It Took Creative Plan’s (Horrible) Death – Not the Hundreds That Came Before – for Turf to Get Its “Wake-Up Call”?

By now, many of you have heard about the heartrending saga of 4-year-old Creative Plan, who was euthanized this past Friday at a California rehab. Creative was last raced on January 7 at Turf, finishing last, 22+ lengths back. The owner of the rehab posted this the day after Creative was euthanized:

“Upon our veterinarian’s evaluation yesterday which included X-rays, it was determined Creative Plan never should have been allowed to run at Turf Paradise on 1/7/2022 and would never be able to live a life without pain, even as a pasture pet. I asked [the vet] so many different ways [if the horse could be rehabilitated], he started looking at me like I had lost my mind.

“Creative Plan’s ankle had no support of ligaments or structure and was merely skin holding everything together, so much that it had started ‘weeping’ as the skin was beginning to split. One wrong step and it would have been catastrophic. There was only one…thing to do for this sweet boy, and that was to put him out of his misery.”

There is, of course, more to the story, including Creative landing at an auction where, apparently, a kill-buyer bid on him. But for this post, I’d like to focus on Turf’s reaction to the swirl of negative publicity, more specifically track GM Vince Francia’s take:

“If anything, Creative Plan has been the great wake-up call for all of us. This is an opportunity for us to get it right.”

Okay. Here are Turf’s kill totals for the past five calendar years (still waiting on 2021 final numbers), plus the beginning of this year:

2017: 40 dead horses
2018: 45 dead horses
2019: 43 dead horses
2020: 17 dead horses (significantly impacted by covid)
2021: 39 dead horses (with more to come)
2022: 12 dead horses – in barely over a month

So, Mr. Francia, it took this one death – as opposed to the hundreds (Francia has been GM since 2010) that came before – for you to achieve your “great wake-up call”? Only now comes the “opportunity to get it right”? Are these people really that daft? More important, do they really think that we are?

Other recent posts on Turf:
“We’re still killing horses at a terrible rate out there, and I’m sick of it.”

“Oh what the hell happened? That horse is dead. That horse is dead dead. Sweet Jesus.”

“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.”

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  1. As if a few well-timed crocodile tears, some hand wringing, and the tired rhetoric of a false gallantry to “now be a fighting voice” for the thousands of horses exploited, abused, discarded, and killed on racetracks is all that is needed to clean their bloody slate. These parasites are vomit-inducing.

  2. Are these people really that daft? – yes, I’d say they are. I’ve also become convinced that everyone who chooses to make their living in this God-forsaken, corrupt business is mandated to take a class in how to lie.

    Check out Voss’ article (PR) from 2019 regarding the “REFORMS” Turf was instituting to decrease their HORSE KILLS. 2019…yes, three years ago the public was told, in part, the following;

    “One week ahead of the upcoming meeting, a press release from Turf Paradise general manager Vince Francia was published in The Blood-Horse detailing new safety procedures for 2019 in accordance with the commission’s report, including pre-race veterinary inspections of all entered horses for the first time beginning March 18 – the Monday following the track’s license renewal. Francia told the Paulick Report a group of three veterinarians from Dr. Verlin Jones’ Race Day Veterinary Services, will complete pre-race examinations.”

    And STILL, a horse like Creative Plan, forelimbs obviously deformed and damaged, was made to carry a freaking rider and RACE.

    Most of the pro-racing folks would like to point their fingers at the individual who was given Creative Plan by Curt Ferguson and brought the gelding to auction. Yep, he’s responsible. As is Ferguson (that old trainer doesn’t have enough experience and common sense to see CP didn’t have a chance in hell of being “rehabbed”?!?) – Ferguson just wanted him gone. As is every individual who saw that horse on the backside and never opened their mouths to speak for him. The VETS? – I really cannot even believe they are vets! – I have to believe even a small animal vet would have questioned his glaring physical condition! And of course all of his previous O/T’s – they used him up for their purposes then passed him on down the line. And never gave him another thought.

    Someone commented on one of the many social media posts about Creative Plan that when he was brought to auction, made to carry a western saddle and led in front of the bidders there, that he had THEN lost his last ally. I say he never had one.

    • Bravo. I’m always befuddled by Voss and her bizarre allegiance to her industry. She’s such a talented writer and an accomplished journalist. But she can only tip-toe to the edge of reporting racing’s real news stories, because they all involve protecting the game itself — while exposing the (already-exposed) monsters within it.

      • Kelly, YES, exactly! And in regards to this story of Creative Plan, I’m also befuddled at the praise heaped on Earhart – she runs a rescue – taking in horses in need is in that “job description” – so get the horse and help him – that’s what rescues do. But her constant support of the industry does nothing but harm to the countless other Creative Plans out there. All that does is fool the public into thinking racing “isn’t all bad” and they should continue to support it.

      • And like this tweet pointed out to me (on the Creative Plan racing abuse/death situation)…

        “And may I add, I have a sanctuary full of equines, not fit not sound not worthy not safe too old too broken and too aggressive. From every track in the US.”

