The Good and the Bad of Monzante

The good: Social media outlets made the industry aware of a situation that begged for further examination.

The bad: Before the facts were gathered, people rushed to judgment with a lynch-mob mentality.

Such is the case of Monzante, the grade I stakes winner that broke down at Evangeline Downs during a $4,000 claiming race July 20, and after examination at the barn was euthanized because of the extent of his injuries.

Social media users and bloggers, including one employed by The Blood-Horse, were incensed over the horse's death and called out those who had been associated with the horse for the past nine years. All this came, however, before it was reported Monzante had not been euthanized on the racetrack, but rather at the barn after his connections decided he couldn't be saved.

It took The Blood-Horse and Daily Racing Form a few days to find out what happened. By the time the news cycle had ended four days later with an announcement by the Louisiana State Racing Commission the investigation was over, criticism on social media had all but evaporated.

In fact, it was just about done when it was reported the gelding hadn't died on the racetrack, and that someone actually made the call to put him down. That fact changed everything, as did subsequent comments from the trainer.

The level of interest, judging from the almost 1,500 "signatures" on a web petition to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association concerning the break down, is beyond encouraging and should lead to some of debate at the regulatory level. But the indictment of others before the story was investigated was atrocious.

The Blood-Horse was bashed–hardly unusual–and accused of ignoring the story before the first phone call was made to confirm the circumstances behind the horse's death. It wasn't much better for DRF.

Meanwhile, there was hardly a mention of the industry hierarchy's silence on social media even though it has invested money in an active social media arm. Perhaps it's time to devise a crisis-management plan using social media.

If any good came out of this, it's the reinforcement of the need for Thoroughbred racing to continue its efforts in the area of safety of horses and humans and uniform medication rules. Anything beyond that, such as mandatory racehorse retirement rules for anything other than age, is a major stretch given the fact horses are personal property, and there has to be some level of trust in owners and trainers to know when a horse is ready to be retired.

And retirement rules that deal only with horses that have won graded stakes not only would face legal challenge, they would raise even more questions from the public. Aren't all the horses important?

It would be ideal if everyone associated with racehorses committed to ensuring that horses are tracked throughout their careers, and that all parties contribute to support financially or otherwise to support that cause. But whatever happens, it's important for people to not lose sight of reality.

The fact of the matter is that no matter how well cared for racehorses are, and no matter how much progress the industry makes in regard to safety and welfare, there will be breakdowns, some of them fatal.

That reality–and it is ugly for those that care to admit it–is more than enough for horse racing to deal with at a time when animal welfare is under a microscope. Therefore, it doesn't need personal attacks and wild pre-judgments through social media and the Internet based on innuendo.

There's always more to the story. Give it time to unfold.


Leave a Comment:

Kimmons Mitchell

I think everything happens for a reason and right or wrong this brought much-needed attention to this cause! This owner was giving this horse a drug cocktail so he could run and make him money! It does not make any difference what the horses value is to most fans or people! They use them up and throw them away! If it was not for the high-profile horses most fans and animal lovers would not know about what happens behind the screen! The fan and others are getting more educated about what goes on in the racing business and everyone in the racing industry better beware that we are all watching and well hopefully be more vigilant in the future. Whether the horse is rich or poor or has made a name or no name or is beautiful or not, they are all God's creatures and should be taken care of. In reference to the owner, if he cared for the horse so much knowing that he was a old horse and had many health issue's why did he continue to run him? That did not add up my friend! As far as the prior owners, trainers, and breeders not saying anything, it shows what they really are about!

26 Jul 2013 4:22 PM

To me, the ultimate responsibility lies with the breeders. Along with the monetary gain of a potentially successful racehorse must also come the responsibility of keeping track of each & every one of the horses they decide to bring into the world. To claim that the number of horses would be too many to keep track of is an excuse, not a reason. When one makes the decision to breed a horse, they are fully aware that breeding will produce a living being dependent on humans to care for it. Larger breeding facilities should create a department within their organization whose sole job is to keep track of all their horses & step in when one of their horses are in need. Smaller breeding facilities should only bring into this world an amount of horses they can keep track of. Bringing horses into this world is not the same as raising a potted plant.

Someone, on another blog, had a great idea: microchipping every horse bred for the purposes of racing would help keep track of horses. Too many horses fall through the cracks. Some horses, needing help, can't be located.

Monzante should have been helped long before he broke down on the track the other day.  He put quite a lot of money into quite a few pockets yet he was completely discarded by all of them.  If any one of them were even the slightest bit interested in him as a living being & not just as a moneymaker for them, they would have been aware of the fact that he had dropped all the way down to a $4000 claiming race & stepped in to help him. If anyone of them had, Monzante would today be living in comfortable retirement.

I am not just talking about one-time stakes-winning horses. Every horse bred for the track should be protected. At Saratoga in 2008, my then 12-year-old son & I watched a horse win Race 1 on the day we were there. His name is Super Hero & his name struck a cord with my son. He is the son of Fu Peg & was bred by a top breeder who I am sure bred him in the hope that he would make them as much money as his father had. He started out in Todd Pletcher's barn, whose barn he was in when my son & I watched him race at Saratoga. From that day on, I made sure to keep track of Super Hero as he eventually was claimed by a high-profile California trainer (I forget his name right now but he also trained Lava Man). From there, Super Hero was claimed & ended up in the Pacific Northwest. All the while, Super Hero was slipping lower & lower in claiming race levels. About one year after watching him win his Saratoga race, I became concerned when Super Hero ran poorly in a $5,000 claiming race & reached out from New York where my son & I live. I picked up the phone & after several phone calls, I was able to get in touch with Super Hero's current trainer ( at the time) in Washington state, Robbie Baze. After explaining to Mr. Baze that my son & I had been keeping track of Super Hero for the past year & expressing my concern, Mr. Baze told me that $5000 claiming race was probably going to be Super Hero's last race. Within three days, with travel plans set up by Robbie Baze, Super Hero was en route across country, first to Kentucky & then on up to New York to my son & I. Today, Super Hero is a very happy, healthy 9-year-old. At 9, he is just coming into the prime of a horse's life.

The reason I am telling the story of Super Hero is because I know if I hadn't kept track of him, he probably would have long since been dead. As he dipped lower & lower in the claiming ranks, not one of his breeders, owners, or trainers reached out to help him. He was bred in the hopes he would race as his father did & when he didn't he was discarded in the quest to find the next Fu Peg or a runner like him. The problem is all the discarded horses in that quest. Someone has to take responsibility. There are countless Super Hero's & Monzante's out there needing help. Even the oldest racehorse is truly a young horse, able & more than willing to do so many other jobs, even if due to a racing injury they can only be a companion to another horse in pasture.

I hope that Monzant's death will not be in vain. I pray his legacy will be more awareness & change to what happens to these beautiful animals when they either can no longer race due to injuries or are trying to tell us they no longer want to race.

