The Abuse of Floating Ballerino: Raced on Consecutive Days

There are some who hold that certain racing staples – drugging, whipping – are prosecutable offenses under state animal-cruelty statutes. Alas, we’re not holding our collective breath. Still, occasionally something comes along that is so egregious it practically begs for an arrest. Irish-born 3-year-old Floating Ballerino was raced Wednesday at Delaware Park. He “broke a step slowly…showed little” and finished last. The very next day – yes, the next day – he was forced onto the track again – in another state (Laurel in Maryland), no less. Two races in two days in two states.

Since Maryland was the second venue, let’s look at its relevant laws:

“A person may not: (1) overdrive or overload an animal; (3) inflict unnecessary suffering or pain on an animal.”

“A person may not: (3) commit an act that tends to interfere with, injure, destroy, or tamper with a horse used for racing…”

Anyone in the Maryland Attorney General’s office listening? The trainer’s name is Janet Elliot; the owner is Gregory Hawkins. Act like you care.

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      • Patrick, Before I send the email I want to get your approval of using your article and submitting it as an email. See below, is it okay to use it?

        The Abuse of Floating Ballerino: Raced on Consecutive Days

        3-year-old Floating Ballerino was raced Wednesday at Delaware Park. He “broke a step slowly…showed little” and finished last. The very next day he was forced onto the track again – in another state (Laurel in Maryland), no less. Two races in two days in two states.

        Since Maryland was the second venue, relevant laws apply:

        “A person may not: (1) overdrive or overload an animal; (3) inflict unnecessary suffering or pain on an animal.”

        “A person may not: (3) commit an act that tends to interfere with, injure, destroy, or tamper with a horse used for racing…”

        The trainer’s name is Janet Elliot; the owner is Gregory Hawkins. Please see the abuse of Floating Balleroni and prosecute trainer Janet Elliot and owner Gregory Hawkins. Thanking you in advance for your attention to this matter.

        A Concerned Citizen,

        Carolyn Hyatt
        430 Meadowlands Drive
        Morehead, Kentucky 40351
        313-421-6812
        carolyn.hyatt@yahoo.com

  1. Like any good athlete performer, human or equine, there has to be rest and rejuvenation time or the performer will not perform well and risks injury! I am not telling you anything not already known. The racing business is vicious and cruel. There is a lot of what is called wastage!! How can this go on and be supported? What can be done? Horses cannot speak for themselves, they are at the mercy of their trainers and owners who try to continually squeeze every possible dollar out of them until they are ready for the knackers!
    Patrick, thank you for your efforts. It is an uphill battle.
    Ouisa

  2. We see racehorses mistreated in this manner in Australia as well. Several times my colleague and I have attended the racetrack and marched into the Chief Stewards office with a letter stating our reasons why a particular horse should be scratched from their race or retired from racing due to overuse and risk if injury. We have been successful in helping horses but of course it is criminal neglect on the part of racing administrators who are loathe to stand over the trainers and owners.

  3. Good evening. I took a look at both races. I looked at them critically and looked multiple times. I missed the abuse. The first race, R2 9/10/14 at DEL looked fine. The horse broke with the field and was out run in six jumps. Not unusual. The horse was not batted by the jockey during the ride. Near the end of the race, he was ‘wrapped up’ meaning the animal was not physically extended. It looked like a ‘public workout’. The Laurel race, R7 the next day was more of an effort by the horse. Again, the horse broke in the same manner, ran last up the backstretch, made up ground on the turn and continued with urging to the wire. He just missed coming in second. Ms. Janet Elliot is one of the most respected trainers in N. America. If someone wants to make hay, may I suggest you send a representative to Ms. Elliot’s barn and ask about the horse. Until then what you have is a thinly veiled slander. Horse abuse is a serious matter. You should treat it more seriously if you expect the public to take you at your word.

    • Mr. Lally…what could we expect this “most-respected” trainer to say about the fact that she ran this youngster back in less than 24 hours?…not only that, but the three-year-old needed to be shipped in order to do that? Talk about stress. It’s a well-known fact that horses go off their feed after a race…trainers love to talk it up after a race, trying to convince everyone that their horse has recovered by exclaiming “they cleaned up their feed bucket this morning!” Yes, I’m sure asking about the horse would get us the facts. Who are you kidding…

      • Shipping stress?? This horse was born in Ireland, raced 7 different tracks in England, shipped via airplane to the US, and raced at 4 different tracks in four different states here. I would have to believe if you turned him loose anywhere near a trailer he would load himself. He is trained off the track so every start is a shipping start. Travel should not be an issue.

        “It is a well known fact horses go off their feed after a race”. Not totally true. You are generalizing. Horses are individuals, to say ALL horses go off their feed is kind of like saying all dogs bite. I have known many horses to come out if a race sharper then they went in. This horse running its best race since coming to this country the day after running another race could be an example of such a horse.

        Even though I would not recommend it there have been 3 yos to run consecutive days where they would run bad the first time and win the next day.

