After 114 Starts, a Cheap Horse Named Threewisemen Simply Disappears

Back in August 2014, I reported on an in-the-process-of-being-beaten-into-the-dirt 9-year-old, 99-start gelding named Threewisemen. In that post, I besought trainer/owner Russell Polichena to release the long-abused horse from his servitude. That plea (of course) went unanswered.

After my initial exposure, Threewisemen was raced 15 more times (bringing his total times under the whip to 114) – all cheap claiming, all at bottom-of-the-barrel Thistledown and Mahoning. Those tracks, not coincidentally, are racino tracks, meaning the gift (from the state of Ohio) slots revenue allows for first-last payouts. In other words, Mr. Polichena, to “earn” all you need do is have your horse cross the line.

Threewisemen’s final 14 races:

9/5/14, $4,000 claiming – 9th of 10, 17+ (lengths) back, $90 for Mr. Polichena

9/26/14, $4,000 claiming – 8th of 9, 27+ back, $90 for Mr. Polichena

10/17/14, $4,000 claiming – 11th of 12, 15 back, $90 for Mr. Polichena

11/7/14, $4,000 claiming – 10th of 12, 14+ back, $90 for Mr. Polichena

12/1/14, $4,000 claiming – 8th of 12, $65 for Mr. Polichena

12/30/14, $3,500 claiming – last of 9, 16+ back, $55 for Mr. Polichena

2/11/15, $3,500 claiming – last of 8, $55 for Mr. Polichena

3/11/15, $3,500 claiming – 5th of 8, $116 for Mr. Polichena

3/28/15, $3,500 claiming – 4th of 6, 12+ back, $290 for Mr. Polichena

4/22/15 (now 10 years old), $3,500 claiming – 6th of 7, $58 for Mr. Polichena

5/11/15, $4,000 claiming – last of 9, 15+ back, $106 for Mr. Polichena

6/10/15, $4,000 claiming – 7th of 10, 14+ back, $106 for Mr. Polichena

6/29/15, $4,000 claiming – last of 8, 19+ back, $103 for Mr. Polichena

7/13/15, $4,000 claiming – 7th of 9, 21 back, $103 for Mr. Polichena

Threewisemen has not been heard from since. As it is with so many other ground-down claimers, he simply disappeared from the charts. Sold to a kill-buyer, one final profit on his head? Perhaps. But we’ll likely never know.

This is horseracing.

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  1. Thank you, Patrick, for this heartbreaking update.

    Folks, we’re still looking for a forever home for Face The Fire, 109 races.

  2. The “business” is built on the backs of the thousands upon thousands of horses with much the same sad story as Threewisemen.

    Mr. Polichena and so many others like him carry on their dehumanizing “work” of abusing the hapless horse for a paltry sum before pocketing the final payment as the unfortunate animal is sent to a horrific journey culminating in brutal slaughter.

    How do these people sleep at night ?

  3. Is there some kind of an entry fee that is required to pay so your horse can run in a race? I have always thought so, but maybe not. If there is a fee how could it be plausible to race a horse and only receive $65.00 because he crossed the finish line? Unless, of course, he breaks down and the last check is the insurance check? Which is of course his worth in the claming race, $4,000 or $3,500.

    • These low level claimers are rarely if ever insured. In fact, not many racing Thoroughbreds are insured unless they are big time money earners and not all of those are insured either.

    • Carolyn…there are no entry fees for these claiming races. With a horse that’s already compromised from all of the wear and tear of racing for years like this poor gelding, the owner/trainer have nothing to lose but the used-up racehorse (if he catastrophically breaks down and dies) by putting him in a claiming race. They get a check through last place, so why not?

  4. The racing commissions, the racetracks, the Jockey Club and the USA Humane Society are also responsible for the abuse and fate of THREEWISEMEN. These entities have no policies in place to protect horses like Threewisemen who is representative of the majority of racehorses in the industry. It seems to me that the only way they can keep racing going is to embrace trainers like Russell Polichena who is typical of the majority of trainers/owners and the like.

