Two more horses died at Vancouver’s Hastings Racecourse this season, with one breaking down during a race and the other suffering blunt-force trauma after crashing into a wall.
A total of eight horses died this season, with the most recent death the day before the season’s end on Sunday, the Public Safety Ministry confirmed to Black Press Media Friday (Oct. 20).
Skysablazing was racing Oct. 14 when it broke down. The horse was attended to by the outrider, members of the gate crew and a veterinarian where they determined Skysablazing had sustained a “catastrophic injury” – a complete open fracture – to the left front leg.
The ministry said the injury was “unrecoverable” and the horse had to be euthanized. Skysablazing was transported for necropsy.
A month prior, racehorse Shadesofriogrande got loose on Sept. 15 from its stable area and ran off into the barn area of the backstretch. It ran around loose for several minutes before crashing into a wooden wall where it remained on the ground.
A veterinarian attended to Shadesofriogrande and determined the horse had died from blunt-force trauma and blood loss from crashing into the wall. Shadesofriogrande was also transported for necropsy.
The Public Safety Ministry oversees the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch which is responsible for regulating the B.C. horse-racing industry and licensing its participants to ensure racing is conducted safely and with integrity.
The gaming branch contracts official veterinarians, licensed by the College of Veterinarians of B.C., who are at the track during races.
The ministry said the branch takes steps to prevent and respond to incidents during the racing season, “but unfortunately horse injuries and deaths can occur.”
Of the eight deaths this season, three happened during a race. Four horses also died during a three-week period in the summer.
The Vancouver Humane Society is speaking out again against horse racing. Society communications director Chantelle Archambault said it’s “devastating to imagine the fear and pain this horse must have experienced in the moments” before it’s death.
“The recent deaths are a tragic reminder of the serious, recurring animal welfare issues across this industry, including the risk to horses’ lives.”
Hastings Racecourse is operated by Great Canadian Entertainment. Black Press Media reached out to Great Canadian Entertainment, but did not hear back by time of publication.