The following racehorses were casualties on American tracks last week:

Carvey, Beulah, race 1, vanned off
Raptitude, Beulah, race 2, vanned off

Straight Scooter, Beulah, race 7, vanned off
Printscess Best, Charles Town, race 9, vanned off

Mr Bushwhacker, Charles Town, race 9, vanned off
Birch Run Fast, Penn, race 2, “fell in distress,” DNF
Whoodoo Meadow, Tampa Bay, race 4, vanned off
Sette E Mezzo, Tampa Bay, race 8, vanned off
Mason’s Pegasus, Turf, race 3, vanned off

Mr Etbauer, Oaklawn, race 9, vanned off
Tellem Its Texas, Remington, race 9, “pulled up in distress,” vanned off

Tech Fall, Aqueduct, race 5, vanned off
When We Laugh, Charles Town, race 5, vanned off
Moon Glo Mae, Charles Town, race 6, vanned off
Skye Memo, Golden Gate, race 6, bled, vanned off
No Shenanigans, Pimlico, race 5, broke down
Designer, Santa Anita, race 2, vanned off
Travis Weaver, Sunland, race 9, vanned off

Get Back, Gulfstream, race 1, vanned off
Donttangowithmango, Hawthorne, race 5, bled
Beryozka, Mountaineer, race 4, vanned off
All Time, Mountaineer, race 7, bled, DNF
Warren’s Internet, Santa Anita, race 11, vanned off
Stylish Punch, Sunland, race 6, vanned off
Flexiplus, Turf, race 7, vanned off

Wompus the Tiger, Hawthorne, race 3, vanned off
Crystallo, Mountaineer, race 3, confirmed dead
Hudson Ridge, Pimlico, race 9, broke down
Red Tesla, Santa Anita, race 7, “pulled up in distress,” vanned off
My Daddy’s Girl, Sunland, race 7, vanned off

Crystallo, a 6-year-old mare who toiled under six different trainers over the past three years, broke down in yesterday’s 3rd race at Mountaineer. She is dead, another career claimer killed in the not-so-heroic pursuit of cash. The complicit trainers: Angel Penna, Justin Sallusto, Susan Crowell, Charles Harvatt, Patrick McBurney, and Antonio Pizzurro. For shame, horseracing. For shame.

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In two days last weekend, Santa Anita lost three horses: 2-year-old Russian Silk, Saturday’s 9th race; 3-year-old Causewere Gamblers, Sunday’s 3rd race; and 4-year-old Notbyemyrules, Sunday’s 9th race. What’s more, one trainer, Daniel Dunham, can claim two of the dead (Russian Silk, Notbyemyrules) for his resume. The others complicit:

Russian Silk – jockey Kayla Stra, owner Woodstock Racing
Causewere Gamblers – jockey Fernando Perez, trainer Caesar Dominguez, owners David Aizenstadt/Caesar Dominguez/William Foltz
Notbyemyrules – jockey Saul Arias, owners Daniel Dunham/Sebastian Valente

Russian Silk was running only her second race, having finished last in her debut on February 8th (also at SA). Before Sunday, Notbyemyrules last raced on February 28th (also at SA), finishing last, 20 lengths back. And a mere eight days before he was vanned off and killed, Causewere Gamblers finished last in yet another Santa Anita race, 30 lengths back. Yes, 30 lengths. This is horseracing.

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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.