Repeat Horse Abuser Gets Wrist Slapped in California

From the most recent minutes released by the California Horse Racing Board.

At the Alameda County Fair at Pleasanton, July 3: “While horses were in the Starting Gate for the first race Czechoutpappyscorona flipped; [she was] scratched for being down and trapped in the gate stall.” Same day, race 4: “Nice Blaze [fell]…multiple scrapes and a hematoma developing on her right hip.”

At the Los Alamitos Thoroughbred meet, July 3:

“Apprentice Jockey Victor Flores was in our office to answer to a complaint. The CHRB filed the complaint when Safety Steward Paul Atkinson photographed a welt on the horse The Last Ruler…after the sixth race on 2/23 at Santa Anita. Mr. Flores apologized. The following ruling was issued: Flores is fined $300 for violation of rule #1688(3) (Use of Riding Crop – causing welts or breaks in the skin).”

$300 – for open, transparent animal abuse.

Same track, July 4: “Trainer Gary Mandella was in our office to participate in a formal hearing…. Mr. Mandella’s horse tested positive for the drug Phenylbutazone on 2/15 in the eighth race at Santa Anita. Mr. Mandella stated he could have accidently [sic] double-treated the mare. After hearing all the facts and entering all the exhibits, the hearing came to an end. The following ruling was issued: Mandella is fined $500 for violation of rules #1843(a),(b), and (d) (Medication, Drugs and Other Substances).”

“Accidentally,” huh? The race in question was a $200,000 Stakes. The horse, Zusha, finished 3rd, “earning” $24,000 for Mandella, et al. She remains under his control.

Same track, July 5: “Jockey Assael Espinoza was in to review yesterday’s fifth race…. Mr. Espinoza’s horse ducked out sharply from left-handed urging at the eighth pole. The BOS and Mr. Espinoza placed the blame on the horse and Mr. Espinoza was not issued a penalty.”

He whips (“left-handed urging”) his horse (Magnificent Q T) causing her (of course) to “duck out sharply” and the horse is to blame? Vile. Magnificent, by the way, finished 2nd, “earning” $3,400 for her people, including Espinoza.

And finally, just two days after the aforementioned Flores “welt on the horse” hearing, that same jockey was back to answer for another whipping violation – “excessive use of the riding crop” – from the previous day on 3-year-old Mr. Vitamin. The Stewards: “Mr. Flores agreed he should have stopped using the riding crop and stated he was sorry and had no excuse.” Again, a mere $300 fine, nothing more. Causes a welt and lives to ride (abuse) another day. You can’t make this stuff up.

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  1. It’s a corrupt business that clearly abuses horses for money; purse money, wagering money, government money, stud fees, et cetera and dumping their unwanted horses into the slaughter pipeline for money (if they somehow survive the abuse and corruption of training and racing).
    Please make it stop, Governor Newsom, please!!!

  2. Seems impossible to put an end to horse racing! Until we can stop this archaic, cruel entertainment, let’s have some enforceable rules applied: No whipping or crops allowed! No horses trained or raced until fully grown! No drugs whatsoever! Don’t allow off track betting! No auctions, and guarantee a horse sanctuary for every retired horse.

    • I think they’ve proven repeatedly that it’s impossible to have meaningful rules.

    • It’s okay to dream but it’s not okay to believe that the people involved in horseracing will ever play by ethical rules.

  3. Horseracing is a abusive, vile, greed filled industry that poor horses are drugged abused whipped and forced to run on injuries that are not treated and allowed to heal. It breaks my heart to hear of horses collapsing in the gate and breaking their legs so horribly. These horses don’t have chance for a life as long as the racing industry continues this abuse!

