Shedrow Secrets: Celtic Trick

Shedrow Secrets

Shedrow Secrets, Installment 8

Celtic Trick
By Joy Aten and Jo Anne Normile (author of “Saving Baby”)

I was out of town one Saturday morning in August of 2006, so a couple of my volunteers made the usual track visit without me. At the end of the morning, a trainer noticed them leaving the backside and hurriedly motioned them over. This particular owner/trainer didn’t work with the CANTER-Michigan program – he didn’t list his horses with us, and we never received any of his slow or injured horses. We did have previous dealings with him, however. A horse of his, located at the off-site training center, was noticed by a CANTER volunteer to be severely underweight and very lame. After verifying the shocking condition of the horse, a CANTER board member reported her findings. This, we believe, alienated the already surly trainer and left us unable to help any of his horses. But on this particular morning, he wanted a horse of his gone and CANTER, it seemed, was his only option.

His first priority was confirming that CANTER would purchase his horse. Only after he was certain he would receive $250 for the horse did he begin to give the details. He wasn’t sure of the horse’s name – “it’s Trick something, or something Trick” – “but he’s hurt already, and the damn thing hasn’t even raced yet!” While walking away from the volunteers, he told them he would be moving the horse to the receiving barn and that he must be picked up that very afternoon. I was alerted to the situation minutes later and since I was on my way home, I could get to the track by mid-afternoon. I asked for the horse’s Jockey Club papers to be left at the guard shack as most everyone would have left the track by the time I arrived.

As expected, the backside was a ghost town when I pulled in with my trailer. The injured horse was alone…he was the only horse occupying a stall in the huge receiving barn. He was standing at the stall door and glanced my way when I approached, but my relief that he hadn’t retreated to a corner was short-lived. His body was wet with sweat, his eyes were glazed, and his left knee was swollen and hot. My experiences over the years had taught me to take pain medication along, so I quickly gave the suffering horse a dose. As I stood with him, waiting for the medication’s effects, I took in his surroundings. The stall’s dirt floor was uneven and hard. There was no hay and more importantly, no water left for him on a sweltering 90-degree day. Completely alone, in pain, without even the most basic of necessities…and the one person responsible for his welfare simply pocketed his $250 and walked away.

Radiographs announced the devastating news –a collapsed slab fracture of the left knee and chip fractures in the right. He was humanely euthanized within the hour of the diagnosis.

He was a 2-year-old. He was a beautiful, dark bay colt. He was delicate, still growing and maturing. He lived for and was destroyed by the racing industry. He was Celtic Trick. His owner didn’t know his name…please, let us never forget it.

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  1. Wasn’t the owner John Sutton? and shouldn’t we let everybody know who this a—— trainer was?

  2. Joy, your real life experiences always bring a tear to my eye. Yesterday, as I was sitting in the security office of a low level track here in central Ohio, one of the security guys told me about a “trainer” at this track that had NO grain, NO straw with which to bed his horses, and only ONE bale of hay. I was shocked but why was I shocked? I shouldn’t have been because I have been witnessing these atrocities for way too long. Different people were discussing what to do about this “situation”. I offered to buy a couple of bales of hay for the horses that had NOTHING but are still expected to run. However, the hay guy wasn’t at the track at 5:00 in the afternoon. Where is the outrage? There is none, sad to say, yet I can guarantee that the racing enthusiasts will now begin to babble about how much they “love” their horses. Yeah, right….

    • Giving this guy hay and feed is not the answer. He needs to find another job. However, I certainly would also do everything I could to help feed the horses because the horses are in a very bad predicament and that is the main concern. The guy is absolutely irresponsible and is most likely banking on decent caring people to come through, which unfortunately enables this individual’s lack of responsibility.
      I would like to know if the track “officials” knew about the inexcusable situation and what their position was, if any. Someone owns the track and collects the rent but they probably look the other way as long as they get the money. This is just one more facet of a very “sick” business

      PS Reminds me of Ebro dog racing track in the FL. panhandle where 18 or so greyhounds were starved to death a few years ago. Some were even found with tape around their muzzles. Yet, nobody knew this was happening !!! Very little was done to the owner/trainer and Ebro went on it’s merry way ! When gambling/money and animals are involved the animals are the losers every time.

      • Rose, you are exactly right. Giving the guy a couple bales of hay partially rectifies the situation for a day or so but the problem doesn’t go away. Security was discussing how to respond, but the bottom line is that racing cards MUST be filled. This track is owned by Penn Gaming and Penn doesn’t give a damn about the horses but they do care about the slots. With that being said, I wish I could post here that this was an isolated situation but, unfortunately, it isn’t. Last summer, I took another trainer 6 bales of hay and a bag of grain because he had NO hay in his barn. Even the track vet said that he needed to be kicked off the track. I was recently “scolded” by a racing enthusiast who stated that my experiences are at low level tracks and, therefore, don’t really represent what goes on in racing. I told her to take off her blinders because MOST tracks are low level tracks. Yes, there are breakdowns at tracks throughout the country and there is rampant drug use, but no one takes into consideration the basic suffering of the horses standing in dirty stalls on the backside. Because I am in this for the horses, I continue to applaud racing’s precipitous decline.

