Shedrow Secrets: Flipping One of Racing’s Feel-Good Stories
by Mary Johnson

About a year and a half ago, Ms. Jen Roytz, a paid mouthpiece for the racing industry, wrote a Paulick Report Aftercare Spotlight “story” entitled “12 YEAR OLD BOY CLAIMS 12 YEAR OLD HORSE FOR RETIREMENT.” That horse was Good Credentials. I’m sure everyone is always up for a “feel-good story,” especially when it surrounds a 12-year-old horse getting his “retirement.” However, this “story” was a bit different because it venerated the boy’s parents, George Iacovacci and Kelly Spanabel. Frankly, I was horrified that this couple would be given the amount of praise depicted in the article. I reached out to Ms. Roytz and asked her how well she knew Iacovacci and Spanabel, and she quickly replied back that she didn’t know them personally at all. However, she had heard conflicting reports on them, including one from a close personal friend of hers. But she said the article focused on their son, and she didn’t feel that the negative publicity about the couple was relevant. “Relevant”? Read on.

I first met Iacovacci and his partner, jockey Kelly Spanabel, at Beulah Park well over twelve years ago. I can tell everyone that neither is quite as wonderful as depicted in the article. Everything I state here can be documented and none of it paints a pretty picture. All of the following were owned/trained by Iacovacci:

SUNDER BAY – Iacovacci raced him with a bowed tendon. 90% of the tendon and ligament was torn away from the bone. Joy Aten was involved in buying him from George and he was euthanized due to the severity of his injuries.

ONE HUNDRED LAUGHS – Iacovacci raced him three weeks before the horse was “rescued” and retired to a well-known farm in Kentucky. When he arrived at this farm, he was so weak and emaciated that he fell out of the trailer and the farm’s vet felt he might have to be euthanized. Again, he was raced three weeks prior to arriving at this farm. He did recover. His Shedrow Secrets story can be found here.

ACADEMY DANCER – I was asked by a CANTER coordinator to pick Dancer up at Beulah Park. When I arrived, Spanabel was babbling that the horse had “bruised” his shoulder in his last race. I brought AD into my barn and fostered him for a few days until Nancy Koch came down to Columbus and picked him up and hauled him back to Cleveland. Upon further evaluation, it was discovered that he was running with a fractured sesamoid. CANTER paid for his surgery and he was adopted out.

Academy Dancer

SAY YES DEAR – This horse was still in training when a group of us were able to “buy” him from Iacovacci. Since he was a Kentucky-bred, we were able to get him into the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. After 2 1/2 months of downtime, it was ultimately determined that Say Yes Dear should be euthanized due to the severity of his injuries.

WINDS OF LOVE – This horse had to be euthanized within two weeks of racing due to the complete breakdown of his ankles. His Shedrow story can be found here.

Three more Iacovacci horses who had to be euthanized due to the severity of their injuries: Buckflanker (according to one site, two fractured knees), Magic Conqueror and Whitmark. Whitmark’s knees were so bad he couldn’t lay down. Three more animals run into the ground. But who cares when there is a heartwarming story to be told. (Spanabel was the last jockey to ride five of the above eight horses.)

Now, I want to share a very personal story about the couple. About twelve years ago, I was contacted by the CANTER coordinator at Beulah, Chris Colflesh, and she told me that Iacovacci had two horses that he wanted to “get rid of.” If someone didn’t buy the horses, they would go to Sugarcreek. Of course, I decided to step up and buy both. Chris said that George wanted $1,000 for them, so I took $1,000 cash to the track and handed it over to Iacovacci. Both horses came home with me. Applejack was thin, lame and had patches of hair falling off his body. Harvey was thin with ribs visible.

Applejack
Harvey

Iacovacci told me that Harvey was a QuarterHorse, but he was actually a Thoroughbred by the name of Mister to You. Applejack was a Saddlebred. Although Iacovacci told me that they had been his grandkids’ horses and the children had outgrown them, I later discovered that both horses had been sent to an auction in Indiana when a mounted police force had been downsized. Three of the unit’s horses ended up at auction: Harvey, Applejack and a horse named Junior. I spoke to one of the officers who rode Harvey and reassured him that two of the three had landed in a really good place. No one knows what happened to Junior. Applejack was with me for a little over eight years and was humanely euthanized with me by his side and buried on my farm. Harvey went to the Cleveland area and was adopted into a good home.

