‘Enough Is Enough.’ California Governor Calls to Halt Racing at Santa Anita Park After 29 Horse Deaths

The staggering number of horse deaths at the Santa Anita race track has California Governor Gavin Newsom demanding change.

Enough is enough,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “I am calling on the California Horse Racing Board to ensure that no horse races until they are examined by independent veterinarians and are found fit to compete.”

Twenty-nine horses have died since the park’s racing season began in December, and with almost two weeks still to go before its formal end, alarm over the death toll has grown. Among the variables thought to contribute to the deaths are the use of whips, drugs and medications, and the general track conditions, according to The New York Times and other outlets. But the problem may lie with the nature of the industry itself, although some changes have recently been enacted.

The track shut down in March after the number of horse fatalities reached 23, but reopened just weeks later following the board’s passage of stricter safety reforms. Yet, the deaths continued.

Formal Dude and Truffalino, two horses who raced at the track, are among the most recent racing deaths. The horses, who passed away just one day apart earlier this month, suffered from race-day injuries. For Truffalino, it was believed he died of a heart attack. They join the dozens of other horses who have met an untimely end at the Arcadia track, located just outside of Los Angeles, this year.

According to the Santa Anita website, the park’s board enacted reforms in March to limit the use of anti-inflammatory and pain medications in an effort to improve the horses’ health and to prevent life-threatening injuries on race day. The website also states that California racing standards maintain “some of the strictest crop rules in the world.”

In a press release, The Stronach Group, which owns the track, claims that since the reforms passed, there has been a 50 percent decrease in “catastrophic” race-day injuries and an 84 percent decrease during training sessions. The group also says they are working with the California Horse Racing Board to resolve horse safety concerns.

This past Sunday, following the deaths of Formal Dude and Truffalino, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) asked Santa Anita to end their meet seven days early. However, the track currently remains in operation. Santa Anita is also still currently scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup this November.

The CHRB and The Stronach Group did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment.

With close to two weeks still left in the current season, and an even bigger event on the horizon, all eyes will be trained on the track—not just to see who crosses the finish line, but to see who might not.

Sports – TIME


War of Will Wins Preakness in Wild Race That Also Featured a Jockey-Less Horse

BALTIMORE (AP) — Mark Casse completed a lifelong quest two weeks after the scare of a lifetime. And he did so in a race featuring a riderless horse that threw his jockey out of the gate and kept running.

Since he was a child, Casse wanted to win a Triple Crown race, and the well-respected trainer got that victory when War of Will bounced back from a bumpy ride in the Kentucky Derby to win the Preakness on Saturday.

Casse, 58, was more relieved than anything that his prized 3-year-old colt didn’t go down in the Derby, which could’ve been a multihorse catastrophe, and could finally take a deep breath following the Preakness.

“This is even I think probably more special given everything that we’ve been through,” Casse said. “I’m not even calling it redemption. I didn’t feel like he got his fair shot, and that’s all I wanted — a fair shot. And he showed what he had today.”

War of Will was unfazed starting from the inside No. 1 post position for the second consecutive race, even though that contributed to his rough run at Churchill Downs. Rising star jockey Tyler Gaffalione guided the horse along the rail in the Preakness and made a move into the lead around the final curve, holding off hard-charging late addition Everfast, who was a nose ahead of Owendale for second.

All the while, Bodexpress — after ejecting Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez — kept running around the Pimlico track and did an extra lap. An outrider tried to swoop in at the top of the stretch and corral Bodexpress, but the horse sped up and passed a few competitors near the finish line and kept going. Technically, Bodexpress gets a did-not-finish.

“He wasn’t behaving well,” said Velazquez, who added he’s fine and would not seek medical attention. “When the doors opened, I was off right from the start and he kind of jumped sideways, and I had my feet out sideways and I lost my balance and went out.”

It was yet another bizarre scene in a Triple Crown season full of it.

