3-Year-Old Repeatedly Punched in Head Prior to Race

3-year-old Accolade being punched – yes, punched – repeatedly (I count four plus a shove for good measure) for “acting up” prior to the 5th at Delaware Park yesterday:

Accolade’s Equibase note, by the way: “ACCOLADE was fractious in the gate then bobbled at the start, was forwardly placed then weakened.” Yes, “bobbled” from being beaten up. After having “weakened,” he finished second-to-last but, Delaware Park being a racino, still took home $125 for his “connections.”

The track made this announcement via Twitter: “[Delaware Park] in no way condones the mistreatment of animals & has immediately suspended the asst starter involved in an incident before the 5th race today. The incident has been referred to the DTRC, which will investigate & hold a special hearing on Saturday morning.”

The miscreant should – but won’t – be arrested for animal cruelty (Delaware’s relevant statute here). It’s ugly, it’s vile – but then again, it’s horseracing.


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  1. Here’s is the letter from the owner of Accolade:

    As the owner of ACCOLADE, the 3yr old gelding that was beaten in the head by the assistant starter on Thursday in the gate, I am disgusted at what I witnessed. I am bothered by the fact that the head starter after witnessing this attack didn’t pull my horse from the race or at the very least make him a non starter for all the people that had wagered on him. The time, effort and patience needed to have your horse ready to compete at a top level on a specific day and race is difficult, not to mention expensive. The one factor that people can’t handicap, is an employee of Delaware Park taking his frustrations out on your horse. I am happy to see the outrage and indignation that this matter has received on social media. My 14 yr old daughter and I travel 50 minutes each weekend to feed Accolade his favorite snack, peeled red delicious apples and baby carrots. She was in tears watching our horse getting beaten over and over and over and over and over again. She didn’t sleep Thursday night, as the image of the abuse replayed in her mind.
    I am surprised that no representative from Delaware Park had the decency to reach out to either Able Castellano (my trainer) or myself. If this type of behavior is routine in the racing business, then I must rethink my participation in the sport of kings. I am not a litigious person, but the lack of empathy on the behalf of Delaware Park is intolerable.

    Glenn A. Fagan”

    What I would really like to say to Glenn Fagan is this:

    They care nothing about the health and welfare of your horse.
    Your horse, Accolade, is just another $2 bet, a gambling pawn that generates profits for the multi-billion dollar wagering companies and for the racetracks.
    What is NOT said in this situation is that tracks demand that starters get the horse in the gate because they don’t want to REFUND any money.
    In fact, most will load a racehorse in obvious distress so that they don’t have to REFUND the money.
    Had this not been caught on camera this starter would still have a job.
    In reading this letter, Glenn is living the delusion that so many owners live.
    I did myself so I know exactly how it goes.
    This industry convinces owners that racehorses are “royally-treated,” and they rarely discuss what happens to most racehorses after they are done with them.
    The only glimmer of hope when reading this letter is that Glenn will come to his senses and take his horse, leave this business, and speak out about it.
    His 14 y.o daughter shows the most compassion in this entire scenario.
    Hopefully she will convince her father to leave, and I sincerely hope that this young girl will speak out about this industry now and in her adult life because these memories are forever etched on a young child just like watching a racehorse drop dead in the dirt.

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