Halos and Angels: Dead Horse Walking

(Please note: This was originally published October 7th. At the request of a group working to rescue the horse, I took it down in hopes of currying favor with the connections. According to a source, though, that rescue attempt failed.)

On January 30th of this year, a then 2-year-old filly named Halos and Angels was raced for the first time (Aqueduct). On March 14th, she was vanned off after a race (again, Aqueduct) with an undisclosed injury. In June, she began a precipitous slide:

June 27, Belmont, last of 7, 29 1/2 lengths back (trainer, Naipaul Chatterpaul)
July 4, Monmouth, last of 9, 21 lengths back (Chatterpaul)
July 11 (seven days later), Monmouth, last of 6, 25 3/4 lengths back (Chatterpaul)
August 7, Finger Lakes, last of 9, 33 3/4 lengths back (John Pinnock)
September 13, Finger Lakes, last of 8, 32 1/2 lengths back (Pinnock)
September 27, Finger Lakes, 6th of 9, 13 lengths back (Pinnock)

The O. Mason Racing-owned Halos and Angels is slated to be whip-run for the 17th time (over an 8-month period) this Thursday at Finger Lakes. She has had at least one ambulance ride, has finished a combined 155 1/2 lengths back over her last six races, and is presently mired in claiming hell. She is a dead horse walking.

Update: Halos and Angels finished 7th of 8 on October 9th.

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  1. Claiming Races which comprise the majority of horse races are dumping grounds for sore, and tired horses. This is a sad example of this. Every day on racetracks all over North America, there are racehorses breaking down everyday, and for what? They are dying for $2 bets, for Racetrack CEO’s, for wagering companies, for just about every level of racing makes money off these horses, but are nowhere to be found when their standing in the Kill Auction Stall or Slaughterhouse box. We have rescue groups begging for donations to save them or for ongoing support such as feed or winter blankets while people spend Millions at Keeneland. It’s a horrible business from start to finish.

  2. Animals are gaining rights – started with the landmark ruling on OR giving animals rights of recognition as suffering when abused. That work has to continue. FBI has now a federal level of oversight recognizing that abuse of animals is a precursor of abuse of each other. Humans will not control themselves when greed enters their hearts – we keep hammering for better enforcement and to drop protections for the racing, rodeo and ranch to abuse.

    • Mr. Juffet, if you read the intro you’ll see that this is an old post (Oct 7th) that I temporarily removed to help with a rescue attempt. I simply re-posted the original – at the time, Halos was scheduled for Thursday, Oct 9th.

      • Patrick please update us on her retirement. There needs to b a rescue in the works. Has anybody spoken to the track or trainer?

  3. There is a group of us that worked to try to obtain her but to no avail. Patrick, please feel free to give anyone, who is interested, my personal email and I will fill them in on the details. By the way, we offered $600 for her and we were willing to go up to $750. There is always a disconnect between what the owner wants and what others want to pay. Halo has left Finger Lakes and been moved to another barn. At this time, we don’t know where she is. I can’t speak for the others in the group, but I am heartbroken. This sad little filly touched my heart. Of course, they all do.

    • Mary Johnson thank you for trying to save her. I’m interested in knowing what happened when you tried to rescue her. I’ve been thinking about Halos since the first time Patrick posted about her. Thank you.

      • I reached out to a contact in New York who volunteers for someone involved in racing. A group was subsequently started. One person was added and then another and another. An offer was made through someone who wishes to remain anonymous. I can’t divulge much more but suffice it to say that the offer was turned down. Halo has left Finger Lakes and no one is sure where she currently is located. She is in Joy Aten’s Virtual Stable. If she resurfaces in 2015, perhaps funds could be raised to claim her.

  4. For approximately four years, a group of horse advocates has followed Halos and Angels. Several attempts were made to purchase her but our attempts proved unsuccessful. Today Halo won the race of her life when we dropped a claim for her at Mahoning. She is no longer a “dead horse walking” and is now at a private barn away from the track. Happy retirement, Halo!

  5. Yes, Mary, Halos and Angles has a chance at a decent life instead of one of ongoing abuse without the re motest chance of a good ending. Yes. indeed, Happy retirement Halos !

