Perhaps the Worst Case of On-Track Abuse I’ve Seen

Sequana was bred in NY by Michael LeCesse in February 2012. LeCesse, as owner/trainer, first raced Sequana as a 2-year-old. 36 more races followed before LeCesse put Sequana up for sale at the end of 2018 through “Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds.” The takeaway line from the ad – which was just recently removed and replaced with the banner, “Sold for Racing” – was this: “The assistant trainer told us that Sequana is sound, but just not running as well as he used to, so it is time to let him find a new career.” (I copied the original ad; it can be found below.) So much for that. In January ’19, Sequana resurfaced in Puerto Rico. Yes, Puerto Rico and the Camarero Race Track – where racehorses go to die.

Sequana, in LeCesse’s sale ad…


Sequana was raced 33 times at Camarero. Save for a single “win” three months after arrival, he was utterly hopeless, double digits back in every race but three. Worse, here are his last 25 races, beginning July 4, 2019:

35+ lengths back
30+ lengths back
20+ lengths back
15+ lengths back
17+ lengths back
82+ lengths back
26+ lengths back
29+ lengths back
24+ lengths back
32+ lengths back
18+ lengths back
37+ lengths back
31+ lengths back
“Did Not Finish”
27+ lengths back
34+ lengths back
90+ lengths back
60 lengths back
124+ lengths back
74+ lengths back
45+ lengths back
26 lengths back
“Did Not Finish”
80+ lengths back

And finally, just this past Feb 21: 46 lengths back, “lame.”

In the 23 completed races, that’s a cumulative 1000+ lengths back or roughly 44/race. In short, this is perhaps the worst case of on-track abuse I’ve yet seen.

After that February race, our VP, Joy Aten, reached out to LeCesse to see if he would be interested in helping get Sequana off that death-track and into a safe retirement. You know, considering he brought this poor animal into this world, and made multiple thousands off his toil. I’ll let LeCesse’s words speak for themselves.

LeCesse: “Why would I do that?”

Joy: “Because he was your homebred whom you raced.”

LeCesse: “Well I sold him – they’re like used cars, you sell them and you no longer own them – this is a business, you know. I’ve had people wanting me to take back broodmares I’ve sold – I don’t do that either.”

Joy: “So I think the industry should at the very least be honest and not claim they love their horses and that they are like family.”

LeCesse: “Well, we love them when we own them.”

On selling Sequana to PR: “There are a couple of guys from PR that come here [Finger Lakes] looking for racehorses to buy. They auction them off down there.”

On the horses who can no longer race – i.e., eventually every horse down there – where will they all go, there are not nearly enough homes?: “You know, I’ve seen pictures of horses that people keep in their backyards, they looked pretty good, they ride them from bar to bar.”

“Why would I do that?”

“They’re like used cars, you sell them and you no longer own them.”

“This is a business, you know.”

“We love them when we own them.”

“They ride them from bar to bar.”

A fine human being. But I’ll give him this, his honesty is refreshing.

Anyway, I then sent the following email to what passes for a regulatory agency in Puerto Rico:

Good morning, Mr. Carrion and Mr. Simmons. I am writing to respectfully request that the racehorse Sequana – most recent connections: owner Illuminati Stable, trainer Michael Cabrera – be henceforth permanently prohibited from racing at Camarero and, more to the point, safely retired.

After having been raced 37 times in the U.S., the then-6-year-old Sequana was offered “For Sale” by his breeder/owner/trainer, Michael LeCesse, at the end of 2018. The full ad is here, but the takeaway line is this:

“The assistant trainer told us that Sequana is sound, but just not running as well as he used to, so it is time to let him find a new career.”

Well, somehow Sequana resurfaced at Camarero in January 2019. To date, he has been raced 33 times there. Save for one win in April 2019, Sequana has been noncompetitive to utterly hopeless. In fact, over his last 23 completed races, Sequana has averaged over 44 lengths back. Again, that’s an average finish of over 44 lengths back. The reason I said “completed” is because in two other races, he failed to even finish. In his most recent race, February 21, he came back “lame” after bringing up the rear, 46 lengths back.

Sequana clearly has no business on a racetrack. What is happening is unmitigated animal abuse. It is unconscionable. And it must end.

I happen to know that there are people ready and able to take Sequana off the track and provide him a loving, forever home. I am calling on you – the people who ultimately have the final say – to do the right thing here. Please end this poor animal’s suffering.

Thank you.

