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PETA Video Prompts Horse-Racing Authorities to Take Action

Written by Alisa Mullins | March 25, 2014

Update: As a result of our undercover investigation, Ahmed Zayat, the owner of Nehro (the horse in our video whose feet were so sore it hurt him even to stand and who died on the day of the Kentucky Derby last year), has pulled all his horses from Asmussen’s training facility.

Originally posted on March 24, 2014: 

Less than 24 hours after PETA released our video documenting misuse of drugs and other abuses at Churchill Downs and Saratoga Race Course by Steve Asmussen—the trainer of Preakness winners Rachel Alexandra and Curlin—and others in his barn, horse-racing authorities in Kentucky and New York announced that they’re launching formal investigations.

“The behavior depicted in the undercover video and supporting materials is disturbing and disgusting,” said Dr. Scott Palmer, New York’s equine medical director. “We are working to determine what happened and ensure that proper protocols are put in place to prevent such actions from taking place again.”

The abuses documented by PETA’s investigator include routinely injecting horses with painkillers, sedatives, and diuretics in an apparent effort to mask injuries and to artificially enhance performance. A horse named Nehro, who was the runner-up in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, suffered from chronic foot injuries and was forced to race on cracked, pockmarked hooves held together by filler and superglue. He later died after falling ill on the day of the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

Tragically, just after PETA released our investigation, another horse named Finesse—whom PETA’s investigator had videotaped in her stall after she was apparently unable to get up—collapsed and died after finishing second in a race last week.

New Mexico has also launched an investigation since a jockey who is licensed in that state, Ricardo Santana Jr., was referred to on PETA’s videotape by Asmussen’s assistant trainer Scott Blasi as a “machine rider,” or a jockey who illegally uses electric-shock devices called “machines” or “batteries” on horses.

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has withdrawn Asmussen’s nomination, and Blasi has been fired.

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  • Andrea Hoffmann says:

    Stop this cruelty now!

  • Lori says:

    Trainers, owners, jockeys, vets, especially the vets, they all need to be held responsible for this abuse. You vets and trainers are disgusting. Federal laws have to change. These owners need to be exposed. They are getting rich off of people who have no idea this abuse is taking place. I will never bet on or watch another race again. Thank you PETA for bringing this evil into the light. Federal government has to hold these sick people accountable.

  • Susan Burian says:

    Thank you PETA for exposing the Horse Racing industry and letting us know what really goes on behind the scenes.

  • It is so very encouraging to know that our voices do get results. Hooray for PETA and all who wrote to express your concerns! Thank you

  • For me is a shame. I was part of that world, but NO MORE ! Excuse me Horses !

  • marchhare67 says:

    The greed, the lack of compassion, the narcissism of the human species never fails to amaze me. This abuse of horses by the horse racing industry has been going on for – since the beginning of this sorted “sport.” Yet, those who could have helped have been silent! Thank God for PETA and organizations and people like them. It is really disgusting that we as a species have to be regulated in order to do the right thing. I apologize to those who are fine, compassionate humans. If only it were the normal state of being.

  • ravinder singh says:

    please spare our animals. your race and money is not important to us but their lives are,

  • CAROL LAMBERT says:

    HOW CAN SUCH SICK ACTIVITIES GO UNDETECTED? AND HOW CAN ANIMAL LOVERS NOT REPORT SUCH ACTIONS? WHERE ARE THE VETS, SAFEKEEPERS OF THE HORSES, ARE THEY NOT SUPPOSED TO BE INSPECTING THE ANIMALS BEFORE A RECE?

  • Coralee williams says:

    The people who do this belong in a jail not in a job.

  • Denise Inkel says:

    Horses deserve respect, they are war heros since centuries, they built empires and because of their courage and faithfulness humans were able to communicate with one an other over great distances. If it was not for them we would not be where we are now and sadly they are treated like trash. Those who torture and are cruel to horses deserve to go to jail and must be banned from getting near them for life. They should also get the same treatment they gave the horses. Horses are sacred slaughtering them must be forbidden, they should automatically go to refuges and have the natural life they seserve

  • Carlene says:

    People who do this to inocent horses do this to people. This is disgustong God did not give us animals to be treated like slaves for money, There needs to be justice, all the people who do this should be put in jail its really sad

  • Zuni says:

    Glad the truth has finally come out and has made
    folks aware of all the underhandedness that goes
    on behind the racing scenes. Deplorable and
    certainly not sportsmanship.Thorobreds are some
    of the sweetest horses if handled properly from day
    one. To use shocks, and all the other meds on them
    just to win a race, tells me that they don’t give a hoot
    about the horse, just the greed of money. Play fair
    and don’t drug or shock or do anything to race horses
    and bring the sport back into sports.

  • Michelle Hellie says:

    Stop.Racing.Period. The dogs used in racing are treated just as bad.

  • Elisabeta says:

    I say, BAN THEM ALL!!! Circus, horse racing, sea world everything who brings cruelty to animals.

