Let’s Be Perfectly Clear: Whitney “Winner” Life Is Good Was Abused and Suffered Yesterday

As mentioned, yesterday we held a protest at Saratoga Race Course. I can personally attest that the conditions were downright oppressive – temp in the 90s, heat index approaching 100. But, of course, the show went on. In light of that, and especially in light of our Friday post on bits – where an expert explained that because of the bit, all racing horses, including the ones yesterday, “experience varying degrees of suffocation, bringing to mind the method’s similarity to that of waterboarding” – take a look at this photo of Whitney winner Life Is Good after the race.

Enough said.

41 Comments

  1. The “spectators” in the grandstand don’t see the closeups. They are too busy running to the pay off windows or complaining their horse choice lost the race. This picture should be posted on those vans HRW places in strategic places before the races begin.

  2. Regarding BlackLives Matter and Life is Good: what ridiculous names for two creatures who’s lives are not good nor do they matter. Heartbreaking.

  3. Just wanted to point out that horses are obligate nasal breathers hence they do not breathe at all through their mouth so a bit would not hinder breathing “similar to waterboarding”.

    Additionally, research shows that horses do better in heat than cold, as evidenced by the many BLM horses that run, chase, fight all on their own in even hotter non-shaded conditions than were present at Saratoga where the horses had continuous access to shade, flowing water via hose, buckets, sponges, misting fans at all points leading to and from race.

    Not apologizing, just making factual statements for your consideration.

    Kathryn Papp, DVM

    • Wow. For the record, Dr. Papp is a lifelong fan of this vile industry and thus, despite her professional credentials, no friend to horses. In addition, she has previously and quite embarrassingly attempted to discredit my work – post here. So, whose word are you going to take, a pathetic horseracing apologist or a world-renowned academic who, as this bio states, has published nearly a hundred articles in scientific journals?

      • Mmmmm I vote for the individual who actual cares about the health and well being of the horses rather than a biased “Dr.” What a joke. You’d think as a doctor she’d care about everyone’s wellbeing rather than her pockets

    • Ok, here’s a question for you … how did all those vets working the california Breeders Cup a few years ago,with all their ‘best,newest, groundbreaking equipment’ not scratch Mongolian Groom,who had an obvious hitch in his left hind leg? Answer me that! Frankly, I don’t think many people are impressed with racetrack vets 😒🤮

    • “Research shows that horses do better in heat than cold”? – that’s bizarre because in my 30-plus years of sharing daily life with horses and seeking out “everything equine” (including countless research articles), I’ve found that horses are the most comfortable at temperatures between 15 degrees (F) and 50 degrees (F) depending on their body condition (well-muscled horses overheat quicker, emaciated horses are less tolerant of cold temperatures) and hair coat.

      That said, please identify the research that supported horses being made to race in hot, humid conditions (such as the humid 90-plus degrees temperature at Saratoga yesterday) using wild horse activity during hot weather as evidence – I’ve missed that one (and if we’re going to look to wild horse behavior and what THEY choose in an attempt to support horse racing, I’d suggest we also compare the daily lives of wild horses – who make their own choices – to the daily lives of racehorses).

      And yes, equines can only breathe through their nose and being “tight lipped” while running is extremely important to their physiology. The bit breaks that tight-lipped seal and leads to the harmful issues Dr. Cook pointed out (and THANK YOU, Dr. Cook, for your expertise on the matter!).

      • Joy you could not be more correct. I don’t believe any animal – horses, dogs, cats – enjoy baking hot temperatures. Horses love cooler weather – all you have to do is see horses in a field in spring and fall, how much they enjoy cooler temperatures.
        That picture of Life Is Good is horrific. Does he look like he had fun? He looks exhausted and about to drop. Never know that from the pics posted of his “win.” Too bad the public doesn’t see more pictures like that, they might change their mind.

    • Yet another pathetic attempt by Dr Kathryn Papp to defend the indefensible.

    • Well aren’t those horses just sooooo lucky at Saratoga!! Do they have “misters” and shade and numerous hoses at the finish lines at the dumpy tracks in PA that you and your husband operate at?? Cuz they sure as hell didn’t at the tracks I was at. There was ONE hose and 5 buckets half filled with water. Clearly that should be enough for at least 6 drenched in sweat , heaving, foaming, shaking horses, right?? I read your twitter often, and am shocked you even came here with this. How disappointing.

    • I’m sorry. I don’t care that you have DVM behind your name. YOU ARE NOT A “CARING” veterinarian. You mention about all the water sources, but you fail to mention the obvious–why subject horses to these extremes in the first place for no other reason than greed? Factual statements do not a humane and kind veterinarian make! You’ve long ago abdicated your #1 concern–the welfare and care of animals. They can’t choose and when humans don’t choose humanely, they suffer! Horse-racing is nearly as bad as bull-fighting, The only difference is there’s a little less visible blood with horses (except when they’re gored and disemboweled by the confused and tortured bull!).