26 Jul 2013 4:49 PM

You really missed the boat, Tom. The primary criticism is as salient today as it was the minute the horse died. The OWNERS (to not be named ever by anyone henceforth in print) that let him go after benefitting from him the most should have done better by the horse. He certainly earned it. It was a moral imperative even if he was personal property and they are among the thousands of owners that dispose of horses every day when the horse is no longer useful to them.

I get the rest of your diatribe, and the personal pettiness directed at PR, too.

Yeah, horses die every day, yeah the gyp trainer who should have spoken up Monday took it on the chin for a while and I must say his "vet" prognosis of the injury to Monzante was a stretch in terms of whether it possibly could have been surgically repaired or his suffering mitigated in the meantime. I personally would have admired it more if he said, "I ain't got that kind of money or time for a sesamoid to make him a pasture pet, and he's a gelding."

26 Jul 2013 5:04 PM

I've followed and tracked the career of Monzante ever since the Eddie Read in 2008. What a magnificent creature. I welled up watching the breakdown at Evangeline. Sometimes it is just natural causes. Shame to those that rushed to judgment.c

26 Jul 2013 5:15 PM

ColetteMarie: Thank you for sharing your personal experience. Very relevant to the issue.

26 Jul 2013 5:42 PM
Mikey 55555

They need to have a plan to retire geldings after so many races or years. If they drop more than 3 levels it should trigger automatic retirement. If they lose at final level in last place more that 10 lengths it should be mandatory retirement...

26 Jul 2013 6:26 PM

Truly impressed by Kimmon's and Colette's responses. Such sincere words by clearly some lovely people. Juddmonte have pocketed a fortune in stud fees from Frankel in the same year that the discarded Monzante is ground into oblivion.

26 Jul 2013 6:41 PM
Mary Ann

This article sounds like damage control for the horse racing industry. The previously written articles were short on details and left many unanswered questions. For example, Tom, can you let us know what the drug testing results were? There was no mention of any drug testing done. You presume comments waning on social media means acceptance of what happened to Monzante. That is only a presumption or wish on your part.

26 Jul 2013 7:17 PM

MaryAnn: You must not read on a daily basis. I don't do damage control. I'm journalist who spends 80% writing about damage in the industry. Cut me a break.

26 Jul 2013 7:22 PM
Paula Higgins

Tom, today we had to put my 12 1/2 year old cat down. Her name was Chloe. But before we did it, we made darn sure that we did everything we could before we made that final decision. It cost quite a bit of money as we tried to save her. My point is this about Monzante: everyone involved said the horse might have had a chance. There was no guarantee that he would survive, but the possibility was there and he was never given the chance. Animals are living, breathing creatures who race for our pleasure. I believe horses that don't have catastrophic injuries should be given a chance to survive. This may or may not have been a life-ending injury. bluhorse, you said it best and you too Mikey 55555. He was a horse that should have been retired awhile ago and then this never would have been an issue. However, I do understand your point about waiting to hear the facts. The problem with this story is that the facts only make everyone involved look marginally better. No one comes out of this looking like St. Francis of Assisi. Not by a longshot.

26 Jul 2013 8:42 PM

Regardless of what may have been known earlier or later about this sad and horrible incident, it is still indicative of a huge issue that casts the whole racing industry in an ugly light.  And it does need to be discussed and SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!  All of us who enjoy the sport are responsible for these precious animals.  Someone needs to lead the charge; Someone with clout.  If that is Bloodhorse, great!  If it is breeders or owners or the Jockey Club or a percentage of a purse designated for a fund for horses.  Whatever it is and whatever it takes.  I don't have much money but I'd be more than willing to donate.  I think we all agree that we need to do something.  

These guys can come off the track and bring their beautiful souls to others in different venues.  The  farm where I ride has 3 thoroughbreds off the track.  They are everyone's favorites and are gentle, kind and dependable for all riders, even beginners.  I've met them re-trained for police duty and fox hunting, eventing and trail riding.  They are, I believe, the most responsive breed to humans and the greatest lessons I have learned have been taught by venerable old broodmares.  They tell you the truth about yourself.  Stakes winners are not more valuable than a 25 year old mare who has given her all.  They ALL matter.  For all the beauty, excitement and soul they give to us, we ALL owe them good care and a good healthy life.

26 Jul 2013 8:45 PM

Tom you just dont get it.... trying being part of the solution. Has anyone heard from the vet that did put him down? i haven't seen that anywhere and the LA Commission says the horse was on the watch list but the owner (or someone) says he was excused from a race because he was acting colicky. why would a horse be on a watch list because of acting colicky a month ago. There are holes in this story.... obviously the horse suffered some injury while in training with Mr. Mitchell and then was dumped for $20,000. from being a Grade 1 horse. The horse should have been donated or retired then imo. was $20,000 so important to those people that had won that much money with him.  i have owned racehorses and had one that ran very straight legged and hard. she raced as a 2 and at the end of her 3 yr old yr starting getting knee sore, the trainer recommendation was "put her in a claiming race" this was a filly that had not won alot of money but paid her way.  she was a sprinter so i gave her to a friend that breeds barrel horses and she has a great home in KY. reading this about Monzante gives me chills that what would have happened if i had said OK and dumped her. And i am in no way at the level the people that owned this horse are. i have made note of his connections and will be sure i never do business with them and tell everyone i know the same.  it is very sad that none of the "big dogs" have made any comments on this so i guess they feel its OK well i don't. i was scheduled to go to Del Mar on Thursday of this week. i instead gave the $500 i would have spent getting there drinking their overpriced drinks and eating their overpriced food betting all day and spending money on a local hotel and out to dinner that night to a racehorse retirement program.

And ColetteMarie i applaud you. You should have Tom's job....

26 Jul 2013 10:05 PM
Donut Jimmy

Bluhorse writes: "I must say his "vet" prognosis of the injury to Monzante was a stretch in terms of whether it possibly could have been surgically repaired or his suffering mitigated in the meantime. I personally would have admired it more if he said, "I ain't got that kind of money or time for a sesamoid to make him a pasture pet, and he's a gelding." "

Here is the quote from the trainer: "So we loaded the horse into the trailer, took him back to the barn, cut the bandage off his ankle, and you could see the sesamoids were shattered.

Injuries such as this, especially if compound, often cannot and should not be repaired. Sometimes attempting surgical repair is a good idea, and sometimes it emphatically is not.

27 Jul 2013 12:14 AM

I don't think people were rushing to judgement with a lynch mob mentality as the author of this blog stated. I believe they were reacting to yet another story of a horse being used up and instead of being rewarded with a good retirement for all he had done for humans, he was raced until he broke down and subsequently lost his life. How many times have we heard of tragedies like this? When does an animal finally earn a right to retire, especially a gelding? This horse was abused. Humans failed him right up to the end. People breed and breed these animals. How many breeders keep track of all the horses they've bred? What happens to the ones that aren't successful on the track? I am glad that Mozante's fate outraged a lot of people. Maybe this will finally get some protective measures put into place for ALL racehorses.