  3. Yes, we should know who this abuser is. His name needs to be known and he needs to be out of “business”. There are laws against animal cruelty but racing appears to be outside the law in so many ways. There is no authority and no rules for the welfare of the horse and that should be unacceptable in a civilized society. The animal abusers are given free reign. People who work to help these abused horses deserve support from any decent individuals involved in this ugly “business”. Nobody in the sport appears to give a second thought to the cruel, inhumane treatment of horses at so many tracks throughout the country. These horrible and inexcusable situations need all the publicity possible. Perhaps documentation of all such cases like that of Celtic Trick and a montage of these cases published by a well circulated news paper would help….

    • Oh Rose I understand your frustration. But what we’ve found is, just as you said, racing seems to be above the law (not that our animal laws do much for our “civilian” animals, either). Celtic Trick is only one of many that suffered – whose owner allowed the suffering to continue and even at times added to that suffering. It’s not a “crime” to break down your horse, not a “crime” to let the horse linger in a stall without pain medication, food, water, not a “crime” to give your horse to Jaron Gold, the licensed racing owner/trainer whose “real job” is a kill buyer…one of the largest suppliers of horses to a Canadian slaughterhouse, I might add. Everyone in the industry looks the other way, even owners and trainers that are some of the few “good guys”. I’ve got a story or two about THOSE trainers, as well. So to “out” this owner/trainer will do nothing (and I’m not even certain he stills lives in the states). An owner/trainer by the name of George Iacovacci has been reported so many times – even the Paulick Report, a pro-racing site, has come down on this abuser – but
      nothing…he continues to race and maim. Reporting does nothing. In a Shedrow Secret story coming soon, you will see that even reporting to the racing commission of a particular state accomplished nothing for the horse so desperately in need. Racing does as it pleases, and we see evidence of that again and again, and at every level of racing.
      state did not ONE thing for the horse that so desperately needed help.

      • Thank you Joy for your understanding. I appreciate your post. It is, indeed, a sad situation the sub- culture of racing is a “law” unto itself. But surely somehow this will all come crashing down.

        Unfortunately I have a close relative in the “business”. I’m working hard to persuade them to get out. It is a slow process but I’m not giving up. I’m responsible for getting 9 of the Thoroughbreds “retired” and they are safe for now. I own four of the nine. Unfortunately, I know of a few others that got “lost” in the ugly claiming game.

        Thank you for all you do for the voiceless so at the mercy of the wrong people.

  4. Reblogged this on Starstone and commented:
    “He was a 2-year-old. He was a beautiful, dark bay colt. He was delicate, still growing and maturing. He lived for and was destroyed by the racing industry. He was Celtic Trick. His owner didn’t know his name…please, let us never forget it.”
    Sadly, there are many horses like him. If only they all got their stories told…

    • Starstone, you are absolutely correct!…there ARE many, many more like Celtic Trick!…and YES, every single one of them deserves to have their story told, for people to know their names, for all of us to know that they, at one time, shared this earth with us and that they deserved SO VERY MUCH MORE! There are so many that lived only for the industry and died for the industry – and no one noticed, and no one cared. But WE care!…and sometimes I just quietly say “I’m sorry” to the nameless racehorses that suffered and died.

      • trouble is though, its not “just” the race horses any more… dressage horses and show jumpers are broken in at the age of two by now, and no one cares, and even if they don’t fall and die on track, we all know how they break down with ligament injuries at a young age and are killed off silently… I am terrified to see, how much “my world” are beginning to look like horseracing…
        I am sorry for all the nameless horses who suffered and died in the name of any industry, at the hands of humans who saw them as a way to make money…
        That said, in a perfect world, horseracing would be forbidden by law…. I can not believe how many horses die on track every year and how no one cares…

  5. Doesn’t matter if their stories are new or old.
    Thank you for ending “its trick something or something trick” s life of suffering.
    What a disgusting cruel act from trainer/owner.

  6. If these stories are being written to remember and honour these tortured innocents and identify the cruelty and abuse in racing, why wasn’t the name of this trainer mentioned in this article?
    This lowlife did absolutely nothing to help Celtic Trick knowing this poor baby was in extreme pain. Without lifting a finger, this trainer who’s name should be plastered all over the Internet, walked away. It’s like he can do anything with impunity to Celtic Trick and walk away, which he did. How many other horses has he brutalized? According to, Celtic Trick was foaled May 14, 2004. This lowlife trainer was right about one thing, Celtic Trick had yet to race. My God! What a waste.

  7. Jean Hattie, the trainer who left Celtic Trick to suffer alone in that stall was Odin Londono.

  8. I have no problem with the owners/trainers, of record, being mentioned in these posts. However, you can always go to to get good information on the horse’s connections as well as their race history.

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