A Tale of Two Horses

Saturday night at Penn National, 7-year-old Strapping Groom (below) was reported as “broke down after the wire” and vanned off. Initially, there were conflicting reports on his status, but because this was a successful horse (multiple GS winner) breaking in a substantial race ($200,000), the Daily Racing Form saw fit to offer an update: “Strapping Groom, the winner of the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga in 2013, suffered a broken bone behind his right knee and will not race again, but he could have a career as a stallion, trainer David Jacobson said Sunday.”

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Now, here’s what I see: Had Strapping Groom been a claimer in a cheaper run, not only would there have been zero coverage in the DRF (or anywhere else), but in all likelihood he’d no longer be with us. And as misfortune would have it, on this, we have an easy compare and contrast: The day before, another Jacobson horse was vanned off a racetrack – 9-year-old Cherokee Artist in an Aqueduct claiming race. Cherokee Artist is dead. Perhaps his injury was worse, but then again, perhaps not. To me, it seems at least equally probable that this pair’s respective fates were decided by relative stud value. Would that surprise any regular readers of this site?

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  1. Sadly, money is their God for so many of the trainers and owners and their hearts are shut down to the reality that these magnificent horses deserve so much better than this horrible ordeal of being forced to run for their life.

  2. Of course not, Patrick! This “sport” called horseracing is all about the money. Anyone with minimal intelligence should know that. Let’s drool over Zenyatta but forget about Marsella Delight and Miss Fancy Gold, The industry disgusts me more with each passing day. I hope I live long enough to see it go “belly up”.

    • Yes, it is ALL about the money and some of these so called trainers are making a lot of it while they run the horses into the ground.

      Jacobson claimed Strapping Groom in May 2013 for $35,000. As reported, the horse won several graded stakes, including a grade1. This is a high profile horse. To date, Jacobson has made around $750,000 with this horse. The only reason this horse has not been euthanized is because of the possibility of sending him to the breeding shed for more money. And of course, he is well known, so perhaps fans are watching !

  3. Hopefully Strapping Groom is fertile and a successful stud, or he too will be discarded like yesterdays garbage. It is my understanding that the horses are not fertile while they are racing and/or on drugs such as Bute, is this true?

      • Oh absolutely it is, Patrick! I am SICKENED over the tragic and unnecessary death of Cherokee Artist…but Strapping Groom has exploitation yet to endure!

      • I guess I am wearing “rose colored glasses” thinking that going to stud is better than being euthanized now. I have hopes that a better life for Strapping Groom is to be found after racing and going to stud, perhaps a retirement farm as Old Friends farm.

    • Carolyn…I do understand where you are coming from, as well. We want so badly for these horses to survive their time in racing…if one suffers an injury, of course we want them to undergo the necessary treatment and rehab in order to live another day (that said, the “heroics” of countless plates and screws just so the horse can continue to crank out revenue, while he/she endures constant discomfort, is just torture…euthanasia is the only kind, humane, and SELFLESS act in that case).
      I have concern for any horse that remains enslaved in this industry…racing, breeding stallion, broodmare. All are disposable in the eyes of the racing industry.

  4. Does the industry really believe that this brutal business model of Horseracing is sustainable? Do they really think think they will never be accountable for their actions? What happened to all the veterinary summits and the recommendations from these summits in the USA. Here in Australia horses are mostly beloved companion animals but the industry is still controlled by wealthy insensitive and sexist patriarchal men who treat these magnificent animals as commodities. Women have virtually no say in how it is run, they are blatantly discriminated against. The traditional whipping practices are so old fashioned that they represent third world country animal cruelty practices. They survive due to the support of the politicians who benefit from gambling taxes and give the industry incredible dispensation from animal cruelty legislation. This brutal business model of Horseracing is therefore government sanctioned cruelty.

    Thankfully the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses is fighting hard for justice for thoroughbred racehorses, there has been incredible progress made at the recent Melbourne Cup carnival in Victoria in exposing the industry. At least 2 horses died after the Melbourne Cup. The industry has been forced to publicly defend itself in the media. Of course their defence was utterly dishonest and deceitful. Their industry practices are indefensible. I applaud you for your efforts to expose the industry in the USA. Maintain the rage.

  5. No, no surprise here. Maybe CA’s injury was not compatible with life, or maybe Jacobson didn’t feel the horse was worth the expense of putting him back together for the breeding shed. But whatever the reasoning for ending his life, this fact remains – Cherokee Artist is dead because this industry and its participants killed him. I saw a post by Barbara Livingston which included a photo of the beautiful dark bay (and very thin) Cherokee Artist from 2012, a few races after he had been claimed from Graham Motion. A Motion employee commented on Livingston’s post, bemoaning the dead CA had been a barn favorite…once again the contradiction in what these people SAY and what they DO is glaring. Motion had CA from 2008-2011, during which the colt made 623K…Cherokee Artist made over half a million for Motion and company, was a “barn favorite”, yet they SOLD him (via claim) for 25K on 2-24-12. Why can’t these people just be honest…just admit the horse is nothing more than a commodity to be bought and sold. A disposable tool in a gambling business. A worn deck of cards to be discarded. A means to an end. Cherokee Artist made nearly one million dollars – $909,515 to be exact. Just admit how satisfied you all are that he made a great deal of money for all of you. Admit it – it’s no surprise.

    • Joy Aten, I think that these people can’t be honest about what they do to these noble animals because they know that what they’re doing is wrong. By telling themselves that these horses love to run and were born to run makes them feel better about their job and lets them sleep better at night.
      These people can continue to lie to themselves but actions speak louder than words and if they claim that Cherokee Artist was a “barn favorite” then why did they let him go?

      • That is what I think as well, Tracey. To admit that horseracing is a business in which they have chosen to be employed, and the goal is to make money (which, of course, is the goal of anyone in their job), would also be an admission the horse is used to meet that goal. Not quite as “romantic” as their claims of being in this industry for the “love of the horse”, is it!
        You are spot on…to admit how this industry uses and abuses horses would also be an admission of having no compassion and concern for the horses enslaved in it.

      • AC2…you’ve been straightforward for the most part…I’m not going to claim recollection of everything you’ve said here, but I don’t recall you ever exclaiming being in this industry because of a love affair with the horses.

      • The effort to save the life of the horse depends on the “worth” of the horse, in monetary terms, of course. Nothing else matters in this game.

  6. Joy, maybe these people “can’t handle the truth” ( a great line from a movie starring Jack Nicholas). Of course, lying and pretense are a way of life in this business of animal exploitation and cruelty. Really, these people would be better off just to shut up instead of spewing nonsense.

    I cringe every time I see Jacobson has claimed another horse and he claims a lot, for himself, and for his Drawing Away Stable. I wonder if cameras were ever installed in his barn. What a joke !

    • …(laughing)…YES ROSE!…these people that claim their love for these horses then put a price on their heads – offered up to the likes of Jacobson, no less! – SHOULD just have a sock stuffed in their mouths before they have the opportunity to say something so moronic!

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