Sequana was bred in NY by Michael LeCesse in February 2012. LeCesse, as owner/trainer, first raced Sequana as a 2-year-old. 36 more races followed before LeCesse put Sequana up for sale at the end of 2018 through “Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds.” The takeaway line from the ad – which was just recently removed and replaced with the banner, “Sold for Racing” – was this: “The assistant trainer told us that Sequana is sound, but just not running as well as he used to, so it is time to let him find a new career.” (I copied the original ad; it can be found below.) So much for that. In January ’19, Sequana resurfaced in Puerto Rico. Yes, Puerto Rico and the Camarero Race Track – where racehorses go to die.

Sequana, in LeCesse’s sale ad…

Sequana was raced 33 times at Camarero. Save for a single “win” three months after arrival, he was utterly hopeless, double digits back in every race but three. Worse, here are his last 25 races, beginning July 4, 2019:

35+ lengths back
30+ lengths back
20+ lengths back
15+ lengths back
17+ lengths back
82+ lengths back
26+ lengths back
29+ lengths back
24+ lengths back
32+ lengths back
18+ lengths back
37+ lengths back
31+ lengths back
“Did Not Finish”
27+ lengths back
34+ lengths back
90+ lengths back
60 lengths back
124+ lengths back
74+ lengths back
45+ lengths back
26 lengths back
“Did Not Finish”
80+ lengths back

And finally, just this past Feb 21: 46 lengths back, “lame.”

In the 23 completed races, that’s a cumulative 1000+ lengths back or roughly 44/race. In short, this is perhaps the worst case of on-track abuse I’ve yet seen.

After that February race, our VP, Joy Aten, reached out to LeCesse to see if he would be interested in helping get Sequana off that death-track and into a safe retirement. You know, considering he brought this poor animal into this world, and made multiple thousands off his toil. I’ll let LeCesse’s words speak for themselves.

LeCesse: “Why would I do that?”

Joy: “Because he was your homebred whom you raced.”

LeCesse: “Well I sold him – they’re like used cars, you sell them and you no longer own them – this is a business, you know. I’ve had people wanting me to take back broodmares I’ve sold – I don’t do that either.”

Joy: “So I think the industry should at the very least be honest and not claim they love their horses and that they are like family.”

LeCesse: “Well, we love them when we own them.”

On selling Sequana to PR: “There are a couple of guys from PR that come here [Finger Lakes] looking for racehorses to buy. They auction them off down there.”

On the horses who can no longer race – i.e., eventually every horse down there – where will they all go, there are not nearly enough homes?: “You know, I’ve seen pictures of horses that people keep in their backyards, they looked pretty good, they ride them from bar to bar.”

“Why would I do that?”

“They’re like used cars, you sell them and you no longer own them.”

“This is a business, you know.”

“We love them when we own them.”

“They ride them from bar to bar.”

A fine human being. But I’ll give him this, his honesty is refreshing.

Anyway, I then sent the following email to what passes for a regulatory agency in Puerto Rico:

Good morning, Mr. Carrion and Mr. Simmons. I am writing to respectfully request that the racehorse Sequana – most recent connections: owner Illuminati Stable, trainer Michael Cabrera – be henceforth permanently prohibited from racing at Camarero and, more to the point, safely retired.

After having been raced 37 times in the U.S., the then-6-year-old Sequana was offered “For Sale” by his breeder/owner/trainer, Michael LeCesse, at the end of 2018. The full ad is here, but the takeaway line is this:

“The assistant trainer told us that Sequana is sound, but just not running as well as he used to, so it is time to let him find a new career.”

Well, somehow Sequana resurfaced at Camarero in January 2019. To date, he has been raced 33 times there. Save for one win in April 2019, Sequana has been noncompetitive to utterly hopeless. In fact, over his last 23 completed races, Sequana has averaged over 44 lengths back. Again, that’s an average finish of over 44 lengths back. The reason I said “completed” is because in two other races, he failed to even finish. In his most recent race, February 21, he came back “lame” after bringing up the rear, 46 lengths back.

Sequana clearly has no business on a racetrack. What is happening is unmitigated animal abuse. It is unconscionable. And it must end.

I happen to know that there are people ready and able to take Sequana off the track and provide him a loving, forever home. I am calling on you – the people who ultimately have the final say – to do the right thing here. Please end this poor animal’s suffering.

Thank you.

Patrick Battuello
Founder/President, Horseracing Wrongs

The following morning, I was informed that Sequana had been signed over to a rescue group in Puerto Rico. Liberated, at last. We will, of course, have to wait for the full evaluation (x-rays and such) to see if Sequana can enjoy some relatively pain-free years. Assuming, though, that he does survive, I will provide info on how to help.

LeCesse’s original ad:
Sequana, 2012 16h chestnut gelding

A handsome homebred of his owner/trainer, Sequana impressed our volunteers as a quality horse with great movement and excellent potential for many new disciplines. Indeed, our notes from our visit with Sequana are sprinkled with superlatives and the word “nice” over and over: “very nicely put together”; “nice topline”; “Very nice mover”; “really nice horse!” Because of the sharp shadows of a sunny morning, and the fact that he was already done up in standard front wraps by the time the busy barn workers had time to bring him out for his photo session, we don’t think his photos really do him justice. Come see this impressive horse in person!

