Horse Racing Wrongs: Open Letter to Bob Costas; Eight Belles

Peta's Eight Belles Memorial & Horse Racing Headstones at the Kentucky Derby. Source: Flickr.



The following letter was sent to Bob Costas, host of NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage. To date, no reply. The sentiments expressed, of course, are applicable to all at that network, but most especially to Jon Miller, president of sports programming. Since my letter was mailed, an article in Sports Business Journal quotes Miller as saying: “Horse racing is an underappreciated and undervalued property that we were committed to growing and developing, and restoring to its status as a major sport in this country.” At once, repugnant (referring to the wholesale killing of horses for $2 bets as “sport”) and delusional (the U.S. racing industry is not coming back). Anyway, please read on.

The Letter

Dear Mr. Costas:

My name is Patrick Battuello and I am the founder and president of Horseracing Wrongs, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to ending horseracing in America. First, let me say that as a life-long sports fan I have always respected your work. You are knowledgeable, eloquent, and thoughtful – truly one of the finest broadcasters of this or any generation. As a result, your words and actions hold great sway. Most recently, your stance against the NFL’s handling of the brain-injury issue and, more broadly, your detachment from football itself is both weighty and admirable. But your support and enthusiasm for horseracing is, I feel, profoundly disturbing, all the more so because of those aforementioned qualities.

I would like to share some information you may or may not already know. Since 2014, when I began filing FOIA requests with state racing commissions, I have been publishing first-of-their-kinds “Killed” lists – confirmed deaths on U.S. tracks. These annual lists have been roughly 1,000-strong, but after considering various factors (which I enumerate on the website), I have come to conclude that upward of 2,000 American racehorses are killed racing or training every year. Over 2,000. And this is not just a “cheap track” problem: Last summer, 21 horses died during hallowed Saratoga’s decidedly brief meet. The two summers prior, it was Del Mar. Truth is, there are no answers – death at the track is, always has been, and always will be an inherent part of this industry (please see “The Inevitability of Dead Racehorses”).

In addition, countless others, perhaps just as many as those killed on-track, succumb to what the industry conveniently dismisses as “non-racing” causes – things like colic, laminitis, “barn accident,” “found dead in stall.” In truth, however, these animals are no less victims of the business than the ones who snap their legs on raceday. Furthermore, the prevailing wisdom (fully explained on the site) is that most – likely an overwhelming majority of – retired racehorses are brutally and violently slaughtered once Racing deems them expended. In short, I don’t think it hyperbole to say that the U.S. horseracing industry is engaged in wholesale carnage. Yes, carnage.

As an animal advocate, I seek to draw parallels between “us” and “them” – to help people forge connections they may not have previously thought existed. That said, I can certainly appreciate that although we share much with the rest of sentient creation – the most relevant being the capacity for suffering – an exact equality is neither tenable nor necessarily desirable. In other words, I am not saying that a CTE-afflicted former football player and a “broke-down” racehorse are the same things. But the question is not whether dead horses and dead people matter equally; rather, do dead horses matter at all? If they do, what level of destruction must be met before we as a society say, enough? For me, of course, one dead horse for $2 bets is one too many. But what, respectfully, is that number for you?

Mr. Costas, I implore you to dig deeper, to look beyond the juleps, hats, and horns, for that is racing on but a handful of days, at a tiny fraction of tracks. The rest of it, Racing’s very core, is ugly and mean. It’s spirit-crushing isolation and confinement for over 23 hours a day (which, by the way, makes a mockery of the industry claim that horses are born to run, love to run); it’s needles and syringes and injury-numbing chemicals; it’s absolute control and utter subjugation – lip tattoos, nose chains, metal bits, and leather whips; it’s anxiety and stress (in the most detailed FOIA documentation I have received to date, the Pennsylvania ’16 report indicated the presence of ulcers – most extensive to severe – in virtually every one of the dead horses); it’s buying and selling and trading and dumping; it’s shattered limbs, imploded hearts, head trauma, and pulmonary hemorrhage; it’s kill-buyers and transport trucks, shackles and butchers’ knives. It’s exploitation and cruelty. It’s suffering and death.