You never have to incriminate the racing industry because they are perfectly capable of incriminating themselves. Below there are links to two Paulick Report articles. In them, you will read about Star Plus, a horse who was supposed to be retired from racing but instead ended up with Spanabel/Iacovacci. They ran him four times after it had been determined that he should never race again due to a “severe ankle injury.” Days before a hearing with WV racing officials, Spanabel, on her FB page, said that “Star Plus was being sold to overseas interests and that his racing career would continue [in Belize].”

Spanabel went on to say: “Good luck Star. He left this afternoon on his long journey out of the country. I hope they take care of you. Forced to send you where you can race and won’t be harassed.” Harassed? Can you imagine the audacity of these people? As it turned out, Spanabel was lying: SP had never left for Texas in order to be shipped out of the country. She and her partner had held Earle Mack, SP’s previous owner, hostage the same as George Iacovacci had done to me. The upshot here is that these are not good people, and that Jen Roytz needs a lesson in responsible journalism (this is not her first time appearing on this site). Oh, and the Paulick Report should look up the definition of ethical consistency.

“Saga of Star Plus: Doesn’t This Horse Deserve Better?”
“Finally Peace for Star Plus”
“12-Year-Old Boy Claims 12-Year-Old Horse For Retirement” (part 1)
“The Story Of Good Credentials” (part 2)

Shedrow Secrets

One Hundred Laughs
by Joy Aten

Racing “royalty” – NetJets founder Richard Santulli and celebrity chef Bobby Flay. Racing “royalty” – WinStar Farms’ successful sire Distorted Humor and elite broodmare (and former million-dollar track earner) Wonder Again. Being the offspring of multiple Graded-Stakes Winners and bred/owned by racing’s privileged, One Hundred Laughs would certainly be one of those racehorses who was – as apologists exclaim – treated like royalty. Yes, the Santulli/Flay-bred and Santulli-owned One Hundred Laughs, by Distorted Humor out of Wonder Again, must have been pampered, treated like a “king,” right? Read on.

The 2007 chestnut horse’s first race was at Laurel Park in August of 2010 for Santulli. Second start, Belmont. Not showing much promise, in his third start Santulli dropped the 3-year-old into a 5K claiming race at Penn National. Although he wasn’t claimed, he was with a new owner and trainer when he ran his fourth race (another cheap claiming), on November 4, 2010: last, over 31 lengths behind.

Fast-forward nine months. One Hundred Laughs has now been racing for one year. That’s 1 year, 5 owners, 6 tracks, 13 races. Never finishing better than third, the now 4-year-old is coming in 20, 30, even 50 lengths behind. In August he is raced four times…August 22, “stopped, eased,” over 50 lengths back. Five days later, with a new owner, at another track, he is raced again – second-to-last. September brings three more, including a “struggled,” last of 9, 21+ lengths behind. Another four races in October. His “performances” don’t deter his owner from running him, for first place through last puts checks into connections’ pockets. They just need to have him finish.

A new year, 2012, and his speed figure is half what it was in 2010. Yet One Hundred Laughs is raced another 20 times. When Jo Anne Normile and I learned of him, he had just been raced for the 40th time, on December 22 at Beulah Park: last, “never close,” over 26 lengths behind. 0 for 40 for his “career.” He was a horse at risk of simply disappearing – but to his “royal” prior connections, he already no longer existed. So we got him. Only 11 days after our initial call to his current owner and agreeing to the 1K purchase price, One Hundred Laughs was removed from that cheap Ohio track. Although I was told by the transporter he “needed a lot of groceries” and was “really hungry,” I didn’t learn how crucial his timely removal was until months later.

During a visit to the farm to which he was retired, the manager spoke of the day the chestnut horse arrived. They were expecting “thin,” he told me, but were horrified when One Hundred Laughs collapsed upon exiting the trailer. The vet was called immediately and after an emergency evaluation, it was determined his emaciated condition was due to one thing – lack of food. One Hundred Laughs had a body score of 2 and was “fighting just to live.” When I asked the manager if he happened to get any photos of the starving horse, he replied, “All I could think of was that if he made it, I never wanted to look back at what terrible shape he was in that day.” That day was less than one month from his last race. How’s that for royal treatment?

