Saturday: The Whipped, Broken, and Dead

Saturday afternoon at the races:

9-year-old Miss Palatine was killed after a fall in Hawthorne’s 2nd race, a $4,000 claiming. In the start before this (November), Miss Palatine finished last, 15 1/2 lengths back. Nice work, trainer/owner Paul Lewellyn.

At Aqueduct, two 3-year-old fillies – Pleasant Shaker and Andromeda’s Coming – fell hard in the 3rd race. Replay here (“Race Replays,” Saturday, Race 3), around the 1:09 mark.

At Hialeah, 4-year-old Body of Evidence, coming off back-to-back wins, hit the gate in the 2nd race and broke down.

During the 2nd race at Fair Grounds, 3-year-old Sweet On You “ducked in when given three cracks of a right-handed whip at the furlong marker, hit the rail and completely lost action then dropped out.” Three cracks.

And finally, 13-year-old Foreign Melody has been “euthanized for severe colic” at Belmont Park. The gelding, who hadn’t raced in almost seven years, was being “used as a pony by Juan Galvez.” This is horseracing.

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  1. All the cases in your note today are racings “wrongs”. However, the last one, Foreign Melody is, to me, a nice story — the guy hasn’t raced in 7 years, his owner retired him to be a pony horse (horses ARE happier with a job), and being a pony horse is a nice job for a retiree. The colic could have happened to anyone and I don’t think it should have been included as it is not directly related to racing. Thank you.

    • I have no trouble with the death of Foreign Melody being listed. It states he was euthanized because of severe colic. He died at Belmont and although the death was not directly related to racing he died at the track and his name should be recognized.

  2. I have many issues with racing, one of which is horses being confined to their stalls 23 hours a day, 365 days a year. Horses are grazers and constantly move while grazing. Perhaps, due to stall confinement, racing contributed to this horse’s untimely death.

    • Mary, excellent point. These horses experience many problems because of their confinement. The horse evolved as a grazer and “travels” many miles while grazing. Therefore, their anatomy, physical and psychological well being are all geared to that lifestyle.

  3. To Karen Kershaw…much like when the racing supporters claim how much the horses LOVE to RUN when denying the retirement of a racehorse, claiming that horses need a job, or are happier with a job, justifies PUTTING said horse into a job. Since when is ANY animal required or expected to have a “job”?…in their creation or evolution, whichever thought you aspire to, there is not one animal that naturally worked for man. Yet, humans have seen fit to use, exploit, wear, and feast upon a variety of animals. And throughout the ages, animals have suffered horribly because of man’s use of animals in work, entertainment, experimentation, and their food supply. Horses are not meant to have a job…it’s the humans that have put that upon them.
    The usual “reason” I hear when someone claims the TB racehorse “needs” a job, or is happier with a job, is the anxiety or uneasiness the horse displays after leaving the track and retiring to the farm. They pace and anxiously whinny…certainly signs of discontent. So the racing apologists exclaim, “See!…they aren’t happy, they want to race…they need a job!” But as we all know, horses are creatures that CRAVE routine…and we have just radically changed that routine. Take a horse from a farm where he’s been for ten years, doing nothing but hanging with the herd, and you can bet he will pace and whinny just like that racehorse if you move him to another farm! He’s not screaming to race, or for a job, he’s begging for routine!
    Horses are naturally lazy creatures…they love to stroll slowly, munch on grass continuously, and all the while, remain within the safety and security of their herd. Running for any substantial distance is for fleeing from predators…and working is not in their “vocabulary”…nor are jobs.

    • Oftentimes horses who display anxiety upon retirement are not only reacting to changed routines but are also reacting to changed diets, Coming off a “hot” feed regime that racehorses receive is challenging to a digestive system. In addition, many are actually going through drug withdrawal. Steroids take a while to work through the system and believe me, coming off of them is no ‘day at the beach’ for humans or horses.

      A good OTTB program will give a horse six months of down time before evaluating a horse for a second career. I understand that many people are opposed to horses performing in any capacity, but yes horses get bored just like people. Most programs run by people who actually care about horses have copious amounts of turnout time for the horses in their care.Most OTTBs that are placed by ethical programs have that as a requirement for rehoming. In the wild, a feral horse or a wild horse’s job is SURVIVAL.They burn energy in fits and starts, moving away from potential predators, looking for food sources, playing, working out ‘disagreements’ among herd members, etc. Horses still have these instincts. They do seek stimulation. Most horses are naturally curious if they have not been abused by humans. They want interaction. They do like having something to do. I’m not talking about Grand Prix jumping, but they like to stay interconnected. If they don’t have access to a herd, they are unhappy. Domestication has not been a really great innovation for any creature, but for dogs and cats and horses, human interaction is now the norm. So while people complain about animals having jobs, they naturally take on activities. Corgis and Border Collies like to have something to herd.

      Many horses appreciate their human/horse bond and while I’m not in favor of forcing horses to engage in unnatural activities, the current state of how humans have chosen to organize their lives has dictated that domesticated horses oftentimes have “jobs”. Because of man’s strong inclination to have dominion over everything, many more horses would literally be exterminated, if they didn’t have jobs. Horses would be treated as badly as cows, pigs and chickens. They would become pure livestock, from crate to table. They would join their other domesticated brethren in the food cycle on a regular basis in North America. I am anti-slaughter and do something every single day to try and get this onerous and brutal practice outlawed and curtailed. Until there is more control over breeding programs and we reform, outlaw or restructure the industry, we had better be glad that horses have “jobs”–if they didn’t, they’d be dead–literally eradicated due to our species’ overwhelming need to organize, structure, meddle in nature and control. We have created our own problems, now ALL species have to adapt to our artificial systems,at their individuated peril.

  4. That’s correct, Karen. Sadly, some folks’ “opinions” are the cause of much suffering and death. I’m certain all abusers – of animals, children, the elderly – have their “opinions”.

  5. That’s right, Susan!…watching racehorses “come down” upon leaving the track and beginning retirement can be brutal. And as you pointed out, coming off the steroids is hell for the horse and heartbreaking for the caregiver to observe. I’ve watched as sleek-coated, fit racehorses turn dull and “pouchy”. They have so many things to acclimate to, and yes, a good six months to adjust is a good rule of thumb.
    And I totally agree that horses like something to do…exactly why living in a herd is imperative. The interactions they desire are right there with their herd mates, along with the safety and security the herd provides. Domestication has caused a host of problems for equines, and it stands to reason that the environment we put them in should be as close to what their wild cousins enjoy.
    I do disagree that I had better be glad they have jobs…not only are horses WITH jobs non-exempt from abuse, they are often tossed aside when they can no longer perform that job to their owner’s expectations. The horse is valued for what he can do, not for simply who he is….and that sets that horse up for eventual failure. Regardless of what you or I feel is right – job or no job – I think so many humans have come to a place of incredible selfishness and entitlement… the lives and well-being of the innocents are of no importance to them. I cherish each and every member of my four-legged family members and I cannot imagine my life without them. Yet, if I was promised that no animal would suffer neglect or abuse again, but ONLY if all animals would be gone from this earth, I would say “do it”.

  6. I understand your point of view Joy. It would be idyllic to find a way to coexist on this earth without imposing great suffering on anyone or any sentient creature. I would like to think that that would be possible. Humans impose endless suffering upon others for absolutely no reason but to exert dominance or to subjugate others. We already have so many disease states that cause great suffering, we shouldn’t need to increase suffering by inflicting pain onto others.

    My point about horses having “jobs” comes from a pragmatic streak that I have had to develop. The only reason that I think that they should perform service is precisely the point we both agree upon: that when animals cease being useful to certain members of mankind they dispose of them immediately. So therefore to keep horses from being exterminated at a greater rate than they already are, having them perform useful services keeps more of them alive. Inhumane treatment of those that do perform service is another topic altogether. No horse pressed into service should ever be inhumanely treated. I try to advocate for this everyday, but as you and I both know, this is a constant uphill struggle that will never be fully recognized–at least not in my lifetime.

  7. In my opinion adding the pony to the list shows exactly what the writer of this page thinks about thoroughbreds being used after racing. It shows that they believe there should be no “exploitation” of the animal. So all you that think this page agrees with you finding homes for these animals where they are used for eventing, pleasure riding, polo, or any other discipline are truly mistaken. So all of you want-to be rescues or if Canter is your claim to fame, all you had to do is look under “In Behalf of the Animals”, which none of the faithful here commented on, to see that your endeavors aren’t very well liked either. It is laughable that what some of you do with horses is no different in their eyes then the trainers you speak so badly of. The bad thing is “In Behalf of the Animals” was a better page then this one and has seemed to die off. I just hope none of you have an horses colic. There may be a page bad mouthing you…

    • Rescuing a horse to live out his days on a sanctuary or on a caretaker’s private acreage is not exploitation. Try as you may, you will not drive a wedge between me and the wonderful people (Joy, Jo Anne, Mary, Rose, et al.) who have dedicated their lives to alleviating equine suffering.

