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.


  1. If this story isn’t a reason to permanently ban horse racing I don’t know what is. No horse should suffer to this extent.

  2. This is unforgivable that this poor horse suffered the way he did and what a horrible life he endured with all of these god damn losers both owners and so called trainers that know nothing about horses or racing. This poor soul deserved to be retired to live out his life in serenity not to be thrown out like garbage. OMG this horse racing is so incredibly cruel in every god damn sense of the word. Just another sad day of more racing horror to be put forth.

    • This is exactly true. All the people who made a profit on him and used him up are losers. Unfortunately, so many losers out there. Everywhere, not just in the horse racing industry. The world is full of “winning” losers.

  3. Yes, a horror, and a despicable end to these Beloved Horses. Same for “California Chrome” $$$who is now in Japan. How He ran the Kentucky Derby for His Owners! Now he is in the most Dangerous Place he could be, Japan $$$ How will his ending be?

  4. Yes, a horror, and a despicable end to these Beloved Horses. Same for “California Chrome” $$$who is now in Japan. How He ran the Kentucky Derby for His Owners! Now he is in the most Dangerous Place he could be, Japan $$$ How will his ending be?

    • I agree with Ms Turner they should be retired to pasture and enjoy the rest of their days

  5. What this beautiful horse had to endure on this earth for all who forced on him was pure hell!! And to watch the video with Holding Aces just trying to walk brought tears to my eyes. The whole ‘sport of kings’ needs to be shut down for good, the sooner the better!! How these lowlifes sleep at night will never know, knowing KARMA will be waiting gives comfort. Rest in Peace, I am so sorry for how you were treated on this earth angel baby boy…

  6. Fuck the the horse racing industry and all the miserable greedy people involved how about an eye for an eye makes my heart break the way they treat these magnificent creatures I’m ashamed I was ever a fan

  7. I simply cannot fathom the extent of this evil done by these monsters — may they rot in hell

  8. This is sickening and breaks my heart for this innocent soul. May Karma pay a visit to the scum responsible for the exploitation, suffering and death of this magnificent creature. Horse racing must be viewed as an illegal activity, much as dog fighting. These humans are worse than any devil, and this is the ultimate example of evil.

  9. There are no words for this kind of cruelty and indifference. His owners were garbage.

  10. The Injustice of the Innocent & Voiceless! All animals deserve lives free from human-inflicted suffering. As the highest created being, humans have a moral obligation to be wise stewards of animals. Just because we happen to be the most powerful species on earth, we humans have the ability, but not the right, to abuse the so-called lower animals. The ends do NOT justify the means!

    We all know that there is something seriously wrong with a system where the best day of an animal’s life is the day that it is finally over!

    Every Living Creature deserves the Right to Live as Nature has intended.

    Not only do animal victims deserve to be free from abuse and neglect, but numerous studies show a correlation between animal cruelty and violence toward people—animal cruelty impacts community safety.

    If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.

    This is an evil act so horrible and painful against an innocent animal. How sad that the US still allows this animal abuse and killing!

  11. Ban horseracing forever. This article confirms that it is 100% evil. No animal should be used, abused, and discarded like trash.

  12. Absolutely unconscionable. There should he stricter (or laws in general) of the horceracing industry and the SPCA should be involved in every case.

    • Barbara Berube, yes, we need animal protection services and organizations – but the ultimate responsibility lies with those who created (breeder), acquired and used this poor horse (and the countless others like him) for fattening their own pocketbooks. THEY are who let Holding Aces down – THEY are who allowed him to get in this horrific condition – and THEY are the individuals who put him on the path to unspeakable suffering and death.

      They stood proud and beaming in the “Winners’ Circle” when his labors produced a paycheck for them – where were they all when HE struggled to stand in the kill pen?

  13. How can anyone do this to an innocent animal? Why are people so cruel? Seeing any animal suffer the way these “retired” race horses are forced to is horrific. How can human beings enjoy watching these poor animals waste away because of their mistreatment? They should be arrested and charged with felonies.

