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Composing this article on a dark Halloween afternoon seems appropriate. This weekend should be an exciting showcase of the creme de la creme in thoroughbred racing going head to head in fourteen Grade 1 races worth a combined $31 million dollars. Held in near perfect weather in Arcadia, California for the 11th time, it should be a glorious and glamorous two-day event. But there is very little excitement this year. Instead, many fans are mourning the tragic loss of equine life and the injuries that have brought us to this very dark day in the sport we once loved so passionately. 

Last year’s juvenile champion Forte was retired just before the pre-entries with foot issues. Kentucky Derby winner Mage spiked a fever and never made it on to the plane to California. European champion Paddington was withdrawn and retired shortly after the pre-entries. Geaux Rocket Ride was severely injured in his work over the Santa Anita track Saturday morning and is fighting for his life. Prognosis is not good as of latest update. And, this morning Practical Move suffered a cardiac event and died after his work. He was entered in the Breeders’ Cup mile and his trainer, Tim Yakteen, said all was well at the post-position draw last night. Moments ago, I learned that Belmont and Travers winner Arcangelo has been scratched due to a foot issue and will be retired. His trainer, Jena Antonucci, absolutely put the horse first and that is refreshing. 
Those of us who love the animals far more than the sport simply cannot take much more. Churchill Downs had a rash of breakdowns in the spring that caused them to abruptly move the remainder of their meet to Ellis Park. The Saratoga meet was marred with breakdowns as well this summer. And now this. 
If horse racing is to survive, drastic measures are necessary. We are hemorrhaging fans. Yours truly included. 
When sports betting became legal on September 28th this year, I put $5 in an account and received $250 in bonus (free) bets. I have been playing on my $5 and house money since. And no one in football, baseball, or basketball has been gruesomely injured or died. 
I can no longer watch horse races live. I have to turn away and wait for the finish and the all clear. Then, I watch the replay. That is not fun. That is not entertainment. 
To the powers that be….HISA, CDI, NYRA, Stronach, et al….I have a strong, heartfelt message. WAKE UP and fix this. Now. You owe it to the fans who drive your business. But more importantly, you owe it to the horses. 

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