On the surface, the recent suspension of a Pennsylvania trainer for failing to provide proper care for one of his charges reads like the racing industry taking care of business – policing and punishing a delinquent. Looks good to the masses. Racing cares and will not tolerate abuse. Then you dig a bit deeper. The story, as relayed in the Paulick Report, is that trainer/owner Mario Rodriguez left 6-year-old Silent Ruler in his stall with a broken leg – for almost an entire month. Imagine that.
According to the article, on September 24, Kathryn Papp, veterinarian, happened upon Silent Ruler while guiding a track visitor who was there to possibly adopt the gelding. Here, in Papp’s words, is what they found:
“From the outside of the stall you could easily see that the horse’s nostrils were flaring, he had a very worried look in his eyes and was covered in drying sweat. He was mostly non-weight-bearing on his right front swollen ankle and was holding it up off the ground. When he attempted to move around his stall he would rock back onto his hind legs, squat down and skip his front end over without using that right front limb at all. The left front limb looked sore and over-taxed.”
Radiographs would eventually confirm that the horse had “a break in the right front sesamoid with multiple fragments pulled away from the bone.” It was obvious to all that Silent Ruler was “in distress,” and, another vet confirmed, “needed immediate treatment or euthanasia.” Bad, by any measure.
Apparently, the CANTER listing said that Silent Ruler “was recently injured in a race” but that “no diagnostics have been completed.” Indeed, SR had been added to the vet’s list after finishing second-to-last (15+ back) in a $4,000 claiming at Penn National August 26. It was at that point that Rodriguez, a bottom-feeder trainer running cheap horses in cheap races at cheap tracks, wanted to be rid of him. But instead of finding the extent of the injury and administering (serious) palliative care, he simply stuck him in his stall and waited for a taker. For this, for leaving this animal (alone, mind you) in pain, in suffering – in, surely, terror – for weeks, this obscenity of a human being got 45 days (less than that actually, as it’s calendar, not racing, days) and a $500 fine. A wristslap for cruelty of the worst order. Good on you, Pennsylvania Racing.
(I would say appeal directly to the AG on this, but the relevant Pennsylvania “Cruelty to Animals” statute, which encompasses exactly what Rodriguez did here – “a person commits an offense if he wantonly or cruelly illtreats…otherwise abuses…or neglects any animal as to which he has a duty of care…or deprives any animal of necessary veterinary care” – falls in the lowest class of crimes, a “summary offense” – on a par, I kid you not, with failing to return a library book and “illegal use of shopping carts.”)
(full Paulick article, with pictures)