Parx enforces zero tolerance policy on slaughter

Wolf King, 4-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten, was discovered at the New Holland this summer.

Wolf King, 4-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten, was discovered at the New Holland this summer. Photo courtesy B & D Photography

A Parx Racing official announced this week that the racetrack has imposed sanctions against a racehorse owner in accordance with the track’s zero tolerance of horse slaughter.

Sam Elliott, director of racing/racing secretary, announced that stabling privileges were revoked from the last owner connected to 4-year-old Thoroughbred Wolf King, who died shortly after he was discovered at the New Holland auction earlier this summer.

The owner, Mario Arriaga, who stepped forward to pay the $900 “bail” to purchase the animal back from meat buyers after the horse was discovered at the New Holland auction on Aug. 3, has appealed the decision to the Pennsylvania Racing Commission. He was granted a “stay,” which allows him to continue to run horses, but stabling privileges remain revoked, Elliott says.

Wolf King
Sire: Rock Hard Ten
Dam: King’s Interest, by Kingmambo
Foal date: Feb. 23, 2011
The decision to invoke the racetrack’s zero-tolerance policy— which reserves the right to revoke backstretch privileges to horsemen found responsible for a horse winding up at an auction where they could be purchased for meat—was made by racing and re-homing officials at Parx after an investigation into Wolf King’s circumstances, Elliott says.

Wolf King, the son of multiple graded stakes winner Rock Hard Ten, last raced at Parx on July 6. Finishing third that day, he pulled up lame and was vanned off. It was later learned he suffered a fractured sesamoid, according to Danielle Montgomery, program administrator, Turning for Home.

On July 20, Wolf King was shipped off the racetrack property. On Aug. 3 he was discovered at the New Holland auction, says Montgomery, who adds that meat buyers were bidding on him at this point.

Wolf King exits a trailer taking him to a veterinary clinic where he was euthanized for a fractured leg. Photo courtesy Turning for Home

Wolf King exits a trailer taking him to a veterinary clinic where he was euthanized for a fractured leg. Photo courtesy Turning for Home

Montgomery says she received four or five phone calls alerting her to Wolf King’s predicament, but by the time the Thoroughbred was acquired and shipped to a veterinarian for evaluation, his injuries were deemed beyond repair. “He’d been standing on an injured limb for 10 days … he was in bad condition, he was in pain,” and the veterinarian recommended euthanasia, she says.

Meantime, Parx racing officials were deliberative and thorough in tracing every step the horse took since he left the track, according to Elliott, who notes that the owner was found to be ultimately responsible for “not adequately protecting his horse,” Elliott says.

Montgomery adds that though the owner says the horse was supposed to have shipped to a friend’s farm in Maryland, the owner did not produce a bill of sale. And in a short span, the horse was on the precipice of the slaughter pipeline.

Saying that no horse from Parx Racing should wind up at slaughter, Montgomery explains that the racetrack and horsemen fund their own in-house rehoming organization Turning for Home to safeguard horses. “Our program is built in in such a way that it should never happen,” she says. “We have dedicated a tremendous amount of thought, money and effort into this program to avoid a situation like this.” She adds that over 1,700 horses have gone through Turning for Home.

Meanwhile, Elliott says all horsemen racing at Parx have a responsibility to their equine athletes.

“All anyone needs to do is go to Turning for Home, and it’s done. The horse is protected. It’s built in,” Elliott says.

39 responses to “Parx enforces zero tolerance policy on slaughter”

  1. cj

    I have an ex-racehorse that fractured his sesamoid on the track. His owners declined to pay for any vet care. The track did not allow slaughter/auction but taking care of a horse in pain was not required. My horse got the minimum care no pain meds and some laughable soft leg wraps as an excuse for sesamoid support. Despite the bad start, when I got him I provided high level care with arthritis meds, daily ice, no hard ground no canter no gallop for 2 years. We stopped the traumatic arthritis progression and he is sound as the day for low impact riding. The key is giving injuries the TIME and CARE they need. While its great that so many ottbs are being re-homed, there is a delicate line between pushing a horse out the adoption door too soon vs. declaring the horse is only fit as a pasture pet. There was an extreme improvement—- at the two year mark in my horses injury. One year was on and off and most people would have put him down or declared only fit for pasture. At two years-no symptoms and no heat, swelling ever. Even after a hard pasture gallop. ( Which I now let him do….)

