109 Races and Counting – The Abuse of 10-Year-Old Face the Fire

The ugly bio of a racehorse known as Face the Fire:

10 years old, will turn 11 in February.

109 times under the whip. 109.

Very much active: Thus far in 2015, has been raced 15 times – among them, 7 different times in which he was brought back within two weeks. Last raced just Monday in a $4,000 claiming at Mahoning, a (racino) track that not coincidentally pays first-last.

Three races ago (October 6, Mountaineer), disqualified for a “positive test.”

Imagine the unmitigated suffering of this pathetic animal: the lonely, deadening existence; the stress of incessant shuffling among trainers, owners, barns, and tracks; the lashes, the pounding – the drugs; a body – muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments – barely hanging on, old before its time; an unknown final fate, a fate that very well could include exsanguination in some foreign slaughterhouse.

A tragedy.

This is horseracing.

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  1. This is so awful. The poor baby. I might read this on my show today. So heartbreaking. Just a matter of time for him, I’m sure. Wishful thinking that he could be rescued.

  2. Thank you, Patrick.

    Readers, if any of you can step up to provide a forever home, I can provide letdown and quarantine in the Wheeling WV area. It will take a village of concerned activists free Face the Fire from his bondage.

    • Faith…just a week or so ago, Gary Contessa proudly exclaimed how he and the program he supports (or maybe is a member of) “always finds homes” for racehorses that need homes. I’m not in a position right at this minute to provide the link to the article where Contessa is quoted, but I’ll put it here later today or tomorrow. I’d reach out to Contessa.

      Also, Olivas reads here religiously and she’s part of a “group” that boasts there is plenty of help for retired racehorses and safe, loving & forever homes for them. If you can get FTF retired, Faith, Olivas and her gang could most certainly get him one of those great and readily available homes!

      In the meantime, if Contessa and Olivas don’t provide what they’ve assured is there, I’ll see what might be possible for him. Thank you for watching over him.

  3. This is what happens to the tough ones, those that survive into maturity. No, there is NO mercy for these track warriors in this despicable game.

    Yes, Joy, lets see the “insiders” step forward to help this pitiful victim. I have my doubts that there will be any help from the “good folks” in racing for this horse. To tell the truth, I do not trust anyone in this deceitful game.

    P.S. I will donate to his cause. Please provide updates.

    • Isn’t it amazing, Rose…we constantly hear how the industry is doing such a great job of caring for their “athletes” – re-homing them after retiring, funding the “accredited” rescue organizations, having “enough homes” for the horses discarded and found in feed lots. Yet today, I read ANOTHER story of a TB filly headed to slaughter and needing a savior!…and a rescue that supports racing (the founder, in fact, a racing TB breeder and trainer) was contacted to assist the filly said, “we’re drowning in horses!…we’re full!”

      Hmmm…..and there’s only a handful of bad folks in racing….

      • And why are we “drowning in horses” ?? The supply exceeds the demand or more correctly, the supply exceeds the ability and commitment to care for these horses.

        Breeders, trainers and owners all exercise their “rights” to breed, train and “own” these horses. However, there is a very important component missing and that is, along with exercising one’s rights comes something called responsibility and accountability. We see the result of this lopsided equation all the time in this game with the thousands of discarded Thoroughbreds being shipped to slaughter year after year as well as dying on the tracks, in the stalls and even drowning in retention ponds ?!

        The industry pockets millions and millions every year while most of the rescues are carried out by those outside the industry who dig into their pockets to help. Meanwhile, the horses suffer and I mean suffer outrageously.

      • Hi Joy,

        I have missed you. I would be more than happy to make a financial contribution to freeing this poor baby. Are these people insane, continuing to race a 10 year old TB. This is truly shameful, my only hope is that his liberation comes in time before this horse breaks down.

        These owners who are responsible for driving TB’s into the ground turn my stomach. I hope they all pay dearly for the abuse and suffering they have made these beautiful, creatures endure. These owners are worthless in my eyes, and morally bankrupt.

        Joy, I look forward to hearing from you…

        Marlene Thornley

      • Hey Marlene! We will wait on Faith, to see if Contessa offers one of those homes he states he’s got plenty of…also, the apologists who comment here from time to time have been absent, curiously…maybe because they can’t put their money where their mouths are?

        I’ve got nowhere to home him yet…still asking, but I’m not hopeful since this is a constant issue we face. There are some offers for $ – yours included, thank you! – so we won’t lose hope…yet.

  4. FACE THE FIRE has placed in about one-half of his starts so he’s been viable for the connections, so they’re keeping this gelding going with no consideration for his safety, health and well-being. Earnings to date $249,190. At almost 11 years of age, they choose not to give him a much deserved retirement to pasture. FTF began racing at 2 years of age and he’s been racing for over EIGHT (8) YEARS having had 109 starts, and that’s a lot of mileage in races, plus the mileage he’s clocked up in training. One hates to think of the wear and tear and damage done to his body. Dr Chris Riggs, BVSc, PhD, DEO, Dipl. ECVS, MRCVS, head of Veterinary Clinical Services at the Hong Kong Jockey Club spoke at the 2014 British Equine Veterinary Association Congress held in Birmingham, U.K. Riggs said “research has shown that horses appear to be at higher risk of injury if they have started more than 30 times and have accumulated more than178 kilometers (110 miles) in their training and racing careers.”

    FTF has also also been beaten with a whip during his 109 races, let’s say at least 6 times each race = 654 times, plus likely whipped in training. Apart from the tissue damage, pain and suffering, what has this abuse done to his mind? Runs as fast as he can, doing his absolute best, his body tiring and sore and he’s callously beaten with a whip. What a miserable existence FTF is living, year after year after year – I call it aggravated cruelty.

    It is INEXCUSABLE that no Vets/Stewards/Racing Commissions/the Jockey Club/the Humane Society, have intervened to protect the horse.

    • We know those in racing, including the HSUS (sadly) will do nothing to protect Face the Fire or any other horse in this sick business because it would interfere with the bottom line, money !

