Through a call to Penn National’s racing office, I have confirmed that 3-year-old The Mikester, listed as “broke down” during Thursday’s 1st race, did not survive. The gelding was trained by Steven Brown and owned by Michael Leach.
From the UK comes word that 10-year-old Thoroughbred Mad Moose (below) has been “banned” by the British Horseracing Authority for, as Horse & Hound (1/13/14) puts it, “being reluctant and refusing to race one too many times.” In his last race in December, he started but “[pulled] himself up” before the first hurdle, the seventh time in 14 months that he has refused to participate. Horse & Hound adds, “The horse even got Nigel in trouble with the BHA last November, after the trainer chased after him waving a belt to try and get him to start at Cheltenham.”
While British media is having a bit of fun with this – calling him “quirky,” “naughty,” “headstrong,” and “serial” – I see something different. For me, this is a tale of quiet yet resolute rebellion, an exploited animal saying, in the only way he can, ‘no more.’ No more will I be whipped into doing your bidding. No more will I risk my limbs for your game. No more. Odds are, Mad Moose will soon be dead anyway, for there can be little value in an “old” (comparable to a twentysomething human) gelding who won’t run. But for now, this is one track event worthy of applause. And for that, Mad Moose, we thank you.
Through a phone call to the racing office, I have confirmed that Mystery Taste, listed as “broke down, vanned off” Tuesday at Beulah Park, is, in fact, dead. The 6-year-old career claimer was running her 53rd race, a $2,000 claiming for a $2,800 purse. It was her first under trainer Thomas Lehman (and owner Eleanor Lehman), having previously served Larry Bryant and Jeff Bryant a combined 33 times.
At Thistledown in October, Mystery Taste finished last (12th), 23 1/4 lengths back. In the subsequent four races leading up to Tuesday, she won a combined $1,100 and was for sale at an average price of $2,750. While these races are the lowest of the low end, consider this: Of the 55 U.S. Thoroughbred races Tuesday, 78% were claiming.
The exploitation of Mystery Taste began when she was but two, in 2009 at Churchill Downs. From there, it was steadily downhill, culminating in Tuesday’s breakdown. This mare was spent and died at an age when horses are just rounding into full maturity, an age, that is, analogous to a college freshman. This is horseracing.
St Nicholas Abbey, a much-celebrated former champion, has died from colic. As previously covered, the 6-year-old Irish Thoroughbred underwent several procedures – which included 20 screws, 2 plates, a steel pin, and a bone graft – after breaking his pastern in July. All, in a cruel and shameful attempt to preserve him for breeding. And all, for naught. Not that more evidence is needed, but these comments from the Paulick Report lays bare, yet again, how delusional the racing “fan” truly is…
“Heartbreaking news. Condolences go out to everyone at Ballydoyle/Coolmore who moved heaven and earth to care for this magnificent champion.”
“As Shakespeare said (Hamlet) – ‘Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince; And flights of angles sing thee to thy rest.'”
“Utterly heartbreaking–much love and hugs to everyone at Coolmore, especially those who cared for St. Nick. My prayer, too, is that God someday wipes the scourge of laminitis and colic from this planet.”
“Bless his owners and all who gave him every humane chance to survive.”
“Tears and heartbreak. All my heart to this magnificent horses owners and all the people who took care of him and loved him.”
“Fly with the angels, handsome boy. I thank Coolmore for trying so very hard to save him, and I cry with all his fans and friends.”
“My condolences to Aidan and Joseph O’Brien, Coolmore, and everyone who loved and cared for St. Nicholas Abbey.”
“I feel as if I hit rock bottom with this news. …Sincere condolences to all those in his immediate circle and, to all the fans that loved him so, fondest memories.”
“I send my deepest sympathies and warmest hugs to everyone at Coolmore, especially Joseph and St. Nic’s lads.”
“Sadly, even today with so many impressive scientific and technological advances and accomplishments, men still have only limited power against grave injuries and the powerful, brutally humbling forces of nature especially when dealing with fragile horses.”
“Oh so sad – heartbreaking. Run free, precious St. Nicholas Abbey, in the Great Green Paddock.”
Wow. Where to start? First and foremost, the unbridled love, warm hugs, and deep gratitude are meant for St Nicholas’ final owner, Coolmore, the world’s largest Thoroughbred breeder. Surely, the grieving can’t be that naive. But beyond that, Shakespearean quotes, tears, “rock bottom,” God, angels, and “the Great Green Paddock”? In a word, repugnant.
Each year, thousands of pedestrian racehorses, many pumped full of drugs to mask debilitating pain, shatter bones while “competing” and are summarily destroyed. Each year, tens of thousands of former racehorses are hung upside down and bled-out in grisly abattoirs. For those, (virtually) no press, no outrage, no heartbreak. This, not the anomaly of SNA, is horseracing. Finally, to those who lament man’s “limited power against grave injuries” to “fragile horses,” we simply say, stop racing them. Stop racing them.