Football may indeed be embarking on a slow, steady decline, and it’s probably just as well. For it is a violent, unforgiving game, with many of the participants’ lives forever altered. But in the final analysis, they, as fully-autonomous human beings, have a choice. Horses do not. In fact, and pardon the inflammatory language, the racehorse is but a simple slave – a thing to be used, a resource to be mined. When future generations cast a critical eye, what is to be our collective defense? That we countenanced the above for entertainment? For gambling? Mr. Costas, your position on football has changed – evolved. We ask only that the same thoughtfulness and caring that went into that be applied to “The Sport of Kings.” Please, for the horses.

Patrick Battuello
Founder/President, Horseracing Wrongs


Eight Belles falls to her chest as she fractures both front legs after crossing the finish line in the 2008 running of the Kentucky Derby.
Eight Belles falls to her chest as she fractures both front legs after crossing the finish line in the 2008 running of the Kentucky Derby, May 3, 2008. (click to enlarge)

10 years ago today Eight Belles died at Churchill Downs. ESPN wrote this:

Eight Belles crossed the wire 4 3/4 lengths behind favorite Big Brown. Then, with the second-largest crowd in Derby history still whooping it up, Eight Belles collapsed with two broken front ankles.

The magnitude of what happened was slow to reach the fans at Churchill Downs. Not only was a horse down, but it was the filly. And horse racing — with the memory of Barbaro still fresh and the death of a horse coming only a day earlier on Kentucky Oaks Day — had to confront grief one more time.

“There was no way to save her. She couldn’t stand,” trainer Larry Jones said. “She ran an incredible race. She ran the race of her life.”

And this . . . .

“Everyone breathed a big sigh of relief that everyone came around the track cleanly and then all of a sudden it happened,” said Dr. Larry Bramlage, on-call veterinarian.

That last statement sums it up doesn’t it? They “breathed a big sigh of relief that everyone came around the track cleanly . . . ”

Horse racing expects injury. Horse racing expects catastrophic injury. Horse racing expects death.

That’s horse racing. You bet. They die.

Please share far and wide. For the horses.

Quote Source:

Litany of Death: Racehorses killed at Pennsylvania racetracks in 2015

Racehorse tied in stall.

Patrick Battuello tracks the deaths of racehorses at racetracks across America at I get notifications in my inbox and am continually shocked at the atrocities that happen on a regular, dare I say, daily basis.

As you sit here reading this, no doubt racehorses are being cruelly handled, punched, bullied and abused with a laundry list of legal and illegal drugs — including injury masking drugs — before they are taken to a racetrack where they may easily die.

I say shocked. There needs to be a new word for it. Look at what Mr. Battuello uncovered (see also below).

Once you have scrolled through this litany of death, please go to Battuello’s website (or go ahead and go there now) and follow him, comment and whatever else it takes to draw traffic to his work and raise awareness about the killing of innocent horses. Thank you.

I am hoping he doesn’t mind me cross-posting the entire list so you get the full impact.

Through a FOIA request to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, I have confirmed the following 118 kills on Pennsylvania tracks in 2015. (Unless otherwise noted, fatal injury was a fracture of one kind or another.)

“open disarticulated RF fetlock with ruptured sesmoidean ligaments”
“heart attack – dropped after finishing race”
“collapsed and died on track following 1/2 mile work”
“horse fell and broke neck – someone saw blood from the ears”
“exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage”
“traumatic head injury”
“became weak and fell to the ground; horse was having trouble breathing and died naturally within two minutes”
“flipped in paddock – fractured pelvis”
“skull fracture”
“severely injured leg – in stall, worsened over time”
“broken carpus, very thin, very lame”
“found dead in the stall; pneumonia or possible head trauma during shipping”
“euthanized [after some] thrashing”
“shipping fever”

6-year-old Calvados, January 3, Parx 9 (euthanized January 4)