Shame on those who rushed to judgement? No. Shame on those who will do anything and everything to keep on racing horses who should have been retired long ago.

27 Jul 2013 12:18 AM
Rebecca Johnston

This is where you separate from those that were outraged.  You say you write about damage to the industry but the uproar wasn't about the industry damage it was about a lovely grey gelding that should have had a safety net.  It is one thing to race those horses that have $4,000 ability at that level and there are plenty, but when a horse falls down the ladder of success so mightily to the $4,000 level, a horse that had G1 ability, doesn't that signal some alarms to you that maybe there was something wrong with him?  If a $10,000 horse runs for $4,000 the public isn't so keenly aware.  And let me say there are plenty of things that The Blood Horse just doesn't address.  I have seen that for years.  That is why I like reading something that doesn't Pollyanna things up.   No need for snide comments even about your own greatest asset.

27 Jul 2013 12:41 AM

My outrage concerning Monzante had to do with the fact that he'd been running on pain medication because Louisiana laws allow it. Whether he was euthanized on the track or back in the barn has little to do with the story of his decline. I grew up watching horses race at a little track near my home. I loved watching them, but even at 9 yrs old I knew enough to wonder what happened to the ones who lost.

27 Jul 2013 10:00 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Good discussion.  Bluhorse, you make some good points.  And Tom, you're right.  There's always more to the story.  Keep on informing us.

27 Jul 2013 10:27 AM

Respectfully Mr. Lamarra, I think you lost sight of the main point to many; the horse had won a good deal of money for his various (mostly well-heeled) connections;  instead of being retired for his efforts, he slipped between the cracks from barn to barn. Even though he continued trying his best, it was no longer good enough. Squeezed like a lemon until no more was left, he was basically "Discarded". SHAMEFUL. Former connections also deserved to be named to share in the blame and notoriety surrounding this matter. Some are good people, maybe in the day to day quest for money and profits and running an operation, it wasn't  intentional, they just never came down from the clouds and realized  what was happening.  If public embarrassment is what it takes to make them "Step up to the plate" and do the sportsmanlike thing, sobeit. So, insofar as signing petitions, we NEED petitions if that is what it takes to get attention. My heart breaks everytime I hear of an Autism Awareness or a Wakes At Noon, or any of the many others who suffered similar fates. Lastly, placing yourself in these horses' shoes for a minute, imagine working all your adult life in some cubicle somewhere, being productive but getting older; arthritic; hurting and struggling, weary, losing the sharpness and enthusiasm you may have had in your earlier years. Do you think retirement should be an option here????

27 Jul 2013 10:30 AM

Nice job Mr. Lamarra. That we are without any humane "retirement" for most of these horses is poorly understood. + these horses love to race, so let them.  The problem lies in our highly questionable rules that permit unprepared horses to race.

27 Jul 2013 12:19 PM
Pedigree Ann

"Juddmonte have pocketed a fortune in stud fees from Frankel in the same year that the discarded Monzante is ground into oblivion."

Juddmonte had ambitions for The Real Derby (in England) for this colt, but he didn't measure up. So, back in 2007, they sold him for $213,000 in a Horses-of-Racing Age sale in England. He turned up the next winter at Santa Anita as a gelding and proceeded to have his best year of racing, repaying the new owners twice over for their purchase.

I fail to see how Juddmonte is a villain here. They didn't discard him, as in throwing him on the ash-heap; they sold him to people who didn't prefer classic types and weren't looking for a stallion prospect. And those people got a good deal from their purchase - a G1 win and $400K+ in earnings. Monzante's form actually improved after Juddmonte sold him to what was a better situation for him.

27 Jul 2013 12:55 PM

Thanks all for the comments/insights/criticisms. I've owned a few horses in partnership, so I have personal experience with the good and bad of the business. ... Just remember this blog is not only about Monzante. It goes much deeper than that.

27 Jul 2013 1:38 PM

Tom: Good points, but you are simply revisiting what has already been addressed.

"Don't loose sight of reality..."

The REALITY is that we suffer from the demise of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and that carries over to the ownership of horses.

"There has to be some LEVEL OF TRUST in owners & trainers to know when a horse is ready to be retired."

Unfortunately, owners & trainers try to squeeze one more race out of their horses instead of erring on the side of caution. You can't get blood from a turnip, and with the so-called vast experience trainers have with their charges they are rolling the dice & not drawing on their better judgment when it comes to the lives ENTRUSTED to them.

27 Jul 2013 2:27 PM
Mikey 55555

Bottom line is we can't leave retirement up to the trainers owners or anyone making a business out of the horses. There needs to be a system in place for geldings that creates a mandatory retirement. There has to be a way that the horses performance drops and losses and or number of races without improvement retires him...whatever. Bottom line is horse should be the one telling us hes done, and not leave that up to the humans.If they can come up with beyers speed figiures they can come up with a logical system to retire washed up geldings

27 Jul 2013 6:12 PM

I didn't read any of the social media stuff that lead to more indepth coverage of this incident, but I hope that all the people that signed the petition that is referenced are actually doing something about the problem of race horses who are no longer able to race for whatever reasons besides just signing a petition.

I am...I have 4 OTTBs instead of a nice house, big horse trailer, fancy care etc. Not everyone  is as lucky as I am and able to do this, but most folks cold cut back somewhere and adopt a OTTB with one of the big rescues like RERUN or New Vocations. I don't want to be like many of the folks referenced in this article and jump to conclusions without all the facts, so I'm going to assume that each person that signed the on line petition IS doing something concrete, and in fact each signature represents one OTTB that is being well cared for i a great retirement home.

27 Jul 2013 6:52 PM
ceil rock

I don't think some people realize that a lot of horses race on bute - Animal Kingdom raced on bute & lasix in the BC Classic. Was that a "drug cocktail"??

27 Jul 2013 8:23 PM
ceil rock

One other comment. A lot of horses are retired and then neglected or starved. Many are returned to the rescue because people can't handle them or afford their medications, etc. You don't just retire the average 9-yr-old gelding, turn him out & forget about him. At least while he's in training he gets to eat, his feet & teeth are tended to, and his legs are taken care of.