      Also, we know all the rules in this game are geared to the money aspect and there are no rules to protect the horse.

      Anytime I contact racing commissions, stewards and racing offices concerning horse issues all I get is double talk and buck passing. The situation is beyond the Pale..

      • Rose…I’m unable to answer emails currently, and wanted you to know I received yours…thank you so much.

  5. Yes, Carolyn, “It is INEXCUSABLE that no Vets/Stewards/Racing Commissions/the Jockey Club/the Humane Society, have intervened to protect the horse.” I am in California but am willing to help provide funding to those working to free this old, iron warrior and/or provide support for this gelding once he is rescued. Please do keep us posted here, Patrick and others. I can provide more personal details and info if, WHEN, the time comes. There are some horses who, for whatever reason, just reach out and wrench me more than others, in spite of my wish to remain objective toward all those in need. FTF is one of those horses, Face the Fire has done so too many times. It is time to free him.

    • Kari E Johnson, your concern and kind generosity is much appreciated, thank you. FTF’s future is currently in the hands of his owner. We will be monitoring him and update with any information that comes to hand on this post.

  6. Thanks, everyone, for your responses.

    Joy, I found this on Contessa: a link to an “open letter” from Gary Contessa to Susan Kayne.


    Per this September 2015 letter, he states he is president of the Exceller Fund and “I have put up money countless times, quite often with Maggi Moss, to claim and retire horses off the track or save horses in kill pens throughout the country.” He also provides a telephone number, which I will call.

    Don’t know what Susan Kayne’s assertion was…probably about the death and/or injury of racehorses. He ends with: “Our business is imperfect and sometimes ugly, but I live to help people, and help horses. To dare try to say differently? You should be ashamed.”

    I’ll see if I can reach him and will report on his response.

    • Faith…here’s the article about Contessa where he states he can always find homes.


      And I remember something about Susan Kayne and Contessa…I know she basically “called him out” on something negative – wish I could remember exactly, maybe I can find it later – and he came back with what you found.

      Anyway, Contessa should be happy to do what he claims to do for the horses that work for his livelihood. Let us know when he will get the ball rolling! Thank YOU!!

      • Rose, I have spoken to Faith. FTF is off the track and Faith will see him on Thursday and take a few photos. Joy and Faith have a potential sanctuary home for him and I have a backup in place in case their option doesn’t work out. I’m sure Faith will be updating all of us in the next couple of days.

        I have known Faith since 2011 when she stepped up for a TB mare by the name of Joe’s Penny and she recently took in another TB mare by the name of Jitterbug Jane. She has a huge heart and is dedicated to helping these horses.

  7. Can his freedom really be bought? What will it take? I’d love to hear some kind of figure, so we could have a goal amount to raise. Does anyone know???

  8. Maureen, FTF has been “in the money” in 8 of his 15 races this year, so unless they know he’s hurt, they will talk about wanting something close to the claiming price he’s been running for, $4,000. (It’s unlikely his current owner paid that much for him.) That’s IF they’re willing to talk about retiring him.

    If he’s hurt, or for some reason they want to get rid of him, the price should be lower. I’d start my offer at $500, which is more than he’s earned in his last 3 races.

    My guesstimate is that it will take about $250 to transport him to me, $250 for vet, $200 for Ultium feed for a month of lay-up/let-down plus the actual cost of bail.

    I can keep him only a month for quarantine until someone moves him to his forever home or rescue, possibly longer if there is a sponsor.

    • I am still here reading the posts. You can still count on me for a donation. Thanks everyone for your efforts. I feel so sad for Face His Fire. I am sure that him being gelded is why he is still running, he’s earning his keep. When he breaks down he will still be paying his due once the insurance check is cashed.

      • Thank you so much, Carolyn. I will keep posting here as things change and I have more specific information.

  9. Well, I’m 100% serious about trying to raise money to save this guy. This is too heartbreaking. Faith, would $4,000 plus the $700 for transport, vet and one months food be the maximum amount we would need?

    • Maureen, that should be plenty, but I have not gotten a response from Contessa or the Exceller Fund.

      And, we need someone to provide this great guy a permanent home, the hardest part of the equation.

      Give me a few more days to see if we can make a deal.

  10. OK….in talks with the trainer. Communicating with Exceller Fund director.






    • Faith…please email me (scalawag1@hotmail.com) and if you don’t mind, include your number for me to call you. I cannot answer emails on my phone currently AND my computer at home is down! Crippling!

      Thank you so much…

  12. Thanks, Carolyn & Joy!

    OK, people, I know it’s a tough time of year, but let’s network to find this guy a home.

    FTF is about 17HH, solid-built, and Mr. Personality!

  13. So, should we/I create a fundraising webpage for Face the Fire, so people have a place to donate to? I see we need $2,200. Do we only have ten days to get it?

  14. Patrick i have a friend who is a jockey at Mahoning Valley who i’m going to call him and see if he can get a hold of the trainer of Face the Fire Ates Brandon or owner Michelle Helms to see if they would sell me Face the Fire to me privately, and then if i can pull this off send him to a beautiful horse retirement farm in northeastren Ohio were he will be well taken care of, and i will foot the monthly bill unless any one else would like to help..

  15. Okay Faith i’m wiling to help if you already made communication with trainer was going to call a friend of mind who is a jockey at Mahoning, Scott

  16. So thankful that compassionate people here are trying to raise funds for another sad situation, but I’m also furious. This shouldn’t be happening in the first place,. Moreover, why should people who had nothing to do with the exploitation or even profits generated have to scrap and pull together funds to rescue yet another victim from the horse racing industry?? You know I once heard an old timer horseman (passed away now) tell me that the horse racing industry relies on bleeding hearts like ours to clean up the mess that they created. They laugh all the way to the bank while we have to scrap up funds to rescue. It sickens me. It really does. Yet, I totally understand that the racehorse is the big loser in this entire equation, and generous people like you are doing everything you can to try and get this horse out of harms way. All the best. Please keep us posted.

