Accident at Gulfstream Raises Liability Questions

by | 03.17.2014 | 3:25pm
Damage to Terri Page's car from a loose horse at Gulfstream

Feb. 5 marked a turning point in the career of 3-year-old colt Malibu Blues, although it wasn't because he won his first race. The colt did beat a maiden claiming field in Gulfstream Park's last race that day, but what everyone remembers is what happened afterward.

Owner Joanne Dew of Dogwood Plantation said after the race, her horse headed to the test barn. She was told that two horsemen were with the horse as he crossed from the track to the backstretch to enter the test barn. The path takes horses underneath an observation tower for cameramen, and just as Malibu Blues stepped under the tower, the cameraman stationed there began climbing down, directly over the horse's head with his equipment rattling. The startled colt knocked over one of his handlers, and his second escort tripped over the first.

Malibu Blues took off in a panic, quickly approaching the test barn and where several cars were parked. Groom Terri Page had her car parked toward the end of the row of vehicles. The horse leapt onto her car, possibly in an attempt to jump over it, smashing the windshield and putting his leg through the sunroof. It's unclear how the frightened animal freed himself from the roof, leaving the vehicle with significant damage and himself with a severed artery in his leg.

Five weeks later, Malibu Blues is recovering, but Page's car is not so lucky, and it remains unclear who is responsible for the damage.

“Nobody wants the blame for this,” said Page. “I think they just don't care.”

Page's insurance agent told her that the owner of the horse is at fault for damage to the car, which she had just outfitted with new tires and brakes.

For Page, who has worked as a groom for some three decades, the accident couldn't have come at a worse time. Her mother recently suffered a stroke, so between trips to work and to the hospital, Page needs mobility more than ever.

“I'm a groom and I need my car,” she said. “I don't make a million dollars.

Malibu Blues leapt onto Page's car and fell partway through the sunroof

Malibu Blues leapt onto Page's car and fell partway through the sunroof

“I'm dealing with it because I'm tougher than that. Racetrackers can deal with a lot. Working seven days a week toughens you up.”

Dew is sympathetic to Page's plight, but she isn't sure she is legally at fault. Dew said that in her native North Carolina and in Louisiana, vehicle owners are responsible for any damage incurred by a horse on farm or track property, since they knowingly parked in an area where an animal could damage it. She said she made inquiries as to whether this was the case in Florida, but could not get a definitive answer.

The accident came at a tough time for Dew, too. Malibu Blues is the last foal out of her stakes-winning mare Cozy Blues, who has since been retired from breeding due to laminitis. She bred the mare to Malibu Moon back when his fee was a third of what it is now and had high hopes for Malibu Blues. Dew's broodmare band is a modest group of five, and she said the operation has been in the red for several years. She would have sold the colt as a yearling, but his late-developing reproductive tract stifled those plans. Now, she is tackling sizable veterinary bills from the two-and-a-half-hour surgery to repair the artery, followed by a week-long hospital stay. Malibu Blues is recuperating in South Carolina, but it is unknown if he will race again.

“I don't know how much money I may have lost on this,” said Dew, who the accountant for Dew Oil in North Carolina. “This is a really strange story. I don't know what to do. [The car repair] is a lot of money to me, too. I work as an accountant. My husband and I own a small business together, which we try to keep going.

“I do not have any animosity toward this woman. I think she was doing what everybody else does: she was driving on the backside. I'm sure she sees me as an owner, and most of the owners anyone sees are the wealthy ones. I'm one of those middle ones that are trying to make a go of this, and I'm having a really hard time now.”

Dew, who was not on the backstretch at the time of the accident, said a lawyer has advised her that Gulfstream may be at fault, since the cameraman alleged to have started the chain reaction was hired by the track. She has since turned the matter over to trainer Kellyn Gorder's insurance company.

An official reached at Gulfstream on Friday said in cases such as this one, the owner of the horse is responsible, but could not speak to the specific incident, or say whether the rule is a matter of state law or track policy.

“I really don't know what's going to come of this. I wish I did,” said Dew.

  • Needles

    Surely Frank Stronach can get this resolved.

    • Quilla

      My thoughts exactly. It’s pocket change for him.

    • LongTimeEconomist

      Tell both of these women to call John Morgan.