        Should you run your horse twice in two days?? Probably not. Is the Attorney General going to get involved?? NO…

      • AC2, I’m not referring to psychological stress, but rather physiological stress. And regardless of how accustomed a horse is to trailering/shipping, the physiological stress is going to occur. Increased heart rate, increased cortisol production, muscular fatigue, sweating – even minimal – leading to slight to moderate dehydration, and altered respiratory/pulmonary function all put the horse in a potentially physically compromised condition. Most equine experts who have the horse’s welfare at heart suggest not having the horse perform/compete within 48 hours of shipping. Of course, as we both know, racing trainers do it all the time.

    • Christopher, just because this horse survived this unacceptable physical and psychological task does not mean that all is well with the horse. Raced twice within 24 hours, as Patrick refers to, appears to be in breach of Maryland’s relevant laws. Forcing this horse to compete in two races in this time frame just goes to show the extremes a “respected” trainer and connections will go to in the hope of winning one of the two races – an unconscionable act. They took a great risk with this horse suffering a serious injury or death. Absolutely disgusting!

  4. This is a most egregious example of despicable training the Racing Secretary, the Stewards and the entire backstretch community should be enraged by. Running plus shipping a horse 2 days in a row is ruthless. OUTRAGEOUS that the state prosecutor has not filed charges…and by the way, if she was using the race as a public work-out that violates public trust, what about the bettors who put down their cash expecting a fair run for their money? Also, it is a well known fact that horses have stinging hooves after racing…that’s why trainers pack them with mud to alleviate sting and heat.

  5. +1. If she was running the horse for a “public workout,” that is illegal and she likely would not be welcomed back to Delaware any time soon. Obviously the stewards surely thought she would scratch out of LRL and then didn’t. If I was a steward, I would be having a conversation with the HOFer.

  6. Ive seen a lot of laughable posts and replies on here before, but these calls to the Maryland AG may take the cake. All you people are doing on this website is trying to boost your own self-worth, making yourselves think you stand for a worthy cause.

    Give it up already. The people who run the Jockey Club and other organizations are billionaire elitists, the same families and people who run the government, and world. If they want to race their horses, they are going to to it, and no average Joe sitting at home complaining is going to do anything to stop them. Also, there is nothing illegal about racing a horse two days in a row, or use of the whip during a race. I’m sure none of you were spanked as children, and have never seen a horse get injured or die doing anything other than racing!

    I’m also sure that none of you eat chicken, beef, pork, cheese, milk, yogurt, butter etc.. as all of these foods are produced by way of “abuse,” thus making every supporter of this blog a true hypocrite. Also, if there was no market in the world for horse meat, which many cultures around the world consider a delicacy, then there would be no horse slaughter. Same with cows, pigs, chickens, or any other animal used for their meat. Reality is, there are 7 billion people and counting on the planet, and slaughter, or abuse, is required to be able to feed them.

    I hope all the hate you people display towards others with differing viewpoints brings you much satisfaction.

    • “Laughable” (yet another from the other side who lacks the courage to publicly identify himself/herself), the following is ignorance: “Reality is, there are 7 billion people and counting on the planet, and slaughter, or abuse, is required to be able to feed them.” A vegan world would be far more efficient and environmentally friendly than the current meat-centered model. Period. (http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm)

      • Good luck getting human beings to stop eating meat, something we’re genetically wired to consume and that the human body needs for proper growth and development. Aside from that, people truly enjoy all kinds of meat, including horse. Getting the world to eat vegan is even more outrageous than trying to put an end to horse racing! Bot lost causes. There are many things happening in the world to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of HUMANS that are much more egregious than horses dying on the racetrack, or any animal “abuse” (a term used quite liberally here) for that matter.

    • Laughable, your comments are not very original, in fact they are old and tired.
      Those opposed to change are those who profit directly or indirectly from the status quo.

      • We humans are capable of the most diabolical forms of cruelty. In horseracing that sad flaw of human nature is to be seen day after day at the tracks and in other areas of this gambling business. Cruelty should be abhorred and never accepted no matter what species is on the receiving end. To rationalize any cruelty because there are worse forms is dangerous. It is the proverbial slippery slope.

      • I am in awe of Rose’s comments, the truth she has stated triumphs. The participants in the racing industry continue to attempt to defend the indefensible. The unacceptable cruelty inflicted upon these horses all for the purpose of “entertainment” and gambling is being exposed to the chagrin of the racing industry.

  7. I was a groom in the late 1980’s at Suffolk Downs, not exactly a top tier track. The trainer I work for would never have done that, even with the cheapest horses in the barn. A horse always got 3 days off after a race. I can remember our assistant trainer being disgusted when the trainer ran a horse back only a week later. I guess this trainer went to another track since I would think a racing secretary would otherwise not allow it, nor would a good jock want to ride it back the next day, and people would talk. Even looking at this from a crass betting perspective…why would anyone bet a horse running back the next day, anyway? How would you handicap that? But what do I know, I’ve been off the track for years because I just can’t stomach what it does to horses anymore.

    Just so sad that anyone would put a horse through that. Although I saw enough bad things behind the scenes to not be too surprised by this.

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