The Evil That Men Do: The Tragic Life and Unforgivable Death of Holding Aces

First, the facts:

Holding Aces was born (made) on April 4, 2012. His first race came in September 2015. He “won,” earning $22,920 for his first set of “connections,” trainer Wayne Catalano and owners Gary and Mary West. Four more races followed for this team and then Jason Servis (yes, that Jason Servis) came on as trainer for two races. He was then sold by the Wests. In all, they (and the two trainers) banked $41,680 on Holding.

Holding, as a “yearling”:

On December 17, 2016, Holding was raced for the first time by trainer Domenick Schettino and an ownership group led by Salvatore Como. He finished 2nd, winning $6,800 for his people. Prior to that race, however, he was sold again – new trainer, Chris Englehart; new owner, Island Wind Racing; 12 races followed, with Holding earning $69,540 for them. Then, sold again.

On March 31, 2018, Holding finished 1st in his first race under trainer Randi Persaud (yes, that Randi Persaud) and owner Guyana Rocky LLC – payday, $33,000. In August, a new trainer, Otis Henry. A few races later, it was back to Persaud. At this point, Holding was consistently finishing far back, but because he was being raced at racino tracks, he was still bringing in cash. In December, Guyana changes trainers again. Enter Joey Martinez. This is the pairing that would have Holding till the end.

On April 11, 2019, Holding finished 6th, almost 18 lengths back in a cheap “claiming” race (“For Sale” at $4,000 prior to). It was to be his final race. Adding the $54,070 for Guyana (and their three trainers), Holding grossed $172,090 for the various human beings who had used him. You would think he had earned a peaceful retirement ambling about in an open pasture. Alas, not from these people, not from this industry.

In September – just five months after his final race – Holding Aces was found in a kill pen. Yes, this “athlete,” so recently cheered and celebrated by “connections” and “fans” alike, was headed to equine hell – the slaughterhouse. Here was his condition…

Holding was rescued from that pen. One report said this: “His feet were rotted [and] three were abscessing badly,” and he had “advanced laminitis” (perhaps the most painful equine affliction there is). And now, if you dare, imagine that this animal, in this state, was to be shipped (a horror unto itself), shot, shackled, hung upside down, slashed, bled out, and butchered. Regrettably, less than two weeks after rescue, Holding was euthanized, his unfathomable suffering at last at an end.

Horses are, of course, fully sentient beings – intelligent, aware, sensitive, loving, affectionate, the capacity (and desire) for pleasure, the capacity for (and aversion to) pain. To do what these people – including all of the named herein, and, of course, whoever dumped him at auction and left him to waste away in unspeakable terror and agony thereafter – did to this poor, poor soul is nothing short of evil. Evil.

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  1. I am horrified and speechless. This is a cruel business and unacceptable. I will never watch or support horse racing in anyway ever again.

    • So many agree with you, AM — I know some, after learning of the horror, who were left bawling and heaving and hurling — THIS SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED — these are depraved KILLERS who are walking around freely making money off sadistic cruelty to Animals — WHO are the Overseers ensuring Horses get treated properly? — this evil Industry MUST BE SHUT DOWN.

    • BACK OFF!!!
      Some of us didn’t know what was really happening. I, for one, am one of the world’s biggest animal lovers, and I worked the racing circuit for 4 years. I saw a few examples of abuse, but it was the exception, not the rule.

      It’s been over 20 years since I last worked on the backside, and I am just now discovering the full story of what was going on behind the scenes.

      Today, I have a volunteer service that transports kill pen equine to their forever homes and I fight against equine slaughter with everything at my disposal.
      So don’t act Holier Than Thou!
      What the hell are you doing to help horses escape the slaughter-house pipeline of equine hell, besides setting on your fat ass and cursing other people ( whom may, or may not be aware of the whole situation)??????

