I wanted to share the following letter I received from reader Steve Schultz.
Thank you, Steve.
Thank you Patrick. Your organization has opened my eyes, and as they say, some things can’t be “unseen.” If you would be so kind as to hear my story…
In August, I decided to experience Arlington Park before it closed. Brand new to horse racing and wagering, I quickly became fascinated by it. It was never really about winning my small bet. I didn’t need or crave winnings. A bet was just to “make it interesting.” What really appealed to me, touched me deeply, and kept me coming back was the horses. It was the inexplicable beauty of watching them run. It was their form, their grace, their spirit. How can any living thing move that fast? What are they thinking? What would it be like to be one of them? Like anything beautiful, words fail to capture the divinity.
I went to Arlington 5 or 6 times, and was there on its closing night. I watched the fireworks at the end with a pocket full of winnings, lamenting that such a wonderful thing was about to be extinguished at the very moment I discovered it. I had heard that there was a “shady side” to the industry, but I tried hard to ignore it. I knew that horses had short careers and vast numbers “disappeared” or if lucky, got rehomed. I supported the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation a little, deciding to donate a percentage of all my wagers, win or lose, to the cause. But I didn’t dig too deeply into the industry, and despite my conflicted feelings I continued going to the races.
This time it was Hawthorne. Hawthorne is no Arlington, and never will be, despite a current $400-million renovation effort. But to see my beloved horses, I suffered through the nonstop profanity and shouting at TV screens by local patrons who looked like they should be spending their wagering money on rent and food. The human devastation that gambling inflicts occurred to me as well, but it was just another thing to block out.
And then December 26 happened. I was there at Hawthorne watching the race with my own eyes when Mommas Boy Otis went down. It happened on the far side of the track so I couldn’t see the horses or jockeys piled up. But riderless horses were running loose and a couple of ambulances headed for the scene. In the distance, I could see one horse that had made it to its feet but was limping very badly. I believe it was Mommas Boy Otis. I knew they were going to kill it. It was sickening. It was horrific.
After about 20 minutes, I watched as a truck pulling a trailer slowly exited the course and I knew its contents. A woman spoke randomly to me, “This is the part of racing that I don’t like.” That, and a couple of little girls crying out briefly was the only sign that something bad had happened. Not long after, the horse handlers were back to joking and smiling. After everything was cleaned up, they ran the last race of the day. The show must go on. Bettors have their bets in. There is another race to be run, money to be made. Not me. I’m done.
I was at the rail as the beautiful Santa Barbara won the Mr. D Stakes at Arlington and learned she died a few weeks later while training. Don’t get me started on Medina Spirit. And now Mommas Boy Otis before my very eyes. I watched Hawthorne’s replay of the race the next day. I wanted to see the reality. I wanted it to speak to me. It did. I also noticed your organization came up when I searched for Mommas Boy. Stunning does not begin to describe it. Consider me enlightened, another convert. Thank you for your efforts to bring this to public awareness. You are making a difference.
Thank you for sharing your story and your feelings on horses and horseracing, Steve Schultz. Once a person really sees the dark side of racing, it’s impossible to go back to pretending that it’s okay. Horseracing itself is inhumane treatment of horses and the horses are abused to death literally.
Horseracing injures and kills horses every day. We just don’t see it happening in every case and without the FOIA requests, the information shared here would be kept secret from the public at large. Horse racing is a man-made disaster.
I am still wondering if WILD WES, the Gray/Roan Gelding who tripped over MOMMAS BOY OTIS, is alive or dead?
I don’t know what condition RENEGADE BOB is in exactly, but he did continue to run after avoiding the fallen and unseating his jockey. What a horrible trainwreck of so-called entertainment!!!! Welcome to reality.
Thank you, Steve Schultz.
Steve, thank you so much for speaking up for ANIMALS! The animals need our protection, because too many people cannot be trusted.
Watching a horse snap a leg off, and then writhe in TERROR and pain. How MANY more have to die for these greedy people?