    • I am not in 100% agreement with many of my friends and family that love and respect animals as I do on every animal welfare topic…and that will likely never happen. But those few differences in convictions, I can accept. But there are some issues, with facts that are absolute, that I will not waver on nor tolerate the lies and half-truths meant to encourage continuing the abuse that is horseracing. And I’m grateful for Patrick’s tenacious work to expose this abusive industry, regardless of the differences I’m certain we have.

  8. But there is nothing humane about the life of a racehorse. So not only will they be disposed of when they cease to be useful, they will endure a life of isolation, unnatural environment, injury, drugs (legal and illegal), and frequent change of ownership/stabling to name several. The inhumane treatment of animals forced into servitude and entertainment (which racing most certainly is) is not another topic…it is exactly what we at HW are discussing and opposed to!

    I actually am NOT understanding your point: you want to keep more horses alive, and in order to accomplish that, they must perform a useful service (just how is racing useful to the horse?)…yet you believe that horses in servitude will continue to be treated inhumanely, and that HUMANE treatment of them will not be attained in your lifetime. So servitude will keep more horses alive, yet servitude, as you admit, will never be exempt of inhumane treatment.

    Extermination versus a life of misery?…I know what I would choose for my horses.

  9. How many buyers on Canter are are intending their horses to live their lives in a sanctuary or caretakers acreage ?? I would think it would be close to none. The buyers are looking for useful animals, using the animals equals exploitation. The rescues, which a great number of them fail miserably, also have intentions of adopting/selling these animals and a percentage of those go to be used in some discipline. ie: exploitation. So the rescues and canter are not facilitating the exploitation of animals??? Those people come on here and speak bad about racing so their facilitation is acceptable?? You wrote In Behalf of the Animals “That any exploitation is not acceptable”. They are allowed because they write one liners in here degrading horse racing?? What happens when one of their placements goes to an eventing stable and has to be destroyed because of colic??

    “Servitude will keep more horses alive”. Servitude= exploitation… Servitude the “Wonderfully People’s” word for abuse..

    Definition from,

    Servitude: 1. Slavery or bondage of any kind.
    2. Compulsory service or labor as punishment for criminals.

    Synonym: Slavery.

    Patrick where is my twisting?? Your facilitation is dishonest and shameful to yourself…

    • Just to be clear, I do stand against the other “disciplines.” Exploitation, as you say, is exploitation. That said, who, exactly, are the ones who “come on here and speak bad about racing” while abusing (exploiting) in some other equine activity? Until you’re specific, it’s an empty accusation.

  10. So I am coming to understand that the majority of those who post here believe that any sport, be it at the amateur or professional level, that involves a horse is exploitation. I don’t share that opinion. I am against administering unwanted medications to horses, I am against performance enhancing drugs or supplements, or any drug that is not used to treat a specific deleterious condition. I don’t think that behavior modification drugs should be administered to horses, nor should sedatives be given to “hot” horses to make them more manageable in the show ring environment. I think certain disciplines are highly dangerous and terrifying to most horses (e.g. Chuck Wagon races). I am opposed to over breeding and the cull of yearlings who don’t possess the right attributes for the professional discipline for which they were bred. I don’t feel that horses that display a particular dislike for an activity should be compelled to participate in said activity (i.e. if a horse doesn’t naturally like to jump, he shouldn’t be forced into becoming a hunter/jumper) I don’t believe that horses that have developed certain injuries (navicular injuries, bowed tendons, fractures and bone chips, etc.) should be participating in strenuous sports. But do I believe that no horse should be ridden or participate in any sport or discipline? No. Personally I have developed great partnerships with horses. I have shown them, jumped them, perform Dressage with them (not using Rollkurs or any techniques that are considered to cause discomfort) and played polo with them. If this makes me an abuser in some people’s opinion so be it I guess.

    Horses need turnout, a time to graze naturally, and time to “just be a horse”. They need to indulge in the activities that are natural to them.They are naturally herd animals. I believe that all horses deserve this and as human stewards we have a responsibility to make this happen.

    Most horse rescue organizations who have worked to achieve accreditation or are reputable understand these facts about horses and try to educate others about the natural instincts and inclinations of the horse. They also encourage good horsemanship and riding techniques and have trainers to help with horses undergoing transition. Not all horse rescues are knowledgeable and reputable and provide appropriate care for horses.

    Horse slaughter is reprehensible and on average 120,000 U.S.horses per year are shipped to Canada and Mexico for this purpose. Other cultures and countries eat cheval regularly and we here in the U.S and Canada provide horses that end up on their tables. This should stop.(As an aside, if you think horses have it tough is western culture, try Central Asia. You wouldn’t believe how tough it is to be a horse in Mongolia.) My point is we should all do everything we can do to stop the abuse of horses and slaughter and also the unbearable conditions of transport to slaughter. We should work for better conditions for all horses around the globe. We should try and provide resources, shelter and havens for horses that have suffered inhumanely at the hands of humans. We should volunteer to work with them. Walk them, feed them, pay for vet care, muck stalls, pick hooves, curry and bathe them, advocate for them, write on their behalf, whatever we can.

    We have 9.2 million horses currently in the U.S. (American Horse Council statistic) not all of them are living a perfect existence. Not all of them get to play all day. Many of them need our help to improve their lives. Some have lives better than many people. I understand that in a perfect world all these animals would be happy and be turned out in lush pastures and be given apples, carrots and peppermints all day by adoring people who didn’t have to work.That is not the case. So let’s take care of as many as we can and encourage others to do likewise. We will not achieve perfection and yes we will always be disappointed.
    But I really don’t understand the idea that extermination is the best possible solution for any horse that doesn’t have a lifestyle free from a job or discipline. That’s an awful lot of dead horses (probably over 8.5 million in the U.S. alone). To me (and this is my interpretation) this is akin to saying if my life isn’t perfect, it is not worth living.

  11. Susan Crane-Sundell, thank you for your post. I sincerely enjoyed reading it and I agree with what you have said. The problems with the racing industry are many including drugging horses, racing them with significant injuries (including slab fractures), maiming them, and handing them off for slaughter when their productive days are over. However, it is much more than that. I have gone up against the racing industry and I came to realize just how sinister and corrupt it really is but you have to push the envelope to really get a feel for how little racing, in general, cares about the horses. A track official has told me that one of the gaming corporations doesn’t care about the horses at all. They only care about the slots. Not surprising, at least to me. Although I admire and respect Patrick, I don’t necessarily agree with him on every issue involving horses. I currently own one of the two horses that was actually inside Richelieu, a Canadian slaughterhouse. His name is Canuki and he is currently doing low level flat work a few times a week. He isn’t filled with drugs, is turned out with his pasture buddy and is learning ground manners. I personally have no problem with that. However, I have other horses that are pasture ornaments and they are happy horses, too.

    • Hi Mary. Thanks! I’m all for pasture & ‘lawn ornaments’ I believe it is our responsibility to understand our horses and helping them live the best lives possible. A pasture ornament is all about love! Here’s to you for loving yours and taking in a horse bound for slaughter too. Here’s to Canuki and the very worthy life that you saved. What a wonderful thing to do. I’m sure every time you look at him both you and he understand how grateful you are for each other.

      Richelieu and Bouvry are hell holes and it will be a great day when our Canadian brethren finally succeed in getting them shut down. For now keeping every single horse that we can from going there is our goal!

      As for racing, I’m not a racing apologist. Not a day goes by that I am not upset by its activities. Racing horses in unsafe conditions, running at night in the snow and cold, claiming races that put horses at horrible risk descending through the ranks, cheating trainers , uncaring stewards, vets who have no information trying to guess as to a horse’s soundness, “frog juice”, “better living through chemistry” proponents, over running horses, shock wave treatments, breakdowns, you name it. Racing’s a cruel game indeed.