  2. Lisa M.

    Wish the tracks in LA had this sort of policy! One I watched from Suffolk resurfaced in LA, last race he walked off, not seen on my radar in a few months. So afraid he might end up in a bad place. Please keep an eye out for Governor’s Badge, 8yr. old bay gelding last raced at Evangline in August. Hasn’t hit the boards in 2 yrs after total 50 starts. Just want him safe.

  3. prickel

    This horse situation, in my opinion, is no different than dog fighting, cock fighting. This should absolutely be punishable by law, as it is inhumane animal cruelty. Scare the crap out of this guy and maybe, just maybe, others will think and stop before they follow in his footsteps with their horses.

  4. Sue

    I am searching for the following Afleet Alex foals. None of them have raced in one year; all of them DID race at various locations. They have simply “disappeared,” and I cannot find them. Thanks for any input.

    A Student 8/G last race 6/14 Lone Star. According to EquiBase: Connections as of last Start: Jockey: Gerardo Mora Trainer: Karl Broberg Owner: End Zone Athletics, Inc. Breeder: Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC. (I have hard that Broberg ships his “retired” TBs directly to slaughter, with no trace.)

    Afleet Halo H LA Downs 8-2013 vs. Noble Alex 12,500 claim; 4-14 last race Evangeline

    Afleetical F last race 10-14 Penn Natl

    Alex El Guapo G last race 12-14 Laurel

    Alex McGee Grey G 9-14 last race Suffolk

    Alexis Inspires F LoPresi; Stonestreet owner; last race 9-14 churchill (has run only 3 times)

    Alexis Rules F 6-14 churchill (2 races)

    Arturius G 8-14 last race Suffolk

    Baby Afleet G 6-14 last race Lone Star

    Beach Boy Alex G PA bred; last race Saratoga 8-12; 11-14 workout at Belmont; Dec.&Jan’15, scratched from 3 races

    Fast Maggie F 7-27-14 last race, North Dakota

    File Gumbo M 7-5-14 last race Assiniboia $2,500 claiming

    Five Afleet G 12-17-14 last race Turfway $5,000 claiming

    Fleet Express H 1 start 7-17-14 Arlington, 6th place

    Hard to Port H 3 starts, last race Gulfstream 12-20-14, 2 1sts

    Ireland F Lukas; full sister to Dublin; last race 10-14 Keeneland

    Laurenmychanelgirl F 2 starts, last race 5-14-14 Belmont

    Logan’s Lotto H last race 10-26-14 Santa Anita, PPs state “Logan’s Lotto broke in and a bit slowly, saved ground chasing the pass, dropped back on the second turn, gave way, was being pulled up nearing the wire, was unsaddled near the clubhouse turn and vanned off.” Dead???

    Magic Bullet G last race 12-13 Hawthorne; workout Laurel 10-21-14

    Mon Gateau G last race Camarero 2-2-14

    Royal Art H $410,000; Lucas; last race 2-14 Oaklawn

    Standup Paddle G Midwest TBs; OBS 2 yr old training April 2012; last race 5-14-14 DE, 1st, $30,000 claim (not claimed)

    Stratus C 12-15-14 1st race, Delta, 8th; 1-30-15 2nd race, Delta, scratched, fell in gate

    Sweet Tess M Del Mar 9-1-13 Mike Smith ride; 11-14 last race DelMar, Esponoza

    Tashir C DE broke maiden 1st time out on 7-13; last race 3-2-14 1st place, Smooth Air Stakes at Calder

    1. Jeanette

      Alexis Rules is currently training at Remington Park as of 10/02/15

      1. Sue

        Thank you, much appreciated.