      • Excuse me?? You back off, sir! Who’s acting holier than thou here? You have no idea how many times this article has been shared, how many donations it may have generated, discussions with friends & family. Not everyone can afford to do what you’re fortunate enough to be doing! Saving, hauling, feeding, vetting, are expensive endeavors! Not to mention the land for stall, paddock and pasture space. Get off YOUR high horse!

      • Don Williams,
        I was going to ask you if you have a Department Of Transportation number because I was assuming that you already have a truck. However, I clicked on your name in blue and it actually went to a real website which does not always happen, including my name.
        I read your Facebook page and it sounds like you have had your share of hardships as many people have had. I have read comments on Facebook of that problem of people wanting to rescue a horse from the kill pen and they say they have land and such but can’t afford the transport from one state to another state.

      • If you are helping to fight this issue and on the same side now, why are you angry at US?????
        While not everyone is able to actively rescue a horse, just by calling attention to what happens to these animals and focusing on the cruelties of racing is a service and call to action.
        And I also don’t see any way that you were ever a part of this industry and DIDN’T know what was happening.
        While I’m glad you are helping these horses now, your anger is misplaced – you should be mad at the people who are doing the abusing, not the people who are trying to stop it.

      • Don, you must not be too busy transporting racehorses from the slaughterhouse to their forever homes because there are little to no homes available and hasn’t been for a long, long time.

      • You KNEW horses died on the track. Right from the start. Be a man and admit your regrets. You KNEW that so many who lived were injured for life. Unless you were deaf, dumb and blind for those years.
        You met scum of the earth owners, trainers, vets. Don’t say you didn’t. But you kept on going.
        That’s all I ask. Honesty.
        We all have regrets. The question is are you going to admit to them?
        What matters now is what you do with what you knew and saw.

        • No one is going to “back off” to pure ignorance and cover ups from unprofessional stupid animal abusing people! The time is NOW for transparency in all of this, time to speak up for these innocent horses!   Joanna

  2. The barbaric and monstrous treatment this horse and so many others by those named and many who remain ‘un-named’ is heartbreaking and depicts the evil which exists in what are called ‘human beings’ ! This is a horrendous and sad story repeated over and over in the ‘horse industry’, These disgusting people use horses for enertainment and of course ‘MONEY’ to be deposited in their banks and they have no regard for the pain and suffering they subject these precious, innocent and harmless horses, I will spread the word and of course, never ever watch or bet on any horse ever. Wish I was able to rescue every one of these beautiful creatures who have no voice and no choice. You people to do this over and over again & are a disgrace to the human race. One day you will pay for your abusive, and horrifice, evil torture of these horses as you burn in hell….

  3. Horse racing and dog racing should both come to a complete end. The sick and evil POSs that take part in this industry do not give a crap about the animals. All they care about is money. Just like animal fighting, once the animal is not making money they deem then useless. These industries should end now!

  4. This is horribly wrong. How can this happen!? This beautiful animal to be forgotten about and disregard. These people should be punished. Somethings got to be done!!!!!

  5. I wish the abuse and horrors being inflicted on these innocent animals was happening to the so called ‘people’ involved in this ‘business’.

  6. Tragic business that only honors money in the pocket rather than the horse that brought that money to them. It is an evil business and needs to be banned. There is no recourse for the many horses who end up in a kill pin and then on to someones dinner dish. It is a stain on racing and those who participate.

  7. Unless the horses are guaranteed pasture after their career is over as well as the racing industry abide by proper safety standards for the animals as well as the riders on them, it would be better if the hippodromes instead use High Octane horsepower in place of horses. Raise the checkered flags over the Kentucky Derby, over Preakness, over Churchill Downs, over Santa Anita, etc.!

  8. If only the old saying “what goes around, comes around” could be true for the humans in this industry. So very sad what is taken from the animals and never returned in care and caring.

  9. How anyone with any ounce of feeling can treat a living, feeling and intelligent creature in this way is beyond my understanding. How appalling that this magnificent horse was discarded in this way as soon as he became redundant. So many stories like this so it’s not the first and I’m sure won’t be the last tragically. As things stand at present in the world of horse racing it’s hard to believe that so much money can be earned yet the horses are discarded like a piece of defunct equipment with no sense of responsibility or care to what happens to them. The industry needs to hang its head in shame and clear up its act or horse racing should be banned completely. Very hard to read this story.