Shedrow Secrets

Tyme Champ
by Joy Aten

Week after week we see the “Casualty Lists”…the “Weekly Reports” – the horses who were “pulled up lame,” “in distress,” “vanned off,” “went wrong,” “fell,” “returned sore,” “bled,” and most ominous of all – “broke down.” As Patrick has stated, many of the horses on these lists will later be identified (in the FOIA reports) as having been euthanized. But not all. For some, a fate worse than humane euthanasia awaits. Dealers. Auctions. Kill Pens. Slaughter. In early 2014, the gelding Tyme Champ was on course for that final finish line.

The 4-year-old leggy chestnut with a lackluster record of 0-1-2 in 21 starts raced for owner/trainer James Duncan at Beulah Park on February 17, 2014. Tyme Champ was on the Casualty List that next week, as the chart noted his next-to-last-finish with “in distress late and subsequently vanned off.” He was, in fact, first on that list – that, and his location, caught Mary’s [Johnson] and my eyes.

After being told in a phone exchange with Duncan that Tyme Champ “could not be transported” due to his “injury” – a vague (no details were offered) assessment reached without diagnostics – I contacted Greg Veit at the Ohio Racing Commission. Our concern for the youngster’s physical state and questionable future relayed, I was assured he would look into things and get back to me.

Within just several hours, Veit called back with the news that Tyme Champ’s ownership had been transferred to a “good friend” of his and that the gelding was “going to a rescue” (curiously, Veit did not know the spelling of his good friend’s name or even how to pronounce it – this I learned when I called his “friend,” T.R. Haehn). With a “good friend” and “going to a rescue.” Hands washed.

As it turned out, Tyme had been passed from Duncan to Charles Lawson and finally to Haehn. In a matter of days. And the rescue organization Veit boasted about? Didn’t exist…only an individual who, according to more than one credible source, was questionable at best, moving as many as 40 horses “in and out” in only two months’ time. A dealer…Tyme Champ’s fourth owner in eight days was going to be a dealer.

No, not all horses on the Casualty Lists are euthanized – some spend their last days or weeks going from dealers, to auctions, to kill pens, to slaughter. THOUSANDS of them. https://horseracingwrongs.com/2017/08/23/prominent-vet-admits-10000-12000-thoroughbreds-are-slaughtered-every-year/

A postscript:
Mary and I were able to acquire Tyme Champ from Haehn before he was brought to that dealer. The much-loved and good-natured gelding lives here in Michigan with a colleague of mine – an emergency room physician – and his family.

Shedrow Secrets

Killean Cut Kid
by Joy Aten

Killean Cut Kid, a 12-year-old Standardbred, was just acquired from the Bastrop, Louisiana, kill pen last Wednesday, August 30. According to the “Save Our Standardbreds from Slaughter” FB page, the gelding was due to ship to slaughter the next morning. The photos of Killean Cut Kid standing tied at the kill pen are heart wrenching – his rope halter’s lead secured short yet with slack, the compliant bay’s front ankles have massive wounds that encircle them entirely. There are large areas missing hair and hide, some with the rectangular pattern of the purposeful shaving before a joint injection…swollen and angry-red proud flesh is present…as are the scars of multiple freeze or pin firings. One can only imagine the pain he has endured – and for quite some time.

Any equine helplessly awaiting the tortuous transport to and the unspeakable butchering in a slaughterhouse is beyond horrific. But there is, at least for me, an additional and indescribable insult when that slaughter-bound sensitive being is one who was worked his entire life…the earnings of his labors, taken. Every cent. That is Killean Cut Kid. A Standardbred racehorse – a pacer, I read. 258 starts. Yes, that’s right, 258 starts. Won over $300K. And only four months after his last race, he stands tethered and in pain at that notorious kill pen.

