Shedrow Secrets

Shedrow Secrets, Installment 8

Celtic Trick
By Joy Aten and Jo Anne Normile (author of “Saving Baby”)

I was out of town one Saturday morning in August of 2006, so a couple of my volunteers made the usual track visit without me. At the end of the morning, a trainer noticed them leaving the backside and hurriedly motioned them over. This particular owner/trainer didn’t work with the CANTER-Michigan program – he didn’t list his horses with us, and we never received any of his slow or injured horses. We did have previous dealings with him, however. A horse of his, located at the off-site training center, was noticed by a CANTER volunteer to be severely underweight and very lame. After verifying the shocking condition of the horse, a CANTER board member reported her findings. This, we believe, alienated the already surly trainer and left us unable to help any of his horses. But on this particular morning, he wanted a horse of his gone and CANTER, it seemed, was his only option.

His first priority was confirming that CANTER would purchase his horse. Only after he was certain he would receive $250 for the horse did he begin to give the details. He wasn’t sure of the horse’s name – “it’s Trick something, or something Trick” – “but he’s hurt already, and the damn thing hasn’t even raced yet!” While walking away from the volunteers, he told them he would be moving the horse to the receiving barn and that he must be picked up that very afternoon. I was alerted to the situation minutes later and since I was on my way home, I could get to the track by mid-afternoon. I asked for the horse’s Jockey Club papers to be left at the guard shack as most everyone would have left the track by the time I arrived.

As expected, the backside was a ghost town when I pulled in with my trailer. The injured horse was alone…he was the only horse occupying a stall in the huge receiving barn. He was standing at the stall door and glanced my way when I approached, but my relief that he hadn’t retreated to a corner was short-lived. His body was wet with sweat, his eyes were glazed, and his left knee was swollen and hot. My experiences over the years had taught me to take pain medication along, so I quickly gave the suffering horse a dose. As I stood with him, waiting for the medication’s effects, I took in his surroundings. The stall’s dirt floor was uneven and hard. There was no hay and more importantly, no water left for him on a sweltering 90-degree day. Completely alone, in pain, without even the most basic of necessities…and the one person responsible for his welfare simply pocketed his $250 and walked away.

Radiographs announced the devastating news –a collapsed slab fracture of the left knee and chip fractures in the right. He was humanely euthanized within the hour of the diagnosis.

He was a 2-year-old. He was a beautiful, dark bay colt. He was delicate, still growing and maturing. He lived for and was destroyed by the racing industry. He was Celtic Trick. His owner didn’t know his name…please, let us never forget it.

Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack logged 2013 victim number 40 yesterday when 5-year-old My Lovers Eyes “broke [his] right knee while switching leads [and was] euthanized on track” (curiously, Equibase had him as pulled up and vanned off). The gelding was ridden by David Lopez, trained by Michael Ferraro, and owned by the Peters family. Since NY is still the only state to disclose deaths as they happen, one wonders how many of the other nine horses vanned off American tracks Friday are already dead.

Yesterday afternoon at Laurel Park (race 9), 6-year-old Blues Heir broke down in her 45th start. Later in the day at Delta Downs (race 3), 2-year-old Andrew’s Rose, running for the first time, “bolted on the turn then stopped badly and returned bleeding.” And in the Charles Town night card (race 4), 3-year-old Mi Cinco D Mayo “was bumped hard…dropped back…and returned bleeding.” This is horseracing.

Saturday at Aqueduct, 2-year-old Long Island Lee fractured a leg and was killed back at the barn. The filly was trained by Rick Violette Jr. Mr. Violette has now lost eight horses in NY since 2009; at the times of their deaths, nary a one was physically mature.

3-year-old Snipe, 7/21/09, Aqueduct, “bleeding as result of pelvic fx”
4-year-old Air Space, 4/23/10, Aqueduct, “training”
3-year-old Sequoya Mountain, 7/16/10, Aqueduct, “fx pelvis”
3-year-old Too Big to Fail, 10/30/10, Aqueduct, “fx RH cannon bone”
3-year-old New Pais, 1/23/11, Aqueduct, “fx both RF sesamoids”
2-year-old October First, 10/15/11, Aqueduct, “adverse drug treatment reaction”
2-year-old Spurious Precision, 9/18/12, Aqueduct, “fx L knee”