The Ongoing Abuse of Cayambe

On December 29th of last year, a 9-year-old stakes-winning horse named Cayambe finished 6th – “sluggish,” 17 lengths back – in a $5,000 claiming race at Mountaineer, his second such race in eight days. As the 2014 months rolled by with nary a Cayambe sighting, one could have safely assumed him gone (use your imagination). But not so. Sunday night, the now 10-year-old (soon to be 11) Cayambe resurfaced, again in a claiming race, again at Mountaineer. The story here is not how he fared – 8th of 9, 13 lengths back – but that he was there to fare at all.

Cayambe’s age and number of starts (67, stretching back 8 years), however, reveals only a part of the abuse. Racehorses are commodities – bought, sold, traded, and dumped on an owner’s whim. This pathetic gelding has been handled by 12 different men – Charles Jenda, Art Sherman, Ben Cecil, Victor Garcia, Jeff Mullins, Michael Pender, William Spawr, David Jacobson, Jamie Ness, Michael Maker, Richard Markham, and current master Paul Overholt – and owned by at least that many. Imagine that life. Pampered athletes? Valued partners-in-sport? Obscene.



  1. Trackside eyes posted a comment today last night that Cayambe has been rescued and is going to Blackstone Farm in Kentucky for rest before being shipped to retirement in California.

  2. “Trackside Eyes” reports that the original owner of Cayambe is bringing him home to California for retirement. There are several postings on this on Facebook.

    Britt05 — I have no idea who you are referring to as “these people.”

    • Louise, Britto5 is referring to me, as well as to Joy Aten. Yep, Britto5, Cayambe was one of the lucky ones who is being responsibly retired AFTER he was run into the ground. I would venture to guess, since he was no longer competitive, it was time to get rid of him. However, there is a post on HW Facebook page that he was “rescued from racing”. Why would he need to be “rescued from racing” when there are “many” good people in racing?

  3. Mary, I understand your position and Patrick’s and all the other posters who absolutely oppose racing. I am a bystander who only became interested in thoroughbreds and racetrack culture because of California Chrome. However, I am a curious and compassionate person, and it is easy to see without much effort or study that the “sport” relies on the claiming races of medicated, injured and damaged “has beens”. It has broken my heart to see how little of racing has to do with the magnificence and health of man’s friend, the mighty horse.

    But, Mary, it is a bridge too far to say there are no or few good people in racing. We know that domestic violence is a serious issue in marriages, but it’s obviously absurd to next state that there are no or few good people in marriages or to condemn marriage because of the existence of domestic violence.

    Winning over people requires exposure of the facts over and over — as Patrick does. Including naming the trainers, owners, vets and jockeys who harm the animals . I think it also requires demanding law enforcement action for animal cruelty. I think it also takes valiant animal lovers who post trackside eyes and rescue some of the horses who would be sent to slaughter otherwise. It takes PETA video and New York Times articles. Exposure and exposure. Patrick is a hero for his writing.

    For me I blame the vets more than any other because their training teaches them the harm caused by their acts.. Their responsibility is codified in the Hippocratic oath — first do no harm — For money they turn a blind-eye to what they KNOW is harmful.

    • Louise, racing is a multi-faceted industry. I spent years on the backside of a low level track (Beulah) here in Ohio, not as an owner or trainer, but as a volunteer for CANTER, and then as just a regular person who tried to help the horses that were unwanted. I do believe there are a few good people in racing, not many, but a few. However, try to find a person in racing who does everything the right way. 98% of the horses train and race with drugs. When at the track, the horses are stalled 23 hours a day. Anyone that knows anything about horses, should know that horses are herd animals. Therefore, they should be turned out on a regular basis. Also, in the wild, horses graze 16 to 18 hours a day and are constantly on the move. That won’t happen at a track. There is lots of evidence that horses aren’t even fully developed until they are 6 years of age, yet TB’s are broken to ride and go into training between 12 and 18 months of age when they are still just babies. Then you have the “bullet” workouts that exist when the two year olds are consigned to a sale. Add in the claiming races, then add in the slaughter issue. Keep in mind that two thirds of the foal crop will eventually end up in the slaughter pipeline. Even the “hot shots” in racing say that drugs are out of control yet those same individuals race their horses on drugs, such as Lasix, which is a dirty, dirty drug. The atrocities committed in racing are mind boggling.