The assistant trainer told us that Sequana is sound, but just not running as well as he used to, so it is time to let him find a new career. She said he is good to handle and has no vices, and like most fit in training race horses, will benefit from some let down time. He has had 4 wins and 15 top three finishes in 35 starts, but this year he has yet to make the winner’s circle. For his jog video, Sequana showed off a beautiful, light and flowing flat kneed trot with good reach, movement that will do well in the show hunter or dressage rings. This lovely guy is offered at a very attractive bargain price considering all his attributes and potential.

Price: $1500
Contact: Mike LeCesse 585-303-9467 (call or text)

On February 22, 2019, in her 28th turn under the whip, Nova Nation was “vanned off” at Penn National with an unspecified injury. At the time, she was five years old. Less than three weeks later, she was spotted, lame, in a Pennsylvania kill pen. Here she is – all four racing places intact – after she was euthanized by rescuers in order to save her from being shipped to slaughter. Her trainer/owner as of that February 22 race was Carlos Rodriguez. She was bred by Rick Sutherland. Draw your own conclusions.

First, the facts:

Holding Aces was born (made) on April 4, 2012. His first race came in September 2015. He “won,” earning $22,920 for his first set of “connections,” trainer Wayne Catalano and owners Gary and Mary West. Four more races followed for this team and then Jason Servis (yes, that Jason Servis) came on as trainer for two races. He was then sold by the Wests. In all, they (and the two trainers) banked $41,680 on Holding.

Holding, as a “yearling”:

On December 17, 2016, Holding was raced for the first time by trainer Domenick Schettino and an ownership group led by Salvatore Como. He finished 2nd, winning $6,800 for his people. Prior to that race, however, he was sold again – new trainer, Chris Englehart; new owner, Island Wind Racing; 12 races followed, with Holding earning $69,540 for them. Then, sold again.

On March 31, 2018, Holding finished 1st in his first race under trainer Randi Persaud (yes, that Randi Persaud) and owner Guyana Rocky LLC – payday, $33,000. In August, a new trainer, Otis Henry. A few races later, it was back to Persaud. At this point, Holding was consistently finishing far back, but because he was being raced at racino tracks, he was still bringing in cash. In December, Guyana changes trainers again. Enter Joey Martinez. This is the pairing that would have Holding till the end.

On April 11, 2019, Holding finished 6th, almost 18 lengths back in a cheap “claiming” race (“For Sale” at $4,000 prior to). It was to be his final race. Adding the $54,070 for Guyana (and their three trainers), Holding grossed $172,090 for the various human beings who had used him. You would think he had earned a peaceful retirement ambling about in an open pasture. Alas, not from these people, not from this industry.

In September – just five months after his final race – Holding Aces was found in a kill pen. Yes, this “athlete,” so recently cheered and celebrated by “connections” and “fans” alike, was headed to equine hell – the slaughterhouse. Here was his condition…

Holding was rescued from that pen. One report said this: “His feet were rotted [and] three were abscessing badly,” and he had “advanced laminitis” (perhaps the most painful equine affliction there is). And now, if you dare, imagine that this animal, in this state, was to be shipped (a horror unto itself), shot, shackled, hung upside down, slashed, bled out, and butchered. Regrettably, less than two weeks after rescue, Holding was euthanized, his unfathomable suffering at last at an end.

Horses are, of course, fully sentient beings – intelligent, aware, sensitive, loving, affectionate, the capacity (and desire) for pleasure, the capacity for (and aversion to) pain. To do what these people – including all of the named herein, and, of course, whoever dumped him at auction and left him to waste away in unspeakable terror and agony thereafter – did to this poor, poor soul is nothing short of evil. Evil.

Born in February 2000, G. W.’s Skippie was raced 17 times, earning over $123,000 for owner Glen Warren and trainer Andrew Leggio Jr. On September 26, 2004, he was injured in a race at Louisiana Downs. “Career” – at least on the track – over. Who Warren sold him to is unclear, but eventually he landed at Clear Creek Stud in 2005. And thus began Skippie’s second round of industry servitude, the breeding shed.

Clear Creek bred Skippie until 2016, whereupon they sold him to Randall and Jarett Wolfe. Flash forward to an article last month in the Thoroughbred Daily News. In relaying results from the “Ocala Breeders’ Breeze Show,” the TDN mentioned “the late Arkansas-based stallion G.W.’s Skippie” and quoted Randall Wolfe: “My son got G.W.’s Skippie from Clear Oak Stallions [sic] back in Fulsom [sic], Louisiana. G.W.’s Skippie hurt his knee in his last race and that finished him up. He is the only stallion we have had and, unfortunately, he passed about a week ago.” Wolfe added: “He was a very, very nice horse. He had a good mind and he put that into his babies too.”