  17. Mary, thank you for the update. I’m so glad to know Face the Fire’s “track torture” is finished and he will have a chance at a normal life.

    My thanks to Faith, you, Joy and everyone for helping make this possible.

  18. Hello, all!

    Will have photos tomorrow after I visit Face the Fire. Can’t wait to meet and post pictures of this big boy who’s been described by the trainer as a “happy horse!”

    He will be moved this weekend to my place. As Mary noted yesterday, we have a very strong possibility of a RETIREMENT home for him after the first of the year. (Will disclose more details when we’re sure.) And another waiting list possibility.

    Genuine thanks to those of you who’ve already contributed to his escape. You rock! We have not yet met our goal to cover the costs of transport (now there will be a second trailer run when he goes to the rescue facility) and maintenance until placed.

    Just remember, no amount is too small! $10 covers 2/3 of a bag of feed or 2 bales of very nice hay!

    Please email me at greenacreswv@gmail.com to be included in the news list or to make a contribution.

    Very special thanks to Joy and Mary and Carolyn Hyatt for the time and effort they’ve put into this rescue at such a tough time of year.

    • Thank you Faith. We all happened to be there at the right place at the right time. I am so excited to see pictures. I am so thankful that he is a happy boy.

  19. Face the Fire photos are available. Not sure if his barn name will be “Tiny” or “Beast”

    He’s huge!! Please email me for a link to the pictures!

  20. He’s here! Delivered about 3 pm Friday. He has already integrated himself with my herd (liberated himself overnight!), but despite his bulk, he’s at the bottom of the pecking order, something I did not expect! Even the 40″ pony bosses him around.

    He is totally bewildered by the hills, mud, and FREEDOM! The weather yesterday and today has been harsh, but mild weather is predicted tomorrow through next weekend, so that will give him an easier time acclimating to his new environment. He’ll have to learn to drink from a spring-fed bathtub and 100-gallon water troughs instead of buckets.


    • Thank you Faith for all your hard work in getting him “home”, safe and sound. Please let us know how he is doing and how the “waiting list” for a permanent home is coming along. You are his angel. Thank you.

      • Carolyn, yes, Michael Blowen/Old Friends does take in the bigger names because the bigger names (Silver Charm, Touch Gold, etc.) generate more revenue. However, with that being said, I do believe that Old Friends is an outstanding “rescue” of discarded TB’s because they are willing to provide for stallions. I have only had one stallion in my barn over the years, and that stallion was a racing stallion versus a breeding stallion and there is a difference. That stallion’s name was Slade and Joy and I worked together, along with another advocate, to get him out of the clutches of a low level owner/trainer based at Penn. At the time, I had a TB mare that I had adopted from New Vocations and I had to ship her to another barn to board her for a few weeks because I couldn’t take the chance having a stallion in my barn next to my mare. It is extremely difficult to place any OTTB so I do give credit to Old Friends for stepping up for the most challenging of all…stallions.

        By the way, Joy did a Shedrow Secrets story about Slade. He was only with me a little over three weeks but he touched me in a way that few horses have. He will never be forgotten.

    • Faith, I hope you read this message. I had a huge battle on the pro-horse racing website called BLOODHORSE. After every article there’s a comment section. It’s dominated by pro horse racing people. So I brought the slaughter issue up, and horses like Face The Fire. So this pro-horse racing person told me that they would give ongoing funding for this racehorse, and she provided me with the following groups that would help. Here’s her comment:

      The Retraining/Rehoming programs funded by the aforementioned PA tracks are: Turning For Home, New Start, and After The Races. These are, may I reiterate, Retraining/Rehoming centers for horses retiring directly from the track. Good day.

      I would really like you to check this out because I want to get back to this lady who commented. This comment came after we had a huge argument. She claims that all racehorses are looked after.

      Please check it out and let me know. Since you have ownership of the horse it would good if you call.

      • Gina…I would LOVE this woman’s name and phone number…I can hardly wait to contact her for this information on “ongoing funding” for racehorses! It’s incredible that I’ve been doing this for 15 years and have YET to find “ongoing funding” for the racehorses we’ve rescued! That is a blatant lie! In fact, so far for Face the Fire, we’ve had two “racing-freindly” organizations turn the gelding down because they don’t have room for him! – Old Friends and Exceller. In addition, just today another TB-placement organization’s founder told Mary Johnson that EVERY TAA-accredited organization that she “works with” is FULL. EVERY ONE that she works with! FULL! And not ONE of these organizations offered this “ongoing funding”!
        Lies. But I’ll be HAPPY to contact this woman (Mary and I are working on placement for FTF since Faith has her hands full with the physical daily care of him)…I need to find that ongoing funding. That is laughable…

      • Gina,

        I am making inquiries. It appears After the Races takes horses from Philadelphia Park and Turning for Home is related to Parx. I couldn’t identify a website for New Start.

        CANTER is the closest thing for Mountaineer and Mahoning Park. They have “trainer listings.” I don’t know how horses get into their retraining/rehab/placement programs. The Mountaineer site appears to be inactive. I haven’t checked Ohio.

        Let’s see what they have to say.

      • Gina, I, too, would love this person’s name because she isn’t telling the truth. Yesterday, I was told by the Executuve Director of a TB rescue that her rescue and all the TAA rescues she works with are “full to the gills” and can’t take in any more horses at this time. All racehorses are looked after? Either she is incredibly stupid or delusional. Very few are looked after and very few find wonderful, forever homes.

      • I would like to piggyback on Joy’s comment. Old Friends might be “full” when it comes to Face The Fire but they are taking in Stephen Got Even and Touch Gold. OF seems to cater to the “big names” in horseracing since those horses bring in more visitors. More visitors = More revenue.

        • I thought the same thing about Old Friends taking in more popular horses or higher earning horses. But I read about 1 horse they had taken in less that Face the Fire and thats why I thought we should check them out. They have a waiting list. But they did just purchase mre acreage.

