To anyone paying attention, horseracing is and always has been about human self-interest. The racehorses, no matter what the horse people say, are but means to an end, expendable assets. On Wednesday, no less than Keeneland further confirmed this truth when it announced that this summer it is converting from a synthetic track to “a state-of-the-art dirt surface.” Joe Drape (The New York Times, 4/3/14): “There is nothing state of the art about dirt. When it rains, it gets muddy. When it is cold, it can get frozen and hard.” Yes, dirt, the most dangerous surface in racing:

According to the Jockey Club, since 2009, dirt tracks recorded 2.08 fatal breakdowns per 1,000 starts; synthetic tracks, 1.22.

In 2009, Santa Anita’s synthetic track had a .90 breakdown rate. On dirt, the rates have been 3.45 in 2010, 2.94 in 2011, 2.89 in 2012, and 2.11 in 2013.

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By its own admission, Keeneland’s Polytrack surface “has set the standard for safety in the industry.” (Its .33 breakdown rate is one of the nation’s lowest.) So why the change? “Owners and trainers, especially those who compete at the highest levels of the sport, overwhelmingly prefer dirt tracks.” Translation: To get the Breeders’ Cup, we have to give them dirt. Minimizing deaths on the playing field? Irrelevant.

I was able to confirm that 3-year-old Art of the Game was killed after breaking down at the finish of Friday’s 8th race at Gulfstream. Complicit in her death are jockey Corey Lanerie, trainer Nick Zito, and owner Richard Pell.

6-year-old Cooper River, wrong from the start of Laurel’s 3rd race on March 14th, is also dead, driven to his grave (not figuratively) by jockey Yomar Ortiz (below, left) – evidence here (pick up video at 2:00 mark). Cooper River was trained by Wayne Potts and owned by Worcester Investments.

photo credit: Jim McCue
photo credit: Jim McCue

The following racehorses were casualties on American tracks last week:

Monday
Visualiser’s Jewel, Will Rogers, race 5, “pulled up in distress,” vanned off

Tuesday
Shop Keeper, Sunland, race 7, vanned off

Wednesday
Rockinpop, Gulfstream, race 7, bled, DNF
Dukette’s Flame, Hawthorne, race 6, vanned off
Eight Stitches, Turf, race 3, vanned off
Tapits Wildcat, Turf, race 8, vanned off

Thursday
Renards Lapin, Aqueduct, race 2, “fell heavily past the wire,” bled, vanned off
Bluegrass Chat, Laurel, race 7, bled, DNF
Eyes a Stoli, Sam Houston, race 7, vanned off

Friday
Kern River, Fonner, race 2, broke down
Art of the Game, Gulfstream, race 8, broke down
Yu Tiger Yu, Hawthorne, race 6, vanned off
Suyeta, Oaklawn, race 5, “returned bleeding”
Avery’s Arabesque, Sunland, race 7, bled

Saturday
Coleman Barricks, Charles Town, race 3, “came back bleeding from the nose”
Potomac River, Fair Grounds, race 8, “pulled up in distress,” vanned off
Broken Legacy, Mountaineer, race 6, bled
Russian Silk, Santa Anita, race 9, broke down
Dancing Ghost, Sunland, race 4, bled

Sunday
Format V, Fair Grounds, race 7, vanned off
Jurzenski, Fonner, race 5, vanned off
City Slammer, Hawthorne, race 4, vanned off
Some Way Some How, Oaklawn, race 4, vanned off
Causewere Gamblers, Santa Anita, race 3, vanned off
Notbyemyrules, Santa Anita, race 9, broke down
Grand Move, Sunland, race 8, bled, vanned off
Lewkacy, Turf, race 6, vanned off

Two Standardbreds were killed in a horrific head-on collision Thursday night at Flamboro Downs (Ontario). After falling early and losing his driver, Buckbuckbuck Mach began running in the wrong direction, eventually crashing into A Sudden Twist. Standardbred Canada reports that Stephane Larocque, Buckbuck’s trainer, is “distraught,” and asks us to “join [them] in sharing condolences with the connections of Buckbuckbuck Mach and A Sudden Twist.” Horseracing’s self-delusion on full display, yet again.

The double death…