After Two Years Away, 10-Year-Old Brought Back for 66th Race; He Finished 41 Lengths Back

By industry standards, Green Gratto was a very successful racehorse: over $1 million in “earnings.” In April 2018, the then-7-year-old was raced at Aqueduct. Finishing 3rd that day, he “won” $8,500 for his trainer/owner Gaston Grant. As the weeks then months went on, it appeared that Green, after five years of toil and 65 races, had been “retired” (of course, “retired” in racing is, most of the time, not a good thing).

Flash forward to yesterday at Monmouth in New Jersey. Having vanished for two years, Green Gratto, now ten, resurfaced in the 2nd race. In that race – which was of the “claiming” variety, meaning he was “For Sale” prior to – Green Gratto finished dead-last, 41 lengths back. The culpable include: trainer Kathleen O’Connell, owner Oakleaf Farm, the racing secretary, the stewards, the private vet, the track vets, the NJ Racing Commission – indeed, this entire disgusting industry itself.

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  1. I grew up on a farm, my brothers milked the cows and my sisters and I would hide in the hayloft where we learned some new words. I’d love to use those words on Green’s owner, trainer, vet, track officials, the whole lot of them. However, I won’t, but I will say they are the scum of the earth. They gambled on a creation of God.
    They would do well to not enrage my heavenly father. He created His animals the day BEFORE He created us.
    How do they continue to walk around like big shots, without a heart in their chest.

  2. This whole horseracing and killing industry is sickening! Gambling on horses to win, place or show to win or lose money is a very sad and pathetic way of entertaining oneself. Meanwhile a greedy corporate business is turning a profit on the whole sickening mess of abusing and torturing horses in the process of using the horses as gambling chips. There are so many other ways to spend one’s time and money that could have a positive impact rather than the negative impact of torturing horses to death!

  3. I read about this horse on another site yesterday. They tried to race him, not too long ago, but PUBLIC OUTCRY made the owner and trainer cancel their plans to race him. That tells you something right there, doesn’t it!
    Green Gratto was retired a few years ago, to become a stud. He was infertile, though, so he was gelded, and put back into training because “he was bored and unhappy.” That may be, but why put him back into racing?
    Gratto could have been retrained for any number of new careers. He could have become a track pony, not that thats what I would have liked for him. Funnycide,when retired, was a track pony for awhile.
    He could have been retrained to become a show horse, taught to take jumps, and do dressage.
    He could have been trained to become a riding or trail horse, for a intermediate to advanced rider. I don’t know his temperment, but I do know a few people who have saved thoroughbreds and quarter horses who had racing careers until being dumped by their owners in a kill auction. These horses have proved to be excellant riding horses for the trail. One is winning ribbons in local amateur jumping shows. Who knows, maybe he could be a therapy horse!
    Even Seabiscuit, while at stud, had another career. His handlers saw he was bored, so, as the ranch the horse lived on, was also a cattle ranch, he was trained to be a cow pony-and he loved it, and proved to be very good at his job!
    Or, why not contact a place like Old Friends? Gratto would see people, visitors would talk to him, pet him and love him up, being a gelding, he’d probably be allowed in a pasture with other geldings. He’d have socialization both human and equine. He’d be cared for, for the rest of his life.
    At this point, I can’t even see that this horse is a money maker for his owner. So, we know what is next. He’s a gelding, he’s slow on the track, he might be healthy, but he’s a liability on the account sheet, doing little but eating, sleeping, and looking out his rented stall door. We all know what could happen next-what does happen all too often to geldings in this position.
    I hope everyone keeps an eye on this horse. Make sure he doesn’t end up in a stock trailer headed for Mexico or Canada.

    • I agree, Karen, “if he doesn’t pay he wont stay”.
      It doesn’t matter he earned over a million because those who pocketed that money dumped him, and moved on while enjoying his earnings. In racing the ONLY commitment is to MONEY the horse is a means to that end for a while. After he is used up, it is a roll of the dice for the horse – no thought as to the fate of their “much loved family member”!!

  4. VILE, but not vile for horse racing where the never ending suffering and dying racehorses are infinite.
    Nevertheless, let me tell you a story about Kathleen O’Connell.
    It was January 2001 at Tampa Bay Downs where I was training, and running.
    A good friend of mine, the late ex-jockey Rudy Turcotte, was working as a groom.
    Just for the record many jockeys who retire from riding or don’t make it as a rider usually go to some sort of stable work.
    Anyways, he was working as an Assistant Trainer for Kathleen O’Connell.
    Now Rudy was like any other apologist as he saw it all from beating the racehorses to them snapping their legs-off and crumbling to the dirt.
    After one of my races there Mom and I took him out for some dinner.
    He told me that he was going to quit working for Kathleen O’Connell and he said this:
    “Gina, I’ve never seen such neglect and abuse in all my years on the track.
    How in the hell does she still have a Trainer’s license?”
    I told her this morning that a horse named SHADY TRICKSTER was sick, sore and on the verge of dying and she said “well hopefully it will get claimed.”
    It never got the vet care it needed and she didn’t care because it did get claimed, moved thousands of miles away to River Downs and DNF’d for the new owner.
    Rudy was watching the race and said it was a horrific breakdown.
    Shady Trickster died on the track and this is one of thousands of Kathleen O’Connel’s victims.
    For a seasoned veteran like Rudy to say something like this about a Trainer it’s got to be really bad.
    Over the years I’ve seen racehorse after racehorse breakdown and/or die under the care, custody and control of Kathleen O’Connell, but this entire industry supports her, gives her stalls and she’s strongly associated with the HBPA – need I say more?