  12. You have to be kidding me. Two of the 4 on the “Wonderful” list claim to be founders of CANTER. They may claim be retired or non affiliated with them anymore, but as founders they have been responsible for thousands of horses moving to different disciplines. There are no reference checks or follow ups they just put the pictures up for anyone to buy and do with as they please. You think the claiming game is bad, HUH !! They can literally do anything they want with those horses. ANYTHING. Not sure about one of the two left on that list , but the one claims to find homes for thoroughbreds. Would you think none of them ever get tacked up again??
    Pat I think you have your hands over your eyes or you are playing dumb. You know as well as I do that it is like a badge of honor for rescues or foundations that aid in horses getting new homes, if they actually have a horse do well in another discipline. (If one should go to Rolex or an equivalent).
    Believe it or not Patrick I am a fan of yours. I read everything that you put out. (what I can get my hands on Any links you can send would be appreciated). I have stopped commenting until this one came up, simply because I have noticed when there is opposition the comments seem to triple. Being mostly in opposition of this site i do not want to bring more attention. Saying that I feel you are selling out. Bowing down to people who do not see things “Just” your way because they write the same comment over and over again. Horse peddlers and meat eaters for the most part. Probably why none of them commented on the other site….

  13. CANTER has one founder, not two. How many of your other “facts” do you pull out of your hat as you see fit? Who here is with CANTER that you seem to have a problem with? Let’s hear it. You brought it up, this bone of contention for you…which appears to have led you to question Patrick, as well. He can fight his own battles, as can I…but do not place on his plate something he has had no part of. I also used to love racing, until I became immersed and aware. I used to be with CANTER (not a founder), until I became immersed and aware. Am I still a racing supporter?…and CANTER supporter? You want to question me having been with CANTER in the past…then also call me into question for having loved racing in the past.

    • Just a point, one of the great hallmarks of a thinking and evolving human being is the ability to grow and change one’s mind.

      As Winston Churchill once said,“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
      “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”

  14. Never had a bone with canter until I read here how “the” founder and a supporter rag on racing and the people involved. I found out that the nice young ladies that come to the barn area have to “act” like they like the trainers in order to get horses for their site. All to get horses from the track to turn in to event prospects. They are called prospects because few can stand up to the fierce training and make the show. Out of the frying pan into the fire.
    Like racing or not , canter has no problem taking donations from tracks or HBPAs . Like I said earlier, they do no back ground checks , no follow up. Those horses just disappear. Usually into the dog eat dog world of eventing and polo.
    Are you trying to distance yourself from canter now?? If you are still a supporter, how do you do so when they loan their name out to sponsor races?? In doing so sponsor horse racing..You would be a supporter of a sponsor of horse racing.. That would certainly contradict being one of the “Wonderful people”..

  15. Another Country, may I ask what you do for horses when they can no longer race ?

  16. Rose I don’t do anything for them. I do not own or train any horses, I am not an activist, and don’t claim to be a rescue. I also do not take horses from one demanding discipline place them in another discipline that is as demanding or even sometimes more demanding, then expect recognition for it.
    Believe it or not I am glad you guys do what you do, but it is your choice. There isn’t anyone making you do it.
    Keep up the good fight. My best regards to everyone……

    • You’re right, no one has a gun to the heads of horse advocates.Until the industry takes on more accountability and every race horse is guaranteed a retirement plan (or racing is reformed, etc.) there will be a great need for horse advocates. Even if racing were to end tomorrow, there are still other disciplines that would need to have horses re-homed than there are places to take them in.

      No offense but until you work with the issue and try to re-home/re-train horses that are coming off the track or stand at a kill-auction praying you can out-bid a kill buyer or purchase and take in a horse that has been raced to death and stand over them at night praying they won’t have to be euthanized in the morning, you have no idea what it is like to try to work in horse rescue.

      CANTER tries to do the best they can with what they have. Plus they work with tracks who don’t even have a rescue coordinator -some of the 3rd and 4th tier tracks have no one on staff who does anything for injured/retiring race horses. There’s even a larger argument about who SHOULD have that responsibility: some say owners others say trainers still others say it should be a collaborative effort. Every single person who goes to the track from CANTER is a volunteer looking out for the horses in any way that they can. They have to have the diplomatic skills of Benjamin Disraeli to keep trainers from thinking they are the enemy and still looking out for the best interest of the horses.No not every horse goes to a great home and sometimes it’s difficult to trace a horse, but more horses were saved than before. It’s one program. Joy has gone on to find ways of advocating that give her autonomy and she now concentrates on horses that are not going to be adaptable to new careers. She has changed her mind about certain aspects of horse rescue and I respect that. She gives it her all.

      It’s not an easy job. Horse rescue is not for the squeamish. It is not for the easily defeated and sometimes even the most dedicated advocates have to take a break from the front lines. It can kill your spirit. There are always more horses in need than available homes. One is always having to find a compromise. You do the best you can with what you have. I admire my friends and colleagues who can keep attending kill auctions and come back with a few rescues and go back and try again .I myself am done with going to kill auctions for a while. I can’t do it right now and be able to sleep at night.

      The ‘Starfish Theory’ has to be one’s guiding philosophy.”It made a difference for that one.”
      I appreciate your honesty about your level of involvement and hope that you will always be a voice for animals. Everyone does what they can.

  17. Susan, thank you for what you said and for what you have done and continue to do for the horses.
    I second your admiration for those who attend the auctions. That is not for the fainthearted or the easily discouraged.
    I do what I can to help, directly and indirectly. To ignore the suffering and cruelty inflicted on animals is to condone it. And to be critical of those who work against great odds to help so many of these unfortunate creatures is less than admirable.

  18. Rose If that last comment was for me, I don’t need to be admired. It may have not been but anyhow.
    There is a sale about an hour from me. Not really what you would call a killer sale, but I am sure more then one has made it to the killers from there. This is what I noticed the time I did go.
    There were people there interested in Thoroughbreds. I know this because anything that looks close to one they turn their lip. These people would watch horse after horse after horse go through the sale. When the TB comes up, the hands get raised. Not because they are worried about saving it, they do it and try to extort money from any one who has been involved with the horse. They know that some of the tracks hold the last person on the papers responsible for that animal.
    This happened to a very good friend of mine. They gave a pony girl one of their horses. That person had asked numerous times for the horse. Figuring they see the girl everyday the horse would be in good hands. Month or two goes by, the horse is at the sale. The buyer calls the Racing Commission tells them they bought the horse at the sale, so the people had to buy it back at an elevated price and pay top dollar to have it delivered. The owners told the girl the whole time if it doesn’t work out we will take him back.
    The people at the sale knew that the Commission would make these people get the horse back. So they let numerous other horses go through to get to the TB. They knew they could make them pay 4 to 5 times what they paid for the horse.
    I am not saying everyone is like that, but they are out there.In my opinion those people don’t deserve a lot of admiration either. Should I lump all of them into the same group???
    P.S. If they buy a TB and the trainer/owner does not buy it back, they send it to slaughter…

  19. Yes, unfortunately there are people who will misrepresent themselves to owners/trainers etcetera like the pony girl you mentioned and of course the woman in Pennsylvania who was sending all her “rescues” to the kill buyers. In the case of the Pennsylvania woman, she was known at the tracks she frequented and many must have known what her real involvement was. I’m sure some choose to look the other way. But , finally, it caught up with her. She even accepted donations from, what must of been, naïve owners. Unfortunately the “industry” seems to attract an over abundance of shiftless individuals at all levels.

    Horseracing does not deserve to survive, period.

    • What industry does NOT attract an abundance of shiftless individuals ??

      • Another Country, none even come close to that of the racing industry and ESPECIALLY when it comes to consequences for lawless behavior, lack of integrity and animal cruelty !!

    • I know exactly of whom you speak, Rose and Another Country. Yes they run a disgraceful operation and have had to change the name of their “business” three times to avoid a lawsuit. They are despicable. This past Christmas season I met a young woman who had very little money who bought a starving TB from them just to try and save its life. It was one of the most gallant and selfless acts I have ever seen. Sadly, the mare was terribly ill, had a raging GI infection and this poor young woman with a very underpaid job ended up with several thousand dollars worth of vet bills and eventually the cost of a most unfortunate euthanasia on her hands. That mare really suffered due to that supposed ‘rescue’ organization. All this could have been prevented if that dastardly “brokering rescue” had not been able to obtain that poor mare and many of the other horses they have disabused.

      I really support the work of the TAA. I want to see them able to get on and perform accreditations for as many rescues as possible. They aren’t there yet due to money and time constraints, but they persevere. One day soon, I hope that would-be or thinly disguised ‘rescues’ that cannot obtain TAA accreditation will be disallowed from obtaining off-track horses at auctions. This will not alleviate all problems, as any private buyer can go and obtain a horse at any auction, but it will help protect OTTBs and that will be a good start.