3-year-old Mar de Mares, January 10, Parx, training

6-year-old Pick Four, January 10, Penn, training

4-year-old For All the Kathys, January 11, Parx 6

5-year-old She Be Bunny, January 17, Penn 3

4-year-old Save This Dance, January 29, Penn 8

4-year-old Rock Shaft, February 9, Parx 4

4-year-old Trust in Tebow, February 9, Parx 4

4-year-old Astral, February 10, Parx 9 (euthanized February 11)

6-year-old Razmataz, February 12, Penn, training

7-year-old Drink With Pride, February 13, Penn 8

3-year-old Okey Dokey Smokey, February 14, Parx, training

3-year-old Sendme Some Lovin, February 14, Parx, training

2-year-old Fastique, February 18, Parx, training

4-year-old Doubly Smart, February 22, Parx 3

3-year-old Hurricane Turn, February 22, Parx 3 (euthanized February 28)

3-year-old Heretodaygonetmrow, February 25, Penn, training

7-year-old Bracket Buster, March 1, Parx 1
“heart attack – dropped after finishing race (poor performance)”

4-year-old Stormy Dan, March 1, Parx 2

2-year-old Moonshine Express, March 6, Penn, training

Head of the Barn, March 11, Meadows (pre-race)

3-year-old Irish Jones, March 13, Parx, training

4-year-old Quietly Prim, March 17, Parx, training
“collapsed and died on track following 1/2 mile work”

3-year-old Miss Siphon, March 18, Penn, training

3-year-old Saratoga Sundae, March 19, Parx, training

3-year-old I Forget, March 26, Penn 7

3-year-old Albert P., March 27, Penn 4 (euthanized March 30)

6-year-old Quiet Title, March 28, Penn, training
“sudden cardiac arrest; horse fell and broke neck – someone saw blood from the ears”

5-year-old Landry Jack, April 3, Penn 2
“horse collapsed – sudden death”

3-year-old Formal Call, April 6, Parx, training

4-year-old Mr. Giovanna, April 6, Parx 1

Bubs Desire, April 11, Pocono 13

3-year-old Charm City Dancer, April 13, Parx 7

4-year-old Wise Remark, April 14, Parx 6

4-year-old Circular Drive, April 17, Penn 7

4-year-old Elda, April 23, Penn 2

7-year-old E. Espee, April 24, Penn, training

7-year-old Above The Stars, April 24, Penn, training

3-year-old Eddie’sinthewoods, April 24, Penn 1

4-year-old Hooked On the Lady, April 29, Penn 7
“horse collapsed and died just past the finish line”

3-year-old Nasdaq Princess, May 2, Penn 8 (euthanized September 14)

5-year-old Fire I Am, May 15, Parx, training

5-year-old Bluecam, May 17, Parx 6

6-year-old Shoplift, May 19, Parx, training

2-year-old Bossy Betty Lou, May 24, Presque Isle, training

4-year-old It’s Charlie, May 25, Parx 2

5-year-old Bella Afleet, May 25, Presque Isle 7

5-year-old Global Risk, May 27, Penn, training

4-year-old Thou Art Mary, May 29, Penn 8

5-year-old Player to Be Named, May 29, Penn 8

6-year-old Widow’s Jewel, May 31, Penn, training
“exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage”

2-year-old Cowabunga, May 31, Presque Isle 2 (pre-race)
“traumatic head injury”

8-year-old Vision of Romance, June 1, Presque Isle, training
“possible aneurysm”

5-year-old Pitch N Roll, June 2, Presque Isle 4

5-year-old Sixteen Stone, June 6, Penn 7

Digital Z Tam, June 6, Pocono 3
“became weak and fell to the ground; horse was having trouble breathing and died naturally within two minutes”

4-year-old Total Talent, June 8, Parx, training

5-year-old This Kat of Mine, June 10, Parx, training
“collapsed and died on track”