      • Gina…in addition to the information in my prior comment (Old Friends and Exceller are full and cannot take FTF currently, and another TB racehorse placement program’s ED stated that all of the TAA-certified rescues that she works with are full), there’s been a reply from After the Races – FTF would need to go on a waiting list AND a donation of $2500 must accompany the gelding. Hmmm…where’s all of that “ongoing funding” that pro-racing person was gabbing about?? What a joke. These individuals tell such lies and no one holds them accountable for those lies…so they just let them fly. We know better.

  21. Short update on Face the Fire, aka “Beast”.
    One thing necessary when acquiring horses off the track is a veterinary evaluation – and for Beast, this is no exception. He is exhibiting lameness now so his vet exam will likely take place sooner rather than later.

    Anyone caring to assist with the costs of his veterinary evaluation, please shoot Faith a quick email…greenacreswv@gmail.com.
    Thank you.,

  22. Faith, thanks so much for helping this horse. I so wish I could financially contribute, but I struggle to pay for my own OTTB horse’s board. Boarding is so expensive. I must take care of my Wolfie whom I bought as a yearling at the Keeneland Sale 17 years ago. I owned, and raced him.
    I did huge battle yesterday on the Bloodhorse website, calling out the industry for what it is. I actually had an attorney reply to one of my comments by threatening to block me from commenting because I don’t have a right to Free Speech on that website evidently. Ray Paulick publisher stood behind me, and published my very forthright comments about the industry focusing on the slaughter issue. Thanks Ray.
    Anyways, this one girl commented and said that the industry takes care of their racehorses, and that there is funding in place when people do OTTB rescue. I sure gave her a piece of my mind. However, I did give her the opportunity to provide the name, and contact number of the person we could get in touch with for the ongoing funding of this racehorse and more that I know of.
    She never got back to me with that information. Doesn’t surprise me. They are all talk and no action.
    This multibillion dollar industry gives little or nothing to the very commodity that they exploit. Not only is the business itself horrific, but the aftermath of the mess they create is equally horrific with little or no support whatsoever.
    OF course the massive environmental destruction of horse slaughterhouses has not been addressed much either. There are literally pools of “blood ponds” outside of the horse slaughterhouse in Calgary Alberta.
    About 30% of those horses were once racehorses, and this pathetic industry is responsible for the carnage.

  23. In defense of Old Friends, I went to their website and the first 5 horses I checked for the career earnings read as follow:

    Hussonfirst $58,610
    Swan’s Way $64,715
    Majic Tiger $126,954
    Moonshadow Gold $336,774
    Northern Stone $54,527

    Face The Fire had earnings around $250,000. Unfortunately, I think its bad timing for looking for a forever home, its winter and no racing in this area, they saved shipping, feed, vet bills by not taking the horse to Florida or California, thats why places are full. Old Friends also had a horse with one eye who needed medical attention they took him in. I think he passed away last year. So a horse needing medical attention is also considered. If we could get him on a waiting list.

    • Hi Carolyn…I already asked OF about taking FTF (maybe you recall that they took Fighting City Hall in when I requested)…I asked weeks ago, whenever it was that Faith was successful in acquiring him. I thought I had commented here on the organizations that have already been asked to take FTF but had replied they could not because they were full. Maybe that was on another blog.

      Anyway, we’re still working on a permanent retirement place/organization for him. So far, no racing-funded/pro-racing organization has room. So much for the claims that racing takes care of its own. Supporters can claim that until they’re blue in the face…it’s a bald-faced lie.

  24. I was not offered a waiting list, Carolyn…and I didn’t ask because at this point we just want to move forward with the possibilities we have.

  25. A brief update on Face the Fire…and how prophetic were Patrick’s words in his piece about this gentle giant, as his caring guardian, Faith, refers to him as;

    “the pounding.. a body – muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments – barely hanging on, old before its time”

    Face the Fire, only eleven years old, has “a lot” of arthritis. In addition, the veterinarian confirmed his back has also been affected – “damaged”, was the exact word – because the kind gelding has been compensating in how he travels and even stands because of the pain in his arthritic joints. The “pounding” Face the Fire endured has certainly made him “old before his time”. And now, only a year or two into what are a horse’s prime years, he’s going to require pain management just to be a pasture pet.

    So apologists, your claims are that racing doesn’t adversely affect its horses – so is Face the Fire atypical?…because he ran 100-plus races? If so, how many races are NOT too many? 90? 70? 50? 30? 10? How about 7 races?…like the 3 y/o colt, I’ll Have Another – 7 races and requiring pain medication for his osteoarthritis. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/sports/ill-have-another-had-history-of-ailments-records-show.html?_r=0

    I’m hoping Face the Fire will get to enjoy at least as many years in the care of someone who genuinely loves him as he did enslaved in the industry that stole his once-sound limbs. I don’t know if that’s likely. But we will hope.

    • I am so sad to hear this about Face The Fire. So many races, they may as well have run him hard one time and “put him up wet” to get the same result. My mom always says that you have to keep moving with arthritis. It all just sickens me. A horse is so silent when it endures pain. A dog or cat will bite or scratch you, but not a horse. I wish they would kick the sh*t out of their trainers and owners.

      • Re your last sentence, Carolyn. Where I am, some years ago it was reported in a newspaper that a racehorse trainer had died when attending to one of his horses. Mmm….. this trainer had a reputation of sorts and apparently one of his horses had had enough and kicked out at him something terrible resulting in his death. The name of the horse was “Insensitive” I kid you not!

        When i’ve witnessed trainers/staff mistreating the racehorses, i’ve often thought, if only you (horses) knew your own strength!!!

    • Thank you, Joy for this update on Face The Fire – oh this poor boy. Not in the least bit surprised with the vet’s findings.
      This is why so many don’t go onto another career because they’re so badly damaged by racing. I pray that he finds a genuine forever home. Now what are his breeder and former owners and trainers doing about his plight? Sweet bugger all! (excuse my French) and the racing industry…. pfft! they declare and declare forever and a day that they are re-homing their much loved? horses and look at FTF who, many thanks to Faith, is alive and being so well cared for in the interim. Why in the hell should Faith have to be forking out the dollars to feed and house him and not only that, but the caring of FTF and horses are high maintenance as we all know. It just makes me so livid.