  10. Horse racing should be abolished! It is a barbaric “sport” which causes so much pain to these majestic beings!

  11. What unspeakable apologies for human beings. Hope they lose all that money, every last cent.

  12. Horrible, it must be so upsetting to be moved around so much. At least he knew kindness in his final days. Let’s hope with the internet and social media, the younger generation know about and see these things and move towards a kinder world for all animals. I hope they learn lessons from our generations despicable acts

  13. This is beyond HORRIFYING! Anyone connected to this industry should have to suffer the same fate….people need to STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT when they see this happening!! Anyone who turns a “blind eye” is guilty of DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE and should be prosecuted. The laws MUST BE CHANGED!

  14. This is heartbreaking!!!! I don’t understand that! I thought he was RESCUED? I understand “rescued” to be safe and going to a better life. Instead of being killed brutally – how can that be? Because of these ungrateful and cruel people, I am ashamed to be “human”. They discredit the word “human” and turn it into a dirty word…

    • Sorry, I misunderstood, he was rescued but had to be put to sleep two weeks later… Very sad that they could not rescue him earlier, but for 2 weeks at least he was in good hands… Whatever I am reading about the horse races and those poor abused animals is a shamefull and odious. Does the Animal Welfare Law in the USA not include the horses?

  15. This has to end!! Also, horrid Rodeos!! So must sending them to either Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered! More sanctuaries need to be opened for these Beautiful, intelligent Beings can be loved, cared for & possibly rehomed to live a long cherished life, they deserve!

  16. I don’t care what the commercials say on television. Nothing good comes from horse racing. This is a selfish money sport only benefiting humans not horses. So sad. Those who partake should be ashamed of themselves.

  17. I cant understand how and why this is happening. It is truly wrong!! Abusing , torturing any animal especially these beautiful creatures breaks my heart. This needs to change.

  18. I cant stop crying, no animal.deserves that neglect.this is animal.a use at it’s worse and those that mistreated him need to be punished.

    • You’re not alone in how this affects you, Dolores – let the cruelty inflicted by this industry urge you to speak for the horses who silently endure it!

  19. When I saw this I had tears im my eyes people are the animals worst enemys to animals 😢 wish I could keep him 😢 pour baby humans should go to jail for this behavior its like animals have no wrights 😒😪😔🤢🤧🤧🥵

  20. How does the racing industry justify this. This is so shameful the owners should be put in a kill pen

  21. Any horse in this condition would not be strong enough to stay on their feet on a truck full of horses
    . They go down and get trampled on by the other animals (whether it is horses or cattle) in the truck. This horse would have been dead before the long ride to the slaughter house would be over. His life would be over before arriving at the slaughter house. They would have had to pay someone to scrape him off the bottom of the truck bed with all of the urine and manure.
    The people that did this to HOLDING ACES deserve to be in prison. They would have a better life in a lot of ways than what they did to HOLDING ACES if they did life in prison without parole.
    This story with the photos was too disturbingly gut-wrenching so I put off reading the rest of it until now. Somebody has to do this reporting and searching the facts or a lot of us would not know of these individual horses.
    If this story isn’t enough to turn anyone against horseracing and the industry’s inherent abuse of horses and neglect of horses, what will it take? Anyone with a conscience should not be able to look the other way and say “next” meaning next victim. The horse racing industry must be terminated from all government subsidies!!!!

  22. In Nov. 2019 a law making animal cruelty a federal felony with prison sentences up to 7 years was signed.
    Many starving abused horses are dumped at auctions and show up in kill
    pens. But nobody is held accountable. Nobody knows who dumped the horse, where he came from or anything else…nobody knows anything…nobody asks any questions!!!
    Laws are only as good as how they are enforced. But auctions and kill pens just like racing have no accountability. Why??!

