Don’t Forget the Poor Standardbreds

Pity the poor Standardbreds. When, if at all, the average person thinks about horseracing, it’s images of Thoroughbreds roaring down a straightaway that surely come to mind. Harness racing has just never captured the popular imagination the way the “The Sport of Kings” has. Can anyone out there identify a single famous Standardbred? Meanwhile, Secretariat, Man o’ War, and Citation were feted as three of ESPN’s “Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.” One breed, “equine athletes”; the other, anonymous gambling chips.

Regarding welfare, while true that Standardbreds are not killed (on-track) as often as their Thoroughbred/Quarterhorse cousins, they are indeed killed (which, of course, we also document). But of more import, life on the harness circuit is just as cruel and mean; in fact, based solely on length of servitude – which can last up to 10 years and beyond – one could make the argument that harness racing is worse. And after the harness people have had their way, the abuse often continues under the heavy hand of groups like the Amish. Then, for many or most, those same Canadian and Mexican abattoirs. So, I’d like to remind people that there is another form of horseracing, and that these beautiful animals, too, are hurting, and suffering.

The following horses were “scratched” because of “injury” at Cal Expo (California) in the first three months of 2021:

Mishindi, Jan 3
Night Girl, Jan 10
Fedex Express, Jan 10
Man of Mine, Jan 23
Bo’s So Hot, Jan 23
Bobs Time, Jan 23
P H Hippie, Jan 23
Steady Breeze, Jan 24
Street Parade, Feb 6
Fear Factor, Feb 6
Sin Machqueen, Feb 13
Teachmehowtotry, Feb 20
Rockinaroundheaven, Feb 27
MD Magic, Feb 28
Bunkerhill Bill, Mar 6
Dependlebury A, Mar 6
Rockinaroundheaven, Mar 7
Dancingonthesand, Mar 7
California Rock, Mar 7
Selma O’Brien, Mar 14
Al’s Briefs, Mar 14
Imma Tank, Mar 20
Exsqueezeme, Mar 20 (“lame”)
Gee Wilikers, Mar 28
HF’s Super Filly, Mar 28

And for “sickness”:

Ramsay, Jan 2
Eddie Brush, Jan 3
Regal Mark, Jan 9
Le Montrachet, Jan 10
Glenferrie Dreamer, Jan 10
Fox Valley Hoss, Jan 16
Arnie’s Army, Jan 31
Door to Door, Feb 5
Always First, Feb 5
Sarah Toga Again, Feb 5
Roaring Home, Feb 5
Keystone Charles, Feb 6
Sneak Peek Hanover, Feb 14
Some Playa, Feb 14
Wet Shark, Feb 14
Witch Hunter, Feb 27
Frisky Angel, Feb 28
Hagginatthebeach, Feb 28
Marys Pretty Girl, Mar 7
I’m an Athelete, Mar 13
Cookiesncream, Mar 20

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  1. The famous Standardbred named HAMBLETONIAN comes to mind as the single famous Standardbred.

  2. Yes, I can name quite a few. Hambletonian, Greyhound, Dan Patch, Adios, Bret Hanover, Good Time, Speedy Scot, Speedy Crown, Super Bowl, Romeo Hanover, Albatross, Abercrombie, Valley Victory, Moni Maker, Nihilator, Niatross, Beach Towel, etc.

  3. So many of the racing Standardbreds have 100+ starts. Some are even in the 200+ starts. I had heard a long time ago that a warm up or typical training session for a standardbred usually involves going for miles. That’s a lot of pounding, even if they are usually sounder than running counterparts.

  4. We see so many Standardbreds at auction and in killpens – and just like with the TB’s, it’s never the fault of their (former) racing owners and trainers. They’re all blameless, having given the horse away to some lady whose name they cannot recall…

    When you have a leading harness trainer like Rene Allard indicted in a massive racehorse drugging scheme, life is clearly as cruel and dangerous for racing Standardbreds as it is for the TB’s.

    “During its investigation of Allard and others, the FBI intercepted a disturbing phone conversation between Ross Cohen and Louis Grasso, who were among those indicted Monday, discussing the deaths of horses who were given illegal drugs by Allard. It reads (exactly):

    “Cohen: What’s going on with the Allard death camp?

    “Grasso: (Laughter) well I didn’t get anymore emergency calls yesterday so I am assuming…

    “Cohen: Assuming the number stopped at 7?

    “Grasso: Well yeah

    “Cohen: How many died?

    “Grasso: Three

    “Cohen: Jeez. What were you thinking?

    “Grasso: Three or two maybe.

    “The pair continue to discuss the situation before wrapping up;

    “Grasso: …One of them just died on the table they just cut him open and poof it died.

    “Cohen: Holy f–k did they do an autopsy?

    “Grasso: Their heart rate was like triple they were breathing real heavy their membranes were going f-ing purple.” › …Harness Trainer Rene Allard Latest Arrested in Doping Scandal

    And according to a pro-racing article of March 8, 2021, Allard is currently training a stable of horses in South Florida.

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