The case of a horse named Tyeste illustrates, again, how easily Racing has been able to conceal its awfulness these so many decades. Tyeste, a 5-year-old mare, was raced for the 25th time – all at the claiming level – at Monmouth in August of last year. She finished a non-noteworthy second-to-last. Prior to her next race, September 7, she was “scratched” by order of the stewards. And then, simply disappeared.

But through FOIA documents from the New Jersey Racing Commission, I have since learned that this horse died that September day – and in a particularly horrific way. Apparently, on her way to the starting gate, Tyeste fractured her skull (how remains unclear) and was euthanized after “hemorrhaging from both nostrils and ears.” Imagine that. If not for that FOIA request, no one – except, of course, the complicit – would have been the wiser. For all the public knew, this probably injured horse was recuperating in anticipation of another run – or, safely retired to her owner’s farm, living the erstwhile equine-athlete’s version of the pastoral life.

While scratched/vanished does not technically qualify as a lie, the full truth surrounding this mare was withheld by the relevant racing entities – Monmouth Park, NJ Racing Commission (until, that is, forced to disclose by law) – and left untold or uninvestigated by the racing press. None of which should surprise, of course: To the former, dead horses are bad for business, especially one who broke her head and bled from her orifices; to the latter, this was a non-story – the death of a cheap claimer who was eking out meager livings for bottom-feeder connections simply doesn’t rate. Or put another way, who cares? How very sad – on multiple levels.

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