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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
• 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.
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.
THE PHILIPPINES (Photos by Getty Images)
SOUTHERN CHINA (Photos by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.)
Organized horse fighting has also been recorded in Thailand, in South Korea’s Jeju Province, on Muna Island in Indonesia, and among medieval Norse settlers in Iceland, where it was known as hestavíg.
Learn more. See Frequently Asked Questions »
At the Butcher Shop
At the Table — Raw Horse Meat
In countries where horse meat is considered a delicacy, diners often prefer it raw — particularly Japan. Click any image to enlarge.
At the Table — Cooked Horse Meat
Cooked horse meat is often served up as stews and burgers. Click any image to enlarge.
Horse Meat in the News
Russia to drive horse meat production out of depression
by Vladislav Vorotnikov | Global Meat News
21st May 2019
The Russian Government has prepared a draft program of horse industry development, with a special focus on an increase in the population of meat breeds – the segment where production performance has been shrinking over the past few years. Read more »
Featured Image (Top of Page): VICE.com. “Inside France’s Fading Love Affair with Horse Meat,” by Emily Monaco, 12 March 2017.
Warning: Graphic Content Ahead
THE HORSE SLAUGHTER PROCESS ILLUSTRATED
Images from Inside Domestic and Foreign Horse Slaughter Plants
HIGHLY GRAPHIC BEYOND THIS POINT
USA (4 images)
CAPTIVE BOLT GUN. A pressurized gun which is held up to the horse’s forehead and shoots a 4-inch piece of metal about the size of a roll of quarters into the brain. Horses don’t like things near their heads, so when a worker reaches over the railing with a bolt gun, they often swing their heads around, causing the gun to fire in the wrong place. Workers sometimes need to shoot three or four times before the horse stops moving.
KILL CHUTE. The stunned horse is dumped in the kill chute from which he can be hoisted and strung up by a back leg.
BLEEDING OUT. The horse is drained of all his blood caught in a bucket to be disposed of. Horses have often been seen partially conscious during bleeding out if they were not “stunned” properly.
The horse’s head and legs are cut from his body in preparation for the butchering process.
The above photographs, as you can probably tell, are vintage images from the Humane Farming Association (HFA). Horse slaughter is no longer taking place on US soil.
Below, the horse’s carcass has been skinned before the lower parts of his legs were removed. Much of his neck is also remaining.
Below, the butcher at his work, cutting the horse’s carcass into steaks and chops etc.
THE NETHERLANDS (7 images)
The following images are from “I Followed Horse Meat from the Slaughterhouse to the Butcher Shop“, by Vice.com. Based in The Netherlands, the horse meat produced here goes mostly to France and Belgium.
The process begins with a bolt that’s fired into the horse’s head. The bolt is supposed to destroy brain activity, which is marked by the 600 pounds that suddenly crash onto the concrete floor.
Then, the horse is pulled and hung by a back leg. One of the butchers cuts the carotid artery to bleed the horse out, catching his warm blood in a big black tub, which will be later picked up by a company that specializes in animal waste.
Once drained of his blood, abattoir workers remove the horse’s head and legs. Small incisions are made into his skin so it can be slowly, but artfully, removed. “Nothing goes to waste,” a worker explains. “The skin is sold for a few euros and they make expensive shoes out of it. I own a pair myself. They cost me 300 euros, but they are incredibly comfortable.”
The legs are used by aspiring farriers. The parts not fit for human consumption end up in animal feed. All of the organs are also used.
Once the head, intestines, and legs are removed, another butcher starts sawing the carcass in half.
Now that’s done, the carcasses are ready for the cooler.
From cooler to the local butchers.