27 Jul 2013 8:28 PM
Needler in Virginia

Tom, with apologies, I must say that when I read the initial article and then Steve's blog, I knew that Monzante had NOT been euthanized on the track and had, indeed, been returned to his barn before the decision was made. My first post on the other blog is dated 26 minutes into 24 July. By that time most everyone knew the horse had NOT been put down on the track, yet posts have been pouring in since and most are tackling the same subject in pretty much the same voice...granted, some are speaking with an emotional voice and, considering the realities of racing, not a very logical one. On the other hand, many speak with a knowledge of racing and an acquaintance with practicality. At the end of the day, almost all have said "if this is the TRUE face of racing, then racing sucks." Maybe we have just been pie-in-the-sky-dreamers, but I think we've been hoping all along that punters and players and trainers and jockeys and owners and breeders and grooms and hotwalkers and everyone else who picks stalls and feet and gets up before God to clean and exercise and bathe and feed these amazing beasts MUST do it because somewhere, deep down they love horses. NO WAY do most do this job just for the money.....NO WAY. I think perception is the name of the game in 2013, and right now, the perception the public has of racing is pretty crappy. Frankly, I DO think euthanizing Monzante was more humane than sticking him on some damn kill truck, but that's just me. MY problem is with the way racing seems to be saying "too bad, so sad,,,,,that's just racing". THAT is not gonna cut it much longer. It may be the ugly truth, but glossing and polishing a cowpie still leaves you with a shiny cowpie. This particular event, along with the highly questionable death of Slippin' Away outside her stall at Mountaineer, is gonna bite racing in the butt, big time. Social media is watching very carefully and racing should pay attention...after all, people can go see a NASCAR thingie if they just want to watch any kind of race, or they can bet online on how soon a raindrop will take to cross a pane of glass, but nowhere else can you see such wonderful things happen as you can at a racetrack (the REAL kind, not the car kind). It's still called "horse racing", right? If racing doesn't begin to address these perception issues and begin to be responsible for the very horses that WE created to run fast and entertain us, and who rely on the above-mentioned track workers (from hotwalker on up) for everything, including food and water, then racing is in way more trouble than it knows or can fix. NEVER MIND if Monzante was put down on the track, as was Eight Belles, or at his barn; his trainer, is the responsible party for this mess and the time line really isn't the issue here, is it? REALLY?

27 Jul 2013 8:39 PM

This comes under the heading of, give me a break!

You, Mr. LaMarra, are the one who should be taken to task.  Just who are you to point the finger at Steve Haskin (you didn't have the guts to mention him by name but it was clear who you were referring to.)  When you have the years of experience and are revered like Steve is by his loyal fans, then you may be able to reach the hem of his pants leg.  Steve was speaking from years of experience at all levels of the sport, he was speaking from the heart about conditions we all question and are concerned about.  He is qualified far more than you to make a judgment call in situations like this.  I trust Steve's instincts.  I don't trust yours.

Like others have said here, the outrage has to do with the fact that this horse was run into the ground, plain and simple.  The fact that the regulators did all that the regulations require, that is, he was on a watch list, he was under scrutiny, he was examined by the officials and determined to be fit to race does not absolve those in charge of this horse of responsibility for his death.  If anything, it proves one thing loud and clear:  THE WRONG PEOPLE ARE IN CHARGE OF DETERMINING WHEN A HORSE SHOULD RETIRE!  The OWNER IS THE TRAINER, Jackie Thacker.  His explanation that euthanizing the horse was a humanitarian gesture is weak and hard to believe, but the fact that the horse was put in jeopardy by this  owner/trainer, Jackie Thacker, is an abomination.  He should be horse-whipped. If he couldn't tell by his close association with the horse that he no longer was happy in his work and needed to retire, and that the horse's physical condition was marginal, just shows how bereft of human decency people like him are!  At the very least, it demonstrates his poor horsemanship and lack of fitness to call himself a trainer.

Before you get on your high horse and criticize others you might have done some research and obtained and published the vet records for Monzante.  I am betting there is plenty of evidence that the horse has been on all kinds of LEGAL drugs to keep him going, to patch him up time and time again to send him out.  Yep, he may have looked "fit to race" by officials who spent no appreciable time with the horse and were not charged with his daily care, but he wasn't, was he?  Otherwise, he might have been able to have a nice retirement as a companion animal or some other aftercare activity that fit his physical capabilities.  

The explanation that in spite of all efforts to the contrary, "horses just break down" is lame to say the least.  If this is the standard that the sport measures itself by, then let's close the doors, turn out the lights, and call it a day!

Just because he followed the rules doesn't make what happened justifiable!

The tragedy of Monzante points up that the practice of even having claiming races below $10,000 purses probably should be banned, outlawed, done away with.  This is the grubby side of the sport that cries out for change and correction.

Again I ask, just who are you to sit in judgment of Steve Haskin, author of several books and an award-winning writer?

You, sir, are no Steve Haskin!

28 Jul 2013 12:02 AM

I recently read an article in Time magazine about horse racing.  The article talked about how racing used to be incredibly popular but is now dying.  Primary reason for its death: the perception of abuse in the industry by the casual fan.  Racing needs to clean up its act and return to the days of racing sound horses drug free.  It's working in other countries.  Otherwise the sport we love will be only a memory.  Stories like Monzante's only convince more people that racing is inhumane and turns them away from the sport.  And "racing experts" that act like Monzante's death is no big deal make our sport even more distasteful.  

28 Jul 2013 10:10 AM

The vast majority of comments I've read about this subject seem to be from people with little to no experience with racehorses or horses in general.  Having spent my entire life in the racehorse bussiness, I have seen very few trainers who "don't care" about their horses.  

Everytime you take a horse out of its stall, you are "rolling the dice."  Hell, just owning a horse, much less a racehorse, is "rolling the dice."  I don't know ANYBODY who ever intentionally broke a horse down.  They are accident prone animals and you never know what's going to happen to them.

I could write volumes on accidents I've seen.  I have always followed the old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  Most of the trainers I know follow it.  

Just because a horse is not in a high-profile barn doesn't mean it's owner or trainer doesn't care about it.  Even the lowest level claiming trainer cares about his/her horses.  They just don't have the big bankroll of the ones you usually hear and read about.  

Everytime something is written about a horse breaking down and/or being euthanized, people [who don't know] claim the owner/trainer "don't care" and were just "trying to get one more race out of them."  

It is not a black & white issue and there are no absolutes.  If a horse passes a comprehensive vet check, what else do you want?  

28 Jul 2013 11:24 AM
Going Ballistic fan

The biggest problem is the glut of horses being bred and no way to regulate that. The worth of a horse for most of us has diminished monetarily so they become throw away. From the need to feed cattle in Wyoming, to the need to dump racehorses that cannot win, horses lose everytime. Some think slaughter will raise their value again. But, anyone that has had a personal experience with a horse knows that this could never be an option. Money drives every issue here, but the black flag over racing will remain. As long as their is social media and silence from the racing community, there will be no trust and no real future with the general public. I love to watch the races at Hot Springs, but hate the thought of what will happen to my favorites in just 3 short years. Where is Xchanger? Report Back, a small time mare is just 4 and in the lowest claiming races around Philadelphia. Where is she now? Will she survive another month? I know nothing of her trainer, just her humble beginnings. Can't take what happens at the end of their careers. So, I will stop going and following racing if this is not addressed and SOON.

28 Jul 2013 12:07 PM

Monzante's end is disgraceful.  Horse racing will never be big again because there are too many stories like this one.  

