I was able to confirm that 4-year-old Marcelino Springs, who was reported as broke down/vanned off yesterday at Golden Gate (race 8), is dead. The complicit connections: jockey Catalino Martinez, trainer Doug Utley, owner John Battle, breeder Russell Drake.

To those who wager on horseracing, we implore you to reconsider. And ultimately, you hold all the cards: no more bets, no more races; no more races, no more kills. And – no more separating foals and moms, no more abusing unformed bodies, no more confining, no more whipping, no more drugging, no more doping, no more buying and selling and trading and dumping. No more auctions, no more kill-buyers, no more transport trucks, no more abattoirs. No more pain, no more suffering. No more.

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In a landscape that abounds with other gambling options – real sports involving autonomous human beings, casinos, lotteries – hasn’t the time at long last arrived to let the racing horse be? You, the bettor, have within the capacity for mercy. We ask only that you exercise it. Please. For the horses.

Facts, as the great John Adams once said, are stubborn things; J.R. Anderson’s new book, The Fancy Hat Veneer, is teeming with stubborn things, none of which are good for the industry at the heart of her probe – horseracing. Using expert testimony, hard numbers, and cold logic, Anderson, a first-time author but long-time advocate, presents yet another indictment of the Thoroughbred game – from the unrestrained breeding to the callous, often violent endgame, and everything in between. It is, as the author notes, the dark underbelly that the industry wants desperately to keep hush.

The Fancy Hat Veneer would make a fine addition for the well-versed and uninitiated alike. For the former, the 200-odd pages offer a sweeping overview, a handy reference book of sorts; for the latter, a horseracing primer. Ordering information can be found here.

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Abuse arrives in various forms:

On January 10th at Turfway in Kentucky, trainer David Hunt (for Wanda Ward) took his 6-year-old mare Pass Me a Drink into battle, battle, in this case, being a horserace worth $7,500. Four days later at Beulah in Ohio, Pass Me a Drink was run again, this time for a purse of $7,100. Perhaps not coincidentally, both races paid first through last. (Pass Me a Drink finished second-to-last both times.) Two races in two states in 91 hours.

On April 17th at Sam Houston, 2-year-old (barely, at that) Quarter Horse Lm Cold Piece, trained and owned by Levi Mays, ran his very first race. Finishing 6th (of 8), Lm Cold Piece’s official line was “no menace, bled.” An equine babe bleeds from his lungs because some men thought it acceptable to whip-race him at breakneck speed. This is horseracing.

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