Turf Paradise Trainer: “I mean if I had a horse go out and fall down and break a leg, I’d probably have to go drive to my house, get a gun and shoot that horse because there’s not a vet on the grounds.”

This is an unidentified horse who was injured training at Turf Paradise October 17:

The picture was posted by the horse’s trainer, Chad Ferguson. He wrote: “Well it was just due time till something happened. My horse got loose and went through the rail this morning, and guess what, not one vet on the grounds [to stitch him up].”

But wait, there’s more. At the October 14 Racing Commission meeting, trainer Scott Rollins said this: “I mean if I had a horse go out and fall down and break a leg, I’d probably have to go drive to my house, get a gun and shoot that horse because there’s not a vet on the grounds. [The vet] comes in at like 7 in the morning, and he can’t handle 700 horses by himself. That’s something that is going to be a big problem this year, not having enough veterinarians on the ground.”

Rollins went on to deplore the overall condition of Turf Paradise, most especially the track surface. Indeed, another trainer followed Rollins with this: “This surface is not right. If we have a racetrack like we have right now…we’ll have more breakdowns than we can handle. We have a problem that needs to be fixed now.”

Turf Paradise: 602-942-1101; contact form, other phone numbers
AZ Dept of Gaming: 602-771-4263; contact form

41 Comments

  1. “…We have a problem that needs to be fixed now.” Has it occurred to them to make a scrupulous choice to stop racing the horses into the ground…? Obviously, they have no scruples! If they had a conscience, they would be embarrassed and ashamed. But, no, they whine that the veterinarian isn’t there to kill their injured horses for them or patch the injured horses up. This hideous cruelty must be recognized as the crime that it is!

  2. Turf Para-death should be shut down! Even our now, defunct, redeveloped, crummy class”B” mile track had at least 3 vets in am & sometimes 4. ALWAYS. With that torn up leg in areas of constant movement, not sure if stitches would be able to be done.If horse immediately has tetanus toxoid shot administered & wound kept clean, he or she might heal up okay. But will have a terrible scar for life & hopefully not have permanent damage to tendons or muscles.Seeing stuff like this happen is what had us quit racing in 2005.

  3. Oh, stop being so dramatic, Mr. Rollins. There’s plenty of fine folks on the grounds of Turf Pairo’Deaths who will be happy to assist you with your “euthanasia” needs. Just look behind any tumbleweed on the grounds of what they generously call their backstretch, and you’re sure to find some methhead with a gun.

    Another racing problem solved, Arizona style.

    • Kelly, when there is no veterinarian to do the pre-race exams to make sure that the horses, all 700 of them, are “fit to race” is it possible to have the methhead(s) on the “backstretch” fill in for the veterinarian/s(?) until the “authorities” step in and do their “job”? Or, will the veterinarians be put on speed-dial, or some such thing, for when the races are about to take place…?

      • Ha. Judging by their obscene breakdown rate, I’m thinking the methheads might be more effective;(

  4. Give the trainer credit. He at least posted a picture of his horses injury & did not try to hide it. Maybe he is getting disgusted with racing as we did in 2005 & maybe he will consider quitting.

    • One can only hope that, fredjoan. If he had any remote sense of right and wrong, he would have called someone with authority. He is putting it out there so the whole world can see it, more or less, which is great for calling attention to just how bad the racing industry is! It’s like social media — people do really stupid things and really embarrassing things and very shameful things and then put it out there as if they have no shame. I get the feeling from this blatant in your face whining that these trainers are beyond hope.

    • I agree, fredjoan. He sounded like he had had enough!

      Just shows the “beauty” of autonomy in this depraved business – no national governing body and, of course, no universal rules…
      Arizona takes the cake in a highly competitive environment!!!

  5. So, does anyone know the outcome of this poor horse? We constantly hear the EXCUSES but not the reality or solution. Please add Gov. Doug Ducey to the list of those who would be able to end this crap.

  6. The racing industry has a problem that can NEVER be fixed. And for the horse that was injured, even without a vet immediately on site, any knowledgeable horse owner could at least clean and wrap the wound, though there doesn’t seem to be anyone on the track who has the slightest clue how to actually do anything logical with horses.