Most horse racing fans are people who are devoted to a love for the horse.  Unfortunately there are also many in the game on both sides of the rail that could care less about the treatment of the horses.  Its the money, period.

Its past time for serious regulation in this sport.  Enough is enough.

28 Jul 2013 5:25 PM
Ian Tapp


I believe you missed the point of Tom's blog. It's OK to be angered/incensed/saddened by Monzante's death, but that doesn't justify attacking anyone ever associated with the horse and accusing them of running the horse into the ground, especially before the facts come out.

You wrote this to Tom: "Before you get on your high horse and criticize others you might have done some research..."

Did you mean that only Tom should be required to do research, but not you and not Steve Haskin? Frankly, I disagree that certain people in the industry (or world) should be above scrutiny.

28 Jul 2013 5:59 PM

Needler in Virginia: Thank you for mentioning the situation involving Slippin Around. One could argue that is far more egregious. You recognize it, but why don't many other people? Is it because the horse was a nobody?

28 Jul 2013 6:00 PM

Ok first off the Thoroughbred racing industry is the Only breed registery that even tries to keep their equine athletes from breaking down from slaughterpens and attempts to retire or rehome the horses that are Iin this sport. Several tracks from Finger Lakes to Gulfstream have "rescue facilities" set up on site. NYRA has a program where you can sign up to be on a list to adopt a racehorse when it is retired. Break downs happen in any equine sport it is an unfortunate aspect that most folks on the backside deal with. Do they like it hell no they do not. I have seen grooms bawl like babies at the loss of their charge. Trainers quit and jockeys leave. Some come back others don't.  Do I agree with all the drug rules no. Are there shady characters yes but they are few and far between. I have been involved with horses all my life. I have seen horses break down in their home pastures to pecking on landing over a jump and snapping a leg. Even now there are grants from racing and the JC regulating retirement for as many horses as they can. The numbers bred are why down from other registries and more and more stallions being gelded for second careers after racing. More stock horses draft horses are sent to slaughter than ottbs. No one is there for them. The JC works hard at R&D as to the mechanics of break downs. How do you think we ended up with all the different surfaces that they run on? This industry does care what happens to the horses more than any other. Its proven time and time again. This is also a multibillion-dollar industry employing thousands. There are some injuries you can not cure. Barbaro comes to mind. They did their best. If this trainer did not have that kind of money to treat this injury euth is best. There are lots of G1 winners that go down the ladder and not all end up breaking down they go onto other things. The vast mmajority of tracks that have a safety net take a small percentage of purse money and donations to operate. Do some fall thru the cracks yes but many more do not. If you want to do something donate to CANTER or New Vocations or the rescues certified by the JC. But do not sit there and tell me this industry does not care. If other horse registries cared as much there would be a lot less shipping to Canada or Mexico. And you can thank Obama for allowing slaughter to be reopened in the US.

28 Jul 2013 7:23 PM

Dancersmom: The USTA (harness racing) has a program for retirement of Standardbreds. Just FYI. Thanks. Tom

28 Jul 2013 8:09 PM
ceil rock

Dancersmom: There are retirement programs and rescues for lots of different breeds - Saddlebred Rescue, Gentle Giant Draft Horse Rescue, Standardbred Retirement Foundation, etc. President Obama did not reopen slaughter in this country. You can blame most of this mess on Congress, as usual. Money for USDA inspection of slaughterhouses for horses was not included in the White House budget for 2014, which effectively means no slaughter. But you can't rest on this issue because someone in Congress is always trying to slip something in a bill to reinstate it. Look at the poor Tennessee Walking Horse breed. Soring was banned in the 70s, but it still goes on today, 40 years later.  If you want to talk about real horse abuse, google Jackie McConnell.

28 Jul 2013 11:09 PM

It is amazing that people will make excuses for the demise of Monzante. Wake up! Your sport is dying. No one wants to bring their kids to see the pretty ponies die. It's disturbing. Clean up the drugs, get rid of the scum trainers, and set a national program to care for the runners after their running "careers'. Or make excuses, continue to "stay the course" and look for different work in about 15 years - your choice.

29 Jul 2013 1:43 AM

They never do enough; they never make 'enough' money; even the millionaires end up in the feed lot.  Then poor people who really love these animals spend their last couple of hundred dollars to save them.  Meanwhile the former owners are busy using up more racehorses.  I used to breed and race TBs.  I stopped because I could not afford to take care of all the horses I had bred that needed care after their careers. As of last year I had 4 mares all over 25.  It is a very tough game to play with integrity for anyone who really loves their horses.

29 Jul 2013 7:20 AM

Well, these folks were left with their backs against the wall and a swarm of angry horse advocates moving in on them. It's called damage control. Was Monzante injured? Of course, was it beyond hope? I doubt it. He was washed up, no longer a winner and no longer of any monetary value. That sealed his fate. Let's be honest. It happens all the time, perhaps not so much to graded-stakes winners, but it happens. My complaint is why was Monzante allowed to decline to such a low point? When such a horse falls from grace, he should be retired. He earned his stinkin' retirement. The horse earned it. I don't care why he quit running or winning. He deserved better. He never should've been running at that level to begin with. As for the BH writer who jumped the gun on this case, that's a matter of opinion. Monzante's story was tragic, period. The injury and sparing the horse more suffering, all damage control, nothing more.

29 Jul 2013 10:36 AM

THE ONLY REALITY is that this fragmented industry continue to decline, the fan base continue to erode and hardly new fans are going to the track and/or placing a bet.

Take out the casino money and how many racetracks will close tomorrow? better yet it would be easier to count who would still be open.

No not being negative. Just saying it like it is.

29 Jul 2013 12:41 PM
Pedigree Ann

"They never do enough; they never make 'enough' money; even the millionaires end up in the feed lot."

Name them then and shame their owners. This sounds like PETA propaganda.

Millionaire stallions and mares will find a career in the breeding industry, even if of 'lesser' bloodlines. The mares will be welcome at any stud, while the unfashionably-bred stallions will end up in regional programs, or overseas, or siring sport-horses. Ferdinand and Exceller had served as stallions for many years before they were put down at ages 19 and 24, respectively, and from most reports were not subjected to cattle trucks or feedlots beforehand. Trailered to the abattoir, led in by hand.

Only millionaire geldings in this country are at risk for the fate you predict. The best of them, like Best Pal and John Henry (who lived at the Kentucky Horse Park in his old age), have fans who keep tabs on them; there is a website where I can go and see photos of Evening Attire in his retirement. Brass Hat babysits yearlings at his breeder's farm; Kelso hunted and showed as a hunter; Lava Man is a pony horse. And so on.  

My brother bought a TB gelding who had made 59 starts and won only once, using him for trail riding in Arizona; 'Renegade' died of natural causes at 20, in a pasture. A friend bought a SP TB who had made 117 starts on the flat, then had a stint as a chaser before he went eventing with her; she tried to retire him to a pasture but without a job to do, he deteriorated, so she leased him to be a student-level show-jumper. The feed-lot is not the inevitable fate even of less-talented geldings than millionaires.