But there is more…actually, Jason Moore, Killean’s owner. On August 15, two weeks before the gelding was discovered at Bastrop, Moore had this to say on a social media site: “As many of you know I grew up racing dogs and I remember hearing people talk about horses and bonds they shared with them. So 4 years ago I decided to try the horse racing business.” After detailing his claim of Killean and the “bond” he formed, he concludes with this: “I’m saying my goodbyes to him hugging his neck with all my strength, balling my eyes out…[he] was trying to comfort me as I was falling apart.” Of course as I’m reading this, knowing where Killean was just found, I’m mystified, wondering how Moore is going to end this loving tribute to his “champion war horse” he just said goodbye to. “Bonded”? “Hugging and crying”? “Falling apart”? Yet he’s sending him to AUCTION?

Moore’s sob story? He and his “best friend,” Mandy Jones – Killean’s driver – both claimed on social media that the gelding was euthanized! Here, Moore, ending his August 15 “tribute”: “Horses are amazing animals and they [sic] will never be another one like Killean Cut Kid!!!!” And Jones on that same day: “Fly high my sweet angel. You’ll now be pain free and run wild with the clouds.” And on August 24, in a post about another horse she had just acquired: “I found him the day after Kid was put down. He makes the hole in my heart a little smaller.”

And still another individual takes part in this outrageous lie. A Kenneth Terpenning to Jason Moore on August 17: “At Jason Moore’s request (and I hope I do this justice)…In memoriam…Killean Cut Kid…here he is winning at Miami Valley Raceway this past January.” Terpenning ends the tear-jerker with this: “If there was ever a role model for what the Standardbred breed represents, it was Killean Cut Kid. Rest in peace buddy. You are no longer in pain and are running freely over the rainbow bridge.”

Can this get any more contemptible? Yes, actually. Back in April, from a Jones’ FB post about Killean winning a race, Moore replied to a comment of “Congrats” with, “It’s all heart cause if [you] saw his legs lol.” Lol. And earlier in the year, Moore and Jones reminded each other that their over-worked gelding was “just a 3 claimer.” “Yep. Just an old crippled rat.” “An old crippled rat.” Horrible people, horrible industry.

“The Kid” in his racing days

Killean convalescing

Shedrow Secrets

Shedrow Secrets

Redneck Margarita
by Joy Aten

“Anyone looking for a horse?” was the April 28 Facebook post’s opening line. But who could read on when distracted by that photo – a tall chestnut, very thin with a dull, poor coat. And his eyes. Defeated. Resigned.

Redneck “For Sale”

The post continued: “5 year old thoroughbred…ran last wed and was beat by 45 lengths…JC name is Redneck Margartia [sic]…terrible feet…small bump on his RF lat susp branch…owner wants $500…located at Belmont track.” With that photo and write-up, finding a “good home” didn’t look very promising.

I shared the post, but within a few hours it was gone. Deleted. So I sent a private message asking if Red was still for sale. The poster: “I deleted the post because…someone said they talked to the owner…he had found a home and been shipped already.” SHIPPED? She added she was only posting for a friend and knew nothing more but was hoping to have additional info in the next day or two. She never did.

“Rehomed” within just days of his crushing defeat, with a possible injury and in obvious need of food? “SHIPPED already”? To those familiar with that ominous industry word, it was clear that Red’s life was in jeopardy.

Recognizing the poster didn’t sense the possible danger – or simply didn’t care – I decided to call Red’s owner/trainer for that final race, Naipaul Chatterpaul. On April 30, Chatterpaul confirmed Red was already “gone” and had been for “several days” – “he went to a good friend of mine who runs a kids’ camp on Long Island.” I then asked if this good friend – “Wayne” (but whose last name he didn’t know) – might be willing to sell Red to me; I acted surprised when he said he might. Chatterpaul: “Wayne retrains and resells horses.” I asked for Wayne’s number but Chatterpaul said he would call himself. Two hours later, he texted, “he still have the horse” (and WHY wouldn’t he?…he can RETRAIN and sell a fresh-off-the-track TB in just DAYS?…or was there a chance he WOULDN’T still have Red because Wayne is a dealer?).

Fellow equine-advocate Lynn Hadfield confirmed my fears about Chatterpaul’s “good friend” Wayne…Wayne Dougal – the go-to guy on Long Island for “lesson barns,” to swap out horses with, or if an owner just needed one sold at auction. Dougal would let me buy Red for $1500, not a penny less. He had, he said, “put money into that horse.” Fund-raising began in earnest, and we quickly reached the necessary funds. Kelly Smith of Omega Horse Rescue agreed to take Red. I felt better knowing he would soon be receiving desperately-needed veterinary care and that, when recovered, every effort would be made to finding Red a loving, forever home.

