The following racehorses were casualties on American tracks last week:

Felix, Aqueduct, race 6, vanned off
My Jordy, Aqueduct, race 9, vanned off
Last Chance to See, Beulah, race 1, “in distress,” vanned off

Landonmav, Turf, race 8, vanned off

Royalsaintjames, Tampa Bay, race 3, fell

Lieutenant Seany O, Santa Anita, race 6, vanned off

Shelby Scott, Delta, race 2, bled, vanned off
Moscato, Golden Gate, race 7, “went wrong,” vanned off
Optionality, Gulfstream, race 7, bled
Code of Conduct, Santa Anita, race 7, confirmed dead

Dateful Gred, Delta, race 8, vanned off
Blue Blizzard, Golden Gate, race 4, “went wrong,” vanned off
Silver Tactics, Oaklawn, race 2, vanned off
LG Jet, Turf, race 2, broke down

Vero’s Hero, Gulfstream, race 1, broke down
First Prize Prince, Louisiana, race 2, “injured,” DNF

The Daily Racing Form reports that 5-year-old Code of Conduct was killed after a breakdown in Santa Anita’s 7th race Friday. One note from the chart caught my attention: “The stewards conducted an inquiry into the incident before ruling Code of Conduct broke down on his own.” No, he didn’t.

Code of Conduct endured three different trainers – Chad Brown (3 starts), Wayne Catalano (12 starts), and Peter Miller (5 starts) – and was owned first by Gary/Mary West, and at the end by Gary/Cecil Barber. This is horseracing.

In California-racing’s most recent fiscal year (7/1/12-6/30/13), 209 racehorses perished – 90 racing, 56 training, and 63 other (gastro-intestinal, respiratory, etc.). Because this represents a decrease from the previous year (278), the California Horse Racing Board is feeling pretty good about itself. Equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur: “It was a good year. All the efforts we’ve undertaken…I think it’s paid off.” The cheery report, however, conveniently omits the number of California’s “retired” who were auctioned and, ultimately, slaughtered, not to mention the rescued who were eventually euthanized due to old racing wounds. This is a time for back-slapping, not harsh truths.

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To the horse people, 90 raceday breakdowns (which, by the way, remained roughly unchanged from ’11-’12) weighed against thousands of starts qualifies as some sort of victory, revealing again how morally bankrupt this industry truly is: 90, no, 209 intelligent, sentient beings were sacrificed not for some (what was once thought) noble cause – carrying soldiers or settling a continent – but for $2 bets and pieces of silver. Progress, Dr. Arthur? More like disgrace. And when fatalities rise again – which they will, unless racing continues to contract – what will you say then?

Yesterday morning, eight horses, including seven Thoroughbreds, were killed when a fire broke out at the Spooky Hollow Racing farm in Kentucky. Four of the dead were yearlings slated for the Keeneland September sale. The tearful owner, Clara Fenger (a vet, no less), says (to WKYT) that three of those four were uninsured; that, coupled with the loss of a year’s worth of income, “will most likely put them out of the horse business.”

photo credit: WCSH
photo credit: WCSH

Alison Walker, owner of a neighboring stable, sympathizes (WLEX-TV), “It’s income. It’s your livelihood, you know, it’s not just about the animal it’s more than that.” Actually, Ms. Walker, it’s only about the income, the livelihood. When you cry for dead horses that were to be sold in seven months’ time, it’s not because you loved them.