The following is our latest installment of “Shedrow Secrets” – first-hand accounts from the heroes who work tirelessly to save Racing’s broken bodies.
by Joy Aten
I often read apologists’ claims that racehorses are treated like kings and queens. Surely they are referring to those that belong to the elite owners – racing’s royalty – and of the several names that come to mind, Satish Sanan is one. Sanan is the founder of Padua Stables, a breeding and racing stable based in Lexington, Kentucky. A look at their website will confirm the farm is magnificent and certainly their equines live in delightful surroundings. The pleasing environment aside, Padua Stables’ racehorses are like any other racehorses – to be bought and sold, used and discarded.
Storming, a 2002 colt, was purchased by Padua Stables for 290K at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. Under Todd Pletcher, Storming won his second time out at Aqueduct but had over a year off between his 3rd and 4th starts. Sanan sold the colt after just 6 races for Padua Stables – a private sale when no one claimed him for 25K at Calder in July of 2006.
13 months and 9 races later, the bay horse stood injured in a sparsely-bedded stall at a cheap Midwestern track. He had been shipped from Tampa Bay – where he’d been claimed for 5K – to race at Indiana Grand Race Course and finally at Great Lakes Downs in Michigan. In his 15th start, Storming ran in a 4K claiming race where he finished a “respectable” 6th out of 8. But the chart didn’t reveal the actual outcome for the 5-year-old horse…Storming had broken his leg during that final race.
I didn’t receive the trainer’s call to “come and pick up the horse” until nearly two weeks had passed. Storming’s pain was obvious – pointed front leg, reluctance to move, dull affect and glassy eyes. Immediately after taking legal possession of him for the rescue, we determined that the track vet needed to examine him before any decisions about transport to, and possible treatment at, Michigan State University could be made. That decision saved Storming from further suffering…just asking him to take a step, he threw his head in the air – eyes wide and worried – in a desperate attempt to minimize the weight on his injured limb. The x-ray disclosed a severe and irreparable fracture – Storming was euthanized within the hour.
Storming’s palatial residence as a Padua Stables-owned racehorse less than 5 years earlier was long forgotten that August day. He had suffered. He had suffered immensely and needlessly. At the end, he was a suffering, broken horse…with no semblance of a king.