What happens to the bodies of horses who are kindly euthanized because their bodies have failed due to illness, injury, or old-age? Only a very few can be buried in honored graves; the rest go to rendering plants to be recycled. What is cruel and unconscionable is the treatment of slaughter horses in this country BEFORE their deaths. Once the spirit is gone, does it matter what use is put to the empty body?

29 Jul 2013 2:00 PM

I realize that some racetracks have a program in place to retrain retired racehorses for another career. But, one of the issues I have with one getting a horse thru those retrain programs is the cost of those horses once they have been retrained.  Their adoption fee is usually several thousand dollars. I know there is cost to retraining a horse & those who work with the horses have to earn a living. But, a cost of several thousand dollars is more than many can afford, even those who CAN afford to feed & care for a horse. So, IMO, those horses coming from a retraining program have a somewhat limited market so it takes longer to find them good homes. As long as those horses are there, while waiting for an adopter, they are preventing other horses from coming into the facility due to available space constraints.

I, as a registered nurse, make a very good salary, probably more than the average individual. But, I know I cannot afford to lay out several thousand dollars at one time, for a horse or for anything. But, I can easily afford to pay for the cost of feeding a caring for the cost of caring for a horse; a couple of hundred dollars for feed, hay, supplies per month & intermittent, when needed vet bills. Ongoing bills for the horse's care is doable, for many people, when one has a regular income coming into their bank account. But, a single one time layout of several thousand dollars, knowing you will also have the cost of the care of the horse turns that initial investment into more than most people can afford.

As I have mentioned, my son & I own Super Hero & he came to us directly from the racetrack. I realize that not all horses are as ready for another career as Super Hero was & all horses have different personalities & temperments. Super Hero wants for nothing. He gets the best of hay, feed, vet care. He gets fly spray when he needs it, a fly mask when annoyed by flies, a blacksmith regularly cares for his feet, his stall always has fresh shavings, his pasture's fencing are always well maintained, if his halter, feed bucket or water bucket needs replacing it gets replaced. There are countless needs a horse has & Super Hero's needs are always met. His coat shines like a penny & he is extremely happy. He loves life. BUT, having said that, if I had to pay several thousand dollars for him, thru a retraining program,I know I wouldn't have been able to afford him.

My point here, is to make these fantastic retiring TBs more accessible to people. There are many, many homes out there ready & willing to give these horses fantastic, happy homes. One cannot say a person cannot afford to keep a horse if they can't afford the several thousand dollars to pay for the horse. Those are homes these retiring TB's would thrive in...if they can get into those homes which also frees up space in the retraining facilities as more retiring horses come in. The revolving doors of those retraining facilities should be ever revolving. That would truly be a successful retraining program where no horse would fall thru the cracks due to space constraints at the time they are leaving the track.

To me, one of the answers to helping these retiring racehorses is to have the cost of adopting them a doable amount for the average family. More funding towards keeping those costs down should be as important as getting retiring racehorses into those retraining facilities.

29 Jul 2013 2:08 PM

Pedigree Ann - Ferdinand and Exceller were not "put down." They were SLAUGHTERED! Huge difference.

And if horse slaughtering plants re-open in the U.S., the fault rests squarely on the shoulders of Barack Obama, who has the authority to stop this from happening.

29 Jul 2013 3:41 PM

Although as I have expressed in my previous post Monzante had no business ending up where he did  and his connections should be ashamed.  We should not downplay the importance of the $4,000, or $1,000 claimer for that matter. One of the great things about horse racing is you can get in at all different levels and $4,000 horses can run against other $4,000 horses and everyone involved can have a great and fun time.  If all horses have to be grade 1 or 2 we wouldn't have many races and it would limit the people that could afford to be involved.  But regardless of the level they compete they deserve to be treated with respect  and taken care of.  I truly believe the outrage with Monzante is the total disregard for an animal that is dependent on us to make decisions in their  best interest

30 Jul 2013 12:25 AM

I responded to the first blog & I knew Monzante had died at his barn, not on the track. My problem with this situation is not that he was hurt, per se, in a race, nor even that the decision was made even though he was "salvageable". I am also "guilty" of making that decision with horses, cats, and dogs. Sometimes the medical treatment can save the life but ruin its quality, and sometimes the procedure is technically possible but the risk is too high. Sometimes  the vet says, yes, we can prolong this life and it will cost  $10,000 and your cat will never be out of pain, never groom itself again, and it could only eat by a feeding tube.... It is difficult, but sometimes the right decision so to let go.

But my Monzante problem is that he was still racing at all. and please don't tell me he was still eager to race. Horses are animals of habit and I've had some that would come to be harnessed with their partner when they were still shaky from a colic attack! Monzante was running at the bottom rung of the sport when he once ran with the elite.  Was that right or should efforts have been made to find him a better, safer home? Yes, I know this is a business, but these are living creatures, not bananas to be tossed when spoiled or paper shredded for mulch.

30 Jul 2013 9:04 AM

ColetteMarie is right about the costs of adopting from a lot of rescues/ret-training facilities.  Last year, I was looking for another ponyhorse.  I contacted several rescues looking for a horse with the the right temperment and conformation.  I was NOT looking for a finished horse, just a prospect.  I could have went to the OBS and bought a horse in training cheaper!  Needless to say, I'm still looking.

30 Jul 2013 10:04 AM
Pedigree Ann

SMarie -

The word 'slaughter' seems to mean something to you it doesn't to me. But then I come from the background of a mixed-use farm - grew our own corn and hay, then fed it to cattle, sheep, and hogs.

Slaughter can be quick and  painless, such as is required for kosher ritual, or it can be inexpert, prolonged, and painful. The word itself does not imply one or the other. We do not know if Ferdinand or Exceller suffered; it is arrogant to assume they did without evidence. Once the animal is dead, it is a matter of local culture what happens to the dead body.

Did you know that in France during part of the 20th Century one HAD to take a horse to a butcher (or vice versa) for it to be euthanized? The local butcher had the technique to do with a knife what we do today with injected drugs. (At the same period, we in the US used a bullet to the brain.) The current method is tidier - no blood to clean up - but the horse is just as dead.

For the horse-slaughter question in this country, it is the treatment of animals BEFORE the moment of death that is inexcusable. And the lack of regulation that can allow animals without an established chain of ownership (i.e. stolen) into the stream.

30 Jul 2013 10:19 AM

Thanks to those of you who approached this thoughtfully and sought to educate on some related issues such as aftercare and slaughter. Obviously a long way to go for the industry.