  • louise gauvin says:

    ANIMALS HAVE GONE THROUGH HELL AND BACK BECAUSE MAN HAS HAD NO RESPECT WHAT SO EVER FOR THEIR WELL BEING! WHY GOVERNMENTS DO NOT PASS A LAW FOR THE PROTECTION OF THESE ANIMALS I DO NOT KNOW WHY! I GUESS IT IS OF NO IMPORTANCE TO THEM! HUMAN BEINGS THAT WE ARE, ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES THAT DESERVE RESPECT LOVE AND A RIGHT TO A LIFE FREE FROM BARBARIC INHUMANE ABUSES AND TORTURE! I AM SPEAKING OUT LIKE MANY OTHERS FOR JUSTICE AGAINST ABUSE ON ANIMALS ON THIS EARTH! I THINK IT IS HIGH TIME THAT LAWS BE CHANGED FOR OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS, THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE MANY YEARS AGO BUT I GUESS HUMANS ONLY THINK OF THEMSELVES AND THEY BELIEVE THAT THIS PLANET WAS DESTINED TO BE THEIRS ONLY! ANIMALS WERE HERE FIRST MAYBE YOU HAVE ALL FORGOTTEN!

  • Karen Wonnell says:

    WHERE IS MR. ZAYAT GOING TO TAKE HIS HORSES?? ASMUSSEN IS NOT THE ONLY TRAINER THAT DOES THESE HORRID THINGS, THERE ARE NO HONEST TRAINERS IN THE INDUSTRY FROM WHAT I CAN TELL. WHY DID THE WORKERS THAT SAW THIS GOING ON FOR YEARS NOT BLOW THE WHISTLE?? THIS IS REALLY BIG MONEY AND ITS GOING TO TAKE A LOT MORE THAN JUST PETAS’ DISCOVERY TO CHANGE ANYTHING. NOT GOING TO RACES AND NOT BETTING EVER IS A GREAT START. PETA, GET THIS VIDEO ON NATIONAL NEWS AND DON’T BACK DOWN. THERE ARE GOING TO BE A LOT OF BIG WIGS IN THE INDUSTRY GOING CRAZY WITH THIS EXPOSURE, AS I’AM SURE THAT A LOT OF OWNERS KNOW EXACTLY WHAT GOES ON
    IN THE BACK STRETCH AND LOOK AWAY.

  • Barbara says:

    This is just wrong what they are doing to race horses. It is horrible. No race horse should be abused like this. It is like the trainer does not care how the horses are treated with any kind of drug. This needs to end now. No race horse is safe with this trainer around. The trainer needs to go to jail for a very long time. He should not be allowed to be around race horses at all. It is only getting worse and not better. The racing horse industry is not very good. It is really bad and sick. This trainer is sick. He does not deserve to be allowed to train racing horses ever again.

  • KC DeWinter says:

    PETA — This is great news that action is being taken as a result of your undercover footage of the abuse of racehorses. In the follow-up actions you take, I suggest an awareness campaign to outlaw the use of electro-shock devices in horse training and horse racing…and that you also confront Gary Stevens, the master-level jockey featured in the movie “Seabiscuit” who boasts in the undercover video footage that he accidentally shocked himself with the electro-shock device. For a jockey of Gary Stevens’ standing to be using electro-shock devices is particularly outrageous and he needs to be called on the carpet for it, both publicly and by the industry that has served him so well.

  • barbara guidotti says:

    Why has 2 year old racing never been looked into? For a horse to race at 2 means they are in training well before that. they are still babies with fragile bones, I feel this has a lot to do with breakdowns. If owners do not want the expense of keeping a horse untrained a year longer, then get out of the business,

  • Janet Cope says:

    stop all horse raceing. Protect animals. Humans are so cruel it’s sad.

  • EponaSpirit says:

    Did you know that your tax dollars pay subsidies to these racetracks? So whether you are for racing or against it, know that you are paying your hard earned tax dollars to these people, which in turn, keeps them in the business of over breeding, shipping their excess to slaughter, which might I add is cruel beyond belief. Start attending your local government meetings and ask them to pull all funds from racetracks, that you do not want to be complicit in these cruel activities. Just do a quick search using the term “slot subsides” and you will see who is benefiting the most from your tax dollars.

  • Ashie says:

    It is high time to make some strong laws to support our furry friends – how about banning abuse of animals for entertainment!! Honestly I never enjoyed horse racing – Horses are beautiful and when they run freely along with other horses without any rules…that looks heavenly! So please ban horse racing and let them live….

  • KDBarry says:

    I own a TBH who was starved to death and left for dead after winning races! He is now a member of our family and is my 17 year old daughters jumper! He truly loves what he does! We got him Nov 2011 but could not even begin to do anything with him till May of 2013! He was so malnourished that we though he would die on his trailer ride from where he was left at an abandon house to my friends barn. The Vet didn’t even think he would make it! He is now 6 yrs old in Jan. and is gorgeous! How anyone could abuse these beautiful majestic animals that God shares with us is beyond me! His personality and his peaceful beautiful way in how he interacts with my daughter is so wonderful! I thank God everyday that we adopted him and believed in him! Thank you PETA! I hope horse racing is shut down and the a…… Get what they deserve!

