Blood on Their Hands

We activists talk often about horses falling through the ranks – their value dropping with their “production” as they make their way from elite tracks to seedy racinos. More often than not, this ends badly – for most, slaughter, for others, simply being run into the ground, with each successive “connection” trying to suck one last dime from the increasingly spent horse. The recently deceased 9-year-old Ike Walker (below) is a prime example of the latter.

Ike was made by Buck Pond Farm in January 2012. Like the chattel he was, Ike was peddled for $125,000 at a Keeneland yearling sale. First raced at two (of course) in July 2014, Ike would spend the first five years or so of his “career” running at what are considered some of the best tracks in America – Arlington, Keeneland, Churchill, Oaklawn, Del Mar, Santa Anita. Those early years saw several stakes races, including a Grade 1, and even though by 2019 he was being raced exclusively at the “claiming” level (“For Sale” every time), his tag at Churchill in June of that year was still a healthy $32,000. But by January 2020, Ike could be, and in fact was, had for just $7,500.

On February 5, 2020, prior to a race at Fair Grounds, Ike was sold again: $5,000. He had officially completed his descent to cheap claimer. Next came the dreaded trek, which is often by sea, to Puerto Rico and the hellhole that is Camerero Race Track. From June 2020 to the beginning of this month, Ike was raced 13 times there. In the final six, the last being August 6, Ike finished a combined 176 lengths back. Five days after that final race (52+ back), Ike was dead from what a former owner (more on them coming) termed “swollen hocks, arthritis and a variety of other medical issues.”

In addition to the aforementioned top-tier tracks, Ike was trained by some of racing’s royalty: Doug O’Neill, Jerry Hollendorfer, Peter Miller, Jeff Mullins, Steve Asmussen, et al. With many trainers, of course, comes many owners: Our research indicates Ike changed hands – was bought and sold – at least 17 times. (Imagine the stress and anxiety poor Ike had to endure – ulcers virtually assured.) Now, the racing world would have you believe that only the final “connections” should be held accountable for Ike’s cruel end. In other words, don’t lay blame on those multiple multi-millionaire trainers and their equally, if not more, rich owner counterparts. Much easier to cast aspersions on the bottom feeders who frequent Camarero. Sorry, not that easy.

Clearly, the several people who handled Ike at Camarero over the past 14 months are scum, with special venom reserved for the pitiless pair who had Ike for his final four races (124+ back) and sent him out on August 6 with that beaten body: trainer Humberto Lopez, owner Establo Barrio Amparo. But all those who exploited him, who shared in the nearly half-million dollars Ike “won,” are complicit. Each of them, any of them, could have retired Ike, or at the very least, kept tabs and intervened at some point. All it would have taken was a simple claim (Ike was going for a pittance on the island). But, not a one stepped up. Which brings us back to that former owner.

Follows are tweets from Surfside Stables, all from August 11, in chronological order:




First, we’re skeptical of their “desperate” attempt to “save” Ike: All this tweeting occurred the very day he died; in fact, he had already been euthanized by the time the solicitation for “advice/suggestions” came. “A day too late” – how convenient. But more to the point, if they had truly been “watching Ike for so long,” where was the save attempt over the year-plus Ike was at Camarero? And “didn’t know how to help”? Liars. If they’re still licensed owners, they could have claimed him (remember, Ike was raced 13 times at Camarero); if not, surely they could have enlisted help from racing friends. But again, it’s not just Surfside; all previous “connections” – including that who’s who roster of trainers – have Ike’s blood on their hands. All of them.