  • Glimmerglass

    If it was Oaklawn Park I suspect that the Cella family would’ve addressed it and the problem resolved.

  • betterthannothing

    “The path takes horses underneath an observation tower for cameramen,
    and just as Malibu Blues stepped under the tower, the cameraman
    stationed there began climbing down, directly over the horse’s head with
    his equipment rattling”

    When will the safety of the horses become Priority #1 Mr. Cameraman & All? Horses should have the right of way. All people within their proximity should behave intelligently in ways that may not scare and hurt horses, people and/or properties. All employees should have a course in basic horsemanship with focus on horse behavior before being hired to work where horses are present.

    • Knowitall

      Agree with your general principle, but the cameraman might not have noticed the horse, Accidents happen.

      • betterthannothing

        Yes, accidents happen and there are many ways to scare fractious race horses. That is why the cameraman should have used an abundance of caution and looked down before descending from his tower with “his equipment rattling”.

        • Knowitall

          Maybe you can teach a course in Perfection. Sh!t happens. Perhaps the handlers of the horse should have seen the guy and yelled at him to stop or been better horsemen who could hang onto the animal, or had a better shank on him, or, or, or….see how this works?

          • Robert Malik

            You are so correct! Working around all types of animals, one learns Anything can happen, you have to be prepared. I blame the groom who should have ANTICIPATED & REACT according, tie a knot at the end of the shank!

            But I still think the owner is a cry-baby!

          • Curtis C Clark

            How can you fault the groom Average horse might weigh 900 plus pounds give or take, you obviously have never handled a horse. Yet i have for twenty years at Santa Anita and most people on the back side that work around horse (not with them) could care less how much noise they make or for the well fair of the horse of human guiding them.
            CAMERAMAN AT FAULT, whether he was careful or careless horse, Track pays for the car

          • Robert Malik

            I’ve handled many, many horses for 45 years on the racetrack, many facets – trainer, assistant trainer, jockey, exercise rider…and yes accidents do happen. BUT one has to be prepared, never letting your guard down!

            And if the “Average horse might weigh 900 plus pounds give or take”-then how does a jockey (who weighs 115 lbs) control the horse?

          • ginger2000

            You are correct. This myth that a “good” groom can stop a horse with a shank is idiocy. When a horse is panicked and decides to run, no person can stop them. And as for Mr. Malik’s remark. The jockey is ON the horse, but that doesn’t mean a jockey is necessarily in control. There are many runaways on the track, horses who swerve coming down the stretch, etc. Riders who are thrown – that is clearly a loss of control.

        • nu-fan

          I’m with you on this. Accidents do happen but, in a court of law, someone is likely to be held liable. Accidents happen, too often, when safety procedures are not in place or not followed. In an environment where there are horses–who spook easily–I would think that whoever allowed the cameraman in an area where horses are present would have some liability. In addition, it is usually the owner of the property that is held liable. For instance, if someone trips on the sidewalk of my home and gets injured, I am the one who will be held liable, which is why I carry homeowners’ insurance. Or, perhaps, this is one of those state-by-state laws. In Florida, who knows?

          • Knowitall

            The owner of the cause of the damage, the horse, is responsible. Anyone who owns horses knows this, every board or care agreement they sign says so. In this case, not fair, but the law. Inevitably there is always an argument that a human allowed or caused the horse to spook. And cameramen and photos are allowed around horses every day at the track, some are better than others around them. And humans make mistakes, don’t look right when they are looking left, and young TB horses can spook at their own shadow.

          • ginger2000

            I agree with you. And really, racehorses should not have to walk under things. That is really begging for trouble.

          • MA

            This becomes a slippery slope of blaming anyone or anything for a horse spooking. They can say whatever they want and the person/thing they blame has to prove they didn’t spook a horse? Maybe someone was standing still, and a bag blew 100 yards away and spooked the horse, but the person is blamed because the handler didn’t see the bag? The one thing that’s not debatable is who was responsible for keeping the horse under control, and that’s its handler(s).

          • ginger2000

            A person cannot “control” a horse determined to escape, anymore than a person can stop a car rolling down a hill by grabbing it by the rear bumper. Horses weigh 1000 lbs, It is physically impossible. Only when the horse’s brain is not panicked and it is WILLING to be controlled to some extent, can it be controlled. Look at Wayne Lukas’s son. Accidents happen because horses are 10 times stronger than people.