  6. A huge shout out to Mary and her dedicated network of racehorse rescuers!
    Angel did win the race of her life today – the race away from her abuse, and cruelty at the behest of this vile industry.
    Where were the “good folks” of horse racing?
    They were, more than likely, picking out their next victim after maiming and/or killing their prior victim.
    Mary, if at all possible, please post the pre-existing injuries that you may discover upon post-assessment vet review.
    Although endless joint injections and/or shock wave therapy can’t be determined, such things as synovial joint fluid assessment, and even jogging days after (when the dope wears-off) can usually tell a story.
    X-rays, if part of the vet assessment, usually shows hairline fractures or prior healed fractures,and/or arthritic changes to the joints.
    Ultrasounds show soft tissue injury, which is almost always present in a racehorse like Angel.
    It depends how extensive your rescue group and vet goes with the post-assessment, but they usually tell a story that the PP’s (although abusive) don’t.
    I assume that the multi-billion dollar horse racing industry didn’t contribute one dime to her rescue, and subsequent years of required financial assistance?
    Angel – you know have your wings that were broken by this vile business and the vile people who exploited you.

  7. Thank you to Mary and the group for saving Halos and Angels. Happy retirement Halos.

  8. This is copied from my FB page…

    For FOUR…LONG…YEARS….a group of us followed Halos and Angels after reading of her plight on the Horseracing Wrongs blog. Before Halo was technically not even three, she was raced four times in six weeks at two of the “big” tracks….Aqueduct and Laurel. Over the years, she won but once and that was four years ago at Aqueduct. By mid-2014, she began her descent into claiming hell, racing at Finger Lakes, Mahoning, Mountaineer and Thistle. Several times a concerned advocate approached her connections or enlisted the help of someone within the industry, to no avail. Finally, I realized there was only ONE way to get her….claim her….and that is exactly what we did yesterday at Mahoning. Post time was 3:04 and, within a little over a minute, Halo had won the race of her life. When I first saw her in the paddock yesterday, I was overcome with emotion after following her for such a long, long time and realizing that our goal was within reach and her hell would soon be over. I cried for the others, too, that wouldn’t be granted a ticket out of this sinister industry. Halo left the track for the last time late in the afternoon and is safe with a friend at a private barn. Happy Retirement, Halos and Angels! 😍😍😍

    I would like to thank all of Halo’s supporters over the years…Sue Dolenc, Rose Smith, Joy Aten, Carrie Jo Peters, Barbara Scotto, Faith Dower and Christina Buedel. None of this would have been possible without your support and let’s not forget Horseracing Wrongs because without Patrick Battuello drawing attention to her plight, none of us would have known about her and Halo would have continued to labor in obscurity.

  9. It has been a week since we brought this magnificent girl home from the racetrack. When David St. Clair handed her over to me In the paddock, he told me she lives up to her name, and she is an angel. He wasn’t kidding.
    So, first the bad. She did come out of her last race with a few minor dings and scratches, all of which were treated and are now healed. She string halts badly, but after having watched her race 4 races ago, I suspected that she was having back end issues and am not surprised that that is the case. Her stifles were hot to the touch 4 days after her race, as well as carrying quite a bit of heat in her hocks, and she is very sensitive about having anyone go near her back legs at times. It took her 2 days in the arena before she trotted, and 4 days in the arena before she cantered. She has been started on a non-NSAID anti- inflammatory, and I had an equine massage therapist come and work on her very sore muscles on her hind end. She is also very startled and wary of a pitchfork in her stall, but is starting to calm down well and is realizing we aren’t going to hurt her with it.
    Now, for the positives. Over the years, I have dealt with probably a dozen OTTBs – and I can honestly say I’ve never had one fresh off the track that is this kind, and mannerly. She is very quiet, has never been pushy or threatened to bite or kick, and is very docile around humans.
    She loves to be brushed and pampered, and when she is having her face stroked, she lays her head on my shoulder and seems to just enjoy the peace for a few moments. We have been working on a few trust building exercises in the arena – and she is wary at first, but then she looks at me as if to say, “if you’re telling me it’s ok, then I can do it”, at which point, she does it. Even off the lead, it is hard to videotape her, as all I’m getting is mostly nose shots, because she wants to be right by me.
    In the next few months, she will be turned out to pasture as much as she can, and hopefully time will help heal her back end problems. I also plan to have a vet out in the next few weeks, to do some X-rays to see what we are truly up against. And she will receive endless loving, as she is already providing that to us humans that are blesssd to have her in our lives.
    I would also like to sincerely thank those that Mary mentioned above, as without their help this would never have come to fruition. I would also like to thank my wonderful friend, Cindy Howell, who kept a stall “at the ready” for months for when the day arrived that Halos would finally be home, and also for loving her as much as I do and treating her with so much kindness. Also to Scott and Chad Anderson, because, without Scott’s help, this also would not have happened as smoothly as it did, and for the 2 of them making endless rounds of walking Halos post- race to cool her out.

