In the wake of the assault of Accolade at Delaware Park last Thursday, his owner, Glenn Fagan, gave this statement to WDEL:

“As the owner of ACCOLADE, the 3yr old gelding that was beaten in the head by the assistant starter on Thursday in the gate, I am disgusted at what I witnessed. I am bothered by the fact that the head starter after witnessing this attack didn’t pull my horse from the race or at the very least make him a non starter for all the people that had wagered on him. The time, effort and patience needed to have your horse ready to compete at a top level on a specific day and race is difficult, not to mention expensive. The one factor that people can’t handicap, is an employee of Delaware Park taking his frustrations out on your horse.

I am happy to see the outrage and indignation that this matter has received on social media. My 14 yr old daughter and I travel 50 minutes each weekend to feed Accolade his favorite snack, peeled red delicious apples and baby carrots. She was in tears watching our horse getting beaten over and over and over and over and over again. She didn’t sleep Thursday night, as the image of the abuse replayed in her mind. …If this type of behavior is routine in the racing business, then I must rethink my participation in the sport of kings. I am not a litigious person, but the lack of empathy on the behalf of Delaware Park is intolerable.”

While Mr. Fagan seems a bit more concerned with his (and the bettors’) monetary interests here, there appears to be at least some anger in how his horse was treated (though I’d wager that has more to do with his daughter’s feelings than his own). But then, he offered this followup to the station:

“When I made my statement to you I was extremely upset over the incident that occurred at Delaware Park on Thursday. My trainer, Abel Castellano had not informed me that upper management, John Mooney, had not only reached out to him, but had sent the State Veterinarian to check on the welfare of Accolade as well. Though I personally have not heard anything from Delaware Park, I’m glad to know that they were concerned for the safety of my horse.

Abel had also informed me that the assistant starter involved in the incident, someone that he had known well and respected, had apologized to him as well. I understand that this man has worked for Delaware Park for some 20 years in an extremely dangerous job and a moment of frustration shouldn’t ruin his life. Able informed me that he is the best and most experienced starter on the team.”

So, this animal-abuser (who should have been arrested) is acquitted (in Fagan’s mind) because he apologized and works “an extremely dangerous job.” So much for “rethinking his participation in The Sport of Kings.” Look, since buying Accolade on March 23 of this year, Fagan has had him “For Sale” twice – April 19 at Gulfstream, May 27 at Pimlico. And that, people, is all you need to know about how he truly views these animals – the “apples and carrots” drivel aside, just things to be used. But even more telling is this: A man who punched – punched – a horse four times in the head is, according to the horse’s trainer, “the best on the team.” You can’t make this stuff up.

Accolade, before and after Thursday’s race…

credit: WDEL

credit: WDEL

(full WDEL article)

Following “public outcry,” says the racing publication BloodHorse, the case of the miscreant trainer/owner who left one of his horses in a stall with a broken leg for almost an entire month was reviewed by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission and the penalty subsequently changed. Instead of 45 days/$500, Mario Rodriguez now faces a one-year suspension and $2,500 fine. The paper, however, says more may be coming his way because…well, here’s Dr. Kathryn Papp on recent developments:

“One of his horses dropped dead in a stall this morning [Friday]. They pulled out every single horse, and they were jogging every single horse. They came across three lame ones. This horse that had died had been sore for several days with supposedly a really bad run-down. It was treated at 9:30 this morning by a private veterinarian for colic and then it just dropped dead about an hour later.” (Note to Ms. Papp: horses, fully sentient beings, are whos not its.)

Here’s the thing, not only should Rodriguez never be allowed to control (own) a domesticated animal again, he should be in jail for committing wanton cruelty against the most defenseless and innocent among us. But Racing doesn’t think so (nor, for that matter, society at large). And what does it really matter whether it’s 45 days or one year? Is there an expectation of rehabilitation? Can anyone say with a straight face that Mario Rodriguez will come back a changed man? Someone who sees a horse as more than a mere thing to be used? Please. The good bet is he does it again – maybe not to the extent seen here, but abuse nonetheless. And equally likely, Racing, unless accidentally exposed again, will, again, simply look the other way.

(An aside to any veterinarian – someone whose first priority should be the protection of and advocacy for domesticated animals – who still calls himself/herself a “fan” of this wicked business: For shame. For shame.)

(full BloodHorse article)

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)