  20. Two things; 1) It’s incredibly disturbing that there are not enough rescues to keep up with the number of Thoroughbreds this industry discards. I don’t expect others to take on my worn-out and injured horses that I used until they could no longer meet my expectations…why should this multi-billion dollar industry be allowed?…and now they just expect it! They are your “athletes”!…do the right thing! They simply do not.
    2) Whomever picks up the broken and damaged throw-aways from this industry and RESPONSIBLY rehabs and re-homes them, to them I am grateful…thank you so very much. Accreditation from the TAA?…sure, if it helps to ultimately weed out the “rescues” that are nothing more than brokers and dealers themselves. But here again, the TAA shows us another example of the racing industry’s attempt at being the “good guy” yet very carefully watching out for their own backside. See page 10 of their application for accreditation; “All media presented…from the organization [seeking accreditation] should portray a positive outlook on Thoroughbred aftercare and the racing industry.” No thanks, TAA…you can keep your accreditation…I removed my muzzle six years ago and it’s not going back on. Transparency?…that is sadly laughable.

    • Joy: The application for TAA accreditation does contain a caveat that accredited rescues don’t directly denigrate the racing industry; that is true. TAA is composed of many people in the industry who believe in making strides to do the right thing by retiring equine athletes. They receive some funding from racing stables, trainers, the Jockey Club, etc.The organization is trying to make sure that rescues have adequate training and have knowledge in properly caring for horses. Some members of the industry believe in taking care of OTTBs. It’s not a perfect setup. But you and I both know that a rescue can open without even having filed for a 501(c)(3) and begin taking in horses and actually be a nightmare environment. They can still seek donations from the public as long as they don’t claim they are tax deductible. As a brief example, late in 2012 a good colleague of mine took in four horses from just such a rescue in Texas. They had to ‘rescue’ the horses from the unregistered rescue because the horses were kept in such deplorable conditions and were being starved. Three of those horses died within 2 days due to conditions brought on by emaciation. It was unconscionable that this should happen, yet it did. It is just one example of why accreditation for rescues should occur.

      As with almost any situation, some rescues do wonderful work and exceed standards due to the fact they have pride and integrity and empathy and a good business manager, proper connections, a great veterinary pipeline and people who supply them with adequate funding. You don’t need TAA accreditation if this is the case. I can understand not wanting to kneel and kiss the ring of an industry that one equates with being the root cause of the problem. It’s great to be so organized that you can constantly work outside the box and be successful and above reproach.That comes with time and, frequently, growing pains. Getting a rescue started isn’t easy. One has to build credibility and trust. Not everyone starts with knowing everything and having access to every resource that ensures success, so why not have some guidelines that ensure that a rescue is knowledgeable and offering the best care possible? I know that the concept of being compelled to not bite the hand that feeds one can be troublesome at times. I worked as a journalist and yes this can cause ethical dilemmas for the hardiest of souls. However, in the case of the TAA, more owners and racing stables will be encouraged to get on board with OTTB rescue and rehoming if they are not being disparaged and criticized. It’s akin to an enlightenment movement.

      I would like to see a national organization preferably with federal “teeth” that oversees racing and sets standards that have to be observed. I would want that body to also coordinate and guarantee a retirement plan be in place for every racehorse and funded by connections of horses who reap the spoils of the equine athlete’s hard labor. I don’t think this is an unreasonable expectation. Until that time I have to work within an imperfect system that has changed little within the last 100 years. We keep striving to come up with a better more manageable process. Our equine athletes (at all levels of the racing game) deserve greater respect and better care. Until that time TAA helps to fill the gap. It also serves as an organization that encourages and sets an example for those within the industry to provide aftercare for their horses. Its donors and supporters are growing in number.

      Sometimes I equate OTTB rescue with the labor movement that sprang up at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. It feels comparable to getting sweatshops abolished in the U.S. Only these sweatshops are shedrows and the laborers have four legs instead of two.

  21. Thank you for your thorough thoughts and ideas, Susan…I will ponder at least some of them. I know there is not, and never will be, any sort of perfection in this world. Coming to grips with that, and learning what that means for this issue (the abuses in and inherent to horseracing) is something I often struggle with. I appreciate thoughtful input.

  22. Hi Joy: No one would welcome perfection as much as I. I have the streak too. What you are doing is providing top of the line care for the horses that are lucky enough to find their way to you in the system. You seek them out and they are very fortunate if they end up receiving the love and care that your rescue and network provide.

    As much as I wish it weren’t the case, there ARE too many horses to be handled by the ‘private sector’ and horse aficionados alone. I, for one, am dismayed that when we find a horse at an auction or kill lot and need to get a horse out quickly, the majority of people who help put up the money to pay for “ransom” are people with regular middle class jobs, retired individuals and people on fixed incomes sending in donations through PayPal to cover the cost of caring for the identified horse. It is always an emotional time fraught with worry, uncertainty and the possibility of imminent death that makes these days so distressing and the outcome for the horse so precarious.

    I hate the second Saturday of the month as I monitor Megan Gaynes of Auction Horse Rescue make the journey to Mike’s Auction in SoCal and watch her try to discern what horses she can save with the funds and pledges for homes that she has on hand. She does remarkable work and usually is able to pull off a miracle or two besides rescuing the horses she had pledges to save. As wonderful as the successes are, this always makes me sick to my stomach. It makes so many people ill. Sunday morning everyone regroups and tries to figure where the horses that they couldn’t rescue ended up: alternative private buyer, match racing thug, or kill buyer. In spite of the valiant rescues she accomplishes and the ones we all celebrate, there are always tears for the deserving horses left behind.

    These are reasons that I support the growth of TAA. I believe that the second Saturday of the month at Mike’s Auction shouldn’t happen. I believe that the miracle story of the “Three Wise Mares” pulled out of New Holland who went to Equine Rescue at Aiken during Christmas of 2013 shouldn’t be a miracle. It should be one very EXPECTED and PLANNED process that each horse coming off the track should go into a rescue or rehoming situation that is appropriate for their age, injuries (or lack of) and abilities. They should automatically be given ‘down time’ and a proper evaluation by a vet and trained assessor. They shouldn’t have to be in a precarious situation.

    The time has come for more accountability by more owners, breeders and trainers. Equine retirement shouldn’t be about the happenstance that someone notices that a horse has found themselves at a very unsavory auction and the luck of the draw depends on if a rescuer can get enough funding together in the matter of a couple hours to save the horse.
    You can’t call the very altruistic and concerned philanthropist Mr. John Morrell (living legend and patron saint of troubled horses) every time.

    The industry should assure that “rescue” is barely ever necessary (in a perfect system it would NEVER be necessary) and while there are some outstanding organization/owners that look after their own (WestPoint Thoroughbreds, Hallmarc LLC and Burt Bacharach come to mind readily) the majority do not. I want to change that. I think we all do.

    • Along with the ongoing efforts for the discarded racers there needs to be a lot more responsibility in terms of breeding. The foal crop numbers (a term I despise) are geared to the economy so when the economic situation takes a downturn there more horses in need and these horses were most likely bred during the “good times”.
      I truly believe the racing industry will never be an industry of integrity. It is built on gambling and seems to be outside the law in terms of cheating trainers and anti cruelty laws as well as drugs and blocking sore limbs.
      There is no uniformity of rules from state to state and even from track to track. Yet, horses cross state lines to compete. Also, the claiming game is a means for the elite to dispose of the horses that are not performing to their standards and also the ones that made money but are now off their game. I feel sorry for the horses that wind up with many of these claiming trainers. If the so called claimers manage to survive the downward spiral they are very often not sound and therefore require a lot of rehab. and may never be sound enough to even be ridden. What future is there for these hapless former athletes.
      Further, there are not even rules re. time between races and I often see horses with as little as 3 days between starts and some breakdowns with a very poor performance or a DNF in their recent past.
      My point is there is so much wrong within this industry from start to finish that without drastic change at every level the horse will continue to be the loser and cleaning up the rescues alone will not be even come close to an answer for these discarded animals.

      • Rose I couldn’t agree more. I hate the claiming game. It needs total reform. It’s like Rollerball for horses. Brutal and unyielding. Also the layoff times for horses absolutely does needs to be regulated especially with claiming. Some of these poor “warriors’ are running three to 5 times a month (some even more). We know who these trainers are and even though we can do nothing about them legally at present, we keep shaming them and calling them out. It’s not anywhere near satisfactory, but it’s the best we have right now. The frequent running is unconscionable and against nature. The industry breeds horses for speed, not stamina and the horses can’t take the vigorous totally unnatural schedules that the industry allows.

        I was looking at a racing history performance chart that I have for the great racemare Imp again this morning. I keep it near my desk in a frame. Imp raced a total of 171 times. Yes 171 starts from 1896 until 1901. She was a bigger mare built for endurance. Not as finely-boned as the horses that are bred today. She gave her all to the sport and yet she did not have a good life, even though she is a Hall Of Fame Horse. When I get discouraged I look at what she endured and it makes me get back to work!