Does anyone know whether Wild Wes made it??
You would think that after racehorse owners/trainers watched their racehorse snap their leg(s)-off, laying in the dirt, writhing in pain, suffering greatly that they too would say “I’m done.”
But no….not the people who “love them like family” to watch them suffer and die for this vile business while watching degenerate gamblers yell at their horse to “go down” so they can cash in on their bets.
No way – not them because after their racehorse dies they go out and do it all over again.
You would think that our elected politicians who hand-out hundreds of millions of dollars to this deeply corrupt killing business would conclude that educating our children is a much better choice than racehorse killing.
But no…not our elected politicians who don’t give a f**k about our public school systems and, instead, give the subsidies to a business that kills racehorses, does little to nothing for our communities, and their job claims are inflated on every count including low-paid jobs with no benefits.
Of course the corruption runs deep and although most of us know that this has been going on for years, we can now prove it by recent court documents.
You would think that all of the animal rights groups and animal advocates would be screaming at the top of their lungs to END horse racing because they sure did when SAINT BOY got ONE punch to his flank during the Olympics since a global outcry ensued subsequently cancelling the event.
Yet, racehorses get beaten multiple times during ONE race let alone their lifetime starts and I often wonder where are all these people are because if ONE punch got this event cancelled then it seems clear to me that horse racing should have ended a long time ago based on this one example alone.
Steve, I’m thankful you reached the only conclusion that everybody else should reach and, in the meantime, I fight for the voiceless, defenseless racehorses who suffer and die for the parasites in this wholly unacceptable, antiquated business model that has no place EVER let alone going into 2022.
So appreciate your mentioning Saint Boy.We looked up & read several articles about the abuses he suffered. What that horse went through is only to commonly seen at our 1/2 mile bush league tracks within our state! After you see enough break downs & many horses hit in their faces with whips by riders you get out of racing. We several times achieved the fastest time of the day without use of whip or spurs or machines.We always relied on the relationship with the horse when riding.We left in 2005 after being a participant in all aspects of the racing business.
Thank you, Gina. In comparing the routine, prescribed by the administrative code abuse of horses in organized horseracing and Pari-mutuel wagering to one horse in one equestrian event in the Olympics, I think it was SO much easier (for PETA or anyone else) to fight against the abuse of one horse in one equestrian event in the Olympics than it has been to fight against the numerous abuses to untold thousands of racehorses in this industry where SO MANY PEOPLE stand to profit in some way, shape or form from organized horseracing which we know is egregious cruelty to horses exploited as gambling chips.
If a gambler or anyone else NOT EMPLOYED as the WHIP-WIELDING JOCKEY reached out and smacked or punched a racehorse in full view of hundreds or thousands of people, there might be some people who would frown on that.
But in the fight against abuse of racehorses, there are written “laws” that state that the RIDING CROP shall be used (by the Jockey) “UNIFORMLY” and any unusual use of the riding crop or NON-USE OF THE RIDING CROP shall be under the “cognizance” of the STEWARDS.
The laws need to be changed and they need to be changed drastically!!!!
#HorseracingisAnimalCruelty (to thousands of horses)
Thanks for sharing your story, Steve Schultz. It’s always heartening to learn of yet another who has seen the light. Onward!
There are no rules, laws or reforms that will change anything for the abused and killed racehorses.
The only thing that needs to change is to shut these corruption and killing pits down.
Our elected politicians, like Steve Schultz, need to change their mindset and stop defending and giving money to this vile business.
They need to shut them down, tear down their killing pits and replace them with things like daycare centers, residential/commercial development etc. – all of which would be entirely possible with the hundreds of millions at their disposal instead of giving it to a deeply corrupt business that deliberately and maliciously kills racehorses.
That redevelopment is exactly what happened to our now defunct 1 mile track! We along with quite a few others celebrate the purchase of the property & its development by Amazon into a warehousing distribution center. The warehousing operations are a much better & higher economic use of the property.