  14. This story is just a example of what many horses in racing go through whether they are winners or losers as they all lose in the end. Someone should make a documentary of this horse,s life like they did for Black Fish to reach more of the public and the media. Also the Safe act: HR(961Safeguard American Horses for Food Exports) needs passed. This bill would prevent kill buyers sending horses to Canada, Mexico and overseas for food.
    I constantly sent e mails to my representatives as this is still in the Department of Agriculture since3/2019. The Bureau of Land Management horse and burro annual round-ups result in many of these animals getting sold to kill buyers and have the same fate. Horse racing needs to stop not reform. The Horse racing Integrity Act is not the entire answer as many supporters like animal welfare groups believe. I want to do more but do not know what more can be done by the general public.

  15. Its unfathomable this is allowed to continue in this day and age. I suppose for the evil people involved, money hungry and disgusting, its no big deal. I hope for a world one day when this evil treatment of animals comes to an end.

  16. Hirses are beautiful majestic creatures. It makes me vomit, to think they ate treated as poorly as cows headed for slaughter. This IS DISGUSTING and NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!
    Lori k.😎🍒💕🐎

  17. There was a tv show called Animal Cops a few years ago reporting from the big cities (Philadelphia,Houston, Phoenix) Besides dogs and cats , they handled abuse cases with horses and other animals

  18. The abuse of horses must be stopped NOW! Owners should be punished for animal cruelty and never be permitted to own any animal. Shame on them for the abuse.

  19. They will have there Day! Have to look in the mirror and pray they get empathy when hospice is needed. Well, hope not! Get what you did to these poor souls that ran there heart out for you. Karma train is coming, and it’s judgement day arrogant know it all owners and trainers!!!🐎🤔

  20. I can not think of any words. I am speechless over this horror and cruelty. All I can hope for is that there MUST be some kind of justice for any being who is forced to suffer that amount of cruelty and EVIL. Us humans must act to right these wrongs!

  21. I am so sorry Holding for all the torture and misery you were put through. Every human being connected to you is evil and hope karma comes back to every one of them.

  22. R.I.P. Holding Aces. Your horrible tortured life is over. like countless others you were doomed from the day you were foaled. What should have been the prime of your life you were, instead, reduced to a starving suffering creature destined to be trucked to slaughter. Unbelievable!

    From the breeder, Alastar Thoroughbred Company LLC, that pocketed $340.000 from the sale of Holding Aces as a yearling. to Gary and Mary West who “sold” him into the downward spiral of the disgusting claiming game for $25,000 one race after he had a DNF. Then the story is so predictable as the bottom feeders enter the pitiful life of this beautiful animal.
    I would like to know what happened in his DNF race and during his 5+ month hiatus as he was “patched up” to be “sold”. A $350,000 yearling goes for $25,000, after a DNF, just 1 year and 2 months into his “career”- looks like a red flag to me!

    This is a question that the trainer JASON SERVIS and owners GARY and MARY WEST could answer!!! But nobody in this business will ever ask ANY QUESTIONS!!! They NEVER do!
    Maybe SERVIS worked some of his MAGIC during the 5+ month hiatus so he could be raced and then dumped- you think?!

    Also, he had another DNF with Englehart. The footnotes for that race were: “Dueled inside, stopped on the turn then was eased in the stretch and walked off”. Two months later, Englehart brings him back for a win – more MAGIC maybe!!! Of course Engelehart was able to dump him in his next race. And Holding Aces continued to run the gauntlet of these disgusting bottom feeders.

    This scenario is only possible in a “business” riddled with corruption at every level.

    • Well said, Rose.
      I hope that the investigation/hearing in relation to the drugging horses related charges by the FBI against SERVIS (along with Navarro & anor.) finds them guilty placing them in gaol, hopefully for a long time.
      From what i’ve read, the FBI has incriminating evidence against these monsters.
      SERVIS was the trainer of GARY and MARY WEST’s horse Maximum Security who won the 2019 Kentucky Derby when the racing officials immediately disqualified their horse due to the jockey’s shocking interference which nearly brought down others in the race and prevented a couple from winning. How terrifying for the horses.
      MS was assisted with some MAGIC maybe?
      When the FBI charged SERVIS, the WESTS were ‘shocked, ‘surprised’ and alleged they had no idea what SERVIS was doing to their horses. Please.
      Then they place Maximum Security with the thickly coated with teflon Bob Baffert – speaks volumes, it really says it all.

      Well, we sure know what SERVIS and the WESTS did to poor Holding Aces… R.I.P. you beautiful creature, I’m so sorry.