    • It takes human decency to figure out a cleansing and bandage to prevent infection from happening..or some kind of pain relief.

    • Amen. Rebecca …it is UNFIXABLE ! UN-FIX-ABLE. Ya can’t put “lipstick on a pig” 🤣. In all fairness, I’m gonna get me a pig (pigs) one of these days…..when I’m not being a 24 hr caregiver. Pigs ROCK.

      • I used the online contact form to Arizona Department of Gaming and also to Turf Paradise and sent a message to each one to please consider shutting down racing at Turf Paradise. I don’t expect an answer.

  7. You do realize that you took an image and a trainer’s comment from a local industry forum where they’re trying to MAKE THINGS BETTER? But by all means, shame them publicly so that they’ll stop talking amongst themselves and trying to figure out as a group how to best resolve the issues. I don’t like the pop up pot stores all around me, but everyone has a right to make a legal living. They’re doing the best they can, and these horses get amazing care. But that doesn’t fit your narrative, so by all means, twist as you see fit, because bullying works, and the end justifies the means right?

    • To: Smith
      Isn’t it obvious from the picture that this horse is getting “amazing” care? You are off your rocker if you believe what you just said.

      • I’d like to think that this picture was taken right after the injury. At least that’s what we do in my line of work when there’s an on the job injury. We document it, then go get it treated. Please tell me what leads you to believe that they flay horse’s legs and then throw them into a stall as a matter of course? If you’re upset about something (and clearly the trainer was) you usually start with the most dramatic photo. A picture of a well bandaged horse eating grain isn’t really going to have the same effect…

    • And, YOU do realize that as you were typing your sarcastic little “make things better” comment, your buddies at Turf hosted yet another DNF/Van-off. Don’t you, Smith?
      Doesn’t sound like things are getting BETTER at all, now, does it?

    • Smith, “SHAME” them? – oh those poor cream puffs. And if they truly care about making things better – and for the horses they love so much – no amount of “shaming” would (or SHOULD) stop them, don’t you think?

  8. Wanda, sorry if this posts twice… but what makes you think that they just snapped a picture and threw the horse in a stall? At my work, we document injuries, and then treat them. When you’re upset (and the trainer seemed to be) you usually use the most dramatic photo to make your point. A picture of the horse in a stall, well wrapped and munching on grain wouldn’t quite have the same effect. I don’t see anything here that would imply that this was the end of treatment for that horse, but feel free to enlighten me if you know differently.

    • Smith, where do you get this idea that I think they just put the horse in the stall? I read the comments in Patrick Battuello’s post that goes with the picture. It’s not okay to put words in my mouth. Horseracing is Animal Cruelty!

      The trainers are complaining that there are no veterinarians before 7:00 AM and even after 7:00 AM there are not enough veterinarians to attend to 700 horses and the trainers are also complaining that the conditions of the racetrack itself is bad enough that there will be more breakdowns than usual.
      I have not been following the racing at Turf Paradise closely enough to know what their usual number of breakdowns is, but in true horsemanship people have the compassion, scruples and common sense enough to not force horses to run at top speeds to the point of breakdowns. This is why Horseracing itself is inhumane and inherently cruel. Horseracing needs to be banned everywhere it exists.

      • Ok Wanda, your starting to sound more like a Karen but answer these questions for me and then maybe just maybe you can criticis horse racing.
        Have you even been apart of a racing barn?
        Do you own horses or have you cared for horses that are bred to run and have hot headed demeanors?
        Have you rode a race horse?
        Have you ever been out on the track at 5am watching everything that happens in the mornings?
        I have and yes I will agree breakdowns are not a good thing, does that mean I’m going to bash the whole industry NO!
        We do not force our horses to do anything! They love to run, they are bred to run! Most Trainers, Grooms, owners and jockeys love their horses and like working as a team to get to the winners circle!
        Don’t think these horses go without love and care. Almost every single barn here has at least 1 person or more that live at their barn. These horses are cared for 24/7 and live better lives then some people i know! These horses are consistently checked for any kind of soreness or lameness and are treated accordingly if anything shows up.
        It doesn’t go unnoticed when a horse breaks down it has an impact on the whole stable! We DO NOT intentionally run the horses so hard they break down!
        But like all things in life sometimes things happen that we can’t control.
        So stop with all the bullshit and saying these horses aren’t cared for and that they are forced to do anything because they aren’t. Once you’ve rode a racehorse come back and tell me you were able to hold the horse back and not try its hardest to work! Then we might have a good conversation but until then stop bashing the industry, when you clearly know nothing about it besides an outsiders view.

