Ocala Breeders’ Sales Exec Avoids Prosecution, but PETA’s Focus Remains on Horses

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Update (May 8, 2024): Though the Florida state attorney decided not to prosecute Ocala Breeders’ Sales executive Tod Wojciechowski, his arrest and humiliating mugshot are perhaps reasons enough to give him second thoughts about stealing other people’s property.

On April 12, Wojciechowski was arrested by the Ocala Police Department and charged with robbery by sudden snatching for forcibly wrenching a backpack off a PETA investigator who was peacefully and legally filming the euthanasia of Frosten, a young and inexperienced Thoroughbred forced to run a timed sprint at an Ocala Breeders’ Sales under tack show. In video footage captured at the event, Frosten appears to panic and collide with a railing, sustaining a fatal injury.

On the heels of Frosten’s death, PETA sent a formal request to 5th Judicial Circuit State Attorney William Gladson urging him to pursue criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against those responsible for recklessly overdriving Frosten and a filly known as Hip #1041, who sustained a catastrophic musculoskeletal injury at an Ocala Breeders’ Sale under tack show in 2023 and required euthanasia. Overdriving and willfully killing horses are illegal under Florida law.

PETA’s goal was and is only to stop the deaths of vulnerable young Thoroughbreds on the Ocala Breeders’ Sales track and expose the damage and abuse they endure, which are far worse than the theft of a backpack.

Ocala Breeders’ Sales Moved to Conceal the Carnage

On the day of Wojciechowski’s arrest, another horse reportedly sustained a serious injury during a forced sprint. Company officials immediately put up large screens around the horse, preventing anyone from seeing what happened next.

Later, workers posted signs prohibiting videotaping without prior permission—all because we filmed Frosten’s euthanasia.

Ocala Breeders’ Sales can try to hide its on-track horrors, but PETA is determined to reveal the truth.

Originally posted on April 10, 2024:

Today, at an under tack show held by Ocala Breeders’ Sales (OBS) in Ocala, Florida, a reckless sprint event turned deadly: A horse was killed by track staff after a collision, and a jockey lay motionless on the ground.

The event livestream, now deleted from the OBS webpage, shows the young horse colliding at high speed with a track barrier. The collision flings the jockey into the railing, and from there, he tumbles to the ground. The horse then collapses just past his motionless body. (This danger is why some jockeys refer to these events as “suicide shows.”)

Footage then shows track officials euthanizing the struggling horse, who was panicking and in apparent agony, via multiple injections in the neck.

PETA Investigator Assaulted at Ocala Breeders’ Sales Show

While a PETA investigator was filming this carnage, OBS President Tom Ventura and a staff member assaulted him. One man grabbed him repeatedly and forcibly wrenched off his backpack, which they refused to return, and tried to prevent him from leaving. He has filed a complaint with the police for assault, battery, theft, and unlawful detainment.

Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s Senior Vice President of Equine Matters, describes what happened—and why these dangerous race practices must end—on The PETA Podcast:

The OBS employees likely wanted to suppress footage of the incident in order to keep the heat off. PETA has previously released video footage of these deadly sprints in which young horses, many not even 2 years old, are forced to race faster than they ever will again just to drive up the auction prices.

Under Tack Stunts Are a Death Sentence for Horses

Under tack shows are events put on by auction companies to exhibit 2-year-old or younger juvenile horses in order to inflate selling prices. The events have a reputation for drugs, injury, and death, as jockeys are made to push immature, inexperienced horses to run at dangerous speeds (these sprints are known as “breezes”), leading to catastrophic injuries and death.

It’s only been a year since PETA captured footage of a 2-year-old horse sustaining a fatal injury at an OBS show. Since then, countless other horses have sustained fatal and otherwise life-altering injuries off camera.

video of horse collapsing violently on a racetrack with the rider falling violently

Forcing juvenile horses to run at top speeds on fragile, undeveloped bones and joints is animal abuse. Thoroughbred auction companies recklessly endanger—and even kill—very young, inexperienced horses simply to put on a show for buyers.

Save Horses: Support PETA’s Proposal

Under tack shows don’t have to be fatal. Deadly sprints used to drive up selling prices of young horses at these shows are pointless. They’re not even good indicators of performance for future races. When they don’t kill the horses, these events (and the training leading up to them) often leave the animals with permanent injuries.

Thankfully, PETA has a plan that would stop most of the carnage at under tack shows without significantly affecting their operation. The proposed format would demonstrate juvenile horses’ aptitude for real races instead of dangerous, breakneck sprints that they will never perform again.

Please, take a moment to defend young horses who are used for racing by indicating your support for PETA’s proposal:

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