Del Mar: Increase in horse deaths attributed to ‘bad luck’

Cross-posted from North County Times

Written by JEFF NAHILL

DEL MAR — When a 3-year-old gelding named Burns was injured in the clubhouse turn of the Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4, jockey Patrick Valenzuela jumped off as quickly as he could. But there was no saving the thoroughbred, which suffered broken sesamoids and had to be euthanized.

It was the 12th fatality —- and fourth on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course —- at the 37-day Del Mar Thoroughbred Club meeting, which ended last Wednesday. There were eight fatal injuries on the synthetic Polytrack —- two as a result of racing and six occurring in morning workouts. There were five total fatalities in 2010.

Del Mar’s turf course was installed for the 1960 season. Del Mar made its main track Polytrack in 2007 after a mandate from the California Horse Racing Board to all state racetracks to install synthetic surfaces in order to cut down on fatalities, even though horsemen believe it reduces a thoroughbred’s natural speed.

“I’d like it to be none,” Del Mar CEO Joe Harper said of this season’s fatalities. “It seemed to be the consensus of the horsemen, (it was) bad luck. Some years you have three and some years you have 20.”

Leif Dickinson, Del Mar’s turf superintendent, immediately raced to the area where Burns had been injured.

“I was just looking to see if there was an obvious spot where the horse hit a divot, a hole, anything. I couldn’t find anything,” Dickinson said Thursday. “We talked to Patrick and it just looks like it was a bad step. We try to do a good job of putting this turf course back every day. We honestly couldn’t find anything.”

Owner and breeder Madeline Auerbach was in the stands, crestfallen. Burns, an apple-loving thoroughbred who won the La Jolla Handicap just weeks before, had grown to be one of her favorites. Although she is upset about the loss, Auerbach understands sometimes there is no explaining why horses get hurt.

“This is a part of racing,” she said. “There’s nobody to blame except the racing gods, who love to play these little games.” Read more >>

5 thoughts on “Del Mar: Increase in horse deaths attributed to ‘bad luck’”

  1. BAD LUCK?? Not a chance. This is pure greed and a lack of compassion for these animals, that make their trainers, and owners thousands and thousands of dollars. BAD LUCK, please. Bad training practices, bad policies, bad ethics and an indifference to what they are doing. They start these horses way to young, and push them way to hard…

    The racing industry is getting a VERY bad reputation, one that is very muched EARNED. You use them up, and throw them away at the ripe old age of 6, 7 sometimes 2 yrs of age.. They are sent to slaughter, like trash that you throw away.

    I just finished reading about Exceller, what a gorgeous horse, and yet even after he had defeated two triple crown winners (Affirmed and Seattle Slew) he was sent to the slaughterhouse all because his owner didn’t want to pay his Swedish Taxes… Are you kidding me??

    The racing industry will not receive a dime of my money, until they clean the industry up. Shame on all, who participate in this barbaric practice of slaughterhouse dump house.

    This is suppose to be the sport of KINGS. NOT, it a sport of THUGS, and it’s the digusting practice of greed, and indifference to these animals. That they use up, make their money and dump them on the side of the road/auction houses..

    We haven’t even talked about the inhumane way, in which it is done… It’s one of the most horrific way, for any being to die. I will not support an industry with this kind of “Lack of Morals and ethics” Disgusted in Texas.


  2. Like I said before the race tracks of the world are covered in the blood of these horses. Just so long as the money keeps rolling in for the over breeders it will never stop and these horses which are still babies will continue to die. My hatred of the racing industry no’s no bounds.


  3. Track surfaces,,inbreeding, drugs, abuse, NA versus the World……??????
    More to come…….sorry for the delay!!!!


  4. “Racing gods who like to play these little games”
    These are the words of a very distraught woman who lost a lovely being that was in her care. She knows the truth but its too painful to face.
    We must show kindness in the face of such a tragic loss, and also dig deep deep deep to find out why it really happened.


  5. Quote “There’s nobody to blame except the racing gods, who love to play these little games.” What the hell does that mean NO NO NO there is something to blame!! Training and racing immature 2 and 3 year olds before their legs and bodies are fully developed!!! That is what is to blame, I wish they would wake the hell up!!!


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