    • Are you really a vet? A horse needs to close its mouth and swallow to create negative pressure to keep its airway clear of obstruction by the soft palate while breathing. The bit breaks the seal. That’s first year anatomy lab.

      • Alan, thank you for sharing the details!!!! I don’t believe she understands what the word “FACTUAL” actually means! Is she a real vet? That depends on what you’re definition of “a real vet” is, because she is the “track vet” at PARX.

        • I’m no expert, I asked my wife the vet and just wrote what she said. I just clicked on the link to “post on bits”:from Friday and he said the exact same thing. I don’t think this is a secret.

          • Yeah, this information about horses has been around for a long time! Not everybody has their head in the sand. I still appreciate it when someone relays real factual information as opposed to total bullshit and attempts to pass it off as factual.

    • BLM horses may engage in activity on hot days, but as you pointed out it is ON THEIR OWN, not at the forced participation by a whip-wielding human. They can slow down and seek shade as they feel they need it. They are also not force fed drugs that destroy their internal organs and cause them to bleed. For a supposed educated person, drawing a parallel between wild horses and the equine slaves of the racetrack is exceptionally ignorant. It’s as ridiculous as comparing horses to human athletes.
      And as a veterinarian, if you see nothing wrong with that picture of Life Is Good, then your moral compass is as warped as those of your racetrack masters.

    • Dr. Papp our thoroughbreds prefer to gallop when its cool or even cold! When its hot they just hang out at the water tank or by our heat pump outside fan which blows away the pesky flies. We have graduated from a university. In our animal science courses we were told that optimal temps for animals were between 40F to 80F with moderate humidity. Not 85F to 90F temps with humidity of > 65%!

      • I also forgot to add to the previous. A horse has to expend considerable energy just to keep cool as temperatures climb. So I am not sure where you think it’s ok for horses to race in such high heat. A horse racing in extreme temperatures is more likely to succumb to heat stress anywhere 3 to 10 times quicker, than normal, Which as a vet you would know can lead to heat stroke and death! Hosing down doesn’t always work and I’d say the horse pictured is pretty close to having if not got heat stress. The horse does not look good at all, and quite honestly if you think it is acceptable I’m glad you aren’t a vet of mine. If you were you wouldn’t be any more.

    • I take it being a Doctor of veterinary medicine, you’re probably a course vet? Whether horses do better or not in hot weather, they certainly do not do better in high temperatures, would you want to run a race going into the 30’s? I doubt you would even want to run for a bus! This is animal cruelty at it’s best. Humans have a choice whether they run themselves for fun or sport. Horses may have a choice free in a field to decide whether or not they run in heat, but having horses myself. I can quite assure you they would rather find a cool shady spot to stand in than run around a field. Horses do not have a choice in racing, although some may if they don’t do well find themselves if lucky going onto do other things or being loved by a family or single owner. During the recent hot spell in the UK all racing was stopped and the horses not expected to run in high heat. About time the USA
      followed suit rather than think of the money going into their pockets. No offence meant to people of USA I hold a duel nationality passport myself. My father was from the USA.

  4. Thanks for your 2 cents worth, Kathryn Papp, DVM. Now we absolutely know where you stand on the issue of how human beings treat their horses especially for racing and wagering. Now I know there is no hope for the vast number of horses forced to stall confinement for 23 hours a day at PARX. Those BLM Mustangs have wide open spaces to walk on and graze, which horses exploited for racing are deprived of by morally depraved individuals who exploit them for a paycheck and/or as a gambling chip/object.

  5. How come Dr Papp, esteemed horse person Caton Bredar always talks about how the horses LOVE the cold weather?

  6. Hogwash on many accounts despite your credentials.
    Yes, they are nasal breathers, BUT I’ve often seen racehorses resort to mouth breathing when suffocation or medical emergencies emerge throughout my 40+ years on the track and you know it.
    In fact, a bit puts more pressure on their nasal intake and those are small passages for a large creature so a bit contributes to additional stress on their respiratory system.
    Furthermore, comparing BLM horses to active thoroughbreds is not a comparison at all.
    That would be like comparing a vet who refuses to go into horse racing because of ethical reasons to a vet that condones, supports, and makes a living off of racehorses like yourself.
    Of course there is one thing we can agree on Dr. Papp racehorses don’t have a choice, a voice, or any defense against the abusive business practices required to keep them flipping a buck that often leads to their deaths.
    Then we all know that if they are lucky enough to make it off the track alive the horse racing industry does little to nothing to clean up their unwanted racehorse mess.
    The racehorses break their bones, backs and even die to flip millions in wagering profits, but hardly ever partake in the money they generate.
    Finally, racehorses do much better in cooler weather and so does any living creature.
    Even an asp looks for shade in this hot weather.
    Your credibility is questionable when you make statements like this and I could explain a plethora of medical reasons as to why racehorses suffer under these extreme heat conditions, but it really boils down to just another apologist making excuses for animal exploitation.