        There are definitely not enough rescues, but bad rescues are horrendous places.Horses can die slowly and most horribly at a bad rescue. We’ve seen it and will do everything to close down these ersatz, phony rescue operations. The quality of rescue organizations/facilities has to be maintained and many improved which is why an accreditation organization needs to be in place.

        I agree too Rose that the industry does not and will not police itself. It has had plenty of opportunity and like most industries, has seen no real incentive to regulate itself. It’s no different than banking, energy or the airline industry in this regard. This doesn’t mean that everyone has low standards or cheats, but as the money trail dries up, there is more incentive to bend the rules or be downright outside the law. We see it regularly. There are frequent examples being reported daily. One of the most outstanding being the FBI investigation at Penn Gaming and the initial three arrests of trainers and an employee that took place recently.

        A national, horse-welfare oriented regulation organization can’t come soon enough. I am sick of watching horses give their lives in vain since there are no rules in place to protect them especially at the third and fourth tier tracks. We’ll keep yelling, writing and rescuing to the best of our abilities. All the while lobbying and advocating for reform.

        It’s good to know that despite what we might interpret as differences in approach or motivation, there are a great number of people who can come together for the good of the horses and the betterment of their conditions. From what I can interpret,everyone on this site can agree that it’s all about the horses.

  23. The elephant in the room, the stumbling block or whatever we want to call it is, of course, money. The people with the power of the purse, so to speak, are the trainers and everyone in racing cow tows to them. Many of the well known ones train for absentee owners who, many times, do not know very much about horses or, do not care about much except feeding their egos in the winners circle. The racing office is interested in filling the race cards and sometimes will over ride a veterinarian scratch at the request of the trainer.
    Trainers who violate rules are usually given what amounts to a slap on the wrist. There is no uniformity of penalties for breaking the few rules that exist. And, as far as I can discern, there are very few if any rules to protect the voiceless horses that make this business possible.

    Not long ago a trainer at Calder beat one of his horses with a 2×4 for refusing to go on to the training track. The horse had bucked shins. Another trainer intervened while many others, including outriders, did nothing. An element of intimidation exists in the system. After a hearing, where the abuser denied the beating, he was suspended for a while and his assistant took over at the barn. However, he is back at the track once again and who knows what goes on in his barn behind closed doors. and who cares as long as he pays and helps fill race cards !

    For all the Imps, the Phar Laps, the more recent Cat Launch who DNF at age 12 in his 108th start and the countless others, I say racing does not deserve to survive.

    • The money game (or lack thereof), intimidation and yes the desire to fill race cards at the lower level tracks makes the racing business particularly perilous for the horses. The stewards end up with incredible conflicts of interest. They need to keep their jobs, not anger and alienate the trainers, work with the veterinarians (who are often not given proper records with which to evaluate the soundness and health of a horse) and somehow still look out for the welfare of the horses, or appear to anyway. Many stewards neglect their charge to support the humane treatment of horses so that they can fill race cards, thereby keeping the tracks running and track personnel and management employed, all on the backs of the vulnerable and defenseless horses.

      This is just one more reason why there needs to be reform in racing. The system sets up a conflict of interest and a counterintuitive job description for the stewards. The horses need an independent advocate at each track and the track veterinarians need access to a minimum of two years veterinary records for each horse entered in any race so that they can make an adequate evaluation of the soundness and fitness of each horse to race. Sadly, I see no progress in this area, and consider these issues to lead to the further decline of horse welfare in racing. This issue has brought racing at lower tier tracks to its nadir and yes as a business that is running on band aids and paperclips it is time to really question the abilities and reasons for these tracks to survive.

      This will again make rescue work all the more imperative and overwhelmingly impossible. And so the cycle begins again with the elephant in the room: MONEY.

      • Susan, with all due respect, horseracing has an inherent “conflict of interests.” On one side, humans trying to make money. On the other, beasts of burden. The owner-owned relationship tilts but one way. You can harp all you want about reform, but no matter what supposed progress comes down the pike, horses will continue to be raced on immature bodies (yes, four and five are immature), isolated for the vast majority of their day, whipped to perform, and drugged in some capacity. And they will continue to break down. Guaranteed. This, for frivolous gambling. Horseracing is wrong from the start. And just to be clear, this site is committed to its end.

        • Yes Patrick I understand that this site is dedicated to bringing an end to the industry of horse racing. However, horse racing, even though it is under great scrutiny and may have a dwindling fan base, is still with us. Keeping that in mind, and personally having a great respect for the abilities. elegance and prowess of the Thoroughbred and Standardbreds, I will continue to work for the welfare of the horses. My focus is not so much on ending racing, but pragmatically working to improve the conditions for horses that are racing and to advocate for more humane treatment for them. Also I work towards providing aftercare, retraining, rehoming and retirement for them. My focus is on trying to wrestle with the Hydra.

          I have great respect for the efforts of those whose focus is to end racing, we just have a different priority. I’m dealing with the pragmatic aspects of the current problems at hand:doggy paddling if you will. I will leave the business of trying to shut down the industry to others. I wish no one ill will with their concerns for trying to advocate for horses and the end of racing and their concerns for all animals. I share them. If you would prefer that we don’t discuss the problems of horse racing on this site, I will respect that. However I think this dialogue has been very respectful, enlightening and educational. Everyone here wants horses to live under better conditions, have safe and loving homes and healthier lives.

          • Fair enough, Susan. Yes, please keep the dialogue going. I just thought it necessary to remind others, perhaps someone new to the site, of my priority. And I do appreciate the respectful tone.

  24. Rose, from my experience, at low level tracks, those in management positions often use an “iron hand” to create a sense that all is well at the track. If an owner/trainer crosses the line, stalls can be withheld. It really is a bullying tactic. Many of those, who are racing horses, are reticent to speak up for what is right. If they are booted from the track, they are then in a precarious financial situation.

  25. Mary, one can’t be in this business and not compromise their human decency in terms of looking out for the horse. Even if the individual cares about “their” horse the whole structure of the business is geared to use and abuse of the horse. And as you said, there are consequences for those who step out of line.

    • PS “Out of line” being in terms of doing the right thing for the horses. It looks like there are no, or at least very weak, consequences for doing the wrong thing where the horses are concerned .

      • Yes. small fines and a quick slap on the wrist do nothing to deter ‘milkshaking’, shockwaving and other such torturous practices. Plus yet step out of line by looking out for a horse and you can lose stall privileges or experience group shunning by your fellow trainers.

        At some lower-tier tracks there is an underground policy of not selling a horse to anyone other than a fellow trainer. Sell to a private buyer or sell an old warrior to a rescue group or an interested third party who will retire the horse and you find yourself persona non grata.
        How ridiculous is that? Plus for owner/trainers just this far removed from bankruptcy in any given meet, this cuts down on the most viable option they have for the poor horse. They keep entering them in claiming races hoping someone will take them off their hands.This practice means the probability of a terrible fate for a non-performing horse or an old warrior who may have old injuries and would do best to get off the track. The horse’s probability of paying with the ultimate sacrifice increases greatly due to this unwritten code at many low level tracks.

        Not to mention it cuts down the possibility of revenue for the owners who are constantly on the brink of insolvency due to declining purses and increasing costs. They could do the right thing by the horse, have some ready income that they could truly use to put towards better feed, or any other needs to improve the lives of their more viable runners. (These owner/trainers are not my first concern, but I mention them to illustrate how this system is a losing proposition for everyone. Nobody wins)

  26. What are you talking about??? Trainers will only sell to other trainers?? An underground policy?? I can honestly say I have now heard it all..
    One of the main issues talked about on this site is that trainers are not selective enough when selling. ie: selling to killer buyers. I am not happy about this but they will literally sell them to anyone or anything offering money. Usually the last person they want to sell to is another trainer because the are scared someone will get results they could not get. Which gives the possibility that they will lose their owner when they see their horse winning for someone else. Now if you think like some other people think, as if they are going to sell you a big good looking, sane, sound, horse that is running good for $300. Yeah no they will not sell to you…
    About the “underground policy”. One thing that is the same with every track is that you can not get trainers to stay together and/or follow rules. So having them follow “unwritten” rules is impossible…

    • Another Country: Have you read any of the transcripts regarding the FBI sting at Penn Gaming late last year? Trainers not sticking together? Trainers stick together like super glue! Trainers will stick together to make one highly-disliked trainer feel heat. Trainers are no different in this capacity than corporate people can be.They’re thick until something goes wrong:

      David Wells later wrote a scathing expose regarding his fellow trainers. He had intimate knowledge of what everyone at Penn was doing. So just like other industries, they stick together very well indeed. Until someone turns over the rock.

      This is not to denigrate all trainers, nor generalize, but one flagrant example of how everything was clandestine, and kept quiet by collusion.