          • Knowitall

            Actually Ginger, people stop horses or convince them to reconsider every day. And if they didn’t there would be a helluva lot more loose horses in the saddling paddock, the backside, and on the track. Jeff Lukas is a horrible example. He stood in the path of a runaway trying to wave him back – he didn’t have hold of him in the first place – and horses usually avoid collisions (it has been reported Jeff and Tabasco Cat both ducked to same side even though the “rogue horse ran him down” sounds so much better in the re-telling.) The report here is one guy lost the horse when the horse knocked him off his feet – there is no report on how “out of control” the horse was when he spooked, and the other guy tripped over the first one. I doubt this was the A Team of horsemen walking him back to the barn. If so, why didn’t they know about or look up at the camera tower in the first place?

      • Jennifer

        OK then one must pay for their accidents. RIGHT. And then learn from them

      • Nayrod

        When it comes to animals and flight animals as horse’s. There’s no such thing as accident. All have to be aware of there surrounding, period.

    • Black Helen

      Safety of the horses will NEVER be number one again
      99% RACE ON DRUGS (NOT SAFE) Bute, lasix are drugs

      Money is number one , greed governs all
      Makes me sick you doping creeps.

    • MA

      I’ve seen all kinds of people do careless or innocently unintentional things to spook horses, including other horsemen. It’s not only people who do things to scare horses, but also animals – domesticated and wild – and inanimate objects. Are you going to tell them not to make any sudden noises or movements? Tell the wind not to blow? It’s the responsibility of the person handling a horse to deal with it. This was the time they couldn’t, and it was an accident.

    • Tonto

      Tower should be in fenced off area with gate. Not in the road to anywhere let alone with a horse path under it.

  • The reasonable one

    I believe this is a very simple case. The horse owner is responsible for the damages. The horse owner may have recourse against the track, as some of the responsibility may lie at its feet for the path the horses just take and the noise that added to the issue. Clearly, the owner of the horse is responsible for the agents (grooms) she is relying on to control the horse at all times.
    A better way to handle it may be for the Horsemen’s Board of Relief to pay for the damage in the short term. Is solves the issue for th groom, who clearly has been wronged.

  • Knowitall

    If the owner is responsible, she should have (and be required by any track to have) liability insurance. Although it seems to me the trainer’s employees were in possession of the colt, so why wouldn’t Gordon’s insurance pay? (In this specific case, I’d say the track should bear some liability for the cause, but they won’t agree due to a desire to not set precedent.)

    But why isn’t the groom’s insurance company going to pay, the same as if a deer hit the car? Is he not insured for comprehensive that covers her car? If not, then that was a risk she took. Or just do what they always do, have a fundraiser, and everyone involved can chip in a little bit.

    • jdavids

      most camera people are not very horse wise, i think the film com.doing the work for Gulfstream should pay something toward the bill

      • Knowitall

        Having worked with many of them, they are as wise around horses as they are instructed to be.

      • circusticket

        Gulfstream hired the cameraman. They should pay.

  • Gayle Meyers

    Gee, why not keep parked cars away from ANY place the horses might be traveling, like from the track to the test barn, or the pathway to their stall? I know that vets and farriers and haulers drive in and out during morning training hours, but this happened in the afternoon. Experience teaches one to keep ANY dangerous equipment away from young Thoroughbreds, because one of them eventually will find a way to injure itself.

    • circusticket

      Why not just stay in bed and avoid all risk.

    • MA

      Do you know that this car wasn’t away from main horse paths? It probably was, at a place designated for parking, and a loose horse goes all kinds of unexpected places. They sometimes leave the barn area and run outside the track. What then?

    • Max Boyce

      I was there. The groom’s car was parked in the proper spot for backstretch workers far away from the horse’s pathway. Unfortunately a loose horse is very much like a Florida driver – it will not obey any traffic signs.

    • Gayle Meyers

      What then? Hmmmm…fencing comes in very handy for containing livestock. They shouldn’t have access to parked cars.

  • Harry

    Ms. Dew needs to step up and pay for the damages. That was a cheap shot she took about wealthy owners. You may not be wealthy but you can do the right thing, Ms. Dew. Count your lucky stars no one was killed by your horse.

