In yesterday afternoon’s 9th race at Parx, 3-year-old National Prayer broke down and was killed. The colt, passed around like an unruly foster child, was under his fourth different trainer in the past 12 months. Worse, in that same span, he was sold twice and was on the market (for $7,500) again yesterday. So, I wonder, was National Prayer “like part of your family,” Brittany Stover? Top Racing? Cecil Clugston? Right.
Also on Saturday, 4-year-old Baby Harlow broke down in the 9th race at Charles Town, and 7-year-old Atthebuzzer, making his 61st start, broke down in race 7 at Delta Downs. 61 starts. This is horseracing.
Patrick, you make another excellent point about what the horses in the racing industry are forced to endure, that is, frequent change of ownership. Anyone that claims to know horses realizes they are an animal that craves routine. Change, in the form of a new environment, new handlers, new/different hay-feed, is stressful for the horse. One of the very first things a veterinarian will ask when one’s horse has a colic episode is, “Has anything changed?”. It is no wonder these poor horses come off the track (if they are lucky enough to make it to that point) with painful and even life-threatening ulcers. Just another thing that is inhumane about the racing industry…the claiming game. The “backbone” of the industry is the claiming game and its laboring “cheap” horses (that is the industry’s own term, not mine). Yea right, all those cherished “family members” running for tag. Family members indeed. RIP National Prayer…what a sad, unnatural, stressful life you were made to endure. You deserved so very much more.
Very well said, Joy. The claimers are the backbone of the racing “industry. It is nothing short of outrageous what these horses are made to endure, with very few exceptions, while the “elite” of the game feed their egos and their coffers.
PS You are probably aware of a study done a few years ago involving necropsies of “old claimers” and the findings showed an inflammatory process throughout the vascular system. The article did not go into the etiology of the abnormal finding. I wonder why !
Rose, very good point. I’m sure the racing industry wants to keep the “abnormal findings” behind closed doors.
Every time I hear that the horse was like a “family member”, I want to gag. The lies come fast and furious in the racing industry. When will the people who truly care about the horses say “enough is enough”? It is so easy to stand up for these wonderful horses – stop betting on them!!!
I think its 70 or 80% of all races written are for claiming.
Poor boy…at 3…RIP
Yes, we know….his entire family is just completely grief stricken
There are a great deal of good people in the sport of racing. I know of many horses that would have went to slaughter and not be safe today if it were not for breeders, race horse owners and trainers that stepped up when horses were in need. With that said, my hat is off to you Patrick for sharing this valuable information that TOO MANY TIMES IS IGNORED. I have now shared it as well and will continue to. It is absolutely disgusting how National Prayer was treated in his short life. May he RIP
Thank you, Mary.
Presumably “good people” in racing would be in favor of central oversight, uniform rules of racing, no drugs on race day — you know, like Great Britain, all of Europe, Dubai, Japan, Hong Kong, South Africa and Australia — and if there were “a great deal of good people” in racing the Interstate Horse Racing Improvement Act would be law by now instead of failing to even come out of committee after two years of trying. It was reinvented and reintroduced in the spring of this year as the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act, HR 2012 and S 973 yet where is the support for these bills? I don’t see ANY of the web sites of the national and regional and state racing organizations or race tracks asking members, patrons or gamblers to contact their legislators to request that they co-sign this much needed legislation that would bring the Wild West of racing in the United States under control. If you are in racing, then you are a member or patron of these organizations and if your numbers are so “great” and you are so “good”, why is there no change? Why are there STILL federal hearings on drugs in racing after 40 years? Why do the annual meetings and committees with the words “safety” or “welfare” in their titles NEVER even bring up the words “horse slaughter” yet the finish line is the slaughterhouse to the majority of horses racing?
I implore everyone to call your senators and representatives weekly and badger them about the need for co-signing the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act, HR 2012 and S 973.
The Hancocks, the Laels, George Strawbridge, Barry Irwin are trying to clean up racing but sadly there are a greater number of people in racing that LIKE no oversight, 38 separate racing jurisdictions, drugs on race day — keep “stacking” the drugs because everyone knows it is then harder to detect the illegal cobra venom, pig juice, frog juice and whatever other concoction that’s the latest craze — and yes, LIKE horse slaughter because despite the PR bows taken for no slaughter statements and policies, you NEVER see any racing organization web site or newsletter or track program encouraging members or patrons to help pass the SAFE Act much less have their lobbyists work for its passage.
