We feature "high profile" breakdowns and deaths not because it is any less heartbreaking, unnecessary or catastrophic for the uncounted and untold whose names are never mentioned. We are aware of these set sof injuries and deaths because they happened to well known horses or took place on a national stage.
PINE ISLAND broke down in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Distaff race and put down.
Pine Island, a 3-year-old filly who had won four of her six starts, took a misstep in the backstretch, flipping her jockey, Javier Castellano, over the her head.
Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, the on-call veterinarian, said Pine Island dislocated her left front fetlock joint, an injury that was made worse because the bone pierced the skin.
"Because of the combination of it being open and the instability, she has been euthanized."
Pine Island was trained by Todd Pletcher. Relatively unscathed, jockey Javier Castellano later rode in the Classic. Main image by David C Burton / AP; Report by Joe Drape / New York Times
"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.
"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."
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.
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.
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, and merely represent a trend that has caused the decline in U.S. Thoroughbreds. See "The Chemical Horse—The Call for Reform".
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."
In addition to that, available reports indicate that for every 1,000 Thoroughbreds who die on the racetrack, approximately 10,000 are sent to slaughter for human consumption overseas to the delight of European and Asia gourmands.