Patrick Battuello
Founder/President, Horseracing Wrongs

The following morning, I was informed that Sequana had been signed over to a rescue group in Puerto Rico. Liberated, at last. We will, of course, have to wait for the full evaluation (x-rays and such) to see if Sequana can enjoy some relatively pain-free years. Assuming, though, that he does survive, I will provide info on how to help.

LeCesse’s original ad:
Sequana, 2012 16h chestnut gelding

A handsome homebred of his owner/trainer, Sequana impressed our volunteers as a quality horse with great movement and excellent potential for many new disciplines. Indeed, our notes from our visit with Sequana are sprinkled with superlatives and the word “nice” over and over: “very nicely put together”; “nice topline”; “Very nice mover”; “really nice horse!” Because of the sharp shadows of a sunny morning, and the fact that he was already done up in standard front wraps by the time the busy barn workers had time to bring him out for his photo session, we don’t think his photos really do him justice. Come see this impressive horse in person!

The assistant trainer told us that Sequana is sound, but just not running as well as he used to, so it is time to let him find a new career. She said he is good to handle and has no vices, and like most fit in training race horses, will benefit from some let down time. He has had 4 wins and 15 top three finishes in 35 starts, but this year he has yet to make the winner’s circle. For his jog video, Sequana showed off a beautiful, light and flowing flat kneed trot with good reach, movement that will do well in the show hunter or dressage rings. This lovely guy is offered at a very attractive bargain price considering all his attributes and potential.

Price: $1500
Contact: Mike LeCesse 585-303-9467 (call or text)

33 Comments

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  1. You did good Patrick along with Joy as well! Used cars?, is a business! This owner / breeder is irresponsible to put it mildly! A horse is NOT an unfeeling piece of machinery! We have seen perfectly good serviceable & sound broodmares sent to slaughter at one farm where we worked.We spoke up & complained the whole time those perfectly good mares were being hauled to the auction! We were in the cab of the truck hauling the trailer. Were unafraid of losing our job at the time as no one would have lived in a 75 year old barn & worked as cheaply as we did teaching horses to be ridden. We don`t BREAK horses to be ridden! We teach them with patience & proper pressure applied & released at the correct timing.

  2. I counted, several times, the number of races of various lengths back plus the two races where he Did Not Finish. I keep coming up with a count of 24, as opposed to 25.
    All in all, it illustrates what a demanding life it is to be a racehorse. Also, it is very clear at how cold and callous the people in racing are. I feel sorry for the horses that are doomed to this sort of exploitation.

  3. And, herein lies the biggest problem faced by the doomed racing press:
    Mr. LeCesse just speaks aloud what the entire racing community embraces — has always embraced — but can no longer admit publicly. The very business model of their “sport” is predicated on Destroy & Dispose.

    As I type this, racing’s so-called journalists are actively seeking out EXCEPTIONS to this mantra.
    They must. They have to.

    As their Derby Shame approaches, look for more and more heartfelt, uplifting stories of the industry’s RESCUERS. But bear in mind, finding these folks in the sea of Mike LeCesses who make up the racing world is tougher than locating that proverbial needle-in-the-horse-killing-haystack. And they’re not exactly adept at making their own contributions seem significant; quotes about any (miniscule) numbers of racehorses saved are predictably vague.
    So let’s be sure and shower the racing press with praise when they present their stupid features this year, okay?

    • Kelly, I’ve seen the following, from Mary-Elizabeth Fain, posted often – I think she’s right on; “I’m tired of watching the horse racing industry continually vomit an unending stream of unwanted horses, and then pretend that the tiny percentage they save makes it all OK. It’s not.”

      And I’ll add…I’m tired of the racing-employed “rescuers” expecting praise and/or credit for SAVING (that the horse needed saving speaks volumes) their horses – their horses that they bred and they used. I don’t expect anyone to give me any credit for something that’s simply my responsibility and an expectation – providing for my animals for life.

      • Both great points, Joy (even if they’re so freaking obvious to everybody outside this sick game) And to add a third, I’m hearing more and more these days about the entire industry’s “solution” to its now-infamous horse disposal problem: EUTHANASIA. Since social media (and this site) exposed this itty-bitty little quandary of theirs — how to get rid of the vast majority of their disposable athletes without being publicly shamed — those loving connections are resorting to having their unsuccessful, still-young horses PUT DOWN. That’s their solution. How sick is that?
        “Oops! Can’t risk our good name getting dragged through the kill-pen (or, worse, Puerto Rico). And we know we’ll never find them homes (unless we pay out a bundle, which kinda defeats the purpose of racing ’em, no?)…Hey, I know! Let’s just quietly arrange to have them KILLED. Nobody in racing cares, in fact, they’re encouraging it. So everybody wins! Hooray for us. We’re heroes!”

