Saturday, in Charles Town’s 4th race, 8-year-old Sir Jock broke down and died. (Although Equibase stopped at “broke down,” I confirmed his death with the West Virginia vet’s office.) It was the gelding’s 82nd outing. 82nd. Here is how he arrived there:

debut, 9/1/07: trainer, Dale Romans; owner, Ed Edelberg
sold prior to 1/5/08: new owner, Purdedel Stable
claimed for $5,000 on 11/6/09: new trainer, Joe Woodard; new owner, Billy Hays
claimed for $7,500 on 12/18/09: new trainer, Jeff Talley; new owner, Texas Toyco LLC
claimed for $7,500 on 7/3/10: new trainer, Terry Berns; new owner, Theodore Mizerak
claimed for $5,000 on 11/3/10: new trainer, Vernon Coyle; new owner, Virginia Heizer
sold prior to 5/17/11: new owners, David Wilson and Vernon Coyle
sold prior to 4/13/12: new trainer, Laura Bealmear; new owner, Freddy Lewis
sold prior to 11/22/12: new owner, Laura Bealmear
claimed for $6,000 on 7/20/13: new trainer, Stephanie Beattie; new owner, Marion Wells

7 trainers, 10 owners, 17 tracks, 9 states

So, Mr. Romans, Mr. Edelberg, Mr. Woodard, Mr. Hays, Mr. Talley, Mr. Berns, Mr. Mizerak, Mr. Coyle, Ms. Heizer, Mr. Wilson, Ms. Bealmear, Mr. Lewis, Ms. Beattie, and Mr. Wells, was Sir Jock ever “like a part of your family”?

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Also from the weekend:

Penn National’s racing office said this of 3-year-old Lucky Guess, vanned off after Friday’s 9th race: “Unfortunately, the horse is deceased.” This was the filly’s second consecutive DNF (6/28), both at Penn. In her other two starts, Lucky Guess finished 7th of 8 and 9th of 9. She was ridden by Felix Pinero, trained by Gary Craig, and owned by Sabina Abell.

Saturday at Evangeline, 5-year-old Allthatjazz perished in a $3,500 claiming race. The Quarter Horse was ridden by Shandy Salgado, trained by Oscar Lopez, and owned by Jose Reyes.

And finally, there is this from Zia on Saturday: In the 7th race, 9-year-old, yes 9-year-old, Iniquitous Kid, making his 63rd start, was “taken up in the stretch and vanned off.” Two races later, 2-year-old Ask the Ghost Nice, running for the first time, was “taken up down the backstretch and vanned off.” Young, old, it matters not; racing breaks them all.

The following, unless otherwise noted, were “vanned off” American tracks last week.

3-year-old Hold the Ransom, Turf, race 9

3-year-old Western Prince (1st start), Zia, race 8

3-year-old Gal About Town (after winning), Churchill, race 8
5-year-old Outlaw Josy, Evangeline, race 9
4-year-old Travel the World, Laurel, race 2 (“lame”)
4-year-old Wish You Had One To, Zia, race 3 (“fell over foe”)

3-year-old Perfectamente, Hollywood, race 8 (“collapsed”)
3-year-old Princess of Pearl, Hollywood, race 8
2-year-old And You Can, Fair Grounds, race 7
2-year-old Power of Eleven, Golden Gate, race 7 (confirmed dead)

3-year-old Fort Humbug, Fair Grounds, race 2
3-year-old Mystical Mark, Golden Gate, race 8 (“pulled up lame after the finish”)
3-year-old Lucky Guess, Penn National, race 9 (2nd consec DNF – 6/28)
3-year-old Unmerited Favor, Remington, race 4 (“pulled up in distress”)

3-year-old Roar for More, Beulah, race 1
7-year-old Silver Spur (51st start), Beulah, race 6
8-year-old Sir Jock (82nd start), Charles Town, race 4 (“broke down”)
2-year-old Modern Day Miracle, Charles Town, race 8
5-year-old Allthatjazz, Evangeline, race 7 (confirmed dead)
3-year-old I Am Revenge, Golden Gate, race 8
6-year-old Member ofthe Tribe, Los Alamitos, race 1
4-year-old Buttertart, Mountaineer, race 5 (“broke down”)
9-year-old Iniquitous Kid (63rd start), Zia, race 7
2-year-old Ask the Ghost Nice (1st start), Zia, race 9

3-year-old Quiet Miracle, Aqueduct, race 9
6-year-old Triplemental, Fair Grounds, race 6
3-year-old Captain Luke, Hawthorne, race 9
4-year-old End of Discussion, Zia, race 8

Two Roses, an unraced 3-year-old filly, snapped her right front leg while “breezing” at Belmont yesterday and was euthanized on-track. This is Belmont’s third dead horse-in-training in the past week; to date, 32 Thoroughbreds have been killed racing or training there this year (and 5 others from “non-racing” causes). Dead athletes. This is horseracing.

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Power of Eleven, yet another ill-fated 2-year-old, broke down yesterday at Golden Gate Fields and was killed. The colt was ridden by Abel Cedillo, trained by Lloyd Mason, and owned and bred by Mason and Robert Jones.

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While “breezing” at Belmont Park on November 23rd, 3-year-old Stonely the Lonely pulled up and was destroyed on-track. Also at Belmont, 3-year-old Flight of Fantasy, who hadn’t raced since May, “suffered a fatal cardiovascular collapse at the 7/8 pole while galloping” on November 26th. Three more dead horses. This is horseracing.

Arthur Hancock III is a world-renowned Thoroughbred owner and breeder, a member of racing royalty. In an op-ed published by the Paulick Report (11/23/13), Hancock had this to say about his cherished sport:

“Sadly, the federal government’s compassion shown for pit bull dogs [speaking of the fed’s prosecution of Michael Vick] has been absent in the terrible mistreatment of Thoroughbred horses that is occurring daily at racetracks across America. According to the New York Times, every week in the United States, 24 Thoroughbred horses die while racing and countless others are broken down and maimed for the rest of their lives because they are being drugged to enhance their performance.

These wonderful animals are given countless numbers of so-called ‘therapeutic’ drugs that are in essence performance-enhancing drugs. These include painkillers like Butazolidin which thins the blood, causing horses to bleed and, of course, Lasix to remedy the bleeding. Lasix has also been proven to leach calcium from the bones of human beings, making them susceptible to more fractures, etc.”

Regrettably, Mr. Hancock, probably due to an unfortunate mix of DNA and from-birth immersion, stops short of full enlightenment: We should end the pervasive drugging because “these brave animals [once] pulled our covered wagons across America and carried us into battle,” not because whip-forcing them to run for gamblers is a self-evident wrong. In fact, Hancock cares deeply about those gamblers (of course, they pay the bills): “…is Washington callous to the consequences its citizens must endure from wagering on drugged horses?” Pity the poor played players.

Hancock ends thus: “And so the beat goes on. Next week, 24 more horses will die and countless others will be crippled. Four percent of our fans will have deserted us by the end of the year, as they do every year. It is my hope that the federal government will wake up and do something about all of this. Nobody else will. Nobody else can.”

Here’s hoping they don’t. Let a sinking ship sink.