Shedrow Secrets: Storming – From “Pampered” to Dumped to Dead

The following is our latest installment of “Shedrow Secrets” – first-hand accounts from the heroes who work tirelessly to save Racing’s broken bodies.

Shedrow Secrets

Shedrow Secrets

Storming
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.

17 Comments

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  1. I’m so sorry for you, Storming. I hope you’re now resting in peace. I was so hoping he was going to be saved as I read this article. To the person who let you suffer for two weeks, I hope you someday experience the same. You won’t be euthanized like the horse you “trained,” but hopefully you WILL someday experience the same.

  2. This just breaks my heart, such suffering Storming endured. Every person who had a part to play in this poor horse’s demise needs to read this. And may each of those person’s get what is coming to them for what they’ve done.

  3. Hi Patrick, Barbara Charon told me that a horse trained by Jason Dacosta had a fatal breakdown this morning at tbd.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. Sadly, Storming is a common experience for many racehorses. By the way, thanks Joy for sharing this story that sums up what this industry is all about: dumping when no longer profitable. That dumping could be at a kill auction, abusive home or just standing in their stall suffering like Storming did.
    Unaccountability is the key characteristic trait in this industry. Unaccountability to the racehorses that they breed when no longer profitable, unaccountability to the wagering public, and unaccountability to their funding sources whether taxpayers, government or casinos.
    One of the many things that absolutely infuriates me is that Owners like Padua who spend exorbitant amounts of money (in this case 290K) are NOWHERE to be found when people like Joy, Mary, Nancy and the army of anonymous rescuers have to raise funds (not easy to do) in order to take care of these dumped horses by multimillionaires like Padua. Even when I have contacted some of these owners or their farm staff directly they refuse to send even ONE DIME!
    They are pathetic people who make me sick.
    Storming exposes this industry for what it is.
    Now I’m going to provide another by-product of this pathetic industry.
    The richest farms in the industry have prolific breeding programs. Many farms never divulge the large number of foals who are born with deformities which, for the large part, are a direct result of inbreeding bloodlines. The deformities are usually conformational. Some deformities are minimal, but enough for the farm to reject the foal since these rich farms can cherry pick only the best. That means the best bloodlines, the best mating, and the best conformation. Most farms just have them humanely euthanized. Sort of like male chicks for the chicken livestock industry. They are grinded up within hours of life. In the end, they are killed because they are not usable for their respective industry.
    A person I know (name withheld) was a manager for one of the Sheiks farms in Lexington, KY. This farm had a standing policy to euthanize any foals with conformational defects who are, more than likely, not able to withstand training, and racing. By the way, this is standard operating procedure for many large breeding farms. Another dirty little secret.
    Anyways, my friend requested and got permission from the Sheik to offer these foals, privately, to small time Owner/Trainers who could never afford the regal breeding of these foals.
    When I was actively involved in the industry I was invited to take a look at these “reject” foals. At the time, I didn’t know the full scope and implications of what was going on.
    Their prices ranged from $500 to $1000 corresponding with the deformity. I was faxed the breeding on the foals that I was going to look at. The breeding alone would dictate a $500,000+ price tag at Keeneland.
    As I stood outside of the barn, they were paraded out one by one. Every foal had regal breeding, but conformational defects from one leg shorter than the other to parrot mouth to one leg turned out really bad. The defects were not something I could take on even with their breeding as they would never survive the rigors of training let alone racing. It was so sad.
    I was reminded that I was their last hope because they would be euthanized that afternoon. There were 12 in total both fillies and colts.
    Come to find out that this happened every year, that with the amount of foals they bred (about 200) approximately 1-5% were born with defects, and this was just one farm!
    So I was exposed to another secret of this industry. I have never told this story until now only because I wanted so badly for these foals to have a chance at life, but nobody wanted them.
    They were disposable by-products of the industry like most are.
    This is the dirty world of horse racing.

    • I’ve not heard of this, Gina, but I am not the least bit surprised by it. They throw them away when they’re old, they throw them away when they’ve just reached an equine’s prime age,and they throw them away when they are only 2 or 3 or 4 years old – why wouldn’t they throw babies away? I can’t imagine watching them being led out, their lives at stake as each person in attendance looked at them and then away.

  5. Thank you, Joy and Gina, for sharing these sad stories. Allowing Storming to suffer for almost 2 weeks is criminal. The callousness of this industry knows no bounds and the lack of accountability is astounding.

    And as you pointed out, Gina, the connections are glaringly absent when a horse is in dire need. Even the “good people” are missing. It is now anybody’s problem but those in the business. .