      • And , Carolyn, the Wests are members of the “elite” in this business. They have been active in this racing for around 30 yrs with earnings of over 35 million! Yet they have to “sell” this poor horse into horse hell for a paltry $25,000 instead of retiring him. How miserly is that!!
        But that is how these creeps cut their losses and stay in business. The claiming game is their salvation and the low level abusers are waiting. Everybody is happy and to hell with the horse!! And hell on earth is where the horses wind up.
        These people walk away, They have washed their hands. But this dirt can’t be washed away. Their hands will always be dirty.

  23. There is a special place in hell for animal abusers. The people who “used” this sweet creature to the point where his feet and limbs could no longer support him should be brought up on felony animal abuse. Horse-racing is hideous. I don’t know how I could be such a fan as I was for so long. I guess it’s similar to how long it took me to make the connection about eating meat. Oh, yeah, I loved animals. Just not the ones that end up as steaks, roasts, bacon and wings. May God have a very beautiful and peaceful place for all those racehorses who have been so exploited and tortured. May God deal quickly and justly with those responsible.

    • You and all of us.. it’s disgusting. Bless your kind heart. Stay strong… for the horses.

  24. This a tragedy for this good horse Unfortinatwly it happens to thousands of good horses Self regulation by the horse racing industry allows this to happen over and over bc horse racing is a business for money not animal welfare American horses should not be sold and shipped for slaughter out of tge US to get around the ban on horse slaughter in the US. Federal government oversight is required to stop this! This should not happen to another horse – ever.

  25. My God, you people are relentless, greed sadistic and unfeeling. God help you, you are evil itself!

  26. What people do to horses and other innocent animals is beyond comprehension. Evil is the only thing that you can call this selfish, barbaric behavior.

    • Evil hopefully shall follow these greedy mongrels to their last greedy breath.

  27. Horse racing used to be the “sport of kings” when I used to visit the beautiful Kentucky horse farms with the best care and training a horse could receive. Race horses (and all horses for that matter) are special to me and the way they are treated today is shameful, criminal and the perpetrators of those horrors described in this report should be jailed and fined, never to be near a horse again.

  28. Find all the evil individuals who did this, put numbers on them and have them suffer the same fate!!

  29. No animal should have to suffer this intolerable cruelty. These people should be prosecuted for this evil act. It probably will never happen because of the money that involved with these poor animals.😭😭😭

  30. Once again, money trumps all else, especially kindness and compassion, right and wrong. It’s a travesty.

  31. Unfortunately….this is real…..they don t even respect all of his efforts….cruel world….🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥I m so ashamed of humanity 😭

  32. This is HORRIFIC AND HORRENDOUS. These beautiful innocent horses are racing to save their own lives and for stupid dollar bets!!!

  33. It’s time to end horse racing NOW!! These beautiful animals should not be tortured this way.
    Shame on all the people that did this to this awesome animal.

  34. That is cruel and inhumane treatment. It should be prosecuted. Race horses, just like any others, should be allowed to live out their days in a pleasant pasture where they are loved and cared for. There is no excuse for this despicable treAtment of animals

  35. I had no idea when I went on a FUN Vacation to Kentucky. I went to a horse barn all excited to see the horses and take pictures. I was informed by the stable workers that the owners NEVER SEE THE HORSES. I THOUGHT HUH???? Now I know what a horrible NOT LOVED horse a RACE HORSE is. JUST A BUSINESS and they are treated like SHIT. RUINS me for EVER watching the KENTUCKY DERBY. PLEASE BOYCOTT HORSE RACING. ITS NOT FUN.

  36. This really sickens me. How can any human being be so cruel???? The people involved with the racing of this horse should be prosecuted and all the money that was brought in by this poor, unsuspecting animal should be prosecuted and fined whatever the take amounted to. Every penny should be paid back and put into a fund for all the mistreated horses that have made so many of these creeps wealthy. We need to get rid of the racing of these poor loving animals. Every racetrack should be shut down for good.

  37. But don’t forget to add that the so-called owners and trainers absolutely LOVE their horses…..yes that’s right, they love them whilst they’re raking in the money earned off the innocent, defenseless horses and then they still ‘love’ them when they either race them to death and claim the insurance money or send them to slaughter and collect the ‘carcass money’ Yes, that’s exactly how much these fat-assed, money-grabbing, profiteering POS really love their horses…..

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