4-year-old Aces Are Wild, June 15, Parx 3

6-year-old Pistoria, June 17, Penn 2

4-year-old Double Jock Mount, June 19, Penn 7

5-year-old Black Lagoon, June 26, Parx, training

3-year-old Stop the Nonsense, June 26, Penn 7 (euthanized June 30)

3-year-old Willful, June 27, Parx 5

2-year-old Patchouli, July 9, Presque Isle 1 (euthanized July 11)
“euthanasia chosen because of severe pain; disposed off property prior to examination by Commission Vet”

7-year-old Cortado, July 13, Parx 3

5-year-old Main Entrance, July 16, Parx, training

7-year-old Holy Royal, July 16, Presque Isle 5
“heart attack”

7-year-old Wicket Ewok, July 22, Penn 3

2-year-old Summer Mesa, July 24, Penn 1 (first race)

4-year-old Stormy Stepper, July 24, Penn 2

3-year-old Top Dead Center, July 25, Penn, training

10-year-old Dream Maestro, July 26, Parx 3

4-year-old Sleepy Jean, July 30, Penn 7

3-year-old So Trusty, July 31, Parx, training

5-year-old Jay Eye See, August 4, Parx 7 (euthanized August 5)

4-year-old Duck Duck Goose, August 7, Penn 8

4-year-old Silver Reward, August 10, Presque Isle 8

5-year-old Empire Star, August 14, Parx, training

7-year-old Espresso Royale, August 14, Penn 8

4-year-old The Mooche, August 25, Presque Isle 7

4-year-old Boss Cat, August 28, Parx, training

3-year-old Dash, September 5, Parx 1

4-year-old Aunt Ellipsis, September 12, Parx 7 (pre-race)
“flipped in paddock – fractured pelvis”

5-year-old Zuma Moon, September 12, Penn, training
“skull fracture”

4-year-old Harvey’s Bear, September 16, Presque Isle 1

10-year-old Rough Road Ahead, September 23, Presque Isle, training
“cardiac arrest”

5-year-old Outhaul, September 30, Penn 3

6-year-old Gold Mantis, October 3, Penn 6

2-year-old Candy Skirt, October 4, Parx, training

4-year-old Armani the Won, October 4, Parx 3

4-year-old Tizjohn, October 4, Parx 6 (euthanized October 9)

5-year-old Morning Cigar, October 5, Parx, training

3-year-old Face, October 5, Presque Isle 2 (euthanized October 6)

4-year-old Crossing, October 9, Parx, training

3-year-old Dakota Fox, October 13, Parx, training

7-year-old Destiny Joy, October 16, Penn 8

4-year-old Heavenly Girl, October 18, Parx, training

8-year-old Giopi, October 19, Parx 9

8-year-old Huff’n Hughes, October 20, Parx, training
“collapsed and died on track”

3-year-old Star Actor, October 30, Parx 3

4-year-old Surprise Success, November 3, Parx, training

7-year-old Awesome Indy, November 4, Penn 8 (euthanized November 6)

2-year-old Squad Girl, November 9, Parx, training

6-year-old Quotable, November 10, Parx 4

3-year-old Fit to Keep, November 11, Penn 4 (euthanized November 12 at Parx)

3-year-old Empty Backfield, November 14, Parx 9

4-year-old Thrill Show, November 14, Penn, training

3-year-old Tip Toe Joe, November 17, Penn, training

4-year-old Thick as Thieves, December 1, Penn, training

4-year-old Who’s Z Daddy, December 6, Parx 9 (euthanized December 16)

6-year-old Zealevo, December 11, Penn 5

4-year-old Saratoga Woods, December 12, Parx 4

3-year-old The Red Baron, December 14, Parx 8

3-year-old My Dutchess Kate, December 19, Parx, training

3-year-old Gangstress of Love, December 19, Parx 8

2-year-old Kandy Andy, December 21, Parx, training (euthanized post-surgery)

3-year-old Lake Ouachita, December 21, Parx 3

Believe it or not, there’s more.

In addition, the following 22 still-active racehorses died on track grounds from what the industry calls “non-racing” causes. While technically true, morally they are no less casualties of this vile business than the ones above. Continue here »

As Battuello says, “This is horseracing.”