Two weeks ago at the Kentucky Derby, apparent winner Maximum Security was disqualified for interfering with War of Will, and Country House elevated to first in the only on-track disqualification in the race’s 145-year history. Casse was just thankful War of Will was healthy and decided to take his shot in the Preakness even though Maximum Security and Country House didn’t run.

It was the first Preakness run without the Kentucky Derby winner since 1996, but the 13-horse field was the largest since 2011. Go back to 1951 for the last time the Preakness was run without the top four finishers from the Derby.

“This is the Preakness,” Casse said. “We just won the Preakness. I really don’t care who was in it.”

Bob Baffert-trained Improbable was in it as the 5-2 favorite and finished a disappointing sixth. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness are the only races of Improbable’s career that he didn’t finish first or second.

“He just got mad and reared up,” Baffert said of Improbable’s antics in the starting gate. “After that, he was in a good spot. He just didn’t kick.”

War of Will had plenty of kick and put himself in position to become the first horse since Afleet Alex in 2005 and 19th all-time to fall short in the Derby but win the Preakness and Belmont. Winning the $ 1.5 million Preakness by a 1¼ length over Everfast, who wasn’t entered until Wednesday, was another illustration of War of Will’s mix of talent and grit.

“He’s got so much heart,” Gaffalione said. “We always knew he had the ability. We just had to get a little bit lucky, and today was our day.”

It’s a breakthrough for Gaffalione, who has become something of a rising star since being named top apprentice rider in 2015. Gaffalione, 24, was aboard War of Will for the colt’s sixth consecutive race and came away with the biggest victory of his young career.

“It really hasn’t even hit me yet,” said Gaffalione, who got advice Saturday morning from idol Jerry Bailey. “I can’t even put it into words.”

Casse had plenty of words after the contentious situation at the Kentucky Derby that spurred a lawsuit from Maximum Security owners Gary West and a 15-day suspension handed down to jockey Luis Saez. He took issue with West blaming War of Will and Gaffalione.

West took Maximum Security off the Triple Crown trail, but Casse was eager to get War of Will back on the track two years after Classic Empire finished second in the Preakness. With the sport in turmoil after the deaths of 24 horses at Santa Anita Park since Dec. 26 and an ongoing quarrel over the future site of the Preakness, Casse’s first Triple Crown victory is a tale of redemption for him and the horse even if he doesn’t want to call it that.

“I’m just very happy for Mark to get his first Classic win,” Gaffalione said. “Very happy for the horse. He deserved it more than anything. He’s so special.”

Sports – TIME


Horse Deaths Are Haunting the Racing World Ahead of the Kentucky Derby. Here’s What’s Being Done to Stop Them

The Kentucky Derby, which will be run for the 145th time on May 4, is the oldest continuously held major sporting event in U.S. This year, however, talk of mint juleps, stylish hats and Triple Crown dreams may be overshadowed by a disturbing spate of horse deaths — and fresh calls to regulate the sport.

Between late December and early April, nearly two-dozen Thoroughbred horses died while racing or training at California’s Santa Anita Park. The cause of the fatal injuries is unknown, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney is investigating the deaths. As with all horse injuries, multiple factors may be at play, say safety experts, including heavy rainfall that may have compromised the track surface. The track shut down for much of March and adopted several new policies, including banning the use of drugs on race day and increasing the time required for horses to be on-site prior to a race.

“While the cause of the injuries on the racetrack might be varied, they have one thing in common: the industry has yet to do everything that can be done to prevent them,” wrote Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of the Stronach Group — which owns Santa Anita — in a March open letter. “That changes today.”

That’s a small start. But reforms at one track likely won’t be enough to fix the sport’s systemic problems. Last year, 493 horses died or were euthanized within 72 hours of sustaining a catastrophic race injury. That’s about 10 horses each week. In the last ten years, a total of 6,134 horses have died. That tally doesn’t include deaths from training.

