Racehorse’s Starvation Death Sparks Legal Complaint

PETA Calls For Investigation, Cruelty-to-Animals Charges Against Former Exercise Rider After Thoroughbred Dies of Malnutrition

For Immediate Release:
June 20, 2019

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Vallejo, Calif. – This morning, PETA urged Solano County Sheriff Thomas A. Ferrara to investigate apparent cruelty to animals by former exercise rider Gustavo G. Medina in relation to the starvation death of Tiz Willow, a 3-year-old Thoroughbred in his care. While the case is also being investigated by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), PETA points out that starving a horse also violates state anti-cruelty laws and that Medina should be investigated by Solano County law enforcement and criminal charges brought as warranted.

PETA has reviewed minutes of CHRB meetings showing that Tiz Willow died in a stall at Golden Gate Fields in Albany in January. The horse had been moved from the track on December 3, 2018, to an undisclosed location near Vallejo and returned to the track on January 23, 2019. She died two days later. A necropsy revealed that the cause of death was “malnutrition.” When questioned by the CHRB about her death, Medina’s only explanation was that the other horses wouldn’t let her eat—a situation that, if true, he’d had an obligation to correct.

“While Medina should certainly be found ineligible to participate in horse racing, administrative penalties imposed by the CHRB shouldn’t supplant a criminal investigation,” says PETA attorney Elisabeth Custalow. “If Medina failed so egregiously to provide Tiz Willow with enough basic nutrition to keep her alive, there’s a concern that other horses in his custody could also be at risk, so their condition needs to be investigated.”

Tiz Willow raced four times in 2018 as a 2-year-old—at Del Mar, Los Alamitos, The Big Fresno Fair, and Golden Gate Fields. She was trained by Gary Stute and owned by him, Al Navarro, and Steve Sanora.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview.

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