    • So here we are 4 days after the race the horse is sore and hot to the touch….took her 2 days to canter and 4 days to trot she has a backend issue…… so with this story being told keep in mind she was just raced on 3/3 and 3/12 9 days apart and there were plenty of times she raced on 8 or 9 days rest in 2014 she ran every week the month of may…..so cant trot 4 days after but can race on 7 or 8 days and be perfectly fine huh.. while horses might love running on their own free will theres no way they can love to run with these issues… .still think you cant force a horse to race,they wont do it…. think again and theres hundreds thousands just like halo everyday…..

    • And the Moyer’s horse, Lady of Rivendell, claimed and retired was in “desperate” need of dental care. according to the vet .
      The very basics of horse care are not practiced in this business. It is all about running the horse. – care of the horse be damned !

  10. Great news for Angel.
    I’ve rescued many thoroughbreds off the track over the years, and I’m also a certified Equine Massage Therapist.
    I got my certificate from the University of Davis in California back when nobody even knew what an equine massage therapist was or even did!
    Anyways, after massaging many thoroughbreds (TB’s), after rescuing many TB’s, it’s very common for back problems to be located in the C6- C7 – “wings of atlas” area, which is often overlooked or not even diagnosed, but it tends to be common in TB’s.
    This is where digital x-rays play an important part to diagnose the density of these bones.
    It can also show hairline fractures, which are usually part of the wings of atlas problem to begin with often resulting in secondary lameness issues such as the stifles or hocks.
    It’s extremely painful, and my guess would be at least 50% of racehorses have C6 – C7 issues that are never diagnosed, and they keep on running them, they keep pounding on them, they keep doping them often injecting the hocks and stifles which may not be the original problem to begin with.
    Then the racehorse, who is in pain, becomes sour, doesn’t even want a saddle on their back so they fuss around, and that’s when the grooms or even the trainers can become abusive.
    That’s when I’ve seen stable personnel poke the horse with a pitchfork similar to a bull hook in elephants.
    The entire industry, and the apologists who support it, bring the gauntlet down on these racehorses who carry the entire business literally on their backs.
    This often leads to breakdowns.
    I don’t know what’s up with Angel, but my guess is that Angel’s time was running out.
    Her next race could have been her last race, and she’s a very lucky filly.

  11. Thank you for that link Gina. The article was very informative and interesting as well as detailed too!

  12. Thanks Joan and Fred Booth.
    There are many serious repercussions to consider, but the SAFETY ISSUE is explicitly stated throughout the article:
    “Combined percentages of these 3 studies in conjunction with the 3 Australian studies and the current study has the congenital malformation of C6 at; Warmbloods 30%, Quarter Horses 16% and Thoroughbred horses over 40%.” So that’s at least 40% of TB’s than can fall down during a race – absolutely UNSAFE conditions.
    “Associated stability problems can have far-reaching consequences for the horse, not to mention some serious safety issues for the rider. The safety issue can’t be stated often enough.”
    This condition doesn’t get any better.
    Furthermore, this condition compresses on the ribs affecting breathing and respiration exchange so all that Lasix is nothing but a bunch of crap, and even worsens this condition.
    This condition along, and doping to mask issues is a recipe for Russian Roulette, and we see the results of this on racetracks every single day as the dying and the Death Lists stated here confirms.
    The “secret” medical records, with no microchips to follow the TB, especially in the claiming ranks, is another recipe for disaster.
    Then you throw into the mix a bunch of other issues that only exemplifies the unsafe working conditions for both the racehorses, stable personnel, and the jockeys.