15 Comments

    • Didn’t he though? – I’ve been told the horses who are by his sire have kind, agreeable personalities. 💔

  1. How much money did they make off of him from gambling… There is probably no way to tell how much money was made off of this beautiful horse, IKE WALKER, from the WAGERING HANDLE REVENUE and PROFITS. There’s nothing that can protect horses from the greed of man in a situation like that where nobody has the will or the money to step in to save a horse. I should say that the people who have the money to save the horse don’t have the will to honestly save him from death by ABUSE. With people that are overcome with selfishness and greed, power and arrogance, the horse is just a tool, and to add insult to injury, the author of an article about Thoroughbred race horses starts his article out with — “The great triviality that is horseracing is…”

  2. Their attempts at making it look like they actually cared for a horse they themselves exploited is disgusting.

    • Exactly, Rebecca – they “cared” so much THIS is what THEY did (Jordan Blair, the trainer)…

      – 6/6/19, claimed Ike for 32K

      – 7/12/19, raced Ike in an AOC (no tag) in which he “WEAKENED” and finished 10L back

      – 8/17/19, dropped Ike in for a 25K tag in which he was “DONE entering the turn” and finished last by 28L

      – 9/19/19, they dropped him even more – a 10K tag and he finished last again, 18L back…Ike was claimed by Asmussen

      Asmussen raced Ike on 11/10/19 – those “unbearably sad” former “connections” could have snatched their dumped racing slave Ike Walker up for a mere $7500 – they didn’t. They, in fact, had EIGHTEEN opportunities to claim him back – as cheaply as 4K. Again, they didn’t.

  3. Ike..Beauty personified!!
    There sure is a place in hell reserved only for the parasites in the racing business and all the horse abusers.

  4. Dear Pat,
    Sometimes I can barely get through these posts. This one is particularly unbearable to read. I think of his many years as chattel, likely in increasingly severe, chronic pain, and how his final days and runs were merciless. Ike Walker had at least 17 different owners!
    We can’t stop protesting and educating legislators and the voting public.

  5. I have immense respect for what Patrick and all you commentors do on this website but I can only visit so often. Reading this story, and looking at this beautiful Thoroughbred’s sweet face, just rips my heart to shreds. One keeps asking over and over….”How can this continue to happen without investigation and penalties for outright cruelty to animals?” Horse-racing is just one notch below bull-fighting in my opinion. The only difference being that the bulls are tortured right in front of the demented patrons in the stands. If race-goers had to witness up close and personal the savagely torn limbs on the track, and the terror and pain of the stalled horses suffering from all sorts of maladies, perhaps then they might be persuaded to satisfy their gambling addictions at the casinos. At least in the smoke-filled gambling rooms there’s no blood unless you lose your paycheck and slit your wrists. I can unashamedly tell you if there was no accountability for torture and murder to humans, there’d be a lot of racing folks hiring armed body-guards because I’d feel no remorse in beating many of them to a bloody, crippled pulp and simply walk away. I think I asked this question before–“Have any of you actually organized a physical protest, or visit to a particularly heinous track’s state legislature to present the results here and demand action? The so-called “horse people” themselves aren’t really interested in horses. If they were, they’d find another profession. They are the lowest of the low!

      • No, I mean actually doing some research on the member and what committees they serve on. Then you identify members who actually have some affinity for animals, schedule a meeting, and present just some of these gut-wrenching statistics and ask, “What do you think should be done about this? It’s a start but not the ultimate solution. I understand horse-racing is a very powerful industry and sadly, still, has a very large following. Those who care have the enormous job of making the public aware of what horse racing has become and what it no longer is. I’m more than willing to get involved in any way I can. I used to work for the now-defunct Animal Protection Organization whose main goal was to identify and establish objectives to stop the abuse and neglect of all animals, both wild and domestic. I like to feel we played a significant part in helping to finally convince Ringling Brothers Circus that keeping elephants in chains and forcing big cats and bears to perform stupid tricks was no longer acceptable in a civilized society. I realize we’re up against different foe here, but I also believe there’s no Goliath that can’t be slain Determination and commitment were our greatest allies. We never gave up and obviously those same tactics will be strong weapons in this fight against indifference and outright brutality!

        • It’s disgusting how many animal welfare organizations WILL NOT speak out against horse racing, and in some cases actually condone it. I have sent packets with three years worth of kill lists from this site, plus four page letters detailing all the ways race horses are exploited and abused – the very things these organizations claim to be against – and either I get no response or a form letter telling me all the good they do for other animals (with an enclosed donation slip, of course). I have informed them that until they recognize horse racing is as abusive as dog fighting or animal experimentation, they will get no support from me.

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