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.