A Horse Dies at Finger Lakes, Questions Remain

From Finger Lakes comes word that 5-year-old Very Very Grateful was euthanized Tuesday after x-rays revealed a fractured leg. But here’s the thing: The Gaming Commission notes that trainer Enrique Hernandez had the horse for only a week when he “noticed a problem.” So, the question becomes: When did this poor creature break? In an August 20th claiming race when he “stopped,” finishing 25 lengths back? In an October 14th claiming race when he “stopped,” finishing 30 lengths back? Or was it in a November 9th claiming race when he “showed little” in finishing dead last? Hard to say, of course.

Here’s the other thing about Very Very Grateful: His sole owner, Carlos Milian, changed his handler four times in an 11-race career – Eli Betancourt to Marcos Zulueta, Zulueta to Alberto Plaza, Plaza back to Betancourt, and Betancourt to Hernandez. What each knew (knows) we will likely never know, but in my mind, at least, all of these men – plus breeder Shirley Lojeski and various whip-wielding riders – had a hand in this horse’s death. And imagine, right now on some ridiculous Facebook page condolences are going out to them. Horseracing: corrupt and deluded.

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  1. This serves as a tragic example of what could have easily been prevented. When a horse is showing that record stewards and vets should have stepped in. After two poor showings (like last place finishes) the track vets should demand an examination. I don’t understand the lack of protocols that are exhibited at lower level tracks. The horses are just abandoned to the whims of the ignorant or greedy.

  2. The racing industry simply doesn’t care. Everyone will now cover their asses. Deny, deflect, and defend are the three D’s of horseracing. Cards must be filled. Horses must be raced. That is horseracing….plain and simple.

  3. Condolences to these guys ! The only thing they feel sorry about is the money they lost.
    Nobody is going to step in for the horse because they don’t care.
    But for this site, few would have known Very Very Grateful ever existed; raced as a $10,000 claimer; suffered with a broken leg and died before he was quite full grown.

  4. Stewards and track vets “step in”?…and identify horses that shouldn’t be racing? Now who is surprised that the racing industry’s employees are not blowing the whistle on the abusers?

  5. I had commented yesterday on FB. This trainer should not be racing at Fingers Lakes. At the end of last years meet he left behind 2 mares. Management felt the need to give him 10 stalls this year. If he could not carry 2 horses over the winter how is he able to afford care for any of the horse in his barn this meet. it is very obvious track management could care less about the treatment of the horses, there job is to run damage control and keep a lid on the really reprehensible behavior. The horses were eventually “rescued” so he gets a free pass to do it again.

  6. Actually Shirley has no part in this, she is the breeder nothing more nothing less. What happens to a horse after it leaves the breeding farm and how the animal is treated is out of her hands.

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