  23. My stomach turned sick at knowing this and that humans are so selfish, inhumane, careless of the horses that make so much money for them and entertainment for those who use them and caring less of what happens to them! I asked God for the help they need to be saved from this hell they are in. Thank you for reading this and do something to help 🙏

  24. And to the kind soul who rescued this poor horse and showed him the only kindness and decency he ever knew in his short, tortured life – I thank you for your compassion.

  25. I’m so disgusted of seeing things like this with our horses or anyone horses. These are living breathing animals Gods creatures. From the time that they are born till the time they leave and cross Over The Rainbow Bridge. The killpen on these horses should stop and they need to be rescued not destroyed. They run there hearts out on the race track whether they come in 1st – 2nd – 3rd or last. The owners should realize that they are animals and because of racing them they should never end up being destroyed. If you can get money by buying them or breeding the least you can do as the last owner before destroying them think how you would feel if you were in there place. PLEASE DO NOT DESTROY THESES HORSES! I only wish people who destroy them feel the PAIN that they go thru. It is not only the race track but people who have the horses decide they no longer need them and serve no purpose. WRONG these horses have feelings and deserve to be treated right. Just look into there eyes and you can see them looking back at you and wondering what did I do wrong for you to give up on me. I have a thoroughbred and I LOVE him very much and when I see a horse being treated very bad or killed it makes me so mad. I know that other people who love animals know what I mean. Truth animals are better then people they never hurt you. People who hurt animals have no right to decide when it is there time to kill them. Would you like someone to kill you because you don’t belong here if you were an animal. Killing of horses should stop or killing of any animals because you think you are God and it’s time for them to go – REMEMBER you will meet your maker when the time comes and see how you treated them.

  26. Racing of all animals should be banned asap. Humans are good sprinters and love to race. Betting can be done on humans’ races.

  27. I think it’s amazing that MY comment wishing that the vile owners and trainers should have to spend their ill-gotten money on cancer treatment was removed when those miserable bastards did this to a horse and get away with it.

    • abs314,
      Join the club, so to speak. You are not the only commenter who has voiced their outrage in a way that is evidently unacceptable to this blog site and had it removed. Keep on keeping on my horse loving friend!

      • Wanda – I’m glad I’m in good company, and yes, I will ALWAYS keep on keeping on!

        Patrick – I can’t apologize for feeling as I do about those wretched people. They deserve what they deserve.

  28. All you have to do is go to the government or your deputy get all together and stop horse racing make it unlawful in your country and we should do it in every country. I will gladly sign on this petition. Am very much against people making money on the back of animals by abusing them, like running, etc…

  29. Despise horse and dog racing. Be human and open your eyes people. Help the retired racing animals please.

    • I agree 100%. Horses used in racing and rodeos end up being sold into the slaughter pipeline, if they survive the torture of racing or rodeo.

  30. Holding Aces deserved better than this. No OTTB deserves this horrible animal abuse. This breaks my heart, shame on his owners who did this to him.

    • Yes, “shame” on these people but these people will never feel shame or feel sorry for what was done to this captive helpless victim of obscene cruelty. These people have no conscience otherwise they would not be in racing, the business of animal cruelty, torture and slaughter.

  31. There are NO WORDS — such depravity — I wish someone would’ve spotted him sooner — I cannot believe, armed with all this knowledge, these MONSTERS continue with their heinous crimes against RACEHORSES – SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG – SHUT DOWN this sadistic, heinous industry FOREVER.

  32. All of the men involved with this poor animal previously, before its ultimate death are what you call pure evil. I only wish they could endure and feel what these poor innocent animals go through…

  33. I cried while reading this.
    All the owners who used and sold him
    on ; knew what would happen to him
    Depraved indifference.
    Have these people never ever suffered
    pain themselves ? that they have no
    idea of what it feels like to this horse ?

  34. I fucking hate this! What is wrong with people who do this to horses!!! They belong in prison , for life!! This cruelty makes me so so so SICK inside!

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