Despite a Triple Crown all that glitters is not gold in American horse racing (Part 3)

Peta's Eight Belles Memorial & Horse Racing Headstones at the Kentucky Derby. Source: Flickr.


Part 3 of 3


Claiming Races

This brings us to the claiming races.

From available information, probably over 70% of races taking place in North America are claiming races. One a horse wins — or breaks his maiden — that number rises.

Claiming races have different levels of competition because just as not every horse race is created equally, neither are the horses.

To envision how races are organized think of a pyramid where each of the levels represents a class level. At the base of the pyramid are the maiden horses which are those horses who have never won a race and at the top are the very best horses who compete in the stakes races.

In between these two categories are the horses who run in what are known as claiming races which are based on parity – pitting horses of similar ability against each other to make for a competitive field.

Needless to say that the lower the level the more perilous it becomes for horses. These bottom feeder claiming races are where the spent horses bide their time, changing hands again and again.

Horses can be seen streaming past from the on track casino at Aqueduct.  Photo: Chang W. Lee / NYT.
Horses can be seen streaming past from the on track casino at Aqueduct. Photo: Chang W. Lee / NYT.

This is also where the curse of “racinos” – racetracks with casinos that offer gambling facilities for playing the slots, blackjack, roulette and other forms of non-horse betting gambling – occur. The glut of money provided from them sweeten the purses of these lower end races ultimately leading to catastrophic risks for these innocent horses.

A 2012 New York Times article authored by Joe drape, Walt Bogdanich, Rebecca R. Ruiz and Griffin Palmer; “Big Purses, Sore Horses, and Death” describes the grim realities associated with these venues.

“Since a casino opened at Aqueduct late last year, offering vastly richer prizes, 30 horses have died racing there, a 100 percent increase in the fatality rate over the same period the previous year. Like Wes Vegas and Coronado Heights, many had been injected repeatedly with pain medication in the weeks before their breakdowns, according to a review of veterinary records by The New York Times.

Pain medication during training is legal as long as it does not exceed certain levels on race day. But the prevalence of drugs is a graphic illustration of how the flood of casino cash has created powerful and dangerous incentives to run sore, tired or otherwise unfit horses in pursuit of that big score.” [1]

As the article further points out:

“At Aqueduct, horses worth $7,500 — at the lowest level of competition — recently raced for a $40,000 purse, nearly four times the recommended maximum. Two of them broke down and had to be euthanized. Both had been given pain medication in the days leading up to the race. In all, 19 of the 30 Aqueduct deaths occurred in races where the veterinarians’ standard was violated.

Nationwide, 57 percent of thoroughbred claiming races at casino tracks exceeded that 50 percent standard, and horses broke down or showed signs of injury at a 29 percent higher rate in those races, according to a Times analysis.” [2]


What it all boils down to is getting those horses onto the track without the slightest regard to their welfare – greed. And when horses don’t win, regardless of the level of competition it seems, there is always the dreadful prospect of the slaughter pipeline. Every year thousands of racehorses make their way to the slaughterhouse through clandestine channels.


Some resources claim that anywhere from 10% to 20% of the horses slaughtered annually in North America who end up on the plates of (mostly) foreign patrons of restaurants serving “cheval” are Thoroughbreds.

Horse slaughter statistics show that since the shuttering of the US horse slaughter industry close to a million American horses were slaughtered between 2008 and the end of 2014. If even 10% of Thoroughbreds were included in these statistics, that is still 10% too many. In fact, a million slaughtered horses is a million horses too many.


While all of this depravity is taking place the racing industry continues to breed thousands of horses each year.

And what’s worse, breeding for speed rather than soundness and stamina. At best, these fragile horses will race for 6-7 years, many of whom fit the description of the cast off, racing their hearts out for their countless owners in the claimers only to be discarded at the bitter end of their racing careers.

Others may only race 4-5 years and for the elite crop a total of 2 years for the “champion runners”, or possibly 3 years for those that need to further prove themselves, before they are shipped off to the breeding shed to live a life of relative misery.