      Racing apologists and the racing industry generally, just WHAT are you going to do for Face The Fire?
      WHAT are you going to damn well do for him?

      Look at the billions of dollars this industry makes on the backs of these thoroughbreds!

      Face The Fire will REQUIRE pain management for the remainder of his days…… look at what you’ve done to him.

      PS: Have another read of Joy’s comment, in particular, “he has been compensating in how he travels and even stands because of the pain in his arthritic joints”.

    • The pounding on the muscles, tendons and joints doesn’t just effect the “old” campaigners. Canuki, my TB who was sold for slaughter in May, 2012, had mild arthritis at the age of five. He is now eight (2008 foal). Canuki is suitable for low level work but nothing too strenuous because of the damage done to him by those that support animal exploitation. He won $8,000 for his connections over the course of 17 starts and quickly descended down the claiming ranks where he finally landed at two “hell hole” tracks. Between his 6th and 7th race, he was dumped by his breeder, Dr. Patrick King and his wife, Lesley. Eleven races later, he was sold for $150 by his owner of record, Ms. Barbara Price, and quietly entered the underground slaughter pipeline. Just recently, one of the top owners in terms of winnings in the industry told me that she does “not run horses into the ground”. My response to her was “No, you unload them and let others do that for you”. She, just like Canuki’s owners, the Kings, dump/unload their unprofitable horses and many of those horses end up in the slaughter pipeline. That is the name of the game in horseracing….run them and dump them.

      • “Run them and dump them”. Mary, you are so right

        . And the “elite” of the game wash their hands out of the unprofitable via the claiming game. The horse then spirals down in the claiming ranks until he is running for his life, sore and drugged, with a price tag of 5 or 2,000 dollars or less. Plus, as he changes hands in his decent into hell, he is started more often ….got to get return on “investment”. For example, Face the Fire, a 10 yr. old, was started 15 times in 9 months at the end of his “career”. We know the shape he is in, but he was given the OK by the track vet. !!

      • Rose, the vast majority in racing don’t give a damn and a racing official, here in Ohio, has told me that over and over and over. Even the “good” folks in racing use and abuse the horses in order to make a buck yet they profess to “love” the horses. No, they love the industry, not the horses who put their “lives on the line” daily. How can any human being “love” an industry where the animal being exploited has to put its life “on the line” daily? Truly disgusting…

  26. Isn’t it so ironic that the multibillion dollar horse racing industry boasts about their aftercare programs, and how they take care of so many horses? Yet, when you try to get funding and/or a home for an OTTB many of these resources never materialize!
    I know. I have done this many times over the years.
    Another thing, there’s always a caveat. The majority of OTTB industry funded aftercare groups have geographical requirements. That usually means that they only take in racehorses that have raced in their jurisdiction. Well, this caveat pretty much eliminates many racehorses who are continually shuffled around to fill claiming races in other states. How convenient is that?
    Also, they usually have a time limited requirement. That usually means that a racehorse must either come DIRECTLY off the track or has come off one of their tracks in the area within the last 10 days or something ridiculous like this.
    Many now have requirements that the racehorse is sound, and able to be salvaged for another career as the possibility of them finding a home as a lawn ornament is next to nil. Also, due to their limited funds they don’t want big vet bills.
    Given the magnitude of the unwanted racehorses once they are no longer profitable, and these common requirements for industry funded aftercare groups, it’s no wonder that many racehorses end up at the kill auction, and subsequently the slaughterhouse.
    This is the entire basis of the horse racing business model: exploit and dump. They know full well that dumping must be part of the equation because there are not enough homes to go around no matter how many aftercare organizations they fund.
    They tout horses like American Pharaoh giving the impression that all racehorses end up on a multibillion dollar horse farm with lush green pastures, and a life of Riley. Most of them think that stallions like AP enjoy getting on their hind quarters and impregnating 100+ mares every year; that it is a great life. I can see why most men would think that, but the life of a stallion is a lonely one.
    The life of a broodmare is horrific. Broodmares have got to be one of the most abused factions of the horse racing industry, and they are usually the first ones to be dumped when they are no longer viable (viable= no longer able to get pregnant).
    That’s what this industry is all about: profit. When a horse is no longer profitable they quickly become a liability, a disposable commodity, and usually a dead body on the kill floor.
    These sentiment beings generate the profits, but many are dumped when no longer profitable.
    This is the fancy hat veneer. This is the world of horse racing. Please don’t support it.

  27. To everybody here. I knew that this Poster on the Bloodhorse Blog was living the delusion that most of them do. Anyways, I had to go back over hundreds of posts, and I did find him or her. Here are some of her comments. Her post name is ZOE:

    Zoe > Northern Dancer • 2 months ago
    Racehorse retirement/rehoming has BEEN in place at PA tracks. $10 every horse, every start, every race at Penn, and it comes directly out of the owners account no matter where the horse finishes in a race. Parx is $20. Not sure about Presque Isle.

    Here’s another post from the same conversation:

    Zoe > Northern Dancer • 2 months ago
    I am WELL AWARE of the situation in the kill pen. I was merely stating that there is money available for rehoming/retraining.

    After I stated that the aftercare groups are FULL. She still stated this:

    Zoe > Northern Dancer • 2 months ago
    The Retraining/Rehoming programs funded by the aforementioned PA tracks are: Turning For Home, New Start, and After The Races. These are, may I reiterate, Retraining/Rehoming centers for horses retiring directly from the track. Good day.

    Here’s a link to this conversation if you care to burst her little pro-horse racing bubble:


    You can post as a GUEST or you can register with DISQUS, and comment to these very pro-horse racing people. I actually comment a lot because some of them are living a delusion. It’s actually quite humorous at times.