  • How about some serious jail time for these butchers. They hide behind their wealth. Payoff everyone to keep quiet. Give them some jail time.

  • Muriel W says:

    Horse racing tracks, owners, vets, and all involved should create a retirement facility for horses who are unable to run anymore. They should be taken care of instead of killing them. These horses are not disposables!

    • Gillian says:

      There are some – very few – good, kind people who offer private retirement facilities for horses who can no longer race or who are regarded as useless by their owners. But the need for such care is great and ever-increasing and this is world-wide. It remains a cruel and corrupt form of entertainment, its only purpose being to enrich some at the cost of the health of the horses who are forced to perform. Man’s greed is going too far. The horses are merely a means to acquire vast sums of money this so-called sport generates. That they are living creatures, intelligent and willing, is clearly of no interest or concern to those involved.There are insufficient laws to protect these wonderful animals and the cry from those who care is for all concerned and especially governments, to intervene to protect all horses which are forced to run in races, from the abuse to which they are subjected. How else can these ‘perpetrators’ be effectively dealt with? Is compassion an outdated word? Yet we dare to call ourselves civilised!!!

  • Ron lato says:

    Living in Shelbyville TN, i seen what went on with the walking horses. Not good. As a lifelong fan of horseracing It hurts me too see the same kind of treatment, though tbh not surprising. it makes me rethink my whole outlook on horse racing as a gambler. To know i possibly bet on a horse that went thru that disgusts me and makes me rethink that all together. i really am at a loss of words for this. Thank you peta for enlighting me on this.

  • Gail Jones says:

    These owners need to be banned & not allowed to own any kind of animal. Riders ,jailed for abuse and vets should permanently lose their license,and charged. Trainers (obviously insane ) need some of their own treatment with pharmaceuticals and put in a rubber room !
    And a few rounds of the lash each day to remind them what they have done to these poor animals that were placed in their care . All of them are sick, sadistic,insanely greedy , poor excuses for anything resembling a human being . MAN SHOULD BE JUDGED BY HIS TREATMENT OF THE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS PLACED IN HIS CARE .GOD HELP US !

  • George Russell says:

    Peta, you need to forward this video to “The O’reilly Factor” and expose these horseracing Butchers and Cheaters.

  • pamela coulson says:

    These poor horse’s cruel EFFING Bas…ds.we have to speak out for the Horses they don’t have a Voice.this needs to stop.All this for greed.no pespect for animals grrrrrrrrrrrr.?

  • skyelav says:

    I have held a trainer’s or owner’s license in New York, New Hampshire, Michigan, Florida, and Vermont. I would be happy to talk to your team to tell you first hand of what’s going on back there. It’s disgusting.

  • Leslie says:

    i worked in the industry for years. I have NOTHING good to say about it. NOTHING. This type of conduct is rampant. I truly believe 99% of all trainers and veterinarians are guilty of this. This is “business as usual” on the backstretch.
    Now Zayat stables is sending it’s horses to the other 2 worst horse abusers in the industry, Bob Baffert and DW Lukas.

    PLEASE DON’T STOP HERE PETA…KEEP GOING, GET THEM AND MAKE THEM PAY. SHUT THESE B******* DOWN!!!!

    YOU NEED TO GO AFTER THE “RACINOS” WHO ARE KEEPING THIS INDUSTRY GOING FINANCIALLY. IF THE MONEY WASN’T COMING FROM THE SLOT MACHINES THERE WOULD BE NO FUNDS FOR THE PURSES THESE CREEPS ARE PROFITING FROM. GO AFTER PENN NATIONAL AND IT’S PARENT COMPANY. THESE ARE PUBLICLY HELD AND COULD BE HURT GREATLY. GET BLOOMBERG ON IT, SHAME THE 401K MANAGERS FOR HOLDING THE STOCK.

    THESE HORSE’S NEED A VOICE. THEY ARE SUFFERING.

  • Horse racing should be banned………………

  • Rachael says:

    So glad the tracks in Ontario are closing down.

  • GINEL says:

    This is totally so wrong !! is Criminal mounstracity!!! they are MONSTERS!! STOP THEM!! NOW!!!!THEY NEED TO PAY FOR THIS CRIME AND put them to rot in jail!!

  • Beatriz says:

    Authorities are dead and blind to animal suffer !!!!! Otherwise they would do something!!!!

  • marilynn smith says:

    I have always been against racing. The races are in July and August. It is so hot and those horses have to run in the heat. I lived there for thirteen years and it is hot and humid.-

  • Tania says:

    This is truely disgusting,take the trainers licence off him. These beautiful animals are meant to be our mates,not to make money from and to look good on the rich peoples resumes.Something needs to be done.

  • pete says:

    Scott Palmer should investigate regulatory veterinarians in NJ knowingly permitting lame horses to race as well as a horse that entered the paddock profusely bleeding out of the right nostril. What a joke.

    • Donna says:

      Race horses have not fully developed and should not be run into the ground
      ALL race horses are in danger and it should stop !

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