    This horse was TEN (10) YEARS of age from his foaling date during his last 6 starts and he began his career in March 2008 and his last race took place on July 13, 2015 which means he was raced for over SEVEN (7) YEARS. And all in the insidious Claiming Races. SHAMEFUL.

  5. Over the years, I’ve rescued a few of Polichena’s from Sugarcreek. Sadly, I’ve little doubt that this dutiful old campaigner was shipped to slaughter.

    • So much for those touted anti-slaughter policies that tracks have, right? What a JOKE! This just enrages me and breaks my heart at the same time…WHO can defend this?!?!?

      • Yes, Joy – they declare they’re anti-slaughter, yet at the same time they’re aware that many horses leaving their tracks are on the first part of their horrific journey to a slaughterhouse for an inhumane unspeakable death after abusing and profiting from them.

        They are LIARS!

      • There is no defense for this awful cruelty. Howeverr, these people are never held accountable no matter how these horses suffer and regardless of how the most basic anti cruelty laws are violated over and over.

      • Time, and time again, many of us have contacted racetracks with proof that the connections dumped their now unprofitable racehorse at the kill auction, and that the connections should be denied stalls (according to their policy). This never happens. This policy is not worth the paper it’s written on. First of all, they know that in order to grease the wheels of the wagering machines racehorses must be exploited. It’s the very foundation of this horrific business. They know full well that there are not enough homes to go around. Yet, they continue to breed, and breed in order to fill races. There’s no end in sight until all racetracks are shut down. Second, I have been told by reliable sources out of the Woodbine Racetrack in Ontario Canada that the slaughter pipeline has gone underground. That the Trainers are working with Owners who want to dump racehorses when no longer profitable. Evidently, they are now being shipped to private farms where a private vet comes and euthanizes them. They are then buried – out of sight, out of mind. There are some people charging fees for this apparently. This way, there are no records, and the irresponsible, disgusting, idiots are getting away with murder. I don’t doubt this is going on because a few years back when I was very active going around to kill auctions, collecting tattoos, and causing an uproar there were lots of OTTB’s standing at the kill auction in Saint Mary’s Livestock Auction every week. It’s gone from finding lots to very little so where are they all going? I get no answers, and no traces of these racehorses. There is something very sinister going on. Our only hope is one of the grooms to do the right thing and come forward, but we are now being told that they don’t even know where the van goes when they come to pick them up. All they know is they “DISAPPEAR.” When they ask the trainer they are told to mind their own business if they want a job. I believe this. So typical of this horrific business.

  6. The racing industry uses slaughter as its disposal system yet people still support it. Reprehensible…

    If there was a pet store that threw dogs and cats into the dumpster if they didn’t sell within a certain length of time, I wonder if people would support such an operation. Obviously, there would be some who would be horrified and who would turn against the pet store with a vengeance but there would be others that would turn a blind eye. Such is the sad state of our morals, values, and ethics. I often think that the human race is morally bankrupt.

    • Exactly Mary. Let’s not forget that, considering your analogy. the dogs and cats would have generated thousands of dollars for the pet store before being thrown in the dumpster. Disgusting.

  7. He was not a “cheap” horse he had heart and a soul a true 9 to 5 gritty gelding that was always there for his pathetic connection.

    • Scott…none of us here – those of us who love the racehorse but abhor the racing industry – feel Threewisemen or the thousands of racehorses just like him are “cheap”. That is the industry’s word for these claimers, Scott. Time and time again, in racing publications, one will see that word – CHEAP – to describe the horses that are the backbone of this despicable industry. It’s glaringly evident that a racehorse’s value is directly related to what that horse can DO for their connections…and not for simply who/what they are – a sentient being that shares this earth with us.

      So yes, Scott, Threewisemen was definitely not cheap. He was just as deserving of a life as this year’s TC winner. But try telling that to industry members. Jay Hovdey exclaims “every death of a Thoroughbred racehorse chips away at the justification for racing them at all” – if so, Mr. Hovdey, that justification has certainly been hacked away at, leaving nothing but dust.

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