  4. A while back didn’t Mr. Espinoza cause a major accident or mishap with other jockeys and horses??

  5. It’s attitudes like this that allow horses to continue suffering and dyingl

  6. Not to pile on to the racing creeps at Los Alamitos, or anything — ALL California tracks race horses to death, all the time — but shouldn’t it be worthy of note that Los Al:

    1. Kills off so many that they’re placed on Horse Killing Probation, for the first time ever, for any track, in the whole history of horse racing?
    2. Responds to the CHRB’s “discipline” by immediately killing off not one, but TWO more horses with their super-safe night racing?
    3. Infects the state’s entire jockey colony with COVID-19 (and several throughout the nation, as well), even though they’re the only Cali track to have avoided any shut-down at all?
    4. Is STILL going through with their Death Card tonight, even despite reasons 1 – 3, above?
    Oh, and 4a, I guess: Los Alamitos is still putting up their usual assortment of older, pre-injured, overworked, cheap claimer thoroughbreds to likely get hurt (or worse) in this weekend’s racing excitement.

    And nobody, NOBODY is even going to do a single thing to stop them. Not Orange County health officials. Not California racing officials, nobody. They’re just gonna keep truckin’ along, killing off horses and sickening workers, until they make the decision to stop.

    • Kelly, I had a thought that maybe the “probation” is more for spreading the CORONAVIRUSDISEASE-2019 at Los Alamitos than it is for the number of horses abused to death. Just saying…😵😞

      • 2020, Wanda? I’m sure that’s what you meant;) Either way, I just noticed the reference to Victor “The Welt-Maker” Flores having to appear before before the stewards IN THEIR OFFICE ON JULY 3rd. Given that Los Al jockeys became their own colony of COVID SUPER-SPREADERS on that very day, wouldn’t it be a shame if Mr. Flores also happened to be among the infected, and risked the safety of everyone in that office by appearing live and in person to learn his “punishment”?

      • Kelly, I meant 2019 because the novel Coronavirus originated in December of 2019 or sooner in a country overseas and the experts call it COVID-19; COronaVIrusDisease-2019 which is shortened to COVID-19.
        It has a longer incubation period than some diseases so people can have it for a certain period of time and not even know it and pass it around without knowing it. It is disconcerting that some people are not taking it seriously and are refusing to wear masks to help prevent the spread. It is extremely disturbing that the racing commissioners and everyone else involved refuse to stop putting horses’ lives at risk and yeah, what goes around comes around…😔

  7. Three hundred dollar fines, are they serious?!!! Of course, the answer is they are not! The guy needs some very serious time off!!
    And the owners are culpable in this abuse, too.
    I know an owner who discovered welts on his horse post race. He informed the responsible jockey, Cory Nakatani, he would NEVER ride one of his horses again.
    Owners need to step up for their horses but the majority don’t give a damn.
    They just want to win and if it takes cuts and welts, so be it…
    Bad business at all levels and the horses pay the price day after day.

    • Well said, Rose. In fact, I have actually heard trainers tell jockeys to “light his ass up!”. And I’ve heard them yell at jockeys when they come back for unsaddling for “quitting” on their horses.

      • Also, the bettors are part of this cruelty. A friend who called a steward about the brutal whipping of a horse was told he would not be complaining if he had bet the horse!!!
        Shows that segment of the public, the hard core gamblers, play a big role in this culture of cruelty as well. They “demand” the whipping or “urging” as racing likes to call it.

  8. These absolutely ridiculous fines (if they can even be classified as such) are not only disgraceful but a total lack of respect towards the equine athletes. Yet another indication how much the CHRB cares about these beautiful creatures… NOT IN THE LEAST. Heartbreaking. The horses can’t seem to catch a break.

  9. All those people who definitely abuse their horses should get more than a slap on the wrist or fined just $300 or else it will keep on happening. What has happened to the thought of treating these racehorses with real compassion, I guess no one knows what compassion means! Disgusting people! Animals depend on humans to take care of them not harm them!

    • Yes, horses do respond to love and compassion, which they absolutely deserve. Horseracing is abusive exploitation no matter what lame excuse people in racing make up in the attempt to refuse to take responsibility and confuse the issue; to deny and deflect is to deceive, or at least try to deceive.

  10. Stop it already!!! WTF! How many times do you need to be reprimanded for the same offense??? These riders are not 4 year olds! A verbal reprimand, a written reprimand and then fired. That’s how progressive discipline works! No if and or buts about it….

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