  13. Another update on Halos. We have watched her make a fun friendship with a miniature donkey, and realized that she loves to splash in anything with water, whether it’s the stream in her pasture or the water tubs out in the pasture. It’s been a joy to watch her play and bounce around in the pasture, and she often makes me laugh with her antics. She continues to be affectionate and loves to be pampered.
    However, on the morning of June 12, things changed quickly. She came in from a few hours in the pasture, and quickly I realized by her behavior something was wrong. She was colicking. After frantic efforts to get a veterinarian out to my house, without success, I loaded her up and off we went to the equine specialty hospital an hour away. I was sobbing the whole way. I reached out to Joy Aten, and a social media prayer group was started. Upon arrival at the hospital, treatment initiated, and about an hour after we arrived, she started showing signs of discomfort again, requiring a third round of banamine and a second round of sedation. IV fluids were started to keep her hydrated. She would be scoped the next day to see if she had ulcers. ( which of course, we assumed she did, though she never seemed to show signs of them).
    The scope showed the following –
    “Grade 3 of 4 ulcers in the squamous portion of the stomach. There is a thick ridge of tissue around each ulcer, indicating a Long -standing, Chronic process”. We assumed things were good, and we were in the clear, and home she came. In the following week, she again colicked two more times. I was able to catch each early, but the third bout required a vet to come out and help treat her again. This vet suspects that not only does she have the gastric ulcers but also hind gut ulcers. For some reason, grass is creating an extreme amount of gas and discomfort in her. There is a detailed game plan in place now, including a specialized diet and supplement, limited grazing time, gastrogard daily, no riding or training for at least a month ( which I wasn’t anyhow), and encouraging her to drink as much water as possible. I’ve found out she likes fruit punch flavored Powerade.
    After updating the vet at equine specialty hospital, she stated, “As bad as her ulcers were, I am not surprised that she has had issues with colicking again.”
    It has been almost a week since her last bout, and so far, so good. She is becoming playful and bouncy again. Thank god she is such a sweet girl to tolerate all the things that have happened to her in the last few weeks with her usual kindness.

    • Sue, thank you for the update on Halos and Angels. It has been a tough time for you and Halos. I hope and pray she will continue to do well. Her problems show what such an abnormal life of stress and deprivation does to the horse.

      It is estimated that over 90 percent of racehorses suffer from gastric ulcers.. Does anyone ask why and do these horses receive treatment ??

      • Right Rose – all horses at all levels from poor to rich owners, from less known to well known trainers – they all endure the horrific operating procedures of a racing stable that often results in suffering, maiming and/or dying.
        Another thing, if they are taken care of at a high level barn and then slip into the claiming ranks due to lack of performance or otherwise then they go from riches to rags literally,
        It’s a horrific life for any racehorse.

    • Thanks for the update on H & A.
      She’s so lucky to have been rescued and to get the great care that your giving her.
      Imagine that over 90% of racehorses have painful ulcers while they continue to run, get doped, beaten/whipped.
      Lots of lower claimers don’t get the gastric ulcer medication they need b/c it’s expensive, and a cheap claimer is deemed to be not worth it.
      Denying necessary medical care to an animal you own is cruelty charges in any other setting.
      However, the secret medical records are the key to exposing this industry even more.
      The owners/trainers who continued to exploit H & A are all animal abusers.
      Every single one of them.

      • I personally know a horse with total earnings of $1,230,000 that was found to have “severe” gastric ulcer disease when he retired @ 6. Very shortly after he retired he almost died from colic.
        Now, he was not a so called “cheap” horse and was with a well known trainer. He retired on a win but was never diagnosed and, of course, never treated. Further, he never received preventive supplements while in training and racing. His daily was expensive but he was not properly cared for even at that level.
        One can only imagine what the “cheap” horses endure while they are started at least every 10 to 14 days and less. Sadly, some are not even properly fed.

  14. Well, the lack of care is in line with “they love their work”, isn’t it. It just astounds me that horsemen and women know the horse so little. Except they do. They know the horses respond with stress to so many aspects of their racing life and, well, much of the life mankind offers them. It is foreign to them and it does take a lot out of them to accept. So, it just doesn’t make sense that horses have to suffer due o the ignorance and neglect of their owners, trainers, riders, etc. It is a damned shame.

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