        • Honestly, if those horses are injured, or have the potential to live in chronic, unmanageable pain due to wear and tear, and all other efforts to find a loving, forever home are exhausted, I’d rather they do euthanize them. Finding a home for a “pasture pal with issues is very hard to do.
          That being said, these horses should never be put into that situation in the first place. But since they are…I think euthanasia is much more merciful than being shipped to slaughter, or living in chronic severe pain the rest of the their lives, which could be 20+ years in some cases.

          • I know of a woman who has posted on FB about the Thoroughbred mares she keeps on pasture and takes care of them. One mare in particular has a bad case of arthritis in her front legs/ knees/ joints. The mare needs to be given special meds for that. I’m not sure how long a person can keep doing that until you have to draw a line, so to speak. At some point, the arthritis and the side-effects of meds become too much for the horse to bear.

          • Yes, of course, Marie. Euthanasia is always preferable to slaughter (and other issues and injuries from the abuses of the track that cause long-term suffering.) I was speaking of racing’s mass use of it as a TURNOVER TOOL; their new, preferred method of keeping racehorses “safe” from all those bad situations that await them once they’re used up and thrown out. Then, these fine folks are free to go resume the breed/kill cycle on the NEXT 15,000 or so foals per year.
            Racehorses are already bred to die. How much lower can they set the bar?

          • Marie, do you want to know the sad truth?
            Most racehorse owners/trainers don’t even want to pay for humane euthanasia when it’s the decent alternative as you’ve mentioned.
            That costs too much money for them and they would rather ship them out to a kill pen so that somebody else has to pay for that.
            This multibillion dollar killing business hates spending one dime or setting aside money to provide humane euthanasia services to ensure a better alternative than living a life of chronic pain, somebody else abusing them or ending up on the slaughterhouse floor.
            Racehorses are there to exploit until they die and their unwanted racehorse mess, in whatever form, is left up to everybody else to clean up and pay for.

  4. This entire industry is full of a bunch of sadistic blood and life sucking parasites supported by racing commissions who are there to protect profits over the detriment of the racehorses.
    The entire foundation and operating procedures of horse racing requires massive pain, suffering, and ongoing abuse in order to churn their wagering profits.
    Even worse, is the billions in taxpayers money and casino profits given to keep this killing business going.
    Racehorses like Sequana mean nothing to any of them and it’s so profoundly wrong, sad and unacceptable.
    The only way to stop racehorses like Sequana and the rest of them from suffering is to shut this antiquated, unnecessary gambling and killing venue down once and for all.

    • Gina, in reply to what you said to Marie, that most racing owners/trainers don’t even want to pay for humane euthanasia, I agree 1000%. We (CANTER) did it for them, because they wouldn’t – we took in the horses that had no chance of living a life without pain and we euthanized them when their owners would not.

      Some we actually had to pay for – we matched meat price! – only to have to euthanize them. It was so sickening. They would say the same damn thing every time we’d pick one up that was really lame – “he just needs a little time off.” Bastards. At the beginning, my first couple of years, they’d feign surprise – but after those first years they wouldn’t bat an eye when I’d see them the next week and tell them their crippled horse had to be euthanized. And it wouldn’t be long before they’d have another.

      We became a dumping ground. And they used us all the time.

  5. Humans have to be the cruelest,most pure evil species. How do they live with themselves? There’s a special place in Hell for these unfeeling scumbags.

    • Humans are the most dangerous animals on earth and the most pervasive predators, bar none.
      Most predators confine their predation to one or just a few species but any species, whether it walks, flies, crawls, slithers or swims is fair game for humans.
      Further, most predators kill for survival. But humans kill for reasons that are difficult to enumerate and even more difficult and impossible to justify.

      • AMEN, Rose. Horseracing is one that’s impossible to justify. Its existence provides no benefits to the horses used in it – it ONLY benefits the humans using them.

  6. Get this poor baby to my place in Durango, CO. I will take him. All anyone has to do is get him to me.

    • Who has the money it would take to transport him from Puerto Rico back to the USA and all expenses regarding quarantine, veterinarian expenses, feed, etc.? That is asking a lot if you don’t have it.

