Smiling Angelo in the 8th at Mountaineer last night, as relayed by the chartwriter: “sent hard, set the pace to upper stretch taking a bad step nearing the sixteenth pole pulling up being euthanized on the track.” And that is that. Smiling was six, and this was his 16th time under the whip, but first on the East Coast, having been previously raced in California and Arizona. Shipped across the country – to die.

Jess No Foolin “bled” at Indiana
Our Dixie Blue “vanned off” at Parx
Triple Vodka Jess “bled, vanned off” (after “winning”) at Turf
Dontmesawithsister “returned bleeding” at Penn
Wild and Golden “took a bad step, vanned off” at Will Rogers
Undetectable “collided with another foe, fell, DNF” at Belmont
Sailor’s Treasure “collided with a fallen foe, fell, DNF” at Belmont
Northern “vanned off” at Gulfstream
Mizz Destiny “vanned off” at Gulfstream
Moro Jetsetter “went bad, vanned off” at Lone Star
Awesome Butterfly “vanned off” at Pimlico
Boss Life “pulled up lame, vanned off” at Pimlico
Eye Am a Fancy Pyc “bled” at Remington
Long Gun “vanned off” at Turf
Oceanographer “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Western Crusader “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Hayabusa One “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Sportswear “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Arch My Boy “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Bodes Well “fell, DNF” at Charlotte
Big Bend “went lame, vanned off” at Charlotte
Hook Her Up “vanned off” at Hawthorne
Louden’s Gray “in apparent distress, vanned off” at Oaklawn
Attack At Dawn “vanned off” at Sam Houston
Pleasant Wish “fell to the track after race, vanned off” at Tampa Bay
Bee Merry “slammed into rivals, DNF” at Fonner
Justin’s Quest “vanned off” at Oaklawn
Gentle Night “vanned off” at Oaklawn
Uno Tigress “bled” at Pimlico
Who’s Counting “returned bleeding” at Pimlico

While not all the “vanned” end up dead, most do, as borne out by our year-end FOIA reports. But even if death is not the ultimate result, the above are victims nonetheless, suffering painful injuries – in the case of the bleeders, pulmonary hemorrhage – so that some men may gamble, others chase pots of gold. (For any new confirmed deaths during the week, please see our running annual list.)

The whip, of course, is an instrument of abuse; it motivates a racehorse to run faster through pain and fear. Anyone with a working set of eyes can see that. Even the pro-racing equine medical director of California, Dr. Rick Arthur, knows it: “There are those who argue that whipping doesn’t hurt horses, but that’s nonsense, and we all know that. Whips are noxious stimuli; they hurt, that’s why they’re used. Run fast or I’ll hit you again.” (International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, 10/7/19)

For its part, the industry tries its damndest to convince us that the “riding crop” – they refuse to use the word whip – is but a harmless guide, an indispensable tool that helps protect both horse and rider. But in 2021, rapidly evolving public sentiment – it’s more than just “optics” – is forcing their hand. The result is ever-more-restrictive strike rules and new designs – the “kinder, gentler crop,” like this one:

I don’t know, still looks like it packs a wallop to me. Anyhow, I quite enjoyed jockey McCarthy’s assessment: “The horses will respond to it but, you know, not get overabused as well.” That’s right, Mr. McCarthy, not get overabused, because your propaganda (“steering,” “encouragement” – love that word) aside, you know full well that, as I said at the top, whipping a horse, whipping any domesticated animal, is, at the very least, garden-variety, root-word abuse. Period.

On its website, the Charlotte Steeplechase in North Carolina says, “It’s All About Tailgating – A Great Big Lawn Party Where The Horses Are Invited”! (picture here)

They go on to say:

“Children [under 12 free!] love seeing the majestic and athletic horses up close – adults do too! Kids can even ride ponies themselves! Tailgating contests, live music and delicious food offerings create high-energy – a fun atmosphere that makes you appreciate life and glad you came out to see for yourself what the Queen’s Cup is all about you get to experience five live thoroughbred races, all featuring beautiful and athletic horses, galloping over two and more miles at 30 mph, thundering full speed to be the first place winner. This is professional horse racing in the highest order.”

And how did those “majestic,” “athletic,” “beautiful” – “invited” – horses fare yesterday?

race 1: “OCEANOGRAPHER scrapped [sic] the top of second from last jump and fell. WESTERN CRUSADER had an awkward twisting jump at the second fence and fell.”

race 2: “HAYABUSA ONE fell on a turn starting the final circuit.”

race 3: “SPORTSWEAR fell at the final fence. ARCH MY BOY fell two fences out. BODES WELL fell at the first fence.”

race 4: “BIG BEND bobbled a fence on the backside, went lame and was vanned off.”

race 5: “MOTIVATIONAL jumped poorly at the last fence taking out two rails. HIGHWAY PRINCE stumbled over a fence on the backside and lost rider.”

Good, clean family fun.

The 7th at Hawthorne yesterday: “RICH E Z saved ground around the first turn, raced off the pace on the inside up the backstretch, took a bad step and was pulled up near the half mile pole and was humanely euthanized on track.”

Rich was three days shy of his eighth birthday; this was his 69th turn under the whip. Made, used, killed by the American horseracing industry.