        • I grew up with equines. I grew up thinking that Thoroughbred race horses were the ultimate experience one could have with horses. I did work for a trainer at training track where in a previous decade they had racing one summer. They didn’t make enough money from the wagering handle to make it feasible to continue having races. Since the racetrack was there on the rodeo grounds anyway, certain trainers used it as a training track. I have had more personal experience with horses than I could tell you in this short space. I could have raced an older AQHA registered Quarter Horse gelding that I owned but it would have had to have been at a bush track. Long story short, I honestly didn’t believe that would have been in the best of the horse. He was fast and willing and if I had been a demented psychopath, he would have run himself to literal death. I could never do that because I know it be wrong. I’m not perfect, but that is one thing that I could never be tempted to do. He was sired by a AAA+ RATED QH. He was a grandson of THREE BARS, a Thoroughbred that was and still is one of the most well-known sires of racing Quarter Horses and performance horses.

        • If that were true ….why were SO many found DEAD in their stall the next morning in ny? Another thing …it’s a totally unnecessary gambling racket that doesn’t need to exist. Scum in this country have enough things to gamble their money away on. And finally …ONE death of an animal is one too many. The horses died for corny nonsense. They gave too much as it is …fighting in our country’s never-ending stupid wars. Actually, all wars are stupid.

        • Hey Girlonthebackside- things I overheard at the track last few months….
          “Ya these aren’t the dachshund races – they’re the donkey races!” Said by a track employee.
          “You son of a bitch! Motherfucker! Put you’re fucking head down you son of a bitch! Goddam you you motherfucker!!” Said by an owner as he was trying to put a bridle on his horse …
          “Ya no wonder that horse got vanned off, everyone knew she was sore..” said by another person on the backside…
          “We have a bunch of horses we need to pick up and try to get to the vet, they all have issues”, said by a rescue group rep.
          “Yep, the horse broke down, LOL. (LOL mind you!) which is a text I received from a track employee.
          And yes – the horses will run, Karen. Duh. They are cooped up and coming out of their skin. I saw a barn full of wood chewers, weavers, repetitive headbobbers, miserable sour horses with their ears pinned, snapping and snarling at other horses walking by. There were a couple that had liquid diarrhea no one seemed to care about The one horse I rode that I couldn’t control was amped up on thyroid medications and clenbuterol. The people sleeping in the barn, yea that’s usually because they are limited as to where else they can stay because of their crappy pay. And the other fine folks I saw were smoking in the barns, with dry wood, shavings, and hay just waiting for them to catch on fire, chugging alcohol before noon.. So Wanda may not have experienced all these things, but I’d rather have her advocate for the horses than what you’re pushing as being so wonderful. Call me a Karen, but there’s the reality.