If there are “a great many good people” in racing, I never saw “a great many” when I was a breeder and owner and elected member of our HBPA and TOBA and that’s why I left racing. I never saw “a great many good people” when I founded CANTER and we were intaking over 100 horses a year from our track in Michigan. Despite paying over $50,000 a year in surgeries to repair their fractures and torn tendons, 30% were considered “unsalvageable” due to too many joint injections, too many drugs yet still wearing their racing plates and sometimes sweat marks from their last race. You might have read some of their stories in the Shedrow Secrets section of this web site. We were 100% volunteer and the majority of our financial support came from NONrace donors.
It is quite obvious that the ongoing acceptance of the lawlessness and carnage at racetracks is what the majority of those in racing want and the heck with being the laughing stock of the rest of the world. The Water, Hay, Oats Alliance web site list of members should be hundreds of pages long instead of containing just over 100 names and many of those names are not even people in racing but people I referred there so where ARE these great and good people of racing? The horses are waiting for you to help them and you cannot even sign on a web site in support of no drugs in racing?
I understand where you are coming from but my experience has been that those in the industry are many times are the ones that have helped me when no one else would. Certainly I am not saying that change is not needed when there is no doubt that it is needed. I was personally floored about a year ago when I looked into the amount of money that the industry does donate each year. With the numbers that are reported by rescues, it is hard to imagine that any thoroughbred in this country would go to slaughter or be neglected. It would seem to me that the money is certainly not reaching the horses most in need. It is easy to take a horse off the track and give him or her a second career when the horse is sound with no issues, but what about the ones that aren’t? Those are the horses that the money never makes it to. Yet no one questions the rescues that get all of this money and instead everyone wants to keep complaining about how the industry needs to step up. After reading many 990s, I realized they are. Check them out and you will be as floored as I was. Where is the money?
I will tell you exactly were these people are at. THEY ARE AT THE BARN TAKING CARE OF THEIR HORSES!!! They are not at your black tie events rubbing elbows with the elite. They are up at 3am and at the barn by 4. They are knee deep in horse shit, sweat, and things that need to get done. They have no sick days, no paid vacations, and if they take a HALF a day off they still have to put in 8 hours.They are not out trying to change legislation, run for an HBPA office, or trying to sell their book. They are at work.
You take pleasure in telling everyone your involvement in horse racing. When is the last time you were at the track before the sun came up mucking stalls?? That was like the week before NEVER wasn’t it??
What you fail to understand is the “Good People” aren’t worried about hobnobbing with the Hancocks , Laels, Irwins or any other of the “Think they are better then you crowd”. That’s your people, not our people.
You want to ask why the good people are not behind this “Act” and that “act”, because they have never heard of such a thing. The Water, Hay,Oats Alliance??? The only hay, water, and oats they are worried about are the ones they need to buy. Send some of your people around the backside and ask the working owners, the working trainers if they have ever heard of any of the things you grandstanded about.
I think you are more worried about being recognized than you are anything else. Hence needing to tell everyone you founded canter. The foundation that smiles to the trainers faces then comes on blogs like this and tells everyone how horrible they are, all the while taking donations from HBPA’s, race tracks, and other race organizations. Is that the synergist of a great foundation, taking donations from your enemy??
There is a difference between “Good People” and “Special People”. Good people are not worried about being special. Special people just figure everyone thinks they are good….
I for one, would be very interested in the good works of the “good people” besides the everyday work that goes along with the basics of caring for horses kept in such abnormal conditions. The people doing the work are doing it by choice, right.
A horse at the track spends up to 23 hours out of 24 cooped up in a stall, is not allowed to graze and move around a pasture or even a small paddock. Life at the track is abnormal for the horse. No wonder so many have behavioral problems such as cribbing as well as health issues of which one is gastric ulcers. I have seen, first hand, the problems of the “claimers” I claimed and retired. They had injuries to ligament and tendons, sore bodies dental neglect and hoof problems….And as well as the physical problems, it took months for them to calm down and become the horses they are meant to be.
Rose I am smart enough to know that was a loaded question. Literally nothing I write short of people setting themselves on fire in front of the starting gate to stop the races would qualify any race tracker as “Good People” in your mind. Well nothing you would admit to on here anyway, but as you know I am just hard headed enough to try.
I read about this in some small home town publication in Boston I believe. Funny thing was I knew the person they were talking about and I asked her about it the next time I saw her. She was hesitant, but here is what she told me. I believe it was Labor Day a couple of years ago. It was about 4am. It started that she actually had to break in a window of a locked barn, empty of course, climb in the window, and then break a window on the other side to get out. Try to realize she is only about 5′ tall and not even a hundred pounds. After going through the locked barn she had to go under a chain link fence, because that was the fastest route to a multiple barn fire. Instead of taking pictures, videos as some did or standing back from the fire, she ran into the fire. She ran into the fire to get horses out, horses she did not know, for people she did not know. She did not do it once, she did numerous times until she was satisfied there where no more horses to get. Oh she was not the only one to help, she was just one of the first. These horrible race track bottom feeders came running off race track property to private barns to risk their lives so horses could be saved. This young lady said she really did not leave the burning barn, once caught she would just hand horses off to other people. The way she put it is that it would have been too hard for most of the people to get the horses because the smoke was so thick you could not see your hand in front of your face. She had to “Walk the walls” with her hands to find shanks, bridles, anything to put on a horses heads. You had to know where on the screens the snaps were, and how to get them open. I kind of took it as she didn’t really trust others to do it. “The race track way, done best if done yourself”.
