Overdriven Young Horses Die at Ocala Breeders’ Sales Auction; PETA Seeks Criminal Charges

For Immediate Release:
April 25, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

Ocala, Fla.

Another horse down. On the heels of the death of Frosten, a colt raced at extreme speeds in a quarter-mile sprint at an Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company (OBS) under tack show on April 10, 2024, PETA fired off a formal request to 5th Judicial Circuit State Attorney William Gladson this morning 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 OBS under tack show in 2023 and required euthanasia. Overdriving and willfully killing horses are illegal under Florida law.

In defiance of good horsemanship and common sense, juvenile horses, some of them younger than 24 months old, are forced to run short distances at breakneck speeds that they’ll never reach again while racing—if they survive. During one sprint, Frosten crashed through a track barrier and sustained a catastrophic injury. Video compiled from an OBS livestream and footage captured by a PETA investigator at the track shows Frosten’s collision with the barrier at high speed, his euthanasia, and his rider lying motionless on the track. While filming the scene, PETA’s investigator was assaulted and his backpack stolen by OBS staff members—and OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski was later arrested and charged over the incident. In addition to the deaths of these young horses, at least five serious injuries to horses have occurred at OBS under tack shows in the past year alone.

Frosten the horse has fatal breakdown at Ocala Breeders' Sales Auction
Frosten is euthanized on the track at an OBS under tack show on April 10.
Credit: PETA

“Ocala Breeders’ Sales knowingly risks these young horses’ lives to inflate auction prices,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “This practice is extremely dangerous, cruel, and we believe illegal, which is why PETA is calling on authorities to file charges against those responsible for these horses’ deaths and injuries.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Gladson follows.

April 25, 2024

Mr. William Gladson

State Attorney, Fifth Judicial Circuit

Dear Mr. Gladson:

I am general counsel to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and am writing to respectfully request that you pursue felony and misdemeanor cruelty to animals charges against those responsible for cruelly causing the deaths of a young colt this month and a young filly in April 2023 by recklessly overdriving them in speed trials for potential buyers. See Fla. Stat. §§ 828.12(1), 828.125.

As thoroughly detailed below, at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s (“OBS”) facility, located at 1701 Southwest 60th Ave., Ocala, FL, OBS held “under tack” shows, in which young horses—some of whom are not even 24 months old yet—are pushed to sprint short distances (in “works” or “breezes”) at speeds faster than they will ever run in their future racing careers.  Many of these horses are driven to break the ten-second barrier—faster than even elite, fully mature horses would run in any fraction of the Sprint at the Breeders’ Cup World Championship. There is a wealth of evidence establishing that intense, excessive speed works in short sprints at under tack shows are both dangerous and damaging to these juvenile horses, putting them at risk for serious injuries and catastrophic breakdowns. This conduct appears to violate Florida’s prohibition on overdriving horses, id. § 828.12(1), and, for the horses who have been seriously injured and killed at OBS’ under tack show, the prohibition on killing and aggravated abuse,  id. § 828.125.

PETA is prepared to assist your office in any way possible in furtherance of this investigation, including by providing additional video and other documentary evidence, and we welcome the opportunity to meet with you.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Jared Goodman

Managing General Counsel

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