Tag Archives: horse racing

Emil Guillermo: What if they had a Triple Crown Winner and no one cared?

That about sums up my feeling about American Pharoah’s (sic) win at the Belmont. It wasn’t Affirmed/ Alydar. It wasn’t Secretariat. It was a colt going wire-to-wire against an undistinguished field. Is that really worth celebrating.

That it took nearly 40 years to have another Triple Crown winner isn’t really about the greatness of A.P. It’s more that the game, the breed has degenerated into a drug-mired enterprise that has changed the nature of horse racing in America.

I wrote this last year amid the California Chrome hype around the Belmont, and it all still applies.

http://aaldef.org/blog/not-my-fathers-horse-races.html

If the Triple Crown really mattered it would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue

Astonishing how little if any buzz the victory had.

Here’s what really happened at Belmont yesterday. One horse died, one was vanned off, and American Pharoah won the big race. That’s some crownless triple.

 

What the New York Times left out: More on the PETA investigation on the abuse of drugs in horse racing

All the news that’s fit to print? Or that fits? And then what about video?

This PETA-produced video fills in all the gaps left by the New York York Times story (3/20/14)  on horse racing and drugs.

Specifically, there are two main points–the use of thyroxine , and the use of a buzzing device that shocks horses into running faster–that were left out by the Times.

I did the voice-over for this video.

As previously disclosed, my wife is with PETA.

 

New York Times covered the investigation with this story on 3/20/14:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/sports/peta-accuses-two-trainers-of-cruelty-to-horses.html?ref=sports&target=comments#commentsContainer

 

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Triple Crown hopes dashed as I’ll Have Another is scratched from Belmont; Let the speculation begin about trainer “Drug” O’Neill

It’s too bad we can’t take Doug O’Neill, the trainer for I’ll Have Another at face value. Tendonitis? I just think all the scrutiny given to the Belmont and the special detention barn made it impossible for the trainer to perform his “magic.” O’Neill’ has a record of using drugs to get horses to run through their ailments. It’s hard not to stop any further speculation now. 

The only real positive here  is that the horse was scratched in the end.

It’s not the happy ending O’Neill and the racing establishment needed and wanted. But it’s the right thing and the humane thing. I’ll Have Another is spared exposure to a breakdown.  In the long run that’s far better than any false glory that O’Neill may have been chasing.

Update: Farewell to HBO’s “Luck”

They won the race, but they lost the baby. And the show.

The first two are fake. But the show is real, as are the three  horse deaths sustained during the production of HBO’s “Luck.”

And that’s why last night’s “Luck” was far more than a “season” finale. It was the final final. it’s theme song was a dirge signalling the end of “Luck.”

Too bad. The show is really about the human interaction. The racing scenes were incidental. They could have easily been done in a way to prevent harm to the animals. The scenes that are more poignant are back at the stable anyway.  Yet pProducers were so quick to cancel  after PETA exposed the horse deaths. To satisfy PETA, the producers didn’t have to cancel. They merely had to assure that the animals would be safe.

Why couldn’t David Milch and Michael Mann do that? Instead, they went straight to the cancellation option.

If you saw the credits last night,  you may have noticed the disclaimer at the end was different.  It didn’t say “no animals were harmed.”

It simply said the American Humane Association “monitored” the production.

Exactly what this means isn’t clear, but whatever monitoring was done clearly wasn’t enough to assure safety for the horses on the show.

What’s amazing is that the horse racing industry continues to think “Luck” was good for business and continues to criticize PETA.

The organization that deserves the scrutiny is AHA.

But let’s not get hung up about the fake races in fictional drama.

As the New York Times reported yesterday, there are many more deaths and drama with real horses in real races.

The industry has found a way to bring cash to the races by bringing in casino-style gambling and slot machines to the tracks. But being flush with cash has not brought out the humane side of the horsemen. Instead, the race purses are so rich, even for the lowest quality horses, that greedy horsemen keep sending out their unfit stock to race for the money.

Unfit horses? Well, if not for the drugs.

Updates: HBO’s “Luck,” PETA, Dharun Ravi

If you saw the latest “Luck,” on HBO, it’s curious how the American Humane Association logo, and the “No Animals were harmed” disclaimer still appears in the credits. Maybe none were harmed in that episode, but with the record of the show of at least 3 deaths, who can say?

The phrase “no animals harmed…” has become such a cliche that it’s unclear what it really means anymore. And now we know what it’s meant on “Luck.”

The reaction to my piece about my wife and luck at http://blog.sfgate.com/eguillermo
has been interesting.

A few took me as bragging about my wife’s work as a PETA VP.

But I was merely sharing an insider’s perspective of how real modern day activism works. It’s not just picket signs and demos. It’s practically investigative journalism. And in this case there is a symbiotic relationship between the activist and the media that most people don’t realize.

The other thing I’m amazed about is the reaction from the horse racing industry to the cancellation of “Luck.” The industry should be happy the show was cancelled. “Luck” focused on a “Sopranos” goes to Santa Anita story line that made the whole enterprise of racing look sleazy, dishonest and populated by degenerate low-lifes. I know that can make for good TV, but it doesn’t breed public trust in an industry that is dying. No one was calling for the abolition of horse racing. But wouldn’t it be nice if the game were fair and humane? As it was, “Luck” depicted the industry as just the opposite, and yet people are angry at PETA for uncovering the deaths of the horses which led to the canceling of the show. “Luck” defenders like to shrug off the horse deaths by saying accidents happen. Yeah, sure, in real races. I go back to the basic issue: Real horses shouldn’t die in fake races.

“Luck” had no real defense. Its cancellation was humane, considering the production wasn’t.

RAVI, TYLER CLEMENTI, AND THE RUTGERS CASE

If you haven’t seen my post go to www.aaldef.org/blog

It’s funny how hate crimes and cyber-bullying have all been rolled up into one blobby mess of intolerance. That’s good, but the broader definition will mean less clarity on hate crimes than ever, more and harsher punishment, and a whole lot less freedom in general.

Is that really what we want? Isn’t there a better way to demand we all show a little kindness, civility and mutual respect to each other?

HBO cancels “Luck” as horse deaths on set forces network to do the right thing

Responding to pressure from PETA over the deaths of three thoroughbreds, HBO has cancelled the series on horse racing, “Luck.”

It’s too bad for the cast and crew, as shooting had begun on a second season meaning at least another eight months of work. Production staffers reportedly just learned about the cancellation around 4:30 PDT from journalists.

But any blame should be put squarely on the producers for the cancellation.  If they were serious about animal welfare, they shouldn’t have used old, out-of-shape horses in the race sequences. And they should have had more attentive  oversight from the group hired by SAG and producers to make sure that indeed “no animals were harmed” during the production.

Inspite of the participation of some heralded names in show biz (Dustin Hoffman, David Milch, Michael Mann), mixed in with racing notables like Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, “Luck” never seemed to live up to its hype.

It was a mixed first season with a  brooding story of racing degenerates and shadowy corporate characters blended with the real life drama of Indian gaming and slot machine placements in racetracks. 

“Luck” had none of the uplift of “Secretariat,” nor the heart of “Sea Biscuit.” Instead, it was a nasty, gritty depiction of the race world.  It wanted to be “The Sopranos” with horses.

Maybe it was too real.

Ironically, a recent episode featured a horse breaking down. In fact, the real life story of  unsound horses racing when they shouldn’t, was  a subtheme in the series.

In the end, that’s what ends up sinking the whole enterprise.

Art and real life were too close.

When real horses end up dying in the filming of fake races, that’s just too ironic for words.