Horse Racing Images

HIGH PROFILE BREAKDOWNS AND DEATHS

We feature these fatalities not because they are any more heartbreaking or catastrophic than the breakdowns and deaths of the countless thousands of others who have been killed at American racetracks. We are aware of the following injuries and deaths because they happened to well known horses and took place on a national stage.

PINE ISLAND

Apr. 19, 2003 to Nov. 4, 2006
Killed in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Churchill Downs, KY

PINE ISLAND, a 3-year old filly, won four of her six starts. Her promising career and ultimately her life came to an end on November 4, 2006 when she broke down on the backstretch during the running of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff held at Churchill Downs that year. It was discovered that Pine Island had dislocated her left front ankle so severely that there would be virtually no chance of her survival.

Pine Island, exercising.
Pine Island, prior to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky.
Pine Island goes down with a broken leg in the Breeders' Cup 2006.
Disaster strikes. Pine Island goes down with a broken leg in the Breeders’ Cup 2006.
Pine Island dislocated her left front fetlock joint, an injury that was made worse because the bone pierced the skin.
Pine Island dislocated her left front fetlock joint, an injury that was made worse because the bone pierced the skin.

Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, a track veterinarian at Churchill Downs who examined her said that there were likely multiple fractures and soft tissue injuries as well. Due to the decreased blood supply and the risk of contamination from the open wound caused by the injury, she was euthanized after being vanned off the racetrack.

Pine Island was trained by Todd Pletcher. 

BARBARO

Apr. 29, 2003 to Jan. 29, 2007 ―
Killed from an injury sustained in the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

On May 20, 2006, Barbaro ran in the Preakness Stakes as a heavy favorite, but, after a false start, it appeared he was alright. However, it was later discovered that he had fractured three bones in and around the fetlock of his right hind leg.

Around a minute and a half later, Barbaro was reloaded. Barbaro broke down in the front stretch shattering a reported 20 bones altogether it was later revealed.

The next day, he underwent surgery at the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania for his injuries. In July he developed laminitis in his left rear foot. He was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent five further operations, and his prognosis varied during an exceptionally long stay in the Equine Intensive Care Unit at the New Bolton Center.

While his right hind leg eventually healed, a final risky procedure on it proved futile because the colt soon developed further laminitis in both front hooves. His veterinarians and owners concluded that he could not be saved.

Barbaro was euthanized on January 29, 2007 at around 10:30 A.M. EST by decision of his owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who indicated that they felt that his pain was no longer manageable.

Obsessing over that individual injury misses the bigger picture, which shows that horse racing routinely devours its stars“, states Pat Ford, writing for ESPN on the death of Barbaro.

Barbaro wins the 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby in May 2006.
Barbaro wins an outstanding victory in the 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby on May 6, 2006.
Barbaro arrives at the historic Pimlico racecourse for the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown of American horse racing.
Barbaro breaks through the starting gate, and the race had to be started over.
May 20, Barbaro breaks through the starting gate, is reloaded and the race started over.
Barbaro shatters his off hind at Pimlico in the 2006 Preakness Stakes. Image credited to the Baltimore Sun.
Once Barbaro was reloaded and the horses broke from the gate, he was quickly left behind. Something had terribly gone wrong. You can see him holding his injured off hind leg up.
Jockey Edgar Prado struggles to stop Barbaro after his off hind leg has shattered.
Jockey Edgar Prado struggles to stop Barbaro after his off hind leg has shattered. X-ray later reveal it is broken in 20 places.
Prado finally gets control of Barbaro and stops him so he can dismount.
Prado finally gets control of Barbaro and stops him so he can dismount.
Barbaro is held by jockey Edgar Prado after shattering his off hind at Pimlico in the Preakness Stakes 2006. After extensive treatment Barbaro died on January 20, 2007. Photographer unknown.
Prado is finally able to dismount while he waits for help.
Prado is finally able to dismount. He tries to steady Barbaro with the help of a track worker.
Prado tries to steady Barbaro with the help of a track worker.
Trackers workers finally arrive and work to stabilize Barbaro's shattered leg so they can move him into the equine ambulance.
Trackers workers finally arrive and work to stabilize Barbaro’s shattered leg so they can move him into the equine ambulance.
Jockey Edgar Prado is consoled after his horse Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro injured his right hind leg coming into the 1st turn at the 131st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore 20 May 2006. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Barbaro is loaded in an ambulance after he pulled up on the front stretch during the 131st Preakness Stakes on May 20, 2006 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Barbaro is finally loaded into the equine ambulance. Baltimore Sun. The next day, he underwent surgery at the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania for his injuries.
Cathy Sanders of Landenberg, Pennsylvania, can’t hold back the tears after hanging a sign she had made and posted at the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square where racehorse Barbaro was put down today after complications from his breakdown at last year’s Preakness in Baltimore. (Photo by Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
An x-ray following the first of Barbaro's many surgeries
Barbaro broke his right hind leg in more than 20 places: a broken cannon bone above the pastern, a broken sesamoid bone behind the fetlock and a broken long pastern bone below the fetlock. An x-ray following the first of Barbaro’s many surgeries and treatments.
Fans at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York sign a giant get well card to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who is recovering from injuries sustained to his rear right leg in the Preakness Stakes. (Photo by Bill Denver/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)

