Last February 10, two horses – Majestic Heir and Dave Hoeght – were euthanized at Camarero Race Track in Puerto Rico. Both, I have learned, were put down for “arthritis” – i.e., they were irreversibly lame. Nothing unusual there, of course. Nor the fact that at age six and seven, respectively, they should have just been entering the equine prime of life. That’s racing. What struck me were the paths these poor souls traveled before meeting their respective ends at this, one of the most wretched stops on the horseracing circuit (and, often, the final stop; much more on that soon).
Majestic Heir was foaled in Kentucky in March 2013, with a “debut” in Louisiana three years later. First owner/trainer team: Brittlyn Stable, Albert Stall. To Kentucky for four races, then to New York and a race at the world-famous Saratoga Race Course. It was before that one, in August ’16, that Majestic began a streak of being “For Sale” 21 straight times. Back down to Kentucky for four more, then to Louisiana, where he finally “won” his first race. He was, at this time, also under a new trainer, Ron Faucheux. Three months later, Majestic was shipped to Florida. Here, he was sold just prior to bringing up the rear, some 23 lengths back. New owner, Joseph Krong; new trainer, Victor Barboza. Five more at Gulfstream, then the now-five-year-old disappeared for over a year before resurfacing at Camarero in December 2018.
In his first race in Puerto Rico, Majestic finished dead last, 25+ lengths back. He was also under the yoke of a new team: owner, I J Stable; trainer, Jorge Perez. Two races later, a new owner/trainer: Angel Calderon. His final five races, all under Calderon:
second-to-last, 13 back
last, 46+ back
last, 42+ back
last, 81+ back
and finally, January 30, 2020, second-to-last, 39+ back
11 days later – dead.
Dave Hoeght was also foaled in Kentucky, in March 2012. His first race came as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs. Owner (and also breeder), Mike Tarp; trainer, Dale Romans. 11 races – in KY, FL, NY – for this pair followed, then sold to World Wide Promotion and trainer Marcial Navarro. Several races later, a new trainer: Antonio Machado. In November ’17, sold again: owner/trainer, Regulo Rodriguez. Before the next race, sold back to World Wide – with yet another new trainer, Jose Camejo. A few races later, enter Tyron Benoit (at this point, he was being raced in TX and LA). Still, the training carousel continued: back to Camejo, then Angel Rodriguez.
Dave Hoeght’s final race came in Florida in April 2019. Next thing we know, he turns up dead in Puerto Rico – almost a full year later. Here was a horse who raced at some of the most prestigious tracks in the U.S. – Churchill, Saratoga, Gulfstream – and for at least one big-name trainer (Romans). In all, he “earned” over $130,000 for his various people. And yet somehow, he ends up in a dump of a place, body destroyed – his arthritis was termed “severe” – with not a soul to advocate for him. A dead horse (barely) walking. A dead horse. Nothing is more important than “equine welfare,” right? The horses are “like members of the family,” hey? Vile – to the core.