30 Jul 2013 3:14 PM
ceil rock

ColletteMarie - One of the reasons most rescues charge an adoption fee is not only to recoup a small part of their investment in the horse, but to put a floor under him. There have been numerous scandals over the years with people adopting free horses and then promptly reselling them, usually for slaughter. Many of the sales now do the same thing - put a minimum price of $1,000 on a horse. Even though the rescues have people sign a contract stipulating what can be done with a horse, once it leaves their hands it can be hard to track a horse.

30 Jul 2013 4:45 PM

Pedigree Ann, "Arrogance" is for a human being to assume they know how an animal feels. The instant an animal arrives at a slaughter house their instincts and keen senses tells them what lies ahead. The fear and panic begins at that point, therefore I would argue your opinion that death is "quick". As for "painless", the bolt gun is not always effective on horses. It requires a good deal of skill for proper placement. Renowned vets have confirmed this. Most slaughterhouse workers are neither skilled or care. Animal suffering is not at the top of their agenda. Horses that die in slaughter facilities meet a cruel fate. It's ugly regardless of how you want to candy coat it. Why do you suppose they fight so hard to keep cameras out of slaughter houses? Should tell you something, shouldn't it?

30 Jul 2013 8:26 PM
Needler in Virginia

Thanks for your thanks, Tom, AND for your admission that racing has a long way to go....BOY! does it EVER! Maybe there's hope for you yet :)))

Cheers and safe trips to everyone.

31 Jul 2013 12:11 AM
Thoroughbreds are the best

Pedigree Ann,  you are a voice of reason on the poorly understood subject of horse slaughter, euthanasia, and rescue.  

Retiring an injured horse to stand around in a pasture for 10-20 years is not only prohibitively expensive (they still need feed, farrier, vet care and attention) while they are still and always will be painful,  is unfair and in some cases downright cruel.  Was this horse "salvagable" and at what cost?  Salvagable to limp around a field overgrown with weeds or bare of green?  Sorry just being realistic.

I wish this horse had not slipped down so far in the claiming ranks but horses break down in their first race or graded stakes as well.  They also break down on trail rides, in the hunt field or galloping across a field loose. Or develop arthritic conditions, founder or any number of issues that make them only "salvagable"and as a lawn ornament where they are easily neglected.  

As Americans we need to be realistic and reasonable recognizing that we have a horse overpopulation issue that is not really caused exclusively by overbredding as the Animal Rights Agenda proposes.  We need to realize that in many cases euthanasia or humane, respectful slaughter iss a far kinder solution.

31 Jul 2013 9:21 AM
Blum Gone

Going Balistic: re: xchanger  Here is his Equibase page.  If you really care where he is, where he might be, contact some of the last connections listed:

31 Jul 2013 12:42 PM

the best breed:

Yes what you say is true. Horses do break down not just from racing. The issue is whether we have done or doing the best we can for these animals who have no say in the matter.

I remember when Eight Belles broke down and some of the articles written about her. "she was a time bomb about to happen because she comes from a frail line of speed and fragility" etc., etc., etc. but that did not stop us from breeding short career horses now did it?. Sure there is no guarantee in breeding but that is what breeding is all about...trying to breed the best you can...Now take Salix...have we done much to breed out bad bleeders? about the 1 or 2 furlongs that 2-year-old horses are put through on sales?...Are they supposed to be quarter horses?...the meaning of a thoroughbred imo has been lost...the world use to breed for their derbies...and classic distance races...well guess what? that is not the case today...maybe with the Germans and Japanese that holds true and maybe even the Irish...thoroughbred meant speed, stamina, sturdiness...industry have change, the horses being bred today have changed...all you have to do is go to the Spa...the great racing track where champions are beaten...sad to see but most of the races there are dirt SPRINT besides kicking the can forever on ex-race horses and the drug issue what exactly have this industry done to help itself? and get rid of it's bad reputation?...

our last 4 horse of the year were 3 females and a miler...only one won at 10 furlongs!! once!! anybody notice that trend? about media articles comparing Black Caviar to Phar Lap or Makybe Diva, Frankel to Ribot and Mill Reef, Wise Dan to Forego and John cannot be serious??

the best breed were bred decades ago...thats my 2 cents....

31 Jul 2013 6:43 PM
Paula Higgins

Let's be serious here. I think that the overpopulation of wild horses and then thoroughbreds who are bred by humans to race, are two totally separate issues here. When you own a thoroughbred you have an obligation to make the best decisions possible for him/her. There is no way I would put an animal down if I felt like there was any possibility of a positive outcome with treatment. There is no way to know that a horse is going to be in pain down the road after an injury until it happens. Some do well and some don't. Then you make the right decision. A rush to judgment otherwise seems more like a monetary decision than anything else. For example, my dog had congestive heart failure and was very symptomatic. The vet put him on Vetmedin and he had a great quality of life for 3.5 more years. My cat eventually developed dilated cardiomyopathy and there was nothing else that could either improve her quality of life or save her. So we did what we had to do. If some people in the racing business continue to view thoroughbreds as disposable or a commodity, we will continue to lose an already limited fan base.

31 Jul 2013 10:06 PM

Tom, the issue is not that social media rushed to judgment, because it was proven by the racing authorities, the media,  and the trainer/owner that it wasn't soon enough for Monzante. Every year there are hundreds of Monzantes' that the racing media don't deem worthy to acknowledge. Yes, I know what I'm talking about because for the last two years of his life, I was one of the faithful sponsors of DynaKing aka Gifted. So for you to say that social media rushed to judgement is ridiculous, if we hadn't said or made a stink about it, do you really think that an so-called investigation would have be done (even as shoddy as it was)? Explain to me how you can have someone racing at your track with horses stabled there and not to be able to contact them? And if you have no way of being contacted, then maybe you shouldn't be training/racing horses. When are these people going to accept responsibility for falling this horse, including the security guards. Your telling me that the guard was not trained that if he sees something suspicious going on, not to report it or investigate it, or even collect evidence? Are you telling me that the stewards (who should have been at the track and should have seen the breakdown), didn't have the authority (even if only for insurance reasons) to quarantine the injured horse overnight until an investigation could be done or at least blood could be drawn? The social media it seems to me, is becoming much more knowledgeable in the welfare and well-being of racehorses than you or the industry gives it credit for thanks to Barbaro. The racing industry have gotten rich off of the horses, yet they don't want to take ethical and moral responsibility for the beautiful animals they have created. Explain to me why when a racehorse is given a JC registration code, a retirement fund cannot be established at the same time, and just like the vaccination records or checked for each race the horse is entered, why can't money/percentage of earnings be deposited into that account and it follows the horse wherever it goes, just like an insurance policy you take out for breeding/death. Everyone who owns a racehorse should be hold responsible and accountable for that horse, no matter if it's a major corporation or the little mom/pop claimer. If you cannot afford to take care of the horse if something should happen to it, then you shouldn't be in racing, period. I'm not saying accidents don't happen, but if the owners/trainers are made to answer to racing authorities and abide by a standardize set of guidelines across the board (ie, Hong Kong or Japan), you would see less and less of these shady/flybynight owner/trainers who are in it for the money. Right now I'm involved with trying to get another racehorse in a similar situation as Monzante off the track, he wants more for the horse to keep him from racing him than the claiming race he's planning to put him in. So to say that the social media was hasty in jumping to conclusions, I beg to differ. We've danced this dance one time too many, and 'that dog don't hunt'!