          • Thank you, Marie. Thanks for the multiple doses of realism. What language you heard is so not loving except that in the real world that is the language that sadistic people use when they don’t get their own way and they may love being sadistic. When I worked for the Thoroughbred race horse trainer at the training track in Lewiston, Idaho I had my own apartment at the time. But, if I would not have changed course (long story short), I would have had the option to either sleep in a stall at Long Acres racetrack in Renton, WA (in 1977) or if I could have given up things like transportation and eating, I could have basically spent most if not all of my paycheck on a motel room for one week. It was very “iffy” about my responsibilities outside of my job and the job (as groom) working out of town (for me). Then there were other things in my personal life that changed my direction in life.
            One of the many things that bothered me so much that I can’t describe it is seeing the horses confined to the stalls for 23 hours a day. I grew up with the experience of having our equines and bovines on a large pasture of approximately 250+ Acres which my dad rented. One of the horses that the other groom took care of weaved back and forth constantly. I felt so sorry for him. The other groom said to the horse if he didn’t stop it, that he would have to shut the top half of the door. Well, that would have been nice if it worked that way, but as you know it doesn’t work that way. The horse suffered from an abnormal mental health condition/ a neurosis, a type of disorder. That is not something you can say stop doing that. I know that is obvious to some people, but maybe it is not obvious to people who say that racehorses being confined 23 hours a day receive “amazing” care and love being treated like the way they are treated. There was one of the four Thoroughbreds that I was responsible to groom that had a problem that I think could be called something like General Anxiety Disorder in humans. I don’t know if they had a name for it in horses. I felt sorry for him, too. The trainer and the other groom (who had been working for the trainer much longer than I) went without me into the stall of this gelding named JESSON R. He would stand at the door and start shaking like he was really super nervous. I was not invited this one day when the trainer and the other groom gave him something. It was a kind of secretive thing going on but I’m guessing it was some sort of a tranquilizer. That was not something we (my family) had to do with our equines. They were able to graze on 250+ Acres of pasture most of the time but we did bring them into smaller pastures depending on where we lived. Anyway, I’m a lot older than somebody that just fell off a turnip truck. Hahahaha

        • Better lives than some people? The equivalent of a human being locked in a phone booth 23 hours a day hardly qualifies. And as for the love these trainers, grooms, and jockeys have, why are there so many videos of horses being kicked in the belly or hit in the head with whips on the track – or the myriad of “over use of the whip” charges that so many of these jockeys have repeated offenses of? Or the shocking devices? Or the stud chains and tongue ties? Or being punched in the head for “acting up” in the starting gait? Or the documented fact that nearly every horse on the track has stomach ulcers and degenerative joint disease from being forced into training while still the equine equivalent of toddlers? Or the horrific proportion of catastrophic injuries that occur at the track: broken necks and shoulders, severed spines, shattered legs, horses bleeding out in their stalls, colic and “sudden death” rampant in the shed rows? Or the blatant evidence of thousands of horses disposed of in the slaughterhouse-horses your industry claims to love like children and treat like royalty? The only argument you can offer is that the rest of us are ignorant, but you are knowingly and proudly complicit in animal exploitation and abuse. Which of us commits the bigger sin?

  9. Smith, I have SEEN too much,and I know too much. I would give ANYTHING to unsee what I have seen. It is beyond soul crushing. Because this is a GAMBLING racket,and NOT a sport,it will forever be corrupt and evil. Gambling belongs to be done on humans who have CONSENTED to participate in a REAL sport. I cannot undo the EVIL kills of majestic horses that has already been done,BUT, I can try and prevent more unnecessary KILLS.

  10. Just got off the phone with a newspaper reporter in Phoenix. She was very interested in the story and encouraged me to go to the Arizona Republic’s social media sites and share this story. Since I’m technologically challenged and don’t do social media, I was hoping some of you could help me out.. I am also in the process of contacting the local television stations in the Phoenix area. Could use some help with this also. This story needs to be heard by the general public. Besides the cruelty involved, I’m not even sure if this is even legal. Surely there must be some law requiring a vet to be present. By the way, the Arizona Republic is affiliated with USA Today so possibly this story could enable us to get our message out to a national audience,

    • Regarding the legality of the veterinarian not being at the race track before 7:00 AM, I wonder that as well, but even more so, I wonder how it could be legal to have only one veterinarian from 7:00 AM to whatever time he clocks out after having the responsibility to attend to SEVEN-HUNDRED HORSES. It doesn’t seem right in any way, shape or form to have only one attending veterinarian to be responsible for 700 racehorses.