    • Credibility? What credibility? Anyone who can come on Horseracing Wrongs and defend the daily routine practice of ABUSING HORSES for a paycheck has no credibility!!!!!!!
      Kathryn Papp, DVM just revealed to everyone who speaks on behalf of protecting horses that she DOES NOT CARE and could not care less ABOUT THE WELFARE or WELL-BEING of HORSES, or about PROTECTING horses from INHUMANE exploitation!!!! Because horses cannot: 1) organize legal protests against the INHUMANE TREATMENT OF HORSES for themselves, or 2) lobby for legislation to be passed to STOP bankrolling this horrendous CRUELTY to horses, and 3) put horse abusing and horse-killing repeat offenders behind bars, HORSERACING WRONGS exists to be their voice.
      Kathryn Papp, DVM is the voice of evil who speaks on behalf of all who choose to exploit horses to their painful and premature deaths.

  7. In this picture, Life is Good is dripping wet. From the misters or is that sweat? Veins protruding, red around the eyes and in the nostrils, he looks like he has given far more than anyone should have ever demanded of him.

    As for Dr Papp’s opinion, let’s say you’re a human who loves to run. You jog every opportunity you get. You even impress yourself with running in the heat of the day. Are you a child or an adolescent at this point? Do you have chronic degenerative joint disease and gastric ulcers too? Do you have another being on you of significant weight, and who on top of all else whips you to keep you from slowing down? Still love running, still want to run, still think it’s healthy to do so? Yeah, sure.

    Of note for the August 6 edition, The Washington Post updated an August 5, 2022 article by Gus Garcia-Roberts, entitled “A horse track with no rules”, which is an interesting and tragic expose on bush track racing, focusing on one track in Georgia. I am horrified to learn of these bush tracks, which are doping and shocking–in effing plain sight–and killing Quarter Horses (via gunshot). As regulated racetracks fail, our work will increase in getting these hellholes shut down for good.

    • Susan, we have ridden at those bull ring bush league tracks! Our state & the west coast is full of these kinds of tracks.What we have seen done to those poor horses at these kinds of tracks would fill a book!

  8. When I first saw this photo of Life Is Good in an article yesterday I was appalled to see the terrible state of him. Article celebrating his win with photo evidencing the abuse – ahh what a joke! There was a blond woman leading him appearing to be in a happy mode and choosing to turn a blind eye to his very obvious distress. Trained by that Pletcher bloke, yes well say no more – his name constantly came up for all the wrong reasons since 2014 when I began looking into horseracing in the USA.
    (A horse’s forelock is there to protect and is to be kept loose and natural but they plaited Whitney’s forelock leaving his eyes vulnerable. These morons in horseracing have no bloody idea.)

    • Apologies, Whitney was the name of the race.
      Sadly, life is not good for this poor horse Life Is Good.

  9. That poor horse looks like he is about to collapse.
    His bloodshot eye is the result of severe congestion of the small blood vessels (capillaries) as is the blood red area in his nostril and even his ear. Makes me wonder what is going on in the areas we can’t see!
    Also, I don’t see how the tongue tie could be any tighter without cutting into his tongue.

    This is brutal. I don’t care how many hoses and sponges there are littering this den of animal torture. There is no mitigating this willful and extreme animal abuse, NONE!

  10. Look at the highly visible blood vessels in his widely-flared nostrils. You can clearly see he was highly stressed and pushed (whipped!) to his limit. The fact that he’s dripping wet sweated speaks volumes. Do Saratoga officials not care one iota about temperatures and the affect on these pitiful horses? Are the veterinarians REALLY vets? I can just picture the scene. The horses were sweating on the way to the gate. And once they were released, they were running full bore, whipped frequently, and incessantly in the stretch. I honestly don’t know how these ignorant, heartless people sleep at night. They are beyond redeemable!

  11. Even the Mustangs do not escape the cruelty of our flawed dominant species.
    This year the roundups were not even halted for foaling season as was mandated in the past. Our illustrious BLM is pursuing the annihilation of the Mustangs and others with even greater vigor!!

    P.S. They are not BLM horses!

  12. Is absolutely repulsive and disgusting. Although I have family that train horses for racing there should be certain standards of which these animals should not have to race in!!! I’d like to see a human run around that track in these temperatures.

  13. Of course the wild horses run, they have to run trying to escape the BLM’s helicopters that are rounding them up to send to the ‘feeding lots’ but don’t forget, many of the wild horses (and burros) do DIE through being chased for miles and miles IN THE HOT WEATHER…..but of course the ‘caring vet’ has got all the answers, anything to keep the money-grabbing ‘racing fraternity’ happy.

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