    • It’s ALL bad. You can’t put “lipstick on a pig”,to steal a quote. But, in this case (horse racing) it’s true. I’m sure the politicians are BEGGING, with their hands out for welfare for horse racing. The industry has no shame,and no pride. #PATHETIC

  5. Just an FYI…. that colt break down (Nola Win) yesterday was AWFUL,he dropped the rider,got up,and tried to keep running-with his leg dangling. 🤮

  6. We (group of about 15) protested yesterday at Monmouth Park along Rt 36 and Oceanport Avenue. Many, many, MANY honks of encouragement and thumbs up were given…(along with the typical shouts of get a job, etc) The police dispatched said we were fine and “to keep up the good work.”

    • God bless you Marina,and all the other warriors. If I didn’t have a mother who is an invalid, I would have been along side you guys. What’s so funny is …the humans in this evil industry are the ones who need to work a REAL job 😂

    • We are SO grateful, Marina – and the horses, even more so! They need us to be their voice…thank you so very much!

  7. Why all the uproar over Green Gratto’s return to racing, apologists? Isn’t racing what they LOVE? Isn’t it NO riskier than what (current owner) Norman Wilson claimed GG was doing on the farm? – running the fence line? And at only 10 years old, he is right at an equine’s prime age so WHAT is all the opposition about? Bill Finley (in his Thoroughbred Daily News article from August 8) spoke for you all stating; “[those opposed to Green Gratto’s return to racing] felt it was…too risky to run the horse again.” Too RISKY? – what’s he talking about? But since I’ve mentioned Finley, I have a question for him, as well – in the same article, he states; “Considering his age and all he accomplished in his career, Green Gratto would have seemed to have earned a cushy retirement. Instead, he is scheduled to run…for a $20,000 tag…Sunday at Monmouth.” Mr. Finley, you seem to suggest retirement from racing is preferred over racing for this gelding. Again, that makes absolutely NO SENSE considering how much racehorses LOVE to race…and certainly none of them would CHOOSE (if they were able) to give up that royal treatment we always hear about from y’all! So, what’s up with that? Do you feel ALL ten-year-olds should be retired from racing, Mr. Finley? – And ALL racehorses with 65 starts (or more)? Or is that “cushy retirement” for just a deserving few? – For only those who are “accomplished”?

    And Mr. Wilson…questions for you, as well. But let’s take a step back, starting with your statement in the same TDN article by Finley; “when [Green Gratto] was sent to us [following his retirement from racing and his subsequent failed stud service for Robert Wright’s Total Bloodstock Farm in New York] he was skin and bones.” So here we go already…Green Gratto’s racing owner/trainer for all 65 starts, Anthony and Gaston Grant (who acquired the horse for free AND for whom GG “earned” over 1.1 million dollars) sell him for stud service to Robert Wright and partnership – who in only a matter of months unload the horse and while dissolving the partnership, Green Gratto deteriorates on some Kentucky farm. Additionally, “the plan was for Wilson to look after the horse for a brief time and then put him in a livestock sale in Ocala in order to dissolve the partnership.” “Skin and bones” only months from his last race and having been sold for breeding…and on his way to a livestock sale. How quickly Green Gratto, despite the many feel-good stories written about him while racing, was forgotten, neglected.

    But back to Norman Wilson. Mr. Wilson, you stated the following in the Matt Hegarty (August 7, 2020 Daily Racing Form) piece; “[racing Green Gratto] is best for the horse”…[and he was] listless and unhappy on the farm” – that was your reason for putting your gelding back into race training AND for entering him in an allowance optional claiming race where he had a 20K tag on his head. So, my question for you, Mr. Wilson – how will you address Green Gratto’s “unhappiness” back at the farm THIS time, since last time your only solution was RACING him?

    And regarding your wife’s statement in the November 13, 2019 Daily Racing Form article by Mike Welsch (when social media uproar led to GG not racing at Gulfstream); “Being able to train again made him happy. But now, because of social media, he’s going to have to go home and be deprived of doing something he really enjoys.” But Mr. Wilson, you and your wife are going to DEPRIVE him again?