    • If Sequana’s veterinary evaluation reveals he’s negative for piroplasmosis (in which case he would not be allowed back in the States) and does not require euthanasia (injury not compatible with a comfortable life), he WILL need a home and if you’re truly interested, you can contact Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare and inquire about their adoption policies. There are fund-raisers to get these horses back to the states. We will be sharing that if all goes well with Sequana’s vet evaluation. Hooves and fingers crossed!

  7. For $1500 I would have bought him and given him his loving forever home. So happy to know that he was rescued.
    Having spent nearly 30 years on America’s racetracks in nearly all capacities this is a story with a good ending, I wish that there could be more stories like this.

    • Oh how I wish you would have seen Sequana’s “For Sale” ad in 2018 before he was sold to continue racing in PR – it would have saved him a great deal of stress and suffering. Now we just hope for the best for him…that his veterinary evaluation will provide a favorable prognosis for him.

    • Anonymous, how the hell did you stay in this sick sadistic mass killing industry for 30 plus years? I mean c’mon. You watched that much abuse and it didn’t motivate you to go into another field of employment? I’m sorry but you’re not to quick on the uptake.

  8. The poor guy looks utterly hopeless, trapped in a life of suffering and abuse. It’s beyond comprehension how anybody with even the thinnest sliver of morality could treat a sentient being with this sort of callousness and disregard, but I suppose we should give that breeder credit for his refreshing honesty, instead of trying to push the racing industry’s usual propaganda. Isn’t it interesting how different they speak and behave when the cameras and microphones are off – from kisses and carrots to “used cars”.

    • Rebecca, this guy Michael LeCesse evidently didn’t get the memo from the public relations department in his neck of the woods in the horseracing industry.

    • I have to say “thank you” to LeCesse for telling the truth. This is exactly how these people think and operate!!

      Horses are shipped just like “used cars” aboard cargo vessels to continue a life of diabolical abuse in PR.
      We know many horses packed into these “modified” containers die en route. Hard to say I actually believe they are the “lucky” ones considering the the escalation of abuse they face in PR. Meanwhile the sellers pocket the dirty money.

      In this business, the worst qualities of human beings are on display daily.
      A civilized society cannot continue to turn a blind eye.

      • I have a hunch that SEQUANA was transported by air to Puerto Rico rather than by sea. I read that article about the 15 Thoroughbreds packed into a cargo container. Even though it was modified for horses, it was not right at all. For one thing, each horse has 3 feet of space in width. 15 horses x 3 feet = 45 feet. I have only heard of cargo shipping containers being 8 feet wide by 20 feet long & 8 feet wide by 40 feet long. How did they cram 15 horses into a 40 ft. long container??? What did I miss???

        • The mode of transportation is not the point in this particular case, it is how the horse was abused and how the horse suffered
          and may still be suffering.
          Also, most importantly, the callous indifference on display.
          I brought up the container issue because it is one more layer of cruelty inflicted on these unfortunates.
          I also have a hunch, and it is that horses die during that 3 – 4 day sea journey that we don’t hear about. Plus they are not routinely unloaded the time they arrive, and it could be a day or so later!!
          Further, one of the reasons (and maybe the main one) this debacle came to light is there was a lawsuit filed against the shipping company. Always about the MONEY !!!

        • I doubt very much that safety and comfort were high on their list of priorities. Imagine being crammed in a metal box, their own waste piling around their feet, while their combined body heat made that box an oven.

  9. It’s most cruel Industry in the world. They give their ALL for Nothing in return. I had ex race horse – bought is him from abusive owner at ripe age of 8 and put him down at ripe age of 38 due to lack of teeth and hip problems. We retired him from dressage at ripe age of 10 and he was boarded not even ridden for the rest of his life. Just out in a pasture boarded and it was a lady (mare) man until younger showed up and took his place so the boarder moved him to the older horse pasture bc of him being bitten and kicked over ladies and learship. When I put him down his 34 yrs old girlfriend Maddy was there and so his buddy Jasper. Both are gone now too. Miss him a lot 3 years later. He was great grandson of Man of War per his papers. Shameful industry and it must stop.

  10. Why doesn’t someone with some balls and a gun start using these “owners” for target practice ?? You can sell the “meat” to feed zoo animals ! A few well placed shots at every race aught to send the human excrement back under the rocks they crawled out from. No owners , no trainers = no more abuse for horses. Maybe if they could only breed what they could take care of …….instead of breeding as many as they can. MAKE THEM PAY FOR CARE FOR EVERY ANIMAL THEY BREED FOR THE NATURAL LIFE OF THE HORSE. Newsflash asshole……THEY AREN’T CARS !

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