    • Knowitall

      Didn’t see a cheap shot there. But can’t imagine owning race horses without liability insurance. I know when my horse kicked out someone’s turn signal light (hey, a fly landed on his butt while he was being hand grazed) I didn’t hesitate to pay for it, even if I could argue that parking near horses is inherently dangerous for a car;-)

      • nu-fan

        If the grounds had designated parking spaces for cars (and I don’t if, in this case, it did), then, the track should be held liable. If, however, people just park their cars “wherever” then, yes, there could be an argument that the owner of the car was incurring whatever risks might be present there. And, I agree that anyone who owns a horse or other animal, that may do some harm, should have liability insurance. That’s just common sense but not everyone understands this.

  • equine avenger

    Personally, I believe that the track is responsible for both the horses injuries and the damage to the vehicle. An employee of Gulfstream(whether an accident or not), caused this unfortunate situation to occur. These people up in those towers should be more alert to the surroundings before making their descent. This could have been prevented.

    • Bman

      If GP owns and designed the path and was responsible for having horseman follow that path, and GP is owner of the tower and the equipment and the employee, GP should be held responsible. The owner surely signed a waiver and release when taking out a license but these circumstances will exonerate the owner and groom, who was following GP parking protocol – assuming. FS should step up and make it go away, do the right thing, his lawyers will cost much more than a few vet bills and car repair and he may lose it anyway. What will happen when one of his horses does similar? Unfortunate for all.

    • Tonto

      Horses are instinctively very afraid of things over their head- that is where the BIG CATS live that eat horses. Try riding a green horse down a ditch or lead one under a bridge or into low barn or trailer .

      • Sandra Warren

        Damn right! Once I was riding a horse down a public highway when the wind picked up just as I was underneath a flag pole with a large flag. It started snapping loudly in the wind. It was such an innocuous sound to me that at first I failed to understand the reason for the horse’s panic. I was very, very lucky not to be unseated and lose my horse in the traffic. She was just about the definition of bomb-proof but she came unglued that day. Fortunately, I saw her head turn up to look at the flag and was able to sidepass her over to a place where she became controllable again. Any horse can become panicked when the danger is above their head. I think the horse owner should compensate the groom for the damage to her car caused by the horse, and Gulfstream or the camera service should compensate the owner for the damage to the horse — likely a lot more money.

  • wabstat

    Pony Up Gulfstream.

  • south florida tom

    The article states that two horsemen were with the horse at the time of the accident. Who do these two horseman work for, Dew or Gulfstream Park? In my opinion (personal opinion not legal opinion), whoever they work for should pay up. I know that buildings and people are jammed on top of one other all over the property at GP, but these two handlers should have safely led the horse to the test barn.

    • FastBernieB

      Clearly Tom you have no concept of the difficulty involved in controlling a spooked horse. Four hundred pounds of humans is no match for twelve hundred pounds of spooked horse.

      • circusticket

        Nothing is a match for a spooked horse. The bridle will break and the horse will get loose anyway.

      • south florida tom

        Agreed. Also, whoever the two horsemen work for should pay for the damages.

  • Kathy Young

    Since no one wants to step up, everyone should pungle up a bit–cameraman, Gulfstream, horse owner.

  • forestwildcat

    If page had accidentally run into the horse on the backside where would she be?

    • Knowitall

      Fixing her car herself. And her limited insurance would pay up to a minimal amount for property (horse) damage.

      • Susan Crane-Sundell

        Plus she would probably be sued for negligence and more than likely lose her job. She wouldn’t have a great deal of protection.

  • Nayrod

    Sounds like this and all tracks need to come up with a safety protocol in all area’s of the track. Horse’s/ people always have the right away. I believe the track should pay for her damage> Since they didn’t amend any safety protocols to all on the track, especially non-horse person’s.

    • nu-fan

      Fully agree with you! Got to get to the root of the problem and the problem is the way that some tracks are not safety compliant.

  • DeniseSteffanus

    Florida, like other states, has an equine liability statute to address such an occurrence:

    “Except as provided in section 773.03, an equine activity sponsor, an equine
    professional, or any other person, which shall include a corporation or
    partnership, shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant
    resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities and, except as provided
    in section 773.03, no participant nor any participant’s representative shall have any
    claim against or recover from any equine activity sponsor, equine professional,
    or any other person for injury, loss, damage, or death of the participant
    resulting from any of the inherent risks of equine activities.”

