To those new to the site – and without a working knowledge of horseracing – “vanned off” may not sound particularly ominous – football players, after all, are occasionally carted off the field. But here’s the reality: A horse who leaves the course via ambulance has a better-than-even chance – some experts put it at 90% – of same-day euthanasia or shortly thereafter. In other words, “vanned off,” like “broke down,” is an industry euphemism for something really bad has happened to a racehorse (which I guess is also a euphemism). For proof, we need look no further than Finger Lakes Racetrack.

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Since the current meet began in April, three horses have been reported (by Equibase) as “vanned off.” All three, thanks to the Gaming Commission database, have been subsequently confirmed dead: Indomitable Woman July 17th; Chichita July 26th; and just yesterday, 7-year-old, 50-start veteran Gimmeanotherwink. Three ambulance rides, three shots of sodium pentobarbital. So you see, “vanned off” is just another smoke screen.