Steve Asmussen and Scott Blasi Are Horseracing

For four months last year, PETA had an undercover investigator working for highly successful trainer Steve Asmussen – at Churchill Downs and Saratoga Race Course, no less. What follows are some of the investigation’s highlights:

Trainer Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s top lieutenant: “Fuck these horses. These motherfuckers. They’ll fucking break your fucking heart every fucking day, these cocksuckers. There’s always something wrong with ’em.”

“You ought to see these limping motherfuckers I see this son [of] a bitch out here [Saratoga] jogging every day.”

“You could not believe how many [horses] they hurt and kill before they ever even get to the racetrack.”

Farrier working on 5-year-old Nehro, one of Asmussen’s charges: “That’s all missing! His foot is a little bitty nub. …he lost Z-bars on both feet multiple times until he had bloody holes in the bottom of his feet.”

“He doesn’t even have a pulse in this one, and he’s barely got one in the… Stick your thumb in there. Right there in that frog. …No, it’s been like that for three months…it rotted.” Blasi: “…listen…I know the fucker hurts.” Farrier: “Let me show you this hole. This is treacherous. We’ve tried superglue in that hole.”

Blasi, to Nehro: “Quit being such an asshole. …Aggravating son of a bitch.” A few days after this exchange, Nehro died of colic. Blasi: “I have seen a lot of shit. That is the most violent fucking death I have ever seen.”

Track veterinarian James Hunt on Lasix: “It makes them lighter. …it’s a performance enhancer.”

Blasi on “shockwave therapy,” which is used to deaden pain: “It fucking hurts like hell. I can’t believe them fucking sons a bitches can take it.”

Blasi on electric shockers, which are used to “motivate” horses during a race: “I’d tell [jockey Ricardo Santana Jr], ‘You got the maquina [shocker]?’ ‘Boss, I got the maquina.'”

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens: “So, long story short, I win the race…and I reach over to pull this off, and I, I shock the shit out of myself [audible laughing around the table].”

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “Well, we used to go behind the gate at Ruidoso. And it was just like it was a full-blown orchestra. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Everybody had one. Everybody had one.”

Blasi, after losing an underperformer – a “rat” – to a claim: “I could just do a fucking cartwheel right now.”

To the New York and Kentucky commissions who have begun investigations, spare us the false outrage. This is the racing you know, and have always known; embarrassment does not equate to caring. The truth is, you and your entire industry are every bit as corrupt as Steve Asmussen and Scott Blasi. To Nehro and the other victims, we are sorry. But know this, we will not rest until this whole vile house of cards comes crumbling down.

Asmussen and his fellow revelers…

photo credit: Matthew Stockman
photo credit: Matthew Stockman

20 Comments

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  1. Totally agree with most of you post. One thing that may be a little misleading with the original video is the discussion about the pulse in the foot. The first thing you do if you feel a horse’s foot is bothering them is feel the hoof for heat. They will be hot, sometimes one more then the other. Secondly you feel for the pulse if the foot. Stronger the pulse the more likely there is an issue with the foot. So saying there is no pulse in one and just a little in the other is a good thing.<< (Typically) Him saying there is no pulse does not mean there is not blood flow to the foot simply that the foot is not throbbing. If the blood flow was cut off the appendage would more than likely fall off. There will always be a pulse in the foot if it is getting blood. Saying there is no pulse in the foot is horse lingo meaning, there is not a strong throb and is a good thing…

    I believe the blacksmith was one of the only people on the video that was worried for the horse. To me he was telling them they needed to stop. Others may view his words differently.

    As a whole it is a travesty.

  2. Yes it is a travesty and mostly recorded at what is considered to be one of America’s premier tracks, Saratoga. Horse racing sites are lighting up discussing the issue and very few people are finding ways to sweep this away. I applaud PETA for their efforts. Mr. Ahmed Zayat, a leading Thoroughbred owner, and the owner of the deceased Nehro has scratched all his horses trained by Steve Asmussen entered in races for this weekend. He is going to be investigating the issues surrounding Nehro’s health and his most horrible death from colic. No one outside of the training staff and those who provided services to them, seems to have been aware of the deplorable state of Nehro’s hooves/feet. Laminitis and colic (of which Nehro died) are interrelated diseases.

    The NYRA is launching an investigation into the incidents under their Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Scott E. Palmer, who was recently appointed in January.

    My most personal crusade, to get levothyroxin, a powerful prescription thyroid medication, discontinued from being used as a “supplement” for euthyroid horses reared its ugly head again during this video. It now appears that Steve Asmussen is as guilty as Bob Baffert was in using this dangerous medication as though it were an herbal supplement. In my eyes, he is even more blameworthy than Baffert, because after the veterinary inquiry that occurred in the Spring of 2013 into seven deaths that occurred in Baffert’s barn at Hollywood Park, the only common compound that all horses were administered was levo, it was mildly implicated, and Baffert ceased using it. It’s dangerous: it disrupts normal metabolic processes in a euthyroid individual, and causes rapid heart rate, weight loss and most damaging for Thoroughbreds, leaches calcium out of bones at an accelerated rate.

    I won’t go into a tirade about it here. I have elsewhere to the point of bloviation, but the fact that Steve Asmussen must have read that inquiry and did NOTHING about discontinuing the use of levo in his barn after those findings I find to be criminal. (I can almost assuredly claim that Asmussen read that inquiry because almost ANYONE with an interest in horse racing from amateur punters to equine veterinarians read that inquiry. Its publication was as awaited as Breeder’s Cup Day.)