    2. Jennifer

      Alexis Inspires: Keeneland November 2015 sale, in foal to Kantharos
      Alexis Rules: raced Remington 11/18/15; work at Evangeline training center 12/12/15
      Beach Boy Alex: raced Penn National 3/13/15; work at Penn National 6/12/15
      Fast Maggie: raced Columbus 9/4/15
      Five Afleet: raced Belterra Park 8/8/15
      Fleet Express: work at Remington 8/10/15
      Laurenmychanelgirl: work at Belmont 10/14/14
      Magic Bullet: work at Laurel 3/18/15
      Saturday in May: deceased
      Stratus: work at Delta Downs 3/7/15
      Sweet Tess: Keeneland November 2015 sale, in foal to Candy Ride (sold for $250K)

      Sales information is available both on Equibase and the Blood Horse websites. You can create a free virtual stable on Equibase which will alert you to both races and workouts if you set those preferences.

      1. Sue

        Thank you SO much for this info! Not knowing where they are upsets me. I know someone needs to keep an eye on these (mostly) claimers, so I have chosen to watch Afleet Alex’s.

  5. ousleylj

    Thanks for trying to stop TB’s from going to slaughter. One of the problems remains that people over-breed. I’m for legislation to make the breeders/owners responsible for the entire life of that horse (into retirement with quality lifestyle). Horses live 25 – 30 years or more.

  6. Ambdr

    Good one to Parx for putting some teeth into their no slaughter policy, and for supporting their retirement program. My fear is that it drives the less scrupulous further underground, where the OTTBs go straight to kill, no auctions, no “kill pen” where the horses are offered for sale to the public, removing even the smallest chance for them to find a home through auction or even through a kill buyer owned broker program.
    The only way to truly protect the horses is to urge your Congresspeople to pass the SAFE Act (S#1214 and HR#1942) to ensure NO horses from wild mustangs to Derby winners slip through the cracks.

  7. Betty Rhodes

    I am so happy to see some in the racing industry taking good care of our horses they don’t deseve to die in a meat factory, thank you


    so glad you are have 0 tolerance to slaughtering race horses .this is good news

  9. Mary Adkins-Matthews

    It makes absolutely no sense that a horse is sent to slaughter when there are programs like this to protect the athletes. Mario Arriaga should be banned. There is no excuse

  10. Kevin Callinan

    Vera was entering 20 horses a year and averaging about 70K a year until suddenly jumping to 600K and turning 10K claimers into allowance horses.His barn should be scrutinized.

    1. Janice Irving

      You’re absolutely right!

  11. Lupine Shyam

    1700 horses discarded to (turning for home) from this track alone…. how many hundreds of thousands of TB’s per annum in north america alone, are discarded? TB racing is a heart-less for -profit-only INDUSTRY, it is a BUSINESS. period. Breeding is an industry, business only. period. stop the racing, stop the industry, stop the breeding, problem solved.

    1. Sue Kawczynski

      It’s not hundreds of thousands of thoroughbreds/year … that’s TOTAL horses. TBs make up about 10% …. the rest are QH, Standardbreds, Premarin foals, draft horses, mustangs, Betsy’s little pony, and a mix of all breeds. Hate when people lie so they can get preachy.

      Racing alone is not the problem …. You want to stop the slaughter … petition your representatives to change the law!!!

      1. Lynn

        Sue you are correct…there are so few TB s ending up in slaughter compared to other registered breeds/ a matter of fact TB industry is at for front for saving TB for alternate careers…QUARTER horses have the highest percentage of dumping and this back yard breeding with no regard for confirmation and quality is almost a sure death sentence especially when never handled or trained for a specific job…

  12. José Manoel

    Excellent measure from Parx Racetrack. It´s our duty to preserve the life of racehorses.

  13. Loren Schumacher

    Arriaga and Vera should be banned from racing and investigated under the new Federal anti-cruelty guidelines. It is incomprehensible that this horse was allowed to suffer for two weeks. At least his end was a humane and considered one.