      The track vets make their living injecting horses’ joints (with corticosteroids) to keep the horses going. I once had a track vet tell me that she “hated her job” after seeing an X-ray of a horse’s leg that was destroyed by racing. I would see the pile of syringes on her console in her truck as she went from barn to barn to barn and sometimes she would cut me off since she had to hurry to another barn to inject Lasix to abide by the administration rules which are time sensitive.

      However, in most cases, everything I have mentioned is legal. Here in Ohio, there are 26 legal drugs that can be used in racehorses – 26! That doesn’t take into account the illegal drugs such as cobra venom. Of course, the babblers will say that there are “many” good people in racing. I think that is just another lie erupting from the mouths of racing supporters.

      Racing is a gambling industry. Anytime you mix animals and money, the animals always end up losing.

  4. A screen shot was sent to me regarding the “retirement” of Cayambe. And I quote Maggi Moss; “breeder Geri Forrester pd [paid] the bail”. Clearly, O/T Paul Overholt was not “retiring” this gelding, but instead, was demanding a price for Cayambe’s life…”bail” money to release the gelding from his enslavement in the racing industry. This exact story has taken place a number of times before…and the racing apologists will PRAISE the “master” for letting his “slave” be free! The truth is Overholt got damn lucky he had the successful gelding in his clutches at the time his racing days were over. Just like the winners who fell to the bottom before him – Lights on Broadway, Star Plus, Fuhrever Dancing, to name just a few – the connections who hold the horses’ fates in their hands can demand a nice ransom for their lives…and they do.

    Cayambe, you’re one lucky fella. I hope your breeder does a better job of taking care of you in your retirement than she did watching over you while you were running for your life.

  5. Yes Cayambe was rescued last week after his last race. After his race in December Beyond The Roses Equine Rescue attempted to retire him with no luck. His owner insisted that he was retiring him to be a riding horse. We knew different and put him on our scope knowing he would show up on a track again…and he did in a $7,500 claimer. Immediately after his race last Sunday we contacted Mountaineer and the negotiations began. In the meantime his breeder Geri Forrester contacted us stating that she would pay the ransom and shipping to California where he would retire him at Magali Farm with other horses horses she has retired there. It was agreed to give up Cayambe by Overholt for $3,000. The funds were wired to him and he was picked up Tuesday and taken to Blackstone Farm in Kentucky where he is learning to be a horse again and awaiting Bob Hubbard Transport to pick him tomorrow to take him to California. Geri Forrester and the Shermans are very excited to have him off the track and coming home. Cayambe is one of the lucky ones

  6. Should there not be a follow up on this?? Shouldn’t Geri Forrester be ridiculed for letting Cayambe race and be handed off from trainer to trainer?? Isn’t that what happened in here with Coaltown Legend and the people who helped him be “Rescued”?? Why is this incident different from the other??

    • The only way to protect these horses from “being handed off from trainer to trainer” is to do away with claiming races no matter how large or small. Cayambe WILL be kept an eye on and followed up on.

    • It isn’t any different, AC2…I have already expressed this in a previous post. The horse was rescued…why was that even necessary? Racing supporters would claim he’s doing what he loves and what comes naturally, and he’s just entering his prime years…so why was he “rescued”? The trainer’s one of the good folks in racing, too, letting the horse go…for a mere 3K. Great guy. The breeder? How many years and races went by while the worries about his welfare increased? Like I said in my previous post, I hope she cares more about him in his retirement than she did while he was laboring away for years. She let him go and threw him to the wolves. Typical in this industry.

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