As I said she was not the only one. There were many that ended up helping. So as the fire got bigger the numbers of race trackers there to help got bigger. Remember these are not their horses, they were not doing this for profit nor fame. They did it because they are GOOD PEOPLE AND THEY LOVE THE HORSES. Sadly not all of the horses survived. I believe close to ten perished in the fire. Not to bad considering there were at least 3 barns burned to the ground.
I asked her about the article and she said ” They wanted to make more of it than it really was”. Which was not true, there are videos of her running to smoke filled barns and coming out with horses. That is called being humble and that is something this page is very short on. Those “Heroes” didn’t write books or do TV. They gathered there things went back to their barns and finished their work.
Since that day I have heard many of people claiming ” Oh I would have been right there beside her”. BULLSH*T!! Risking their lives, their safety, really everything for horses that they had nothing to do with. I personally will put them on the “Good person” list and there is an example for your “Good works list”.
In my days I have been lucky enough to meet heroes, pioneers, and philanthropists. One trait that is common with most, when you ask them about their selves they are overly humble. They would not be bragging about how many horses they have saved or how much money they spend doing it. They would either deny being as great as they are, or they give the credit else where.
So you guys keep patting yourselves on the backs, telling your self how SPECIAL you are for taking in a couple of horses. Then remember you are just spending money and time, you are not running into a burning barn to get them….
Amen.. agree with all that you said! Today an agreement was reached by the AG and the TRF that 3 new directors must be appointed .. there is a reason for that you know? Sadly no one knows what has been going on with all of the horses at this point other than they they are somewhere in a big field living like a wild herd getting inadequate care IF they are even alive. Think of all the money that the TRF threw away that came from the INDUSTRY! It certainly never made it to the horses
Jo Anne, I agree with you. I haven’t seen a “great many” good people in racing. There are a few, but not many. I think people need to realize that racing isn’t about the horses. It is about gambling. The drugs, both legal and illegal, are enough to turn my stomach. However, there is a way to stop the racing industry in its tracks – don’t gamble on the horses!
WOW ! You are absolutely on target. Thank you for astute assessment and summation of todays racing and the plight of the horses. How right you are when you ask where all the good people’s voices are when it comes to desperately needed change that would provide a modicum of protection for the horse.
As always, “don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do ! “
Another Country, first, I say thank you for the poignant story about the barn fire and the amazing courage and heroic efforts of the rescue person.
That being said, and not to diminish your story in anyway, my question had to do with the training , racing and treatment of horses at the track and especially the low level claimers. These horses endure a lot, and way too many of the trainers are focused on getting the last race out of a horse that should not, in many cases, be close to a track to begin with. These horses are claimed and reclaimed as they descend the spiral to the one way truck trip.
I’m very aware that many of these claimers are the culls, if you will, of the elitists in the business and many others are raced at the lower level from the start. Nevertheless, the “business” from top to bottom is built on pushing the horse to provide the maximum amount of money at whatever level they can compete. One can not be in such a business and truly care for the horse because the number one focus is money and winning. The horse is the disposable commodity.
As to “good person” versus “special person” I really do not see the relevance because most of people that you say think of themselves as “special” are just trying, against great odds, to help the unfortunate victims, the horses.
As predicted nothing would be good enough. You ask for examples of good works of good people. I guess saving horses from a burning barn doesn’t qualify. (Most of which is on you-tube if you think I made it up). Kind of brings “Horse rescue” in to a new light huh???
I spoke to the young lady of my story. Unfortunately she was less then happy to be a topic of discussion. For that I apologize…
As for people feeling they are “The special ones” it comes down to them thinking they are the judge of who is good or bad, right or wrong. If others are not doing exactly what they want, they are on the bad list. If you fail to see the “Specialness” complex of some in here I don’t know what else to tell you.
They tell you over and over about what they feel are their good deeds. I have always lived with the credo that if you have to tell people how good you are, you are probably not that good…
Another Country, I look at facts because what is done is more important than what is said. I do not judge people per se I like to look at what they do. For instance, when a horse is kept racing when he is obviously off his game and then the horse breaks down and the connections lament the loss of a “family member” I really find it disingenuous. Also it is not unusual to see claimers start with as little as a couple days between races and then one sees DNF or broke down. That leads me to think the connections are less than sterling and I certainly fear for the other horses in their barns.