  6. Exactly Rose. Not only do these people have the financing to help out, but plenty of empty, grassy paddocks in Lexington sitting there looking pretty. It would be no sweat for them to trailer the horse onto their farm and put them in a paddock. The last time I was in Lexington I was astonished at the number of empty paddocks.
    However, their goal is the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders Cup, and the associated stake races prior to this goal. When it’s evident that the racehorse is not living up to their expectations, they are disposed of. Washing their hands of it is made so easy by the industry whose claiming ranks are anxiously awaiting another number to wager on.

  7. As we know, this is a prime example of the plight of horses once racing designates them “claimers”. The claiming game is the carbuncle on the fetid flesh of racing.

  8. It’s bad enough to knowingly eat meat after we are fully aware of how those poor animals are treated. It’s quite another to watch while these beautiful horses, time and time again, are abused and killed for money ( or is it the love of money). There are so many actions that the owners, trainers, jockeys, and anyone who work with the horses and contribute to their demise. should be held criminally accountable.

  9. I’m so upset over the downfall of JU JITSU JAX. Please anybody look at this poor horse’s demise from this heartless industry. This racehorse made almost $700,000!! His downward spiral into the claiming ranks ensued. The PP’s showing a probably very sore and lame horse still running as if $700,000 wasn’t enough, but in this cruel industry anything is possible. There is no bottom bar.
    His biggest downfall is his putrid, heartless, idiot Owner Bruno Schickedanz. This Owner has got to be one of the most abusive owners in the industry. How he continues to get licensed is beyond my comprehension.
    Let me refresh your memory: WAKE AT NOON. This horse made millions for this SOB. He was horse of the year in Canada, and a sweetheart of a horse. He was sore, and lame at the end of his career according to sources and was not retired (as the industry likes to say), but turned into a sperm bank for the industry. They call it Stallion or Stud Derby. I call it a sperm bank.
    WAKE AT NOON was not getting mares in foal. He was “shooting blanks” as they say. Very few mares got into foal so the story quickly spread and Bruno had a horse that was not making him any money, and had to be put into a pasture, fed, and taken care of. However, the millions that WAN made wasn’t enough to justify taking care of him so Bruno gets a great idea. He puts WAN back in training on his farm after the horse had been off the track for 2 years. Absolute scum bag.
    Most of us know the sad ending of WAKE AT NOON who was brought into the Woodbine Racetrack for his first official work, had a catastrophic breakdown (according to my sources from exercise riders he broke down on the same leg that always gave him issues), and was humanely euthanized.
    I watched Bruno’s tactics over the years and they are cruel, and abusive. First of all, he’s a known claimer. He looks for racehorses with back class, and he uses them until the lemon is squeezed dry. Despite the fact that he owns a farm north of Toronto, and a farm in Florida you will find very few of the claimers that he squeezed dry in those paddocks. You certainly won’t find many that has made him lots of money because they are either dumped or die on the track.
    He has violated multiple rules and regulations of the Ontario Racing Commission that would automatically necessitate a Suspension of his Owner license. Anytime he has been handed a suspension or fine it almost ALWAYS gets reversed or reduced. Bruno shows up with a team of high priced Ontario Lawyers to fight on his behalf at the Ontario Racing Commission. They always back down and either dismiss or reduce the violation allowing him to carry on the way he does.
    I’ve have been on the track for years, and I can tell you that I have witnessed licensees get fined or suspended for burping the wrong way.
    There is somebody powerful and/or influential behind this dude. There has to be. There’s NO WAY that he can get away with this. He must be a front for somebody influential in racing or politics. If he isn’t, he is one cruel heartless low life scum bag.
    He’s very rich. He develops high end residential communities north of Toronto with the average price of a home for $500,000 and up. He builds quality units evidently. I don’t care what he does, but I do witness what he does to racehorses.
    So poor JU JITSU JAX he’s in the hands of a monster! All these “good” folks of racing and not one of them steps up to the plate to give this racehorse a decent and well-deserved retirement.
    Ju Jitsu Jax was entered to race at Gulfstream the other day, and a serious handicapper who was a huge fan of this horse in his hey day called the racing office to complain about the horse being allowed to enter and run.
    It wasn’t the race office, not anybody in this industry, nor any “good” folks that called the race office? NO NO NO- it was a person who took pity on this poor horse that called and made sure the horse was scratched. Presently, his fate UNKNOWN.
    Poor JU JITSU JAX could be on his way to slaughter right now. I can tell you one thing he will not be on his way to one of Bruno’s paddocks, and even is he is that won’t last long.
    Based on Bruno’s past performances with his horses? He would probably slaughter them on his farm if he could, save him the money for transport to slaughter, and then probably sell them for meat.
    I feel so sorry for this horse. If I had the money I would be on a plane right now to Florida to get this horse, and I wouldn’t leave without him.
    I despise this industry so much. I can’t handle the cruelty and abuse. It’s downright despicable.
    Sadly, this is one story of many. This is the delightful world of horse racing.