A horse’s lifespan is upwards of 30 years.

Apart from the broodmares and stallions who will be used to perpetuate this incessant cycle, what have these breeders planned for the rest of these horses’ lives after the end of their short racing careers?

Short because they are weakened from racing before their skeletal structures are fully developed, even with the cornucopia of drugs administered to alleviate injuries and pain, or invariably through death because of the breakdowns caused by the combination of drugs and an immature skeletal structure.

The majority of these breeders haven’t given pause for thought to the fate of these horses inconsiderately assuming that once they are sold to the highest bidder it’s simply not their problem anymore. Passing the buck, so to speak.

The Bob Baffert trained Secret Compass won the G1 Chandelier before breaking down in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, a race for 2 year olds.
The Bob Baffert trained Secret Compass won the G1 Chandelier before breaking down in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, a race for 2 year olds. Baffert reportedly voluntarily turned over vet records on Secret Compass. And why wouldn’t Teflon Bob?

This attitude and what follows the sale of these creatures is simply inexcusable.

In the words of Andrew Cohen from his article “The Kentucky Derby and the Slow Death of Horse Racing”:

“The owners are to blame for permitting their trainers and veterinarians to give drugs to their horses on such a scale. The trainers are to blame for putting their financial interest above the interests of their horses’ welfare. The veterinarians are to blame for allowing themselves to be used as instruments of the horses’ destruction. Track officials are to blame for not taking seriously their obligations to ensure the safety of the horses. And regulators are to blame for not punishing even the obvious offenders.

“The reason all these people so often don’t do right by their horses is because the horses are perceived as fungible property rather than as the irreplaceable centerpieces of the sport. Insiders lament the breakdowns but perceive them to be exceptions to the rule. The problem is, the public doesn’t see it that way. To the lay person, each and every breakdown is proof that racing is a brutal and violent sport and, just as importantly, that the humans in charge of it aren’t doing enough to protect the horses. The cumulative effect of that perception has severely damaged the sport’s reputation and the industry’s ability to attract new fans.” [3]

Disgraceful, insatiable, self-absorbed greed.

Drug Addiction

Insofar as uniform drug testing and regulations are concerned the effort put forth by the racing industry authorities has been hapless to that end. The industry has been talking about cleaning itself up for years.

After the PETA video surfaced over a year ago there was a whirlwind of activity relating to how they would change things for the better, about how they would create a level playing field, about how their efforts would benefit the welfare of the horse.

What has come of this? Nada.

It’s all talk and no action. Just meetings, symposiums and the like held amongst the same racing authorities and “experts” as always, discussing it and developing strategies but failing to put into action what they put into words. Part of that is because no one really wants to change.

“No one wants to be regulated. No one wants to give up what little power and control they have over their corner of the industry. And too few, clearly, are willing to spend the money it would take to increase the pace of drug testing and enforcement or to aggressively market and lobby for the sport in bold new ways. Folks will pay millions for a nice colt. But they won’t pay millions to save the sport. The industry talks and talks and talks. And its leaders ponder incremental changes when great strides are desperately needed. In the meantime, too many of the fans, owners, and bettors have gone.” ~ Andrew Cohen [4]

All the while the horses at the mercy of their non-action.

In the past there have been attempts by a number of organizations (The Jockey Club, WHOA, etc.) to push for reform within the industry however the vast majority of their efforts have been thwarted by those who possess the power to change it all.

Federal Legislation

Just recently New York Congressmen Paul Tonko has stepped up to the plate.

“New York Congressmen Paul Tonko, co-chair of the Congressional Horse Caucus, has announced plans for legislation that would create a level playing field for horses, jockeys, trainers and owners that compete, as well as the fans who wager their hard-earned money on our sport.

This legislation would grant rule-making, testing and enforcement oversight to an entity created by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency at no cost to taxpayers.