  28. Thank you all for keeping Face the Fire (Beastie) in mind. He certainly is a poster boy for old campaigners. With his incredible personality, willingness, size, and great bones, he could have had an amazing career doing just about anything else, while being someone’s BFF. I absolutely love this guy and am glad I was able to retire him before “just one more” race put him on the KB trailer.

    To illustrate just how sweet this guy is, the 40″ pony mare on the farm bosses him around.

    The vet says no fractures, just extreme arthritis. (And he blew an abscess in the LR). We will know in a few weeks whether it’s possible to keep him comfortable with moderate doses of Bute. If I can find a safe, economical way to stop the pain, I will keep him myself. If not, he will have to be placed in a retirement program as I just don’t have the resources for expensive injections. The vet will work with me in finding the best treatment.

    Please contact me at greenacreswv at gmail with FTF in the subject line for a link to photos and facts on Face the Fire. (The owners who registered him thought he had potential to run in the Breeders Cup and paid for his eligibility.)

    My OTTBs have ranged in age from 4 to 10 when they were retired/rescued. Two had busted knees and would surely have been sold to Rudibaugh, the kill-buyer for Mountaineer. Even these youngsters (who were both radiographed) showed significant arthritic changes. They’d run 22 and 29 races (all claimers) in their young lives…before their bodies had even matured. These kind creatures deserved so much better!

    We must keep up the work of educating the public, bettors, owners, trainers…everyone profiting from the destruction of these magnificent beings.

      • Carolyn, thanks for asking about Beastie (Face the Fire).

        Dr. Nick and Dr. Rebeca just visited yesterday to give everyone their spring inoculations and to check out Beastie’s recurring lameness.

        Mr. Gentle Giant was perfectly behaved for his injections and while the docs examined him, and checked his feet with the hoof tester. Dr. Rebeca found a second abscess in Beastie’s right rear near the toe. (The first was in the heel bulb , which is healing) She ruptured it, cleaned it out, and medicated it. The big boy was immediately more comfortable. (Yay!)

        The other abscess which had broken through on the left rear coronary band does not appear to be causing any trouble. His hooves are growing really well. The old scar is about an inch below the coronary now.

        Abscesses seem to be part of the territory with many OTTBs.

        As far as his arthritic pain, I had tapered the Bute down to 0 in March, but when he started being lame again (the abscess), I put him back on 1gm a.m. and p.m. I will taper off again. Dr. Nick has suggested that I might consider previcox if he goes back on NSAIDs since it has fewer gastric side effects.

        The big scrapes on Beast’s forelegs are healing nicely. He hasn’t injured himself in 6 weeks now! I think he’s figured out how to navigate the terrain here.

        He has totally staked out his end of the run-in and the mares have the other. (But if a mare wants his spot, he moves out.) He has risen from the bottom of the Horse hierarchy to next-to-last. He’s stopped letting the pony boss him around. And as a Horse he’s higher than the three Mules.

        Beastie’s weight had dropped a bit in the transition from grain-based to forage-based, but he’s filling out again (he’s what I’d describe as a 4 on Heineke scale now) and will gain more with the nice pasture grass we have. My preference is about a 5-1/2 body score.

        I have totally fallen head over heels for this horse. He has been approved for the Exceller Fund “War Horse” program, but I’m having a hard time letting go now. (Their program is based on long-term boarding with approved providers. War Horses have run over 50 races and have a special category.)

        If you have personally rescued an animal, you know how hard it is to give away a being who’s become part of your heart. The only way you truly know the animal’s future is to be the happy ending yourself.

        So, with love, respect, and admiration for Nikki Smith (Exceller Fund E.D.), Joy and Mary, and all of you who contributed to Beastie’s rescue, I have chosen to keep Face the Fire with me and free up that Exceller Fund spot for another deserving Thoroughbred.

        Who knows, maybe one of the other 11 horses I’m watching at Mountaineer will fall into our safety net.

        Here’s a new link to Face the Fire’s Dropbox folder with photos and documents. I haven’t updated it for 6 weeks. Will try to get some new pix in soon.


        • You have brought me to happy tears this afternoon. I am so happy to hear that you are keeping FTF!!!! My love for cats and dogs taught me once possessed, you will never let go of. Over the years I have rescued both a cat and a dog with intentions of finding a new home for them but as soon as I have them in my home and my arms they were not going to any “new home” they would be staying with me. My love for horses is deep in my heart and soul and truly understand why you are keeping FTF. I am thrilled to hear he is doing good and you are able to take care of him. Please give him hugs and kisses from me! Once again, thank you!!

        • Only happy tears…. Also I enjoyed the pics too. He is a big boy compared to the rest of the “family”. Loved seeing him prancing around in the video. Thanks!

  29. So glad to hear he is away from the torture chamber AKA racetrack. So much thanks to all of you for doing this.
    One dude still stands out in my mind: SHARED BELIEF. Where he is? None of the connections could answer anybody. This horse made MILLIONS! He DNF on his last race then disappeared.
    This is horrific. Jerry Hollendorfer needs to answer.
    Where is SHARED BELIEF???

  30. http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=Horse&refno=9064077&registry=T

    SHARED BELIEF a dark bay colt began racing as a 2 year old at Golden Gate on Oct 19, 2013. After his third start he had a lay-off of about 5 months from Dec 2013 until May 2014 and this appears to have been his only lay-off in his 18 months’ career. 5 months is longer than usual and it is possible he might’ve suffered an injury.

    At Charles Town on April 18, 2015 he competed in a race with a total purse of $1,500,000. This was to be his final race – he broke down. The equibase Chart describes his career ending injury as follows –
    “SHARED BELIEF stumbled just after the start, raced toward the rear of the field three wide, was pulled up nearing the half- mile pole and vanned off”.

    After resuming from his lay-off he was having his ninth start and, in my view, he should’ve had another lay-off much earlier – 11 months had passed without him having had a decent respite period to recover, rest, heal and gradually come back into training in readiness to resume racing.

    My guess is that when he stumbled just after the start he suffered a serious injury. There’s so much stress placed on the horse from just standing confined in the gates and then suddenly jumping out and placed under pressure to run very fast. It is also possible that he could’ve been carrying a pre-existing injury.