    The language displayed in that video was appalling and the attitudes expressed even more so. No one who cares for horses could watch that and not be incensed to the point of apoplexy. Sadly most of what was presented in the nine and a half minute video (outside of the undocumented worker discussion) was legal. This is what made it all the more disturbing. That is the true crime of horse racing.

    • The fact that the use of levothyroxine as a “supplement” is legal illustrates a glaring question here and that is, who decides what is legal and what is not, and on what basis.? As stated this is a dangerous drug and it’s misuse kills. In the “human” world, it can only be obtained by rx and the same with Lasix. The latter is absurdly abused in the industry and, as you know, can cause undesirable side effects as well as disrupting the electrolyte balance and depleting calcium.
      All these drugs being “legal” just highlights the focus on winning and money. They are considered performance enhancing and that is what counts. There is a total lack of ethics at all levels in this business but the horses are the ones that suffer and die because of this. What a shame.

    • My doctor takes the pulse in my feet because I am diabetic and have nerve damage in both feet to just below my knees. Both legs and feet are numb. When there is no longer a pulse, being unable to heal in that area will then happen and they will have to amputate the limbs if they are injured in any way, they will start to die off from the inside to outward. Therefore, I am sure that it is not a good thing that there was no pulse in Nerho’s foot.

      Has anyone else seen a horse die from colic? The horse will implode. Thats probably what Blasi was referring to when he said he had never seen a death as violent as Nehro’s death was. It was not Laminitis that killed him it was the colic and all the pain he was in before they could put him down.

      Horses on Lasix can become dehydrated, heat stroke or the combination of both. Dehydration is severe fluid loss through sweating and urination. If the water is not replenished sodium and potassium rise to toxic levels resulting in cramping, nausea, headache and finally a coma. For every 1 hour of walking in the heat of the day, a human can sweat off 1 to 2 quarts of fluid. Imagine how much a horse will sweat off in an hour of walking, training, racing. Symptoms are excessive thirst, dizziness, nausea and they will lose strength, pass out and the little fluid that is left in their body is being diverted to their vital organs. If only the horse could tell you how thirsty he is, if only the owner, trainer, or jockey would lead their horse to water, he would drink. How many more youngsters have to die before its realized that Lasix will lead to dehydration, high sodium and potassium levels can cause cramping of the muscles, and what is the heart? The largest muscle in your body, hence heart attack, death. This is a death sentence to your Thoroughbred racing horse, hence your cash cow. As Patrick would say, this is horseracing.

  3. I’ve been saying it for three years, and asked PETA for help when Bruce Levine and Dr. Hunt drug abused and broke down my horse Bourbon Bandit. It fell on deaf ears. Glad they finally took a trainer task, sad for all the horses….who owns Nehro?

    • Zayat owned Nehro. I’m very sorry to hear about your horse Bourbon Bandit. I hope you find all the answers you’re looking for. There are so many questions with this sport. A friend is keeping her horse at a stable near San Diego. The owner keeps bothering her about turning her pleasure riding thoroughbred mare into a brood mare to have a “little race horse”. She wants no part of it, and is getting her mare out of there. It’s not a big place, just a boarding stable, but it’s like the guy there wants to take the foal when it’s born. It’s odd. Her mare is an unraced AP Indy daughter.

  4. For all that you are doing to give justice to abused horses, heartfelt gratitude. Surely you are the Apple of God’s eye for the work that you are doing on behalf of thoroughbreds. Love and blessings.

    Sharon

    On Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 9:33 AM, Horseracing Wrongs wrote:

    > Patrick J Battuello posted: “For four months last year, PETA had an > undercover investigator working for highly successful trainer Steve > Asmussen – at Churchill Downs and Saratoga Race Course, no less. What > follows are some of the investigation’s highlights: Trainer Scott Blasi, > As”

  5. One thing…I’ve been watching, reading about, voicing concerns about Asmussen for years…as I’m certain others have, as well…I’m not the only one who knew this guy was scum in an expensive suit. In fact, it’s actually comical, but my questioning Asmussen brought about my banishment from the Alex Brown site…Brown worked for the abuser and didn’t want anyone questioning the ethics of his boss. But where there is smoke, there has got to be fire.
    That being said, back to the one thing: I see these two finding themselves employed in a casino, doing whatever minimum-wage employees do in a casino. And before they are banished from coming within a mile of all equines, I wish for several well-placed kicks from a really big horse. I can dream.

    • Amen, Joy.

      Unfortunately, there are many Asmussens out there. However, this is a start and maybe it will result in some REAL problems for this business. Perhaps there is something to the concept of universal justice ! I sure hope so.

    • Stevens is going to ride Candy Boy in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. For Candy Boy’s sake, I hope this “thief” and yes I agree with the term, doesn’t pull any hideous tricks on this beautiful horse, When Steven’s was riding in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies, it looked as though he was blocking Secret Compass. Someone had her squeezed, then she was too close to the rail and broke down. The race haunts me, I can barely watch it. Then She’s A Tiger was disqualified. The race took the life of an amazing filly, RIP Secret Compass. The race was a disaster. Ria Antonia has disappeared, off the radar. I was looking for new information online about her and have found none. Gary Stevens does the “nice guy” act, makes me sick. He puts on an air of a wonderful wholesome human being,,,,not!

  6. What is the latest on Asmussen? I know he fired Blasi, but is there any other news? Have others other than Zayat pulled their horses from Asmussen?
    Thank you :)

  7. He is an idiot and should be ran out of the sport, I believe the sport is dirty for sure. All for the sake of money not the love of the horses.

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