The Obscenity That Is Horseracing: Alison Escobar Gets Just 60 Day-Suspension for “Cruelty to a Horse”

A ruling from Delaware (edited for clarity and brevity; all emphases mine):

“Alison Escobar appeared before the Board of Stewards at Delaware Park in the matter of his horse Ashiham. The Stewards were concerned for the health and welfare of Ashiham. Stewards considered all evidence and testimony in this matter as follows:

“1. Ashiham, trained by Escobar, was a vet scratch during prerace exam at Tampa Bay Downs on Apr 21, 2022, for lameness and heat in the LF flexor tendon, and was placed on the TB Vet’s List. In testimony, Escobar stated Ashiham was sore but did not want the horse scratched because he was the morning line favorite.

“2. Ashiham worked on Jun 9 at Palm Meadows. Florida Regulatory Vet Dr. Jane Teichner observed the horse lame on his LF while on the track after the work.

“3. Dr. Teichner contacted Escobar’s vet, Dr. Rendon, concerning Ashiham. In a follow-up text message to Gulfstream Chief Regulatory Vet Dr. Aponte, Dr. Rendon stated in his medical opinion that Ashiham’s injury was career ending.

“4. Dr. Aponte placed Ashiham on the Gulfstream Vet’s List and required an ultrasound before any workout was scheduled. No ultrasound was ever taken.

“5. On Jul 12, Ashiham arrived by van from Palm Meadows to Delaware Park. No foal papers were ever turned in to the Racing Office as required by the Commission.

“6. On Aug 3, Safety Steward Eric Coatrieux requested that Commission Vet Annie Renzetti inspect Ashiham after he observed him lame on the track with a significant bowed left tendon.

“7. On Aug 3, Dr. Renzetti observed Ashiham significantly lame – 4/5 – and a bow on the LF flexor tendon that was warm to the touch and sore on palpitation. Dr. Renzetti placed Ashiham on the Vet’s List requiring an immediate diagnostic testing including ultrasound and stall rest until reevaluated by Commission Vets.

“8. Trainer Escobar stated in testimony that Ashiham was not under the care of a practicing vet and had not been observed at Delaware Park by a vet prior to the Stewards hearing.”

Verdict: “Cruelty to a horse or neglect of a horse entrusted to a permittee’s care: Trainer Escobar failed to follow medical recommendations after being placed on two separate Vet’s Lists. Alison Escobar is suspended for a term of 60 days to start on Aug 19, 2022, to and through Oct 17, 2022, and fined $2,500.”

So, it bears repeating: State animal-cruelty statutes, woefully inadequate as most are, do not apply to horseracing. Rules, enforcement, prosecution, sentencing, etc. are within the province of racing commissions, which, though they would never admit, are hopelessly compromised. This is why this human excrement will be right back at it again in 60 days.

As a point of reference, here is the Delaware cruelty statute, which would have at least subjected Escobar to one year in jail and also prohibited him from keeping animals for five years: “A person is guilty of cruelty to animals when the person intentionally or recklessly: (1) subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; or (2) subjects any animal in the person’s custody to cruel neglect. Cruelty to animals is a class A misdemeanor; any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be prohibited from owning or possessing any animal for five years after said conviction.”

11 Comments

  1. I would like to hear some legal explanation for the laws being applied differently to race horses as opposed to horses owned as pleasure mounts. Race horses have really no legal protection at all as the punishments meted out are arbitrary. The punishments are not codified into law. What a screwed up system, except it works perfectly for the offenders.

  2. This is a very important post with a direct example.
    Many times when perusing the comments on HRW people are outraged that the racehorse abusers are never held accountable under our Felony Animal Cruelty statutes as they should be.
    This post should clear up any confusion about that.
    When you really think about it, and as much as I hate to say this, horse racing figured out a genius way to remove all responsibility and accountability of racehorse abusers away from the law that EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN is subjected to EXCEPT horse racing.
    They created these “Racing Commissions” who are the judge and jury when it comes to activities anywhere within the tracs enclosures.
    I had an animal attorney visit this issue a few years back and they are of the legal opinion that these racing commissions are unconstitutional and she also found lots of legal loopholes.
    Many of the racing commissioners OWN RACEHORSES and they employ their “trainers” to do what it takes to fill races and the wagering coffers including shielding them from prosecution.
    Racehorses don’t stand a chance against this corrupt system that is maliciously and intentionally organized to protect racehorse abusers and killers.
    There is hope though because in recent years many owners have rebuffed the racing commissions system of rules & regulations and have brought it into the court system.
    Every court has agreed to hear their case despite the commissions fighting against it.
    Some have won their lawsuits on different issues, but nobody has ever brought a racehorse cruelty case into a court of law.
    Simply accepting their racing commission rulings is not enough and I hope one day soon that it’s legally challenged.

    • Spot on, Gina.
      It’s the same here in Australia. Horseracing industry here says back off RSPCA we’ve got our own vets for the horses. My understanding with the current law here is that only the RSPCA or the Police can bring charges against a person/entity for animal cruelty.
      Several years ago the RSPCA instituted legal proceedings for animal cruelty in relation to a racehorse who fractured his leg in a jumps race (steeplechase) in Victoria. Spectator filmed the incident. Jockey dismounted pulled horse aside, called to trackworker on duty to get horse off track so this long distance race could continue as the rest of the field would soon be coming around. Dangling leg and this horse on three legs is pulled on lead off the track by worker. Race continues and people cheered the winner. Then screen goes up and the euthanasia of this poor horse was badly botched up – the lighting was such that one could see outline of horse, vet et al. First video went up on the internet. Racing Victoria furious that the public were seeing this unedited footage. I contacted RV and communicated that it was the edited version currently up and the unedited version was about to go up on the internet for the world to see and people could make up their own minds. The public were outraged.
      If ever there was a classic example of animal cruelty in racing, this was it.
      Highly qualified equine experts being called as witnesses along with other people with invaluable evidence. It was set to be the first precedent in law of animal cruelty in horseracing in the state of Victoria. Australian states have differing animal cruelty legislations and therein lies a real problem. Needless to say, one piece of legislation protecting all animals in the country is an absolute necessity.

      Unfortunately the RSPCA had to withdraw the proceedings due to a legal technicality.

      The RSPCA is a charitable organisation which relies mainly on donations to carry out its work. The RSPCA also has its hands tied and is often powerless due to the outdated legislation it comes under i.e. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Attempts to amend the legislation have been futile (governments and certain politicians involved in racing perhaps?). Recently steps are being taken to establish a federal government Office of Animal Welfare for all animals (including racehorses of course).
      How anyone can argue in a court of law that a racehorse is not a non-human animal is beyond me.

  3. Can Escobar be sued (by someone outside of the racing industry) for Animal Cruelty during the time his license is suspended???
    How much would it cost to get an attorney to look at this case???

  4. Sending a horse with a known career-ending injury to the track to race just because he was the “morning line favorite”. C’mon apologists, defend this piece of shit.

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