Further, most people who happen to say what they do in terms of rescue, etcetera, do so because they are challenged by remarks such as “and what do you do for horses” or “put your money where your mouth is”. Most people who work to help horses are focused on doing just that. I doubt very much they stop to think they are “special”. If they think in terms of what is “special” it would be the horse in need or the horse with nowhere to go.
Mindy Lovell of Transitions Thoroughbreds is an angel. I have never had the honor of meeting her, but I have read of her amazing yet heart wrenching rescues of “throw away” Thoroughbred racehorses. Many horses are alive today because of her.
Today I saw a FB post by Mindy. I need to share excerpts of her posts. Please read this…read how the racing industry just walks away from their “athletes”, and if it were not for people like Mindy, the slaughterhouse death toll for racing Thoroughbreds would be higher still. Thank you Mindy for everything you do.
“TRANSITIONS THOROUGHBREDS FALL 2013 FUNDRAISER”
“For the past number of years, during the fall and spring I have held fundraisers to help bring in funding to cover basic costs (hay, feed and bedding) for the next number of months on the horses in the Transitions Thoroughbreds program. Unfortunately, this fall I will not be able to hold a fundraiser – I simply have nothing left to offer. This means that I will have no funding set aside to cover their costs during the next period of time.
These are some cold, hard facts. In 6-1/2 years, I have had ONE former connection take their horse back to retire, ONE former connection help cover costs on a horse connected to them in the past, approximately FIVE former connections offer to cover bail to get a horse formerly connected to them out of a slaughter pen. And that is where it ends.
In the past year, I had approximately 90 horses come through these doors. I currently have 43 horses in this program. That means that around 47 horses have moved on. That is in ONE year. The majority of the horses that come into this program are NOT in immediate adoptable condition at the time as 95% of these horses came out of the slaughter pipeline. 95% of all the horses in 6-1/2 years were headed to slaughter. I will never believe that is right – not ONE of them deserved that.
I currently have less than 10 people who donate towards the costs to support these horses during their time in this program and every single penny of that is appreciated more than I can possibly say. Of that small group of people, not ONE is involved in the industry.”
And from another of Mindy’s posts:
“This is a list of thoroughbreds that are currently in the Transitions Thoroughbreds program that were once known as “killers” – the term used by contract kill buyers buying horses for slaughter. Quite a few ran through auction and were purchased by kill buyers, not all – some were direct hand-offs to go to slaughter with the kill buyer being told that they had to be killed – make them disappear -… poof!! That is the secret I never told and have kept for far too long but I am done with the silence. They are not dead. And these are just the ones currently in the program. I remember them all – each and every one of them and every one of them has a story.”
Feather Bed Lane
Bear Character Too
Run for Tammy
Rich n Bold
Super Star Status
Capi and Max
Snappy Cat Diamond
You Really Got Me
In Lieu Of
Essence of Charm
Twinkle of Hope
Lil Susie Q
The racing industry’s “trash”…living, breathing, sentient creatures that were waiting for someone to care, waiting for someone to just give them a chance. And these named horses are from JUST ONE RESCUER’S ORGANIZATION…
Joy, although I have never met Mindy Lovell, I have spoken to her on the phone many times. She was very involved with helping to “save” Cactus Cafe and Canuki when they were sent to slaughter by Barbara Price and Mark Wedig. Also, I have donated to her program. Mindy does a wonderful job helping the “discarded” horses of the racing industry. In my mind, Mindy is “special” because she not only talks the talk, but she walks the walk. The sad thing about her story is that she gets very little help from the industry that should be financially supporting her – RACING! She is cleaning up their “mess”! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Much of what the racing industry says is “lip service”. End of story….
Yes you are right. Racing uses and ruins these horses and then just walks away and leaves the “mess” for someone else to deal with. Those in racing do not care one way or another what the outcome is for the horse just as long as it is not a “burden” to them. That will never change until change is forced on the industry. Even bad publicity is not enough. It always astounds me how the industry will “showcase” some rescue group that has little or even no support from the insiders. I think to myself what nerve ! Also I see articles about the rescue of a sad and dejected horse taken from a feedlot by a private citizen and blossoming into a wonderful specimen.
Then the comments are mostly about what “a great story” it is and rarely is there a mention or question regarding the horse’s former connections and how the “wonderful” horse with so much potential came to be in such a sad and cruel predicament. Well the horse did not just wander into the feedlot… shame on the industry !!!
That was well said, Mary! I’ve been advocating for something to be done with this industry for quite sometime and have gotten a lot of harsh opponents. It will be done.
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