    I love horse racing and so long as two owners have horses, there will be races to see whose is faster, but horse racing industry should be proactive in removing the miscreants who inhabit the backside.

    Let’s hear it for Parx, they are first class.

  14. Pamela J. Smucker

    So glad this is the position you take as a racing organization. I just recently adopted a OTTB in OK. Megan’s Policy was on the kill lot and owned by a kill buyer when a lady in AR paid her bail and got her to safety. I have since adopted her. It is unthinkable that a beautiful and wonderful horse like this was days away from being shipped to Mexico. Yes, she has a bowed tendon that is healing. She will be able handle some riding when it is completely healed—just not anything like racing. Once again, I am happy to read about your policy. All breed organizations should do something like this, and there is no excuse for a horse that runs in your organization to go anywhere except retirement. I can’t believe the owner of Wolf King did not take advantage of what you offer for the horse.

  15. Gail Vacca

    The owner can and should be charged with aggrevated cruelty for failing to provide proper veterinary care to this poor horse. I hope the officials at Parx will pursue charges as PA laws for animal cruelty are quite good. Owner can also be charged with selling a horse which was ” unfit to work.”

    1. Mary Adkins-Matthews

      I agree.. the horse had to go through all that pain to just be euthanized which is what should have been done in the first place

  16. Anna Kuralt-Fenton

    We had a race horse with the same injury. He was immediately treated for sesimoid fracture and lived for many years comfortably on our farm thanks to immediate care from Dr. Richard Sheehan and Lorita Lindemann. There is no need for this to happen especially with an on track rehoming group right there.

  17. renee

    Lets hope … Mario Arriaga learned his lesson and in the future will be responsible at minimum put the animal out of its misery if your not going to see the injury through with medical intervention…..

  18. Jan Berman

    On July 6th he finishes lame in third place ….. in the money! They van him off and shove him in a stall while they go collect his paycheck! He stands on that injured leg until the 20th, 14days! 2 weeks! and is then sent off to slaughter. Even if he was sent to a farm, leaving him unattended medically for 2 weeks should be punishable under your new federal animal cruelty laws! As well as what the track imposes, these guys are really due some serious jail time!

  19. Christina

    The person who owned this beautiful animal clearly intended to let him go to slaughter or else why would he have failed to provide any veterinary care for the injured leg? What a brute.

  20. Tina,cummins

    Need to quit paying money out for breeding. I know of one guy that has 11 to 12 foals a summer . That’s one guy. If they don’t do anything he gets rid of them
    That’s why I don’t like horse racing period

  21. Deb

    Well dobe Mr Elliott! I agree all involved with that lovely creature being sent to slaughter should be barred from racing on all North American tracks…

  22. Martha.

    That the track has this in place. And has the “Turning for Home” program so readily available. Plus the Canter volunteers that are there with their information etc etc Make this even more disgusting and inexcusable. I hate seeing my boy “off” with just a slight hitch in his step. The pain this boy must have been in, for those 10 days makes me cry

  23. Jon

    Mario Arriaga and the trainer Miguel Vera should receive a permanent ban on racing horses in all states for this inhumane action.

  24. keely

    If you want to go the extra step call Mr Elliot, 215-639-9000 ext 3310 to say thank you for upholding the rules and making this owner accountable for his actions.

  25. Elizabeth

    Well done Parx.

  26. tbdancer

    This story is one that is played out over and over again, sadly, when a racehorse falls through the cracks. The fac tthat the owner was obviously lying about where his horse was headed (because the “new owner” could not produce a bill of sale) indicates that the no-tolerance policy at Parx should stay in force and the connections of Wolf King should find another line of work, preferably one that does NOT involve animals.

  27. Catherine Doller

    This is so shocking and inhumane. He should have received immediate veterinary care, and euthanasia if needed, not made to suffer like this. The owner should be banned from owning horses, and all involved should be punished.

  28. Penny Lillies

    That owner made that poor horse suffer on the leg for 10 days and should be severely punished for that

    1. Niles

      Agreed, that is beyond cruel.

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