  27. Obviously you have never tried to purchase an old warrior. Until you do you have no clue. You haven’t heard much. The ranks are closed. It’s a tight brotherhood. No they will not just sell them to anyone even if they are literally going broke keeping them. In the lower realms of the claiming world, if you want to get a horse off the track that has paid its dues, you had better find someone on the inside who is ready to deal for you or be willing to pay such an exorbitant sum that the owner/trainer you are trying to purchase from is willing to take the heat for selling to you.
    This happens frequently. It’s a part of the claiming game.

    I am not revealing names out of respect for all parties involved (plus I would never be able to get another horse off the track if I did name names).

    One of the most successful owners (in top 10 earners in the country) went to purchase an old warrior for us to retire him. The owner/trainer was offered the same price that he was running him for in a claims race that week plus a couple of deals to sweeten the pot. No go. Not even after several days of intense negotiation. It wasn’t until another owner/trainer from inside his own track circle (who knew one of us very well) put the deal out there did we get the horse. The deal that was offered through the negotiating trainer was actually LESS money than we were prepared to offer, but because it was an inside player, the offer was accepted.

    This wasn’t a one time occurrence, this happens frequently. Just as another example, this past winter we wanted to purchase a 6 times graded stakes winner who had fallen through the claiming ranks. The horse was faring poorly and undernourished and running on winter tracks. We were very concerned. We offered a price that was 20% over the claiming price that the horse was currently running for. No go. No budge. That marvelous horse that won over $700K in the heyday of his career is currently living in what looks like a goat barn and being fed crappy horse pellets. They won’t sell. If they run him this spring we have someone willing to claim him for us. That’s our only hope for this horse.
    I have countless other examples.

    So don’t tell me. I live it. I work putting the money together. I sit by the phone all day waiting for the deal closing phone calls or texts to come in. I wrack my brains trying to figure out what some of them want. Some of them, to their credit, have a certain amount of pride. I respect and understand this but this pride does the horses no good whatsoever.

    One of the other things you might not know, is that a number of tracks have strict policies regarding any owner who sells a thoroughbred to a kill buyer. They can lose stall privileges. Now it takes a lot to prove this. But most trainers won’t take the chance. They use middlemen brokers to get rid of the horses they don’t want and won’t out and out retire.These people are odious and you have to find them, preferably before the poor horse gets to New Holland or Sugar Creek or Mike’s etc. This takes some skill and a good number of dedicated people who keep their eyes out. A great number of times you can buy these horses before they go to the auction, but it takes ready cash and quick turn around time.

    Thirdly, you can outbid the kill buyers. usually possible, but you need ready homes or fosters available for these horses to go to immediately. It’s a brutal business and sadly we don’t save them all.

    I have a good friend in California who does this every week. He sends me pictures of some of his wonderful magnificent horses that he lets down, feeds up and then rehomes if possible. He will send me pictures (usually before and after pictures) with captions that are close to the bone. For example “Here’s Joe– bought for 39 cents on the pound.” Joe will be a registered Thoroughbred with a lip tattoo– an elegant looking animal with a great deal of life left in him who just needed someone to see beyond his sagging neck and rag and bones body. Another success story valiantly snatched from the knackers clutches at the last moment. It’s moments like those where you smile and promise yourself you’ll keep doing this.

  28. Susan,
    First off. I know about the tracks policies of horses going to the wrong places. I commented about it March 3rd. You responded.

    Secondly “David Wells later wrote a scathing expose regarding his fellow trainers”. Hence, not sticking together!!!!!

    Lastly. Anytime you wish to go to a “lower tier” track and offer the claiming price for horses, you tell me. Bring a lot of cash and a big trailer. Now if you are offering that amount for a horse the trainer believe can still earn money, you have no chance.
    Why would they sell a horse that they believe can make some money and has someone interested in it for the claiming price ?? They run the horse for the tag and try to win the race. Purse money and claiming price.
    While you are “sitting by the phone waiting for deal closing”,I am at a track EVERYDAY. Hot, cold, raining, snowing, I am on the backside. I see people come looking for horses to buy. I also see people falling over themselves trying to get to those buyers. Going as far as to try to get them from other trainers barns. (again not sticking together). So don’t you believe they will go broke before selling. It is laughable that you think the back side is closed tight like some club. Trainers do not give a damn what other trainers think of them. There is NO heat from others because they sell a horse. If one trainer gets another mad, that is like the ultimate prize to them. You really believe they would lose money to keep each other happy??? If so you have NEVER been to a “Lower Tier” track.
    When there were “Kill buyers” at the tracks, I have seen trainers give them prices of $200. For a trainer wanting the same horse, $2000. Trainers do not want other trainers to get one of their horses and do well with it. It makes the trainer look a bad. Most do not need help looking bad….

    You ever think that the reason you can not get horses is that they see you coming??. They know or think you will pay more. It does not take long for word to get around that people are paying outrageous prices for horse. It is almost like they hang your picture up at the gate. The Secret Brotherhood Gate ..

    I understand i can not debate with you. You obviously have way more time to do this than I do. Please remember, I wish you only the best in getting the horses you want…

    • Think for a minute AC: If David Wells knew as much as he revealed about his fellow trainers, he must have been in collusion with them at one time. I don’t know which backstretch you work on, but in every one I have ever been involved with, there is a code of unwritten and tacit understood codes that you don’t violate if you don’t want to be an outsider or face some kind of snub or sometimes even retribution.

      Sadly the incidents that Joy recounts in her reply are representative of the types of incidents I have observed,

      What you mention regarding lower level claiming horses is true: yes if a trainer believes there might even be one more spark of life in a horse for a win, they will be reluctant to sell it, and yes it is difficult to get a trainer to part with an old warrior if they believe there will be purse money awarded to them along with the price of a claim. This does make it significantly harder to get higher-performing horses who have nevertheless fallen through the claiming ranks off the claiming carousel that is the greatest threat to their very survival.I find it reprehensible and would do anything to get the claiming game eliminated.

      In regards to time AC- I make time. I work in a capacity where I am not paid by the hour and have the ability to structure my own day.

  29. As long as horseracing exists, horses will suffer. There is NOTHING about it that benefits the horse. I struggle with understanding how one can be aware of the abuses we all agree exist, yet not want to bring down the very industry which causes such suffering. Of course “we” will continue to help as many horses as we possibly can while this vile industry manages to survive…but it is merely a Band-Aid on a massive hemorrhaging wound. Why would we NOT work towards abolishing the root of the problem?…the “disease”, if you will? Instead, those who abhor the abuses but continue to support the industry are simply allowing the “disease” to rage while furiously yet ineffectively chasing the “symptoms”! That is futile. Why do people choose to race horses?…does anyone truly think it is because they look at that foal they bred, or yearling they purchased, and exclaim “Oh I can see you want to be a racehorse!…I am going to put you on the track because YOU want to!”? No way…for those IN the industry, it’s one of two things…business/earning a living or pleasure/one’s hobby. They choose to race horses FOR THEMSELVES. It blows my mind when I hear how a racing owner just loves their horses…then they leave them unprotected to all the risks of a racehorse’s life. Excuse me, but it is pure bullshit.
    The opinions on trainers acquiring horses from other trainers?…it goes both ways. I’ve seen horses go from barn to barn, trainer to trainer. Used-up horses promised to me for the price I offered will be sold to another trainer for that exact amount. Injured horses and non-competitive horses are GIVEN to other trainers. Just this past week, a horse we acquired changed hands three times in about as many days BEFORE we were successful in bringing him to safety. That being said, I know there is this unwritten “rule” that trainers at the same track don’t claim other trainers’ horses… I overheard the conversations and observed the practice for nine years. And as far as trainers “sticking together”?…they do a GREAT job of it to the detriment of the horses. They will let horses limp for hours on the hotwalker on a stifling summer afternoon while the suffering horse’s trainer is getting hammered at the local bar…no one says a word…the drunk’s stable helps to fill races. Trainers known for running their ill-kept, thin, and sore horses continue to do so while other trainers look the other way. They are a tightly-knit group when it comes to saving their own backsides. And to hell with the horses.
    To Susan…naming names is long overdue. To protect the community of scum IN ORDER to continue saving a horse here and there IS the Band-Aid on the hemorrhaging wound!…or as fellow horse advocate Mary Johnson says, it’s like standing under the Niagara Falls with a bucket, attempting to catch every drop! It cannot be done!…every horse cannot be saved!…and we must not be satisfied to rescue a lucky one here and there, all the while keeping our lips sealed so as not to anger the abusers and in the process, protecting them and allowing them to continue! Expose, lay bare, and eradicate the filth!
    Lastly, the idea that the “horse that paid its dues” or the 6-time graded stakes winner is any more deserving than a cheap (not my term) maiden is insulting. Firstly, NO horse should have to “pay dues”…they never asked to be a part. Secondly, does not the cheap claimer feel pain as acutely as the million-dollar earner? I do see the added injustice in regards to the racehorse whose life has been stolen for the fattened pocketbooks of its owner…the laboring horse gave everything, the owner selfishly took, and now the used-up horse is thrown to the wolves of the low-level claiming game. It makes my blood boil. Yes, the stakes winners need rescue too, but the lowly that have only known the cheap tracks are just as deserving.
    I am well aware of a situation as well, where a “successful owner” negotiated with a trainer for the life and retirement of a horse with significant earnings…and even tried, as you mentioned Susan, to “sweeten the pot”. Maybe it’s the same situation. The horse was Furhever Dancing…the owner trying to make the deal was Maggi Moss…and sweetening the pot was offering Chad Skelton 5K and “[setting] him up with a couple of horses that would actually make him money”…wow…a couple of sacrificial horses offered up by Moss for the life of FD. Disgusting.
    There is nothing about rescuing horses from this life-sucking industry that makes me smile. With each horse rescued from the track, there are countless others being maimed and destroyed for $2 bets. With each racehorse acquired from the auction or KB, there are countless others taking his/her place on a trailer headed for slaughter. The DISEASE needs to be eliminated…then the symptoms will no longer exist.