01 Aug 2013 10:45 AM

Ceil Rock, I do realize there is a problem regarding individuals reselling adopted horses to slaughterhouses. But, I also believe that by having the cost of adopting these retiring racehorses so high, it prevents more horses from finding great homes. I wish I knew the answers, but I don't. I just feel that the retraining programs, as they are currently formatted, are not able to find homes for their retrained horses quickly enough to help all horses as they retire from the track. If a retrained horse is priced at an amount that has the horse living at the retraining facility for an extended period of time while waiting for someone who can afford the adoption fee, how many newly retiring horses are unable to get into the facility due to the restraints of space? It is so frustrating to me that many great homes are inaccessible to so many retiring racehorses. Without thinking too hard, I can think of several people I know who could & would give fantastic homes to a retiring racehorse. But the high adoption fee makes it very unlikely they would be able to afford to do so.

I can't tell you how often I watch Super Hero, as he interacts with his buddies in his pasture or while we are out trail riding, and think about how many horses out there deserve a retirement like he has. How many horse people, who have horses for trail riding or are interested in finding a horse to give a horse they already own a companion will pay several thousand dollars for a horse?

02 Aug 2013 1:39 PM
Thoroughbreds are the best


Managing a household pet's infirmaties is not comparable to managing a horse with chronic or catastrophic ailments.  Colic surgery is thousands of dollars.  Fracture repair to make a horse "salvagable"as a pasture companion is unthinkable for the majority of owners. What yourselves are willing to do for uour animals is your choice.  Having worked many years in the veterinary field, I try not to judge what others are willing or able to spend as long as the animal is treated with respect and kindness.  And sometimes it is the hardest decision that is the best for all concerned.

02 Aug 2013 4:48 PM
By a long nose

Deltalady, let me clue you in on something honey: Steve Haskin is not 1/10th the reporter that Tom LaMarra is. Tom writes all the nitty-gritty, dirty industry articles that nobody else at Blood-Horse wants to and actually goes to important forums, meetings and hearings while Steve Haskin sits at his house and writes lovey dovey stories that women like you eat up and cry over. He's not a reporter, he's a story-teller.

You're clueless about what it takes to be a real reporter.

03 Aug 2013 12:09 AM
Pedigree Ann


What you are describing are North American slaughter facilities and methods, which I have already condemned. Do you have private knowledge of how things are conducted in Sweden and Japan, or are you making the 'arrogant' assumption that all countries conduct the process exactly the same way as we do in the U.S.?

04 Aug 2013 9:25 AM

RajahsMom, AMEN. You said it, I totally agree with you. I live in an area where vets will not euthanize your dog unless he or she is suffering from illness, is vicious, or extremely old and having health issues. If you can't keep your dog for any other reason, you better find it a home because you are responsible for your pet. Thoroughbred owners should assume that same level of responsibility. Slaughter is NOT in any way, shape or form, a humane death for horses. It's not an answer for anything. How unfortunate so many people just don't get that.

04 Aug 2013 10:02 AM

DynaKing should have been put down from the get-go and every horseman knows it.  The money that was wasted trying to "save him" could have actually done many other horses good.

To say that Monzante should have been quarantined by the stewards overnight until an investigation was done illustrates [in neon] the point that most of the people that comment on such tragedies have no idea that of which they speak.  Why in God's name would you quarantine a horse for the night who suffered such an injury when the right thing to do is humanely euthanize?

04 Aug 2013 10:38 AM
Kelly Haggerty

I think this situation has brought a lot of good information to light.  The industry could benefit from an education program internally that helps participants understand the importance of public perception, and how those perceptions have shifted.  

I grew up in a farming community and used to purchase horses from a slaughter sale where cattle, horses, and hogs were sold side by side.  The horses were viewed as livestock, and no one cried for them any more than they cried for the hogs. That is no longer the prevailing mentality.  This shift matters, as we cannot have a sport if we alienate the public.

I care a great deal about my racehorse.  I check her weekly, I scrutinize her vet records, I chose a trainer with a "horses first" reputation and made my standards clear to her.  I employ the "Starbucks/Whole Foods Test" where I don't allow anything to happen that I wouldn't want to explain in those forums.  Still, I frequently question whether I can stay involved in the sport due to repercussions in my professional life caused by the increasingly negative public perception of racing.  We need to understand this, and we need to get on it immediately.

04 Aug 2013 11:54 AM

Angela, was given a quality of life and a chance to fight to live, moreso than he was scrounging around in the desert his owner left him in! He gained two years of love and companionship that he wouldn't have had dying in a desert starving and alone. Yes, quarantine/stabilize the horse at the track. If he was stable enough for the trainer to van him off to some vet, he was stable enough to stay at the track where there was a vet already there. If he was that in dire straits, the track vet would have euthanized him right on the track. It also would have allowed the track time enough to run the proper bloodtests to have found the illegal drugs that were (and I believe there were) in the horse's system. To run a horse to death and then try to hide it is evil, this horse should never had been raced, and you can support those lowlife trainers all you want, but the fact is he was wrong and the truth is in the pudding. This is not his first time at the rodeo, so to speak, but I hope it will be his last if any of the racetracks have the guts to ban him until he cleans up his act. Not just him but all trainers/owners that race these horses into the ground and then expect no one to notice. For those who do right by their horses have nothing to worry about but those who don't need to lose their licenses at any legitimate venue.

05 Aug 2013 11:41 PM

Pedigree Ann, I don't have any first hand knowledge of how slaughter houses operate in Sweden and Japan. I could however write a book on the horrors of animal abuse in China. Does that count? Too bad we can't ask Ferdinand if the Japanese meat packers treated him kindly before they eviscerated him. To assume that there is such a thing as a pleasant humane slaughterhouse on some distant shore is absurd. If your comment was intended to be funny, it wasn't. Many of us take the subject of horse slaughter seriously.                  

06 Aug 2013 9:28 AM

I still do not see any good .... a graded I stakes winner is injured, the vets say he can be saved and he is killed anyway ... I see the bad and nothing else .. I see greed for money ... I do not see the realization that horses are NOT objects but feel pain like humans ... I am sick with cases like this ... disgrace to the so called human race !

06 Aug 2013 12:39 PM
Sandy McDonald

Wow, some excellent points have been made. Collecting funds along a horse's career is a great idea, ending the drug use is essential. Just these two things would be a good start toward the many problems racing faces today. All the contributors to the blog really said a lot and made important points. As most people said, "we have to do something now". We really do.


09 Aug 2013 11:30 PM

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