An Updated Coaltown Legend Story

After six years – 64 races – of gross exploitation and abuse, 9-year-old Coaltown Legend (original post here) has finally been retired, owing in large part to exposure from advocate Deborah Jones. On July 28th, Susan Salk, she with the permanently affixed rose-tinted glasses, wrote a reprehensible piece on Coaltown’s “salvation.” In it, she recounts his return “home” – the place where he was bred to be used – and the contributions of former connections Kate Feron and Angelo DeFilippis toward that end.

Feron (who “cried when he arrived”): “To see him again, I can’t express what it was like. He always had a special place in my heart. This was my special horse.” ♥ (heart courtesy of Salk) Of DeFilippis, Salk writes, “De Fillipis [sic], who owned the horse at one point, but was forced to sell him during hard financial times, says he kept tabs on Coaltown Legend, and spent a few sleepless nights worrying.”

Here are some conveniently omitted facts: Kate Feron is a hugely successful trainer with over $2.5 million in earnings. She bred Coaltown and raced him 19 times before selling him in February 2010 (“claimed away from her,” as Salk asserts, is a euphemism). Her “special horse” would race for over four more years – almost all at the claiming level – without her intervention. Angelo DeFilippis is (was) a racehorse owner. He either owned or co-owned Coaltown for 2 1/2 years and 16 starts, including a July 2011 claiming race at Saratoga. In all, Coaltown Legend earned over $150,000 for Mr. DeFilippis.

Coaltown Legend and Kate Feron
Coaltown Legend and Kate Feron

Now to be fair, Angelo DeFilippis was the primary impetus behind Coaltown’s retirement. But while good for Coaltown Legend – assuming, that is, he survives; DeFilippis says he’s not doing very well – I will not commend anyone, even a rescuer, who refuses to categorically renounce horseracing: Though Mr. DeFilippis is currently inactive, it’s a matter of finances, not because he now sees racing as wrong.

So it appears, Mr. DeFilippis, we are at an impasse. Yes, you helped this horse, but your desire to climb back into an industry that chews them up and spits them out by the thousands tells me all I need to know. Mr. DeFilippis, Ms. Salk, and most especially Ms. Feron, exploitation and friendship are incompatible states. The line is clearly drawn – true equine advocates want no part of this sordid business. And that is what makes Salk’s writing – “there were many relieved past connections, and tears of joy when tired and weary Coaltown rolled into Akindale on Thursday” – so very shameful.

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  1. These so called “horse lovers” make me sick. Nobody who LOVES horses would ever put young adolescents on a racetrack where they are whipped and drugged, standing the chance of being injured or killed — for a $2.00 bet.

    • Channel 13 tv albany ny night news has been keeping viewers informed about the deaths.
      Is there any other media coverage. Thank you and Patrick as well.

  2. When you get tired of running you stop. When a horse gets tired he is hit to keep going to win the race.

  3. I just can’t reconcile how anyone could put their “special horse” in a claimer. Also, There were many opportunities for this person to get her “special horse” back. He was running in $4,000 claiming races and it was obvious he was not doing well.
    But it is racing, and money trumps any consideration of the horse.

  4. Nina stated “When you get tired of running you stop. When a horse gets tired he is hit to keep going to win the race.”
    Never a truer word spoken. My research confirms this fact.
    Here, in Australia, if a jockey does not whip a horse to the finish line he gets only occasionally a reprimand, but more often fined a few hundred dollars and/ or suspended from racing. It’s like they’re breaking a Rule. Even when the jockey is being grilled and says things along the lines “my mount was hanging in/out badly, was tiring, and was ducking in or out abruptly when i hit him with the whip so i chose to put the whip away and ride hands ‘n heels” the Stewards don’t seem to take it on board and penalise the jockey. It infuritates me because the animal is doing its absolute best, under tremendous stress, probably carrying an injury and/or not feeling up to the task and it’s as though the horse is not a living creature and regarded as a poker machine on wheels. Its nervous system would be telling it that
    it has to slow down and stop. The horse must be wanting to do this but no, flog it to the end.
    I have examples of horses that have ultimately died because of a whipping incident which greatly attributed to the horse breaking down.
    When a jockey whips a horse more than he is permitted under the Rules most of the time he gets a reprimand (a slap on the wrist). Only when a horse has been excessively whipped is a jockey fined and in the past 5 years of research i have about 3 instances where a jockey has been suspended for a week or two. What really gets to me is when a horse is flogged when out of contention and come home a distanced last and it didn’t have a chance in hell of improving its position and all the jockey gets is a slap on the wrist. It that’s not animal abuse then i don’t know what is.

  5. The photo of Coaltown appears to indicate that he is undernourished – far too ribby for my liking. And yet they claim to “love their racehorses”.

  6. I was made aware of your existence because of your harassment of a young lady I know. Your entire organization is so off base. The entire racing industry is not what you are trying to convince people it is.

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