In July Barbaro developed laminitis in his left rear foot. He was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent five further operations, and his prognosis varied during an exceptionally long stay in the Equine Intensive Care Unit at the New Bolton Center. While his right hind leg eventually healed, a final risky procedure on it proved futile because the colt soon developed further laminitis in both front hooves.

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro’s hind legs are seen during his walk at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center for Large Animals in Kennett Square, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006. AP Photo/George Widman

Barbaro was put through multiple surgeries, treatments and therapies for 8 long months. It was horrific to witness.

Mercifully, Barbaro’s veterinarians and owners at long last concluded that he could not be saved. He was euthanized on January 29, 2007. Barbaro’s remains were cremated shortly thereafter.

The Barbaro statue at the entrance to Churchill Downs.
On January 29, 2008 it was announced that Barbaro’s remains would be interred in front of an entrance to Churchill Downs, and that a bronze statue of him would be placed on top.

Ten Years On

Deadspin published an article on May 20, 2016 featuring a video clip, “How Did Barbaro Really Get Hurt?” showing him crashing through the starting gate followed by his all too quick reloading.

David G. Zipf, chief veterinarian for the Maryland Racing Commission, insists he examined the colt thoroughly enough to predict a safe run. That was not possible. Read on.

In the above AP photo, taken right after the false start, nobody is in the frame with Barbaro but a pair of outriders preparing to lead him back to the gate. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Video footage provided in the Deadspin article reveals “at no point was there any footage of a vet touching or closely examining Barbaro’s legs”. See NBC uninterrupted coverage of the start and restart here.

So Barbaro was not examined. Zipf lied. So absolutely no one could have known that Barbaro had not been hurt when he exploded prematurely out of the gate.

Notwithstanding the above, Barbaro should have been scratched after his false start. It is what any responsible owner or trainer with an ounce of morals or scruples would have done. However, the Triple Crown was on the line, so greed and ego ruled and in the end destroyed a beautiful, talented horse in the process. Who cares? None of that matters in horse racing. It is a billion dollar business run by charlatans, cutthroats and dopers routinely lethal to its equine athletes.

Eight Belles

Feb. 23, 2005 to May 3, 2008 ― 
Killed in the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, KY

“She ran with the heart of a locomotive, on champagne-glass ankles.”
Blaming the breeders and investors, sports writer Sally Jenkins claimed,
“thoroughbred racing is in a moral crisis, and everyone now knows it.”