PETA and other animal-rights advocates are sounding off. So are notable horse racing organizations, which say that many horse deaths are preventable. In March, the Jockey Club, which holds the registry for Thoroughbred horses, released a scathing report calling out the sport for tolerating performance-enhancing drugs and running horses that are medicated to dull the pain of pre-existing injuries. “The issue isn’t about a single track,” the report reads. “Horse fatalities are a nationwide problem, one that has shocked fans, the industry, the regulators and the general public.”

An industry overhaul would be difficult, if not nearly impossible, to implement because horse racing has no national rule-making body. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), which sets best safety practices, has no teeth to mandate them. Instead, 38 racing jurisdictions set their own standards.

“We are more of a carrot organization than stick,” says Steve Koch, executive director of the Safety and Integrity Alliance at NTRA, which has accredited 23 tracks. Another 40 tracks are making efforts to be accredited, while others are not engaged with the alliance at all. “We’re making progress, but are not quite there yet.”

Federal oversight is still far off. The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 was introduced in the House earlier this year to establish a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority. It has 69 cosponsors, but does not have full support from the industry. Prior versions of the legislation also failed to make headway in Congress.

History has shown that reforms triggered by horse deaths roll out slowly and inconsistently, from state to state and from track to track.

For instance, after beloved Thoroughbreds Barbaro and Eight Belles died in the late 2000s, the industry began to collect fatal injury data for every U.S. track. Today, every racetrack reports injury death rates to a national database. But only a handful make those numbers public. In Kentucky, Keeneland and Turfway Park both report publicly. But Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, does not. In March, the Louisville Courier-Journal discovered via a public records request that the death rate at Churchill Downs was 2.73 per 1,000 racing starts last year—more than 60% higher than the national average.

This week, the Derby track released a list of safety initiatives that it plans to support in the coming years, as well as a statement from Churchill Downs Inc. chief executive Bill Carstanjen: “As the host of the Kentucky Derby and a key leader in the racing industry, Churchill Downs has a heightened responsibility to implement the world’s best practices for caring for racehorses at our facilities.”

The NTRA’s Koch believes that efforts over the last decade, such as curbing doping drugs and evolving veterinarian protocols, have made a difference. While the U.S. racing fatality rate rose 4% in 2018 compared to the year before, since 2009 the fatality rate has actually declined 16%, from 2 deaths per 1,000 race starts in 2009 to 1.68 last year.

More change could be underway. In mid-April, 20 leading tracks pledged to phase out a drug called Lasix in the coming years. Lasix treats a rare lung condition, but, according to the Jockey Club, it is given to about 95% of horses on race day because it induces urination. Lighter and faster, the horses perform better, but need days to recover and rehydrate.

That’s good news leading into the Kentucky Derby. This year, like every year, America will fall for — and bet on — the Thoroughbreds at Churchill Downs. Now, the racing industry is under pressure to take better care of them.

Sports – TIME


Head for the Black Hills: tales of Crazy Horse and Custer in South Dakota

The carving of the Crazy Horse statue is a story in itself but then insurgent tales and mountain sculptures have helped shape this midwest state

It takes a few seconds for the statue of Crazy Horse to come into focus, which is surprising given that it’s being carved out of a 641ft-high stone outcrop. From a distance it looks like just another rocky peak silhouetted against the cloudless South Dakota sky. But get closer and its form and detail become apparent: an unyielding face, a raised arm, a pointing finger, all recreated on a colossal scale.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian


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Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Android’s dark horse champion

Huawei Mate 20 Pro
$ 1,197
The Good

Amazingly versatile camera • Every feature under the sun • Great battery life • Fast performance

The Bad

Software needs polish • Pricey

The Bottom Line

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the most feature-packed phone you can currently buy.

Mashable Score4.25
Cool Factor4.0
Learning Curve4.0
Bang for the Buck4.0

It took a while for Huawei to get here. 

Nothing about the company’s boring smartphone lineup in, say, 2013, indicated that Huawei might one day produce phones that can hold their own against the best flagships around.  Read more…

More about Android, Reviews, Review, Huawei, and Huawei Mate 20 Pro