Over the course of several conversations, Dougal changed his stories many times. He had gotten Red a week ago, he said, and had had his teeth floated and had given him ulcer medications (that he couldn’t remember the name of) “for a few days.” Another time, Red had been with him just three days. And when discussing payment and transportation – when Dougal told me to “hold off because the horse is sick; he has got water running out of his nose and the last horse I had that did that, it died” – he claimed the gelding had arrived at his place just that day.

Redneck at Dougal’s

Kelly, Lynn and I agreed we couldn’t wait on a professional transporter. The next day, May 3, Kelly made the trip to Long Island and called me as soon as Red was on her trailer. “He’s in rough shape,” she said. “He struggled to load, like he didn’t know where his feet were.” The video she made of him, in his spacious, well-bedded stall upon arrival to her farm, was heartbreaking – Red stood splayed out, his entire body trembling, with copious amounts of water running from his nostrils while he downed two buckets of water.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2htqLmKwkw1ZjhDWWI3SFQzdmdvV2dFQUhvMGV3TkVmS0VZ/view?usp=sharing

The next morning Red was taken to New Bolton Center. A bad tie-back surgery was just one obstacle he faced. A 2 on the Henneke scale (1=the poorest/thinnest, 9=obese), Red’s issues were complex and puzzling. A decision was made to let him “de-stress” at the farm where Kelly boards some of her rescues who may require follow-up visits to the clinic. Red shared pasture time with another quiet gelding and was across the aisle from this same horse when in his stall. Eating, drinking, resting, sharing days with one of his kind – in the hope that he would gain weight, build strength and “come down” from whatever he had endured. After some good nutrition and time just to be a horse, another and more complete evaluation would be performed and a diagnosis hopefully reached.

On May 11, a week later, I was able to make a trip to see Red. All the while, I had been communicating with Chatterpaul. Once he realized I was now aware of Red’s condition, he mentioned a couple of things. For one, Chatterpaul KNEW Red had neurological symptoms: “Oh yea, he had EPM” (equine protozoal myeloencephalitis).

While hand grazing Red that afternoon, Kelly and I observed his “clumsy” gait and how he seemed unsure about how to stand when just nibbling grass. This 17.3 hand, 5-year-old horse reminded me of an awkward foal. I told Kelly about Chatterpaul’s EPM comment, and the decision was made with the veterinarian that Red would undergo a lumbar puncture at New Bolton the next day. He never got there. Early on the morning of May 12, Red became severely neurologic and required euthanasia. The veterinarian: “At the time of euthanasia he was extremely ataxic to the point where he was unable to walk with assistance from ropes and multiple people.”

Not quite two days later, I texted Chatterpaul:

“You had mentioned he had EPM…do you know when that was diagnosed?”

Chatterpaul: “EPM situation he had it all along.”

“OK. It would be helpful if I could speak to the individual you got him from…Do you think you could get me that person’s name and number?”

Chatterpaul: “He looks to me like he had EPM, my vet thinks so, also the person who I get it from.”

These are the last texts I received from Chatterpaul; two more I’ve sent have gone unanswered.

On May 25, the veterinarian called with the necropsy results. Noted in Redneck Margarita’s brainstem: multifocal microgliosis and astrocytosis, which, sparing the technical jargon, indicates that Red suffered some form of injury or insult to his neuronal tissue. The specific pathogen or injury was not identified. The vet: “Usually when we don’t find anything specific we suspect degenerative neurologic disease.”

After a 19-month disappearance from racing, Redneck Margarita resurfaced at Aqueduct on April 21. Dead-last, 45 lengths back. A week later, malnourished, he is listed “For Sale,” though that posting quickly vanishes. Just five days after that, he is rescued from a dealer’s pen – by now, emaciated. Nine days later, ataxic, unable to walk – euthanized. Horseracing did this, all of it.

Sad – and very, very angry.

(To everyone who supported our efforts to help Red through your donations, thoughts and prayers, we are so incredibly grateful. Thank you.)