    • Joy, once again, you tell it like it is…no sugar coating! You have never made a dime on these horses yet you are their true advocate, not their “hot shot” owners and trainers who allow them to descend through the claiming ranks into a hell hole where horses are lucky to make it out alive. Of course, those that own, race, and train these horses will babble about how much the horses are “loved” but where are the racing folks when their “loved” former horses need help? Also, the low level horses are just as deserving as Game On Dude. The low level horses keep this sinister industry in business.

    • Joy: I never meant to put forth the idea that graded stakes winning horses that have fallen through the ranks have any more merit than those who haven’t won graded stakes. All horses are astounding creatures to me that equally deserve our respect, admiration and protection. I care equally for cart horses and the beasts of burden – the unsung heroes of the equine world -the donkeys. I was retelling the account of events regarding two particular horses and their particular perils.

      I could write for hours about the others and my views, but I won’t because I know you’ve seen even more of the worst than I have and that you value every horse no matter what their “estimated” contribution is (in regards to human’s needing to put worth on their accomplishments).

      Where we may differ is in the area of business negotiations. I worked as a mediator for many years. One of the hallmarks of the profession is confidentiality. While I didn’t negotiate monetary contracts as a mediator, I did help people to reach workable terms. I couldn’t have done this if every aspect of every meeting was broadcast to the public, nor did it need to be. When entering into a private sale in any business the process of a deal does not need to be revealed to the public. This protects the integrity of the business at hand. I’m not referring to sales and transactions that occur in the public sector- those transactions require full transparency, That is public tax money or the money of investors who deserve complete disclosure.

      For the purposes of what I am trying to accomplish, the names of the parties involved are confidential. This allows people their dignity when it comes to their needs. Everyone involved in a contract deserves their say, to have their terms understood and properly conveyed and considered. I am not there to scrutinize, blame, castigate or judge. I’ll leave that to others. When we do this for horses that we want to retire, we uphold the same principles. The desired outcome is the retirement of the horse.

      In terms of horse advocacy, sometimes it takes a village to save a horse. Yes it’s great to be the standard bearer. I appreciate that. I want fairness, and truth and openness. I want conditions and practices and inequities out in the open. I want reform and to alleviate pain and suffering. Someone needs to be monitoring, exposing and advocating at all times. Patrick is keeping people informed every day as to this and I appreciate it. The horses need it and he does it well. I read him everyday and keep every record he publicizes for every breakdown and it makes me sick to my stomach every week. Thank you Patrick, because sometimes I would like to put my head under my wing and not know because it hurts. But your blog also gives motivation to do more. I look at all these horses dying in vain and it makes me get up and try harder.

      Joy no one appreciates what you do more than I. Your work is the most pure and dedicated and I hope you keep doing what you do. Your team is top notch and together you not only care about horses, your group has the expertise and knowledge to make a difference and you do. Educating and advocating and rescuing are the keys to getting the desired goal.

      Some of conditions you have encountered are beyond disgraceful and seeing horses that have been purchased off the track need to be euthanized because they have been so badly abused and neglected is the most disturbing aspect of the realm of rescue.

      For the record that story was not the story of FD but it did sound very much like it. I was marginally involved in the retirement of FD and helped start and moderate his FB page. Also, for the record I did not condone the offering up of two racing prospects to Skelton and was extremely upset and disheartened when I found out that Miss Moss had put that forward as a bargaining chip. I had nothing to do with any part of the negotiation, either the successful or failed aspects of that negotiation. I was certainly ecstatic at the outcome however. I love FD. I admire Gail Hirt and consider her a miracle worker and would take a bullet for her. I think her sanctuary and rescue efforts are top notch and count her as a friend. To see FD at Beyond the Roses, sound and running free in a pasture makes me tear up.

      As an aside, the “sweetening the pot” aspect of the story I was retelling had to do with the particular trainer receiving two further payments during the course of the calendar year that could be used to support his barn. He ended up not accepting this and sold the horse to a trainer on our behalf. That old warrior we purchased now resides on a gracious farm in upstate New York.

      One more thing. Yes I do smile when I see a horse that was just plucked from slaughter and nursed back to health and given another chance. I not only smile, sometimes I whoop, sometimes I even gush. I take that brief moment of success to live in the minute and enjoy it; be it for myself, my friends and always the horse. If you don’t savor the small victories, you don’t have much reserve to go back to the war.

  30. “Trainers at the same track don’t claim other trainer’s horses”. Now who is pulling facts out of their hat ?? That statement is 100% false. It is not my opinion it is fact. Trainers claim from each other everyday. It is all in black and white. Equibase.
    There is such a thing as claiming etiquette. You do not claim horses from another trainer in your barn or say right across the way from you. As I am sure you know some people do not follow the rules of etiquette. You don’t get shunned for doing so. You may not be very well liked in the barn for a while, but as I said some do not care.

    As I read on I may now believe that some people can be black balled when trying to buy on the track. It would not surprise me if people that go on the internet and tell others that the horse they just purchased came out of a “Goat Barn”, they were being fed “Crappy Pellets” or their trainer allows their ill kept, thin, sore horses to limp around the walking machine while they get hammered at the bar might have a hard time getting a horse or two. It is really hard to believe people are not lined up to sell you horses.
    I am not sure what track you you are at that people are allowed to treat the horses that way, but the ones I go to if you don’t clean your stall first thing or you are out of straw, people are on the phone to management. That is rule #36 in the band of brothers hand book. You know the togetherness of the trainers, that rat each other out or steal hay if you don’t have it tied down. Family!!

    Every now and then I feel the need to bring this up and piss everyone off. I know that this site is about horse racing wrongs. If everyone is so worried about this species why not the others?? Say in the morning when you get out of bed with you down comforter. (Goose feathers) Put on your leather shoes. (Cow skin) Have your breakfast, eggs (Poultry abuse is horrible) and coffee with cream(Cows milked till their utters bleed) or maybe a bagel with cream cheese.(still milk). Than you go put on your make-up. (Famously noted for testing on animals) (also pure vanity, if they beat it out of little children you would still wear it). Some people even have/had jobs were they had to take biology in college. (Cutting up animals to see what is in them)(Human biology is different from equine biology, remember that) I could go on and on. Sorry you have to endure that but what do you expect for someone who works in a “Community of Scum” or would it have been better to just call you names???

    PS: Most of my last paragraph were also stories from “In Behalf of Animals”. The site that, I believe none of you commented in…

    • No one ever stated that trainers don’t claim horses from other trainers. Read contextually please–that was another class we had to take in college.

      Yes i did state on here that a graded stakes winner that we tried to acquire is being fed crappy horse pellets and living in what appears to be a goat barn. That is very true. But can you tell me the horse to whom I’m referring? I think not. Even if i am concerned for this horse (who is very underweight with a dull coat at present), I am not going to tell you who the owners are or the horse’s name. I don’t think that is very proper.It pains me that this situation exists but outing people is not going to help anyone at present.

      Also this is not the place to air one’s personal predilections regarding personal choices. but don’t throw stones before you know if someone is hypocritical or not. Personally I don’t eat meat, and unless in a situation where I don’t have any choice whatsoever, don’t eat eggs that come from a factory farm. I buy my eggs and cheeses from a cruelty free farmer in East Otto. He also makes yogurt. I don’t own a down comforter and my crappy puffer coat is filled with polyester. I wear make up sometimes (not often) and what I buy is not tested on animals and does not come from one of those slick cosmetics companies that subcontracts out their animal testing and boasts of being cruelty free. i use herbal products on my hair. OK I own leather saddles –you got me! My dogs and the cat eats meat–you can take away points for that.