    • Hi, Rick,
      The Arizona Republic did put out a very good story about one of TPD’s “previous” breakdown spikes in early 2019, headlined “Arizona racehorses are dying at a record rate. The question is: why?” by Dennis Wagner, (Patrick is quoted quite extensively in it). In case you haven’t seen it, check it out.
      I’m happy to offer you encouragement. Problem is, I haven’t had ANY response from them to my queries about the track’s more recent horse-killing sprees. I’ve tagged them in most of my many tweets to the Arizona Gaming Commission, along with their “Sports” Director, Mark Faller, and Mr. Wagner himself (who’s now with USA Today, it seems). I’ve also sent two e-mails to their “news tips” address, both to no evident avail, as they don’t seem to have published ANYTHING racehorse-death-related in the past nearly-three years — though Turf Pairo’Deaths’ kill rates have actually RISEN since then. Hard to say why there’s been such an absence of coverage. Possible conflict of interest involving a senior editor or manager who owns racehorses? The track a big advertiser? I don’t know. But either way…
      Here’s hoping your efforts are more fruitful and more rewarded than mine have been; they are certainly appreciated around here:)

      • Kelly, YES! – I’ve read the article – kept it, as well, as there are quotes that are priceless. Like where (Turf Paradise vet) Verlin Jones shares with readers that injured racehorses need to be medicated for their pain, so as not to “[alter] their gait” which led to them “breaking down”. Seriously. Well, here it is, from the article…

        “Jones said the industry banned the use of steroidal medications that reduce an animal’s pain. While intentions may have been good, he said, that led to more animals running with pain, altering their gait, and breaking down as a result.”

        How about not racing horses that are in pain, Jones? – didn’t it dawn on you that it was a pre-existing injury (and why the horse had pain) and not the “altered gait” – because you couldn’t drug the injured horse before racing – that led to his breakdown?

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  11. Thanks Kelly. I will continue to contact the local television stations today. If that doesn’t work, I’ll find other outlets. This story must be heard. Also,i want to thank you,Patrick,and all of your readers for your advocacy for these wonderful animals. Your passion,courage, and detemination keep me going when I get discouraged.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Rick. It is a very depressing subject to see, hear, and read about horses being injured and killed and so many every week and so many on a daily basis that I personally don’t know about until I get the information from this site and sometimes other sources, but mostly from Horseracing Wrongs. I didn’t know that so many horses were and continue to be sacrificed for the almighty dollar, the adrenaline rush, whatever it is that anyone gets out of the involvement of participating in this egregious cruelty to horses known as the Sport of Kings. The “Universal birthday” for race horses of January 1st of the year following the actual birth of the horse puts race horses at a bigger disadvantage as if this whole industry didn’t take unfair advantage of the horses in so many other ways already. Sweeping these egregious CRUELTIES to racehorses under the rug is standard practice and totally unacceptable.
      I saw a post on Facebook by “Myracehorse” advertising a particular young Thoroughbred filly for $80/share. (Her trainer is Todd Pletcher.) It is one way for the rich psychopaths of this filthy blood sport to get the money they need to fund their sickness. God knows these horses are going to be injured somehow sooner or later and that with Grade One and Grade Two stakes, futurity, derby and cup race horses, it is going to be thousands of dollars for the cost of veterinary care, whereas the lower level horses in Arizona are just going to be kicked to the curb, more or less.

  12. yea its bad and you know it but you still put your horses in danger and don’t give a dam, what hartless aholes

  13. There is a report on the AZ racing site titled as follows:

    Arizona Fatality Breakthrough Project.
    2017 – 2018
    It was noted in the report “the AZ number of racing fatalities came in at more than double the national average”…
    Also noted was the lack of pre – race vet. exams along with totally inadequate vet. availability at the tracks along with the poor condition of the tracks and lack of any effort for improvement…
    There is more but this just shows that regardless of the lofty but meaningless recommendations made to right these outrageous inadequacies NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!!!

    And in conclusion the report stated: “The ultimate goal of the project is to align AZ with the national average for catastrophic breakdowns”
    Imagine that!!
    Also it was stated there would be an annual safety report. To date I have not found one . As of now (Nov. 2021) no less than 3 annual safety reports are missing.
    The only reports I have found are strictly financial.
    Arizona racing must go!!!

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