    And then, from the same Welsch piece, this – and again, from Mrs. Wilson regarding the decision to NOT allow Green Gratto to race at Guldstream; “I just think it becomes a dangerous road…when we start letting people who are non-horsemen start dictating what horses we can run and which ones we cannot because they think they know better.” More than 41 lengths behind in his race on Sunday…but the Wilsons knew best.

    • As always, thank you, Joy, for your comprehensive post.
      This whole story is strange. Regardless their motives, it looks like the Wilsons did get Green Gratto out of an iffy situation. What puzzles me is how they and O’Connell could have misjudged so badly. They look pretty foolish in their “circles”.

      I see where Old Friends and Florida TRAC offered to take him, according to the first trainer, Tamara Levy. But instead, he was transferred to O’ Connell’s barn. So as always in racing, the lure of money trumps all. The irony is, the decision to bring Green Gratto back brought his “story” into focus and may work in favor of the horse’s ultimate safety. But for the publicity, I believe he would have just “disappeared” like thousands of others.

      Green Gratto is not out of the woods, however. The Wilsons are in business and therefore need to keep a low overhead…
      Old Friends would be the safe haven for him.

  8. Repeat offenders.
    There are a group of Trainers that I closely watch only due to the fact that they are active claiming Trainers who consistently have racehorses drop dead under their care some under suspicious circumstances.
    Of course you all know Parasite Pat, but there’s also Linda Rice, Michael J. Maker, Steve Asmussen.
    All of these Trainers are outright parasites who regularly claim racehorses who have made hundreds of thousands of dollars, earned their right to a soft landing, but these Trainers claim them for one reason: to squeeze the lemon dry, to squeeze every last red cent they can, to use, abuse, exploit, dump with no intentions of doing the right thing by the horse and they hardly ever do if the racehorse they claim makes it out alive!
    I have a list of about 20 racehorses who fit this description that have been claimed by the above-mentioned Trainers this year alone, but I will focus on a few although every racehorse counts.
    TWISTED TOM – this 6 y.o gelding is a MULTIPLE STAKES WINNER of over $866,000!!
    Not even $800,000+ dollars is enough to take him away from the abuse and give him a grassy paddock that he’s more than earned for all the parasites that are there waiting in the wings when his body can no longer perform at the upper levels.
    MIKE MAKER is the trainer who claimed him on August 5, 2020 at Saratoga.
    Did anybody in the Saratoga race office or any other supporting apolgist structure/individual say NO this racehorse deserves better?
    They all go on the PR and claim to be “outraged” when a groom allegedly lets a racehorse out of their stall, but they get laryngitis when it comes to the claiming, maiming and killing of racehorses in that order – pathetic parasites every single one of them.
    Nevertheless, one can only imagine how many times poor TWISTED TOM has been injected into his jugular vein, joints, muscles, tendons, shock wave therapy, drugs to keep him going and even the kitchen sink thrown into him after making over $866,000 dollars!!
    Of course we will never know because 1. the doping/treatment records don’t follow the horse even when claimed from Trainer to Trainer – a game of Russian Roulette ensues 2. the claiming killing Trainers are never held accountable in a court of law.
    TWISTED TOM is still peforming at Allowance levels, but rest assured Mike Maker will throw things into him that probably never has been injected into him before to make more money off of this gelding who has run his ass-off for this pathetic, vile industry only to be sold into another round of abuse.
    DON’TASK DON’TTELL – a claim by the infamous racehorse abuser, cheater and killer Steve Asmussen. On August 10, 2020 at Lone Star Park in Texas Steve Asmussen claimed this 6 y.o gelding who made over $211, 000 – a quarter million dollars is not enough to fight-off the claims. Im sure that Steve Asmussen will ensure that he squeezes every dime out of him like he’s done so many times before.
    Anyways, I have lots more, but I’ll leave it at that. I despise this business and these parasites who continue to exploit, maim, dump and/or kill racehorses.
    Of course this entire business facilitates this abhorent ongoing abuse and killing anyways.

  9. I read yesterday that Old Friends offered to take him but the owners wouldn’t release the horse. A few thoroughbred journalists are talking about this on Twitter and other social media; hopefully it will be enough to shame the owners into making the right choice even if it’s for the wrong reasons i.e. trying to avoid bad publicity.

    • Wishful thinking Donna.
      These racehorse owners know no shame and have no shame.
      They will continue to maim, dump, cripple and/or kill racehorses without a scarce look back.
      They are supported and condoned by a vile and corrupt industry that is full of parasites who suck the last bit of life out of them.
      TWISTED TOM – 6 y.o gelding multiple stakes winner now getting claimed so that the next owner/trainer can squeeze every cent out of him that they can.
      TT has made over $866,000 and that’s still not enough to get him a soft landing.
      He’s one of many examples.
      Furthermore, bad publicity is not something this business avoids.
      80% of pro-horse racing headlines in the past 10 years have all involved murderous scandalous corrupt behavior with zippo accountability.
      This business is one big basket of rotten to the core apples.

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