        The individual who wrote that (above) also supports the racing industry – the industry that “filled” her sanctuary with those horses, damaged and dumped BY them.

        Maybe it’s the few scraps they’re thrown by the industry that keeps their muzzles affixed? I don’t know – I just know I couldn’t keep mine on but for several (long and agonizing) years.

        • Well said, Joy. Based on my experience in the industry, I know that there are some people/entities involved in rescuing racehorses who have a certain type of relationship with the horseracing industry. Deals are done to make the racing industry look as though it’s doing a great job of its finished with horses. Needless to say, only a very small percentage are rescued as the great majority go to slaughter.
          A high percentage of the ‘rescued’ horses are so badly damaged by their time in racing that they’re not suitable to be retrained. And that’s when the kill truck turns up and the money is made.

          • It also seems that there are too many “rescues” that turn out to be worse than the track – places where bodies are left rotting in fields and horses are crammed into small filthy pens with overgrown feet and a plethora of horrible injuries, while the people in charge pocket the donations. Even more disgusting is that in many cases any horses not on the brink of death are left on the property, with the owner promising to take better care of them, which, of course, never happens.

    • 3 documented van offs today at Turf Paradise. Wonder when they are planning on becoming “safer”? And they’re still the “laughingstock” of horse racing.

      • And, as Joy pointed out earlier on a different forum, they even took a couple entries from Mr. Compassionate, Responsible Horseman himself, Wade Rarick. Nice to see racehorse owners displaying their usual level of concern for their beloved family members’ safety and well-being.
        Right, George Todaro?
        Right, Craig B. Bishop?

  3. The story of CREATIVE PLAN is only the tip of the “proverbial” iceberg in horseracing and the whole concept of racing horses when they are still babies is fundamentally wrong. As if that isn’t bad enough, they exploit them for Pari-Mutuel gambling which is another vice. There is nothing right about racing horses. The people who are involved in this egregious cruelty to horses cannot ever “get it right” unless they get a conscience, listen to their conscience and stop the exploitation of horses. Shutting it down is the only way that anyone in this egregiously CRUEL industry can ever get it right.

  4. Official “reaction” from TPD — and their so-called regulator buddies at the AZ Gaming Commission — is the same as all their other responses when they’re caught abusing and racing horses to death:

    1. Huddle-up and avoid all questions.
    2. Send out a couple vague platitudes about Concern for Horse Safety, featuring a Plan (a Creative Plan?) to Do Better.
    3. Spend the next couple months failing to enact The Plan, then huddle-up and avoid all questions again when their next public horse-killing crisis hits.

    This simple, three-step process will ensure Turf Pairo’Deaths, and all of Arizona racing, will continue well into the future…
    (At least until the voters shut down the whole, sick debacle, just like they did for their wholesome, fun, not-cruel-at-all dog racing game.)

    • The supporting ligaments were injured/damaged to the point of not being able to support the bone. The skin around it was splitting and oozing. I don’t believe that the bone was broken. Maybe someone else has a better explanation.

  5. CREATIVE PLAN was forced to endure extreme suffering on all levels: physically obviously, but also mentally and emotionally.
    When assessed by outside vet(s) the evidence proves that he was deliberately denied critical vet care and treatment for a very long time all the while forced to race.
    He suffered greatly because one of the biggest crutches that horse racing offers abusers, parasites and killers is the fact that vet treatment records DO NOT FOLLOW THE RACEHORSE.
    Vet records would also show when exactly the injuries occurred, the gaps in care, when he was denied critical vet care and it’s also a paper trail that horse racing doesn’t want anybody to see.
    It also provides evidence for investigations either internal or external all of which is intentionally denied.
    For example, you must change vets, due to whatever reason, and the first thing your new vet clinic requests is permission to transfer the medical records from your previous vet.
    The process of sharing any animal vet records is to ensure continuity of care, to have the chain of custody intact and to prevent repeated invasive procedures that have already been performed previously among other things.
    Horse racing refuses to conduct their business like this and, instead, deliberately and maliciously denies subsequent owners vet treatment records.
    So when racehorses’ change hands, as they often do in claiming, while being shuffled from track to track, state to state – all of those medical issues are not only deliberately ignored, but no record of injections, medication records, and/or procedures are shared.
    Hell, they don’t even know if any given racehorse has UTD vaccinations because the racing office, where the records are presumably kept, don’t share that with new owner/trainers who claim so it’s assumed that they are UTD when really they could be transmitting serious illness, given the close proximity and intense confinement as we’ve often seen outbreaks on tracks requiring isolation.
    Horse racing denies the racehorse even the most minimal protections and procedures even though they are at high risk of injury and dying.

  6. Where is the girl who works on the backside of the track and says that racehorses receive “amazing care” now?

  7. To the owners of the horses that partake in the horseraces:
    Wake up and stop allowing your horses to take part in these races. It is time for you to stop this cruelty!

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