To say that Skippie’s “passing” is among the worst we have presented on these pages would be an understatement. The “very, very nice horse” in the throes of death (warning: this video, which surfaced on social media, is extremely difficult to watch):

At death, Skippie was owned by Brittany Winans, who had acquired him directly from the Wolfes. Our Joy Aten was able to secure Randall Wolfe’s number from the Arkansas Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Horsemen’s Association (more on them in a moment). Joy spoke to Randall on July 14. He confirmed the handoff: “He was getting old so we gave him to this girl – she was going to breed him to a few of her mares.” Asked when, he replied, “two or three years ago.” Curiously, though, Skippie bred thrice in 2019 – and the Wolfes are the last recorded owners/breeders. So it appears the Wolfes had him through last year and probably “gave him” to Winans this spring.

In any event, the Wolfes were aware of at least some of the goings-on at Winans’. Wolfe told Joy: “[Skippie] got caught up in a fence and cut his leg up pretty bad.” Also: “He got into a pond and couldn’t get out by himself.”

When asked if he knew how emaciated Skippie was, how he could not even rise on his own, Wolfe said: “Some of these people don’t know how to feed TBs – you can’t just give them a handful of feed.” He then said he was told Skippie was in bad shape and was “put down” (“put down,” it turns out, by a shot to the head).

As for the Arkansas Horsemen’s Association, after first casting doubt that the horse in the video was Skippie (it is), they have decided to not press for Winans’ prosecution. A followup call (to ask the same) to Randall Wolfe has thus far gone unanswered.

Brittany Winans? I don’t imagine you’ll need much help from me conjuring adjectives. I’ll simply say this: What she did – torturing (or allowing the torturing of) another sentient being to death – is evil. Evil. In the final analysis, however, this is but another story of the racing-refuse pipeline: The Wolfes, instead of caring for Skippie for the remainder of his days after he had fattened their bank accounts, dumped him off to whomever; and dumping him off to whomever is no different than delivering him directly to the slaughterhouse gates. In other words, Mr. and Mr. Wolfe, Skippie’s withered insides are all over your greedy, little hands.

But as uncomfortable as this may be for some, there’s a larger truth at play here: We cannot protect horses (dogs, cats, etc.) from being tortured to death when anyone can acquire horses, and when there exists no serious deterrent to torturing them. Anyone can acquire horses because horses are things to acquire, and there is no serious deterrent because serious deterrents are reserved for violations of others’ rights. Horses are not “others”; they have no rights. Vicious circle defined.

What’s more, horses are chattel of the lowest order – manufactured, traded, used, and trashed purely on a human’s whim. There are no agencies regulating their titles, no safety nets monitoring their care. And if found abused, the victims of “animal cruelty” as defined by the law, there are no prosecutorial crusades initiated on their behalf or sentencing messages from the bench. There is no justice, not even a pretense to justice, because there is no will within society – not at the legislative level, not at the enforcement level, not at the judicial level, and most important, not at the public level – to (seriously) punish property owners for committing wrongs against their property. In the end, as long as we own them, there is nothing we can do to stop the cruelty, at least not in any meaningful way. Still, we can go a long way toward ending much of this horror (and make no mistake, there are thousands of Skippies out there) by ending the nation’s largest producer of equine products – horseracing.

On February 13, the Paulick Report posted a piece on twin Thoroughbreds, Custom Pete and Halo Carlos, getting ready for their “debuts” at Delta Downs the following day. The pair, a rarity in the (ugly) breeding trade, were born March 9, 2017, making them two on raceday. The race itself did not live up to the hype: Custom Pete finished second-to-last, Halo Carlos last. Then, nothing – until, that is, one of the brothers, Custom Pete, was found in the Stanley Brothers feedlot in Bastrop, Louisiana. Yes, one half of this Racing feel-good story was headed to slaughter.

The June 19 “bail” plea succeeded, and Pete was delivered to quarantine on the 27th. He was, no surprise, lame, apparently having been injured in that February race – an injury, it turns out, he was forced to suffer for months.

As is all too common, however, Pete’s injury was too far gone (in addition, as you see above, he was ataxic), and he was euthanized in mid-July. The rescuer: “It’s with great sadness that I have to let everyone know that Custom Pete did not survive his battle to overcome all the bad things that have happened to him.”

The horrible human beings who dumped (directly or indirectly, it matters not) this terrified, suffering animal into the slaughter pipeline are trainer Thomas Nixon and owner Lary Nixon, themselves brothers. And yes, they still have Pete’s twin, Halo Carlos. What do you suppose that poor animal’s future holds?

As for the Paulick Report, not a word followed on Custom Pete’s fate. Nothing about the injury, the kill-lot, the death. Nothing. All the worse because Ray Paulick markets himself as one of the good guys, someone who cares. He isn’t; he doesn’t. In fact, by being perhaps the foremost (media) promoter of this vile industry, Paulick is every bit as complicit as the ones doing the racing, killing, dumping, and slaughtering.

(Once again, a special thanks to Joy Aten, our vice president and chief cruelty investigator, for her contributions to this post.)