    Career 12: 10-0-0 $2,932,200 (in prizemoney earnings alone – let alone the punt)
    Average prizemoney earnings per race start was $244,350.

    According to equibase.com, this 4 year old gelding’s connections as of his last start were –

    Jockey – Mike E Smith
    Trainer – Jerry Hollendorfer
    Owner – Jungle Racing LLC, KMN Racing LLC, Hollendorfer, Litt, Solis II and Todaro
    Breeder – Pam and Martin Wygod

    This racehorse was famous and yet the only information given to the public just prior to his disappearance was
    “pulled up… and vanned off”. Yep, that’s it folks, that’s all that needs to be said as far as his connections and the racing industry are concerned. This 4 year old (a baby) horse willingly gave his all, was beaten with a whip when he was galloping as fast as he could and earned a HUGE amount of money for his connections et al and yet there’s no disclosure as to what happened to him? It would be wonderful to hear that he’s recovering from his injury in a paddock. People are wondering what happened to him and his trainer JERRY HOLLENDORFER (also a part owner) and the owners are obligated to reveal the current status of Shared Belief.

    Is he DEAD or is he ALIVE?

    • No money to be made in the breeding shed ! Patch him up and run him as much as possible…lots of hands in the till with this ownership.!!!

      What a short stressful and pain ridden life Shared belief endured for his money grubbing connections. His best racing days were done and retirement would cost MONEY !

  31. Shared belief passed away due to colic sometime after December 3rd last year I read that he sustained a non displaced hip fracture on the right side in that Charles town race…

    • Billy…I’ve sent you an email and posted a reply to you here (on HRW) about Sun City. Please see my email from several days ago and I’d appreciate your response. Thank you.

    • Billy, are you saying he lived in a stall with a hip fracture for 8 months before he died of colic???

      Were they hoping to somehow wring even more money out of him? Without any details, it’s hard to know what his options were. I haven’t had to deal with that type of fracture, but what quality of life could he have had? I HATE this industry.

      • From the Wiki article about Shared Belief…..the last paragraph says it all.

        Shared Belief (15 February 2011 – 3 December 2015) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse. As a two-year-old, the gelding was unbeaten in three races, including the Hollywood Prevue Stakes and CashCall Futurity, and was named American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt for 2013 at the Eclipse Awards.

        As a three-year-old, an injury kept him out of the 2014 Kentucky Derby, but he returned later in the year and won four races including the Los Alamitos Derby, Pacific Classic, and Awesome Again Stakes, but lost his unbeaten record when finishing fourth as the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He returned from his defeat in the Breeders’ Cup to win the Malibu Stakes on his final appearance of the year. In 2015 he defeated California Chrome in the San Antonio Stakes and won the Santa Anita Handicap before being sidelined for the season with a hip injury.

        Returning to the track in late 2015, he had promising workouts and was being prepared for a return to racing in 2016. He died unexpectedly on December 3, 2015 due to complications of colic. Emergency surgery was performed at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary medicine, but surgeons were unable to save him.

        On April 18, Shared Belief raced outside California for the first time when he was sent to West Virginia to contest the Charles Town Classic. However, he slipped leaving the starting gate and Smith eased him at six furlongs because he wasn’t moving properly and thus he failed to finish. After the race, swelling was detected in his right stifle. The track veterinarian declared it a soft tissue injury and said that it was neither life-threatening nor career-ending, but it was the second serious injury on the Charles Town track that day.[22] The following Monday, test results revealed that Shared Belief had a non-displaced fracture at the point of his right hip and he was placed on stall rest.

        Jim Rome tweeted that Shared Belief’s “prognosis is excellent!” and thanked Smith for his quick action that saved the horse from greater injury.[23] The horse was flown back to the west coast and as of 22 April 2015 was to be shipped to the Pegasus Training Center in Renton, Washington for 45 to 60 days of rehabilitation.[24]

        Returning to the track in late 2015, Shared Belief was being conditioned to return to racing and appeared to be the picture of health. But on the morning of December 3, 2015, Shared Belief began to show signs of colic. He was rushed to UC Davis for surgery, but could not be saved.[2][25]

  32. Joy I sincerely apologize I ha ent had much time life’s been getting the best of me I will return your email later today after work n after I call Mr toye today n possibly ms horne I shall see

  33. Thanks everybody for the information re: SHARED BELIEF. His story is the epitome of greed, and exploitation in this horrific industry.
    He made millions for these connections, and they STILL put him back into training after he sustained a fractured hip. I despise these greedy SOB’s. I really do.
    Poor little angel this dude was. He had more class then Jerry Hollendorfer and any of his connections. He was a warrior.
    I just can’t believe that they put him back into training after this severe injury.
    Like Rose said, he had no value in the breeding shed so it was time to squeeze the lemon dry.
    This entire story makes me vomit.
    Colic is usually a result of pain and stress. The little dude knew he was back at the track, and probably the stress of having to perform with previous injuries was too much for him to bear.
    Please shut this business down. I can’t stand it anymore.

  34. R.I.P. Shared Belief – You had the heart of a champion, and now you are free from your tormentors. I am so sorry how you had to suffer with debilitating injuries and pain. Your owners & trainer let their greed blind them, instead of doing the right thing for your well-being.

    It is the same old story, the horse always loses in this game. These men have no sense of right or wrong, and no common sense; they think they are sending out machines, instead of living, breathing, creatures..

    Shared Belief was run into the ground, make no mistake about it. They push, and push, and push, and sooner or later they break down or become seriously injured. They made millions on the back of this magnificent TB, but it is never enough. This horse was seriously stressed out, and what he needed most was rest away from the track. They gave him a permanent rest instead.

    I miss you Shared Belief, your life mattered, and I will never forget you….

    Marlene Thornley

  35. http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2016/02/19/horse-saved-by-racing-exec-thrives-in-show-ring/#comments

    A fairytale ending for an ex-racehorse – the racing executive is none other than Sam Elliott of Parx.