Eight Belles with trainer Larry Jones aboard runs on the track during the morning training for the Kentucky Derby on April 30, 2008 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Kent Desormeaux, riding #20 Big Brown, leads Gabriel Saez (R), riding #5 Eight Belles, as he crosses the finish line to win the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2008 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Gabriel Saez aboard Eight Belles, center, crosses the finish in second in the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Saturday, May 3, 2008. Eight Belles had to be euthanized after breaking both of her front legs. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Just after she finishes second in the 2008 Kentucky Derby to Big Brown, Eight Belles shatters both forelegs. She collapses and falls to her chest, and is later euthanized on the track. The fractures are the same type and area that Barbaro suffered in his off hind. 
Track personel attend to Eight Belles after she broke down after the finish of the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky, Saturday, May 3, 2008. (Photo by Brad Luttrell/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Eight Belles’ jockey leaves the scene as the track personnel attend to her.
Jay Ferguson, curator of Museum Advancement at the Kentucky Derby Museum, and Wendy Treinen, public relations manager of the Kentucky Derby Museum, helped inter Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby Museum garden at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, Monday, August 25, 2008. (Photo by Maggie Huber/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Petty Officer First Class Bobby Shah, of the Navy Recruiting District of Ohio, rings the Navy Traditional Bell eight times during a ceremony for Eight Belles, before the 54th Running of the Eight Bells at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday May 2, 2009. The Eight Bell ceremony is performed in the Navy for fallen shipmen. (Photo by Kevin Martin/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
The grave of Eight Belles at Churchill Downs in Louisville, home of the world famous Kentucky Derby, the race in which she was killed.

George Washington (‘Gorgeous George’)

Jan. 3, 2003 to Oct. 27, 2007 ―
Killed in the Breeders’ Cup in the slop at Monmouth Park, NJ

Four-year-old George Washington shattered a bone in his foreleg,
piercing the skin, just 100 yards from the finish. According to his jockey, Mick Kinane, he pawed at the ground with the damaged leg trying to make sense of his injury. The screens went up and he was destroyed.

George Washington and jockey Michael Kinane are led out to the track Breeders’ Cup Classic race at the 2007 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, October 27, 2007 at Monmouth Park, New Jersey.
“Gorgeous George” strides away from his awful demise in the Monmouth Park, NJ mud in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Photo: Edward Whitaker.

These are the best images we could find. Some of them are less than stellar, no doubt due to the distance they were taken from and the horrible conditions.

George Washington and jockey Mick Kinane turn for home in the final stretch of the 2007 Breeder’s Cup Classic in the slop at Monmouth Park, NJ.
Jockey Michael Kinane, right, and a track official help horse George Washington after the race horse was injured during the Breeders Cup Classic horse race Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, at Monmouth Park, NJ . The horse injured his right front leg and had be euthanized. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
You can see George Washington’s shattered ankle. A track worker holds the horse while his jockey Mick Kinane removes his tack.
Track workers run to help George Washington near the finish line after breaking his leg during the Breeders’ Cup Classic race at the 2007 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, October 27, 2007 at Monmouth Park in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey. George Washington had to be put down. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Race track personnel assist George Washington after the race horse was injured during the Breeders Cup Classic horse race Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007 in Oceanport, N.J. The horse injured his right front leg and had be euthanized. (AP Photo/David Gard)
The screen arrives.
George Washington begins to panic as track workers try to cover him with a screen to shield his death from spectators.
Track workers shield George Washington from fans as he is put down near the finish line after breaking his leg during the Breeders’ Cup Classic race during the 2007 Breeders’ Cup World Championships 27 October 2007 at Monmouth Park in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey. (Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

• Learn more about the life of ‘Gorgeous George’ at the Racing Post »

Both Barbaro and George Washington were bred by Roy and Gretchen Jackson who are still churning out racehorses bred to the same lines. They are hardly alone. They represent a trend that has caused the decline in the American Thoroughbred resulting in countless breakdowns and deaths.

Demonstrators protest outside the entrance of Belmont Park before the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes on June 7, 2008 in Elmont, New York. The protest, organized by PETA, comes after the death of the horse “Eight Belles” at this year’s Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

In June 2008, the Associated Press reported:

“Thoroughbred racetracks in the U.S. reported more than three horse deaths a day last year and 5,000 since 2003, and the vast majority were put down after suffering devastating injuries on the track, according to an Associated Press survey. Countless other deaths went unreported because of lax record keeping, the AP found in the broadest such review to date.”

See AP: 5,000 horses deaths since 2008, Associated Press, June 14, 2008.

The carnage is not limited to death on the racetrack.

The Thoroughbred-racing industry sends an estimated 10,000 horses to slaughter annually, meaning that half of the 20,000 new foals born each year will eventually be killed for their flesh. Source: PeTA Nov 4, 2019.


THF 2019 Logo. ©The Horse Fund.

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