    • Knowitall

      Maybe if he ran over a random groom while loose on track property this applies? Seems the car wasn’t participating in equine activities. And the horse wasn’t where he belonged on track property. If a horse got loose outside the stable gates and leapt onto a windshield of a car, there would be a claim against the owner as the driver wasn’t “participating.” Even if the blame belonged on the person who spooked the horse or couldn’t hold onto him. Tracks require liability insurance of trainers, and trainers should probably require it of owners if they don’t want to bear the claim.

      But bottom line is that if you don’t carry comprehensive on an auto, you are on your own no matter what happens to your car. If a deer hit her, she’d have to repair it.

    • Kristen

      1. That statute does not apply to racetracks. Florida does not include racetracks in the definition of “an equine activity sponsor.”

      2. Your quote lists the general rule but, Section 773.03 lists exceptions to that rule. Note, Section 773.03 specifically says that it covers the horseracing industry. 773.03(C) says that the equine activity sponsor can be liable for “a dangerous latent condition which was known to the equine activity sponsor, and they failed to post warning signs. 773.03(C) says it can be liable if it “Commits an act or omission that a reasonably prudent person would not have done or omitted under the same or similar circumstances or that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, which act or omission was a proximate cause of the injury.” Arguably, a path under a noisy cameraman is a dangerous latent condition. Also, the cameraman (who is an employee of the racetrack) made and made an act or omission which constituted willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participants, when he chose to go down his ladder with noisy equipment at the same time a horse was passing below him. — So either of these provisions make a good argument that the track is liable.

      3. Florida’s statute that governs horse racing is actually section 550. Section 550.0235 addresses civil liability, and says “This section shall not limit liability in any situation in which the negligent maintenance of the premises or the negligent conduct of a race contributed to an accident; nor shall it limit any contractual liability.”

  • RaceFan

    The cameraman works for Gulfstream Park. Why does their liability policy not cover this situation. Still photographers are required at many tracks to have a liability policy in place before they can shoot there. Owner didn’t cause the problem and the horse likely would have otherwise walked to the test barn without incident. The handlers of the horse work for the trainer. Don’t GP and the trainer both have liability insurance?

  • Mike

    Dew must pay. A horse has no business in a parking lot. Owner should pay the repairs.

  • Rick

    Florida is a “No Fault” state, however the law clearly dictates that who ever maintains care, control and custody of an animal is fully responsible for that animal and any damages etc that occur from that animal. IE a dog that bites someone or a cow, horse etc running down the street causing an accident. This horse obviously was poorly trained and should have remained in control of the walker regardless….

    • Sandra Warren

      So it’s the TRAINER’s fault. I’m sure all the owners can agree on that! :)

    • Knowitall

      Are you for real? The part about the poorly trained horse – I bet the closest you’ve been to a horse is the one you put a dime in as a child? And on the responsibility, it is ultimately the owner of the horse no matter where the horse is, although I agree this should be on the trainer and his help since the horse was in their care, but that’s not how it works with horses in any discipline. The better question is why doesn’t the owner have liability insurance? The trainer does, therefore that is where the claim went….

  • gg

    The cameraman should have looked before and during his climb down. I would have to say it is the responsibility of the racetrack to cover the costs of both the car and the vet bills for Malibu Blue. It is with total disregard the racetrack would have a path that puts a horse in a risky environment in addition to his vocation of racing.

    • MA

      Horses will find a way to hurt themselves in a padded room.

  • HappyHarriet

    For God Sakes – will someone help that woman fix her car, instead of standing around looking stupid. This is ridiculous. And what about the camerman? What did he do? Trundle off, jingling all the way, rattling all the way, to a union-mandated coffee break, while a car is unusable and a horse nearly died? And what about the handlers – isn’t it their jobs to HAVE AHOLD OF THE HORSE. I hate news stories that divert attention away from the REAL story and instead take pot shots at people who weren’t even present during the incident.

  • Finbarr Saunders

    Dew is making a mountain out of this and should have paid up as soon as it happened

  • Tonto

    Another example of ‘non horse’ people at racetracks . HBPA or local equivalent can pay for another car so the groom can