    I posted the following on the offtrackthoroughbreds site in October 2015 in response to an article referring to Sam Elliott and horseslaughter.

    “ ‘No Slaughter’ policy at racetracks is a joke! Impossible to monitor and police. Exposure of a case like Wolf King (dead) is rare – got to be seen to be doing something about horses going to slaughter from the track, a public relations exercise and in the meantime Sam Elliott allows Wolf King’s owner to continue to race horses – speaks for itself!
    Just to add that the way in which Sam Elliott responded to the sickening death of ARMANI THE WON at Parx recently was deplorable. In lieu of pulling ATW out of the race, jockey continued racing the horse to the line when it had fractured its leg??? Then they tried to put ATW in a van with his severely broken leg, stuffed around with the traumatised terrified horse no end, whilst horse was in excruciating pain. Finally had to resort to putting the screen around him to euthanase – oh yes they go to extremes to avoid that, ATW is just one example.
    Sam Elliott’s response to this incident was that the jockey was ‘new’….. matter closed.”

    Sam Elliott appears to have been depicted as some sort of a hero in saving this sole OTTB. My view is that this article is nothing more than a public relations exercise in a pathetic attempt to portray a horseracing executive as one of the “good folks” in racing when his track record is appalling……pfft!

  36. This PR is one more look at the blatant deception of this business. Sam Elliott is no friend to the Thoroughbred. I spoke to Mr. Elliott on the phone re Armani the Won. Mr. Elliott was impatient and abrupt. He showed no concern whatsoever for the brutal treatment the horse endured. And that, folks, is the “real” Sam Elliott !
    But, interestingly he asked me if I was a reporter. Perhaps he has a different approach to the
    media !

    PS Carolyn, what a beautiful mare. Thanks for the link.
    This business should not showcase or take any credit for “saving” a horse or two from a horrific death by slaughter when thousands of it’s horses are sent to slaughter every year. Slaughter is the disposal system for racing’s abandoned horses no matter what they say.

    • Oh yes Rose she is a beautiful horse and it looks to me as though the Arab in the thoroughbred breed has really come out in her face. What I find disturbing is that the racing connections of ARRESTED GATORGIRL thought absolutely nothing of sending her to slaughter to a horrific INHUMANE death.

      She had 27 starts for $12,861 and in her third last she refused to jump out of the gates. She was up for Claiming in each and every race and her profile shows that she failed as a racehorse. Her trainer was Wayne E Sargent (for the whole of her career) and her owner was Wayne E Sargent Jr. when she last raced on Oct 27, 2008. They wasted no time in getting rid of her as the offtrackthoroughbreds’ article refers to her being found in the New Holland Auction in October 2008.

      It is interesting that her breeder was the University of Florida Foundation.
      She was consigned by the University of Florida Equine Sciences Program who sold her to Wayne Sargent.


  37. Hello, friends who supported the efforts to retire Face the Fire and find a rescue to take him. Here’s an update.

    As you may recall, Face the Fire had the opportunity to go into the program of a well-known TB rescue. However, once I learned that the rescue did not have its own facilities, but essentially boarded its wards at various farms, I could not release him. I felt the risk was just too great that he could be let down by humans again. So, he is still with me. And I ADORE him!

    Beastie, as he is now known, is happily the king of his herd…after some intense negotiations with my “Mean Girls.” But little Jitterbug Jane (OTTB, 2.5.2007, 71 races) still makes him skitter away with an ear-flick.

    He’s the most accident-prone horse I’ve ever known and I have learned several new boo-boo management techniques and am becoming proficient at administering injections (tetanus, penicillin, etc)! He is such a gentle giant, which is good since I am usually alone when treating him.

    For a year, we have been battling abscesses on both hind feet. They first manifested within 2 weeks of his arrival and have recurred twice after we thought we’d gotten everything cleared up.

    Even with hurty feet, he and Joe’s Penny (OTTB, 4.7.2006, 32 races) love to race up and down the pasture, testing each other. (Of course, my phone is in the truck when they do this!) Wish I could share photos here.

    Again, my thanks to all of you for your support for me and Beast and for all your efforts to end the vile “sport” of racing.

    “To those who trade in equines in the pursuit of cash and fleeting glory, we say: Find a commodity that doesn’t bleed; take up a hobby that can’t cry out in pain. Enough.”
    – Patrick Battuello

    Animal advocates are not defeated. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop agitating, they had better think again. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop litigating, they had better close the courts. If anyone thinks that we are not going to demonstrate and protest, they had better roll up the sidewalks.
    ~ Columbus Top Dogs paraphrasing Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks

    US Attorney William C. Killiam: “As human beings, we have been given dominion over the earth and its creatures, and we must exercise that privilege by being good stewards of this gift. Maiming and mutilating horses for sport and profit betrays that charge of stewardship.”

    • Oh Faith, thank you SO much for this update!! It brought tears to my eyes – to think of where Face the Fire/Beastie once was and what was likely in store for him! BLESS YOU, dear friend and advocate! And give ALL of your sweet rescued equine family members a kiss on their soft muzzles from me!

    • Faith, thank you so much for the update and, of course, for what you have done and continue to do for Face the Fire, and the others. THANK YOU, THANK YOU !!.

    • Faith, thank you for the update on Beastie as well as your two other girls. I remember Joe’s Penny whom, I believe, had suffered a fractured knee during her racing days. They are lucky horses to have had you to step up for them. I wish all horses were as fortunate.

  38. Faith, yes thank you for the update! I have been thinking about him lately as it has been just over a year ago that he was rescued. So glad to hear he has found a place with your “family” and doing so well. Thank you so much for taking him in and taking care of him.

  39. Faith, your update was such a pleasure to read and encouraging. What a great life Beastie is living with the girls, sorting out the hierarchy and having fun. It must be amazing for him after so many years of living the miserable life of a racehorse – he’s now learning to live as he should.
    Thank you Faith and every blessing for good health and happiness.

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