other sport. What we need is a three-day lockdown. In public, of course, we’ll call it a “sensible step” underscoring our commitment to “integrity.” But we’ll all know what that means. So go, enjoy the big day, but pray that none of our horses snaps a leg on national tv. Oh, so much to worry about.