USADA is a national, independent, non-governmental organization with a track record of creating uniform standards and science-based oversight to protect the rights of clean competitors and the integrity of competition, including cycling and the Olympics.
Only an organization like USADA can create and maintain a system that protects horses and the future of Thoroughbred horse racing for all of our participants and fans.

This proposed legislation has the support of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, whose members include the Water Hay Oats Alliance, The Jockey Club, Breeders’ Cup Ltd. Inc., and The Humane Society of the United States.” [5]

Well, no doubt a step in the right direction.

But while uniform regulations and drug testing would level the field across the 35 state racing jurisdictions, how do they propose to stop the unremitting use of the trainer’s secret artillery – the therapeutic medications?

These are the real culprits of racing’s woes and afflictions. While the elimination of race day drugs and lowered thresholds should be a given if the industry is serious about cleaning itself up, the biggest hurdle will be to curb the insidious use of drugs leading up to race day. These are the drugs that are incrementally destroying the horse, particularly young horses racing on immature skeletal structures.

I for one am not holding my breath; the racing industry is so corrupt I believe it is past the point of no return. The sad part is that they will use the Triple Crown in an attempt to diffuse all the bad that exists. This is a marketing strategy that is simply a thinly veiled smoke screen without merit or substance.

Sorry but no one is buying what you are selling.

American Pharoah. Photo by the Associated Press.
American Pharoah. Photo by the Associated Press.


American Pharoah is yet another pawn in their evil game. What a circus it all is.

“The alleged behavior goes on, decade after decade, because the industry is unwilling to police itself. Because state regulators are feckless and because there is no uniformity among racing jurisdictions. Because the people who develop performance-enhancing drugs are almost always one step ahead of the officials developing tests for those drugs. Because veterinarians give their horses too many drugs too often. And because too many still within the sport equate real reform with a bad-for-marketing acknowledgement of how bad things are. Well, guess what. We are here. There is no longer a man behind a curtain.

“How about telling the truth? It can finally set this industry free. Instead of pretending this problem of abuse does not exist, or claiming that the problem is under control, the sport can take the bold leap it will need to take to get to the other side—the side where animal activists aren’t picketing racetracks. That will mean more money for enhanced drug tests. It will mean legislative efforts to better regulate trainers and veterinarians. It will mean swifter and stricter punishment for offenders. It will mean an end to the insider’s code of silence.

“If the sport cannot find a way to rid itself of a culture that abides all of this it not only won’t survive—it won’t deserve to survive.” ~ Andrew Cohen [6]

[2] See at 1.
[4] See at 3.
[6] See at 3.

Photo Source: Peta on Flickr


This Report
Part 1 » Part 2 »

External Reports
• Horse Racing Special Reports by Jane Allin, The Horse Fund
10 Dark Secrets From The World of Horse Racing
Horse Racing Kills
Horse Racing Wrongs

Tuesday’s Horse
Off the Menu: Gourmet Dinner and Prime Cut Survive Thoroughbred Racing
American Horse Racing: Gonna Have to Face It You’re Addicted to Drugs
Caught: Pain Blocker Given Illegally to Racehorse Entered in 16K Claimer

Eighth horse dies at Del Mar

DEL MAR TURF COURSE. Google image.

Death continues to haunt U.S. horse racing.

JEFF NAHILL writing for the North County Times reports:

DEL MAR TURF COURSE. Google image.
DEL MAR TURF COURSE. Google image.

DEL MAR, Calif. — Bandolim, a 3-year-old colt, became the eighth thoroughbred to die at the current Del Mar meet.

According to track officials, Bandolim suffered fractured sesamoids to his left hind leg after finishing second in Saturday’s fifth race. The son of Dynaformer was in a three-horse driving finish on the turf course and was pulled up after the race by jockey Alonso Quinonez.

Bandolim is the first horse to be euthanized after an injury on the grass. The other fatal injuries occurred on the Polytrack.

Bandolim, trained by A.C. Avila, was making only his second career start and was the favorite of many bettors after several strong morning workouts since a fifth-place finish in a maiden race on July 21.

Read full report >>