      I have dissected a pig in biology class (although I found it very distasteful) and am glad that universities have come up with non animal models to reduce the amount of animals that are used for this practice. I’ve dissected human cadavers too if it makes you feel any better.

      P.S. I’m glad you work on a backstretch that doesn’t exhibit some of the behaviors that both Joy and I have observed. And just so you know I came from the “dark side”. I spent a great deal of my youth prowling around and eventually hot walking on a backstretch before I went on to college –some of the happiest days I ever had. Maybe that’s why I can’t altogether give up on racing-it was way before “frog juice” and all the dastardly doping that one can observe now. Water, Hay and Oats and the best darned people one could play softball with on a Monday night.

  31. March 10th, another author. “Unwritten rule that trainers at the same track don’t claim other trainer’s horses”. Not paraphrasing, not out of context, quoting..

    It is not that you said any trainers name. It is that you are broad casting it. If I knew that, I would not sell you any horse. I don’t have any horses but all the same. Agree outing people does not help.

    You eat meat sometimes. In other words “You eat meat”. Make-up?? Until very recently almost all make-up was tested on animals. Cut up all the humans you want. I have donated my body to science. Not anytime soon I hope. Oh and “Owning dogs and cats”, a form of exploiting. You are using them for your selfish reasons. You forgot Milk. While in my mind is out and out disgusting to drink another species milk. No matter where it comes from.

    I do all of the above. Well not really make-up, but i do not judge others when I have my own flaws. No name calling, “scum, vile , filth or refer to one as a disease. Like others.

    The tracks i am at there are just as many gyps, drunks, thieves and cheats as anywhere else. They are trying to weed them out and people do tell on others without hesitation..

    • I said I don’t eat meat.I on’t drink milk. I haven’t eaten meat in 31 years. Please read with discernment.And what might I be broadcasting? That a certain horse who has fallen through the claiming ranks is living in less than desirable conditions and eating sub par food? Yes if that is broadcasting then so be it. It is true. Not a single person not personally familiar with the case could possibly know what horse I am directly referring to. .And I see that you believe caring for and adopting strays and retired racing dogs is a form of slavery too.AC you are just too full of contradictions to be believed.

      I shouldn’t want to live in a world where every domesticated creature runs about scavenging and scraping to eke out an existence, after having the genetic tendencies of thousands of years of domestication. sadly there are too many unwanted and uncared for creatures in this world already.

  32. Susan, it is important to realize, and I’m sure you do, that when a horse is “plucked from slaughter”, another horse fills its spot on the truck. I got my first OTTB in 1963 and, yes, I was just a kid, so TB’s have been a part of my life for years and years. Therefore, I am partial to that breed. I currently own OTTB’s but I also own a Saddlebred and two Standardbreds. Just like the low level horses running at Beulah are just as deserving as Zenyatta, other breeds are just as deserving as the TB. When a TB, or any other horse for that matter, is plucked from slaughter, another horse is loaded on the truck. I know Joy Aten will agree with me when I say it is important to get them before they get into the wrong hands. That is where I focus my efforts – getting them before they get into a bad situation. Being a business woman that is a no brainer, at least to me. I see those involved with rescue paying exorbitant amounts of money to obtain a certain horse. If a horse is “plucked from slaughter”, it is to be celebrated just as we celebrated when Cactus Cafe and Canuki were “saved”. However, I think it is important to be open and honest about another horse losing its life because that is the reality of the situation.

  33. Yes Susan I made a mistake in reading your comment. I do apologize. My reading comprehension has never been very good. To be honest I was surprised you answered at all. When I ask questions like that, or when I give a good enough answer to others questions everyone usually covers their eyes and run to another post. You caught me off guard.
    I guess changing my mind on the reason you can not buy on the track is what you mean, when you say i contradict myself. Trainers don’t care if you give specifics or not when talking about malnourished or abused animals. They just know they would rather not take the chance of being in the middle of it.

    The dogs and cats remark was simply to show that there are people who take animal exploitation to different levels. Some believe dogs should not be utilized at all. No seeing eye dogs, drug sniffing dogs, NO EXPLOITATION.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, go all in or give it a break. ( Not talking specifically to you of course) Don’t wear leather, or make-up, eat meat, fish, or fowl, when you are trying to degrade others for what you believe to be exploitation. Because to others you are the exploiters. Why did no one comment on Patrick’s other blog?? You may have to look in a mirror to do so, is that it??

    I know people in here may not get me. Most dislike me. I am ok with that. I don’t take broke down horses home. I have found horses good homes for other people. On occasions it has back fired. That is one reason I have furthered myself from doing that. I have spayed more then my share of cats, I will not pass idly by if I see an animal in distress. I do donate time (when i can) to the SPCA and send donations to the Sea Shepherd. Do I want a pat on the back for that?? NO.

    I feel that degrading horse racing is the “IN” thing. That is what draws many to it. It happens to have been my home for over 30 years now. I know it is far from perfect. I know there needs to be more regulations. I also know it is getting them. Slowly, but they are coming. The backside is home to me. When it is being attacked I will defend. That is why i am heard… I know you don’t agree with me but thank you Patrick for allowing me to do so…

  34. Concerning trainers and the claiming game I can say there are 2 trainers who play the game, claiming an unfortunate horse back and forth from each other. The trainers are Jacobson and Ness and the horse is a grey gelding called Be Bullish. The horse is 9 yrs old and has earned almost a million dollars in 75 starts. This is just one small example of this ugly business. Looks like this horse will be run into the ground unless someone steps up for him. When is enough enough for these greedy people ???

    • Ah Rose- the name of David Jacobson always comes up in the east coast claiming game. He recently has decided to implement a retirement program for his horses and begin donating $50 per win from the horses he trains to Thoroughbred retirement charities. This all happened after the very unfortunate death of Toque – another grey gelding TB that he trained. Toque was “retired” but instead of going through the proper channels, was just “given’ to a woman that Jacobson knew at the track. Supposedly Toque was a handful and the woman wasn’t able to cope with him.(Most likely he was another horse coming down from steroids but that can’t be proven.) Toque was then given by this woman to a rather unsavory character who ran a horse brokering business. Soon Toque appeared at New Holland and was found by a rescue advocate. She called Jacobson, who did forward the money to get him out of the kill buyers’ hands. Toque by this time was very ill indeed and had to be euthanized as the direct result of injuries and neglect. It was one of the most dismal stories and avoidable deaths that many of us had ever heard about. Jacobson was truly taken to task. This, along with the outcry and pressure from horseplayers and advocates alike, to retire a 10-year-old mare named Karakorum Elektra last year gave Jacobson some impetus to think about implementing a retirement program for his horses.
      Now many of us are only concerned that his claiming horses will continue to be run into the ground before they get a chance to retire, but there is a whole army of horseplayers and TB advocates monitoring every horse he runs. I know these efforts aren’t anywhere good enough, but the “winningest” trainer in New York State has had his practices influenced by the combined efforts of the betting fans and advocates alike–one tiny step that might save some horses from suffering the horrific fate of Toque.

      The hard knocking grey Be Bullish is on the watch list and is being monitored – that won’t necessarily help him one iota, but there is awareness.

      Thanks for keeping him in your thoughts Rose. It’s awfully hard to feel this helpless about another horse stuck in the claiming game.

      I guess I need to add a disclaimer to this. These are not my opinions I relay here, just a series of events that are open for discussion. Please do not infer that I condone the practices of David Jacobson in any way or am trying to defend anyone or any aspect of the above set of circumstances. So please don’t take me to task for sharing Toque’s story. I’m sure many of you are already aware of this sad tale.

  35. Jacobson and his paltry $50.00 per win for his horses to retire, if they
    survive or are not gotten rid of in the claiming races, is a thinly veiled attempt at PR. A statement on his Drawing Away Stable web site reads: ” JOIN US FOR AFFORDABE STRESS-FREE HORSE OWNERSHIP ” ! It may be stress free for these people but it sure is not stress free for the so called claimers they own.
    At one point I read somewhere that Belmont was going to install cameras in his barn. I did not see anymore about it. He is welcomed at these tracks because he makes money for them.
    This just illustrates how corrupt the business is at all levels. Money rules and the horse be dammed.

    • I really wish they would install cameras in his barns. As a matter of fact I wish there were cameras in every barn so every horse could be safer from the possibility of wrongdoing. It certainly wouldn’t solve everything, but it would be a great deterrent to some people to engage in activities that harm the horses.

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