    • I agree, Gina. I saw the story in the Paulick Report about Ju Jitsu Jax and was sickened that this 10-year-old horse was being brought back after 2 years-plus…his last race being in January of 2014 where he finished last of 8 (BTW, the article refers to JJJ as a gelding but Equibase has him listed as a horse). How ironic AND telling that the story about JJJ was told in the pro-racing PR with the title in part, “Let’s Protect Those That Can’t Protect Themselves”! Well, I guess admission BY the industry that the horses need protection FROM the industry in which they’re enslaved is a good start! But isn’t it absurd that Gulfstream PERMITTED JJJ’s two workouts AND his entry?!? Then, when the social media outcry that called for him to be scratched was successful, it was called “a good thing” in the article. Absolutely! – but the RIGHT THING would have been if JJJ was never worked nor entered in the first place!

      Also discussed in this article was the matter of another racehorse being returned to racing after a long absence. Judge Burns, a 2007 horse (and again, the article refers to JB as a gelding but Equibase has him as a horse), ran at Tampa Bay just last week (March 18) – his previous race was in August of 2011. That’s right, August of 2011 at Charles Town for owner/trainer George Parrish then NOTHING until early 2016. In his race on March 18, Judge Burns finished 5th of 7 for owner/breeder Patty Burns where he “did not factor”. The individual who was the focus of this article stated, regarding Judge Burns; “That horse did not need to race.” EUREKA! Now this individual is calling for directives as he “saw the lack of regulations for bringing horses back from prolonged layoffs as putting both horses’ and horse racing’s well-beings in jeopardy.” Well of course!…yet Tampa Bay never thought to have such regulations in place, did it.

      There were a couple of comments to the article that I’d like to mention. One, from Don Martello who states; “My question where does Judge Burns and Ju Jitsu [Jax] [go] from here? This is a persistent problem within the industry…”. Thank you, Mr. Martello, for pointing out this blatant negligence by the industry. Then a Mary Jo commented, in response to Mr. Martello; “Gulfstream Park helps support Florida TRAC and they take any horse that raced at Gulfstream or bred in Florida – no questions asked.” I would have loved to reply to Mary Jo but since I am banned on the Paulick Report and cannot, I’ll respond here…I sent more than one e-mail to Florida TRAC requesting help/placement for a mare with 86 starts in less than 4 years – I never even received a response.

      (http://www.paulickreport.com/features/aftercare-spotlight/lets-protect-those-that-cant-protect-themselves/)

      Sadly, Ju Jitsu Jax and Judge Burns are not unique. There’s a 2005 bay horse – Law Enforcement – that has had 5 workouts at Fonner since February. This 11-year-old last ran at Saratoga for Camelia Casby in 2012 where he finished last and “trailed throughout”. Law Enforcement is a MSW of over 458K. He’s done MORE than enough. Where is his protection?

  10. Thank you Joy. I’m banned from the Paulick Report as well. No worries. There will be comments submitted to his pro-horse racing blog in the near future. They can ban us, but there are many more behind us that will partake in this blog until they too are banned.
    Anyways, let’s examine the “good” folks of horse racing starting with, in my opinion, the biggest farce the industry has gladly touted: Frank Stronach. He is the biggest racetrack owner in the USA and while he portrays this image of caring, his racetracks has done little or nothing to implement measures that would have prevented the ongoing abuse of JJJ, and many others. He supposedly is close buddies with Bruno Schickendanz.
    Robert Cole, the original owner of JJJ who was the receiver of about $600,000+ while JJJ ran his fanny-off for this ungrateful piece of dirt. The Owner ultimate decides their racehorses fate. This Owner made a decision to drop down JJJ knowing full well the horse would get claimed. This idiot had a moral and financial obligation to ensure that this horse had a dignified retirement. So he is part of his downfall just like Bruno is.
    From the racing commissions, to the racetracks, to the owners, and the trainers this industry is a sorry excuse for the ongoing cruelty, abuse, maiming, and deaths of hundreds of thousands of racehorses.
    There is nothing protecting these racehorses when horses like JJJ, Judge Burns, Law Enforcement, and countless others become part of their abusive turbine.
    This industry is despicable. It needs to be shut down. It has no place in the 21st century.

  11. I am totally angry at “the connections” of Storming, mad, and the so called “trainer” …. those people should be dragged in front of a jury and pay (not only in Dollars) for their crimes. How can a so called “human being” leave a horse in that kind of a condition alone without treatment? Beyond anger !!!
    Stop this madness of horse racing!
    Even the “best” owner races his/ her horse and horses break down and die on the track, even well cared for horses !
    Would one put one’s spouse, child, parent to risks like that without their consent?
    STOP HORSE RACING. PERIOD.

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