St Nicholas Abbey and His Fans

When six-year-old Irish Thoroughbred St Nicholas Abbey, one of the most celebrated racehorses on the planet, broke his pastern while training in July, the prognosis was bleak. But not to fear, if a horse is valuable enough – and with huge stud fees on the horizon, he is – extraordinary measures are undertaken. Extraordinary measures here are defined as 20 screws, 2 plates, a steel pin, and a bone graft.



Coolmore Stud, the world’s largest Thoroughbred breeder and St Nicholas Abbey’s latest guardian, released this video on the procedure. But don’t be fooled by the manipulative background music, to Coolmore, this horse is but a potential revenue stream, a simple asset. And should the repair fail, boardroom tears, if any, will be shed for money lost, not because another beautiful, sensitive creature has perished. Like Barbaro before him, and in contrast to the thousands of plebeian Thoroughbreds who break and die on tracks each year, St Nicholas Abbey is being forced to endure an extended suffering. And all so that a new set of men can profit on his head (or semen, in this case).

St Nicholas Abbey’s “misfortune,” of course, has inspired a groundswell of racing-fan support. Saving a racehorse, this racehorse, is a feel-good tale. But I cannot help but wonder why these same well-wishers fall silent when horseracing sends its refuse – by the tens of thousands annually – to be strung up and slashed. Whatever the explanation, however, the horseplayer should know this: No amount of love and sympathy for the rare St Nicholas Abbey can wash the slaughterhouse blood from your hands.

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  1. What can I say about the racing industry? First of all, it is a gambling “sport” where money is king. The horses are the “bit” players. Who cares about the horses when there is money to be made? Racing supports a culture where slaughter is tolerated along with other atrocities. I applaud its precipitous decline.

  2. I cringe when I look at that x-ray. I have to wonder about the conversation amongst the equine orthopedic surgeons during the procedure to put “Saint Nick’s” shattered bones back together. Screws placed so closely together, one must fear how long the tiny bit of surrounding bone can support the hardware. And at what point a screw’s tip will break through into the soft tissue is likely anyone’s guess.

    But I shudder when contemplating the pain this wondrous horse will endure…during the recovery process, and throughout his life as he suffers day in and day out with the arthritis that will certainly afflict this joint. He’ll live the lonely life of a breeding stallion with an ankle that causes constant discomfort, or pain, or agony, depending on the day.

    To those who support the racing industry because these Thoroughbreds are “born to run” and “love to race”, what about this guy?…he is never going to run again, and he will never live the life all horses deserve.

    Once again, the racing industry shows it will put the almighty dollar before the welfare of the horse.

    • What a difference a month makes. In October I said how hard it is to rehab horses and I was told How the Great CANTER operates on horses all the time. I think it was “Over 5ok a year to help horses on to their new career. In this thread it is said how horrible it is to do this to the animal???? Make up your minds….

  3. In a recent picture of the horse it was easy to recognize the sad facial expression born of suffering. It is pretty amazing to see fans lauding the heroic efforts to “save the horse” when it is all about “saving the money”. Do people really not see or perhaps admit what the motivation is.

  4. There are people who believe(wrongly) that the horses are saved because they are loved. No amount of discussion will convince them otherwise. The only reasons they are saved or attempted to be saved are money from insurance or breeding. If Saint Nicholas Abbey were a gelding he would have never left the track alive.

    • Sadly that is probably true (about what would have happened if he was a gelding).
      But his accident did not happen on a track, but one morning during training. It just goes to show how vulnerable horses are, not just on the racetrack, but everywhere. I have known a friend’s horse (TB X) break a leg on a hack during a canter. This horse was definitely very much loved, but could not be saved mainly because it would have cost far too much to even attempt to save him.

  5. We all know that had SNA been your average handicapper then it would have been unlikely he would have been saved.
    But I am very glad that all efforts are made to safe him. It will benefit other horses in the future because a lot will be learned about the best veterinary aporoaches in these cases. It is too early to say that he will be in permanent pain and it is wrong to say that he should have been put out of his misery earlier. Hopefully all goes well and there is actually no reason why he won’t be able to run around a paddock in the future.
    I have ex racehorses and I adore them. But I know hat I could never have afforded this type of veterinary treatment even though I would always want to try and save my horses. Does it really matter why Coolmore are spending a fortune? SNA was very lucky to be owned by them.

  6. Six-time grade/group I winner St Nicholas Abbey died the morning of Jan. 14 due to complications from colic, Coolmore Stud reported.

    “Surgery revealed a severe strangulating colon torsion that was unviable and he had to be euthanized on humane grounds,” Coolmore representatives stated in a release. “This is extremely unfortunate as St Nicholas Abbey had been in terrific form, the laminitis was resolving very well, and the fracture had healed better than expected.”


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