In a Pinch, Use a Belt

From this week’s Santa Anita Stewards Report:

(5/22/14) EDWIN OROZCO was in the office this morning in response to a complaint filed against him for his actions on a difficult horse during training hours yesterday. According to Safety Steward LUIS JAUREGUI, word was received from the outriders that Mr. Orozco used the strap end of his belt on the horse WAR ACADEMY, which had “frozen” at the finish line in the middle of the track and refused to move.

The exercise rider, who took over riding the horse after it injured another rider two weeks ago, admitted that he did use his belt, but stated he did not have a whip and given the horse’s position on the track he felt that the issue of safety outweighed using the belt. He also said that one of the morning outriders attempted to help him, but to no avail. In retrospect, Orozco realizes he made a mistake, but says he was attempting to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation.

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  1. This poor 4 y/o gelding obviously has an issue and made it known – again – when he chose to freeze. And what often follows that is explosive behavior. A horse in this situation needs the rider to be calm and patient, but War Academy’s rider hits him with a belt! And striking him – adding pain to anxiety – was diffusing the potentially dangerous situation?!?

    In April of 2013, this Bob Baffert trainee was a DNF. He “broke stride”, was “pulled up gradually”, and “walked off”. He didn’t race again until March of this year.

    Something is amiss. But he is just another horse at the mercy of those merely doing their jobs…folks who have no attachment to War Academy nor sensitivity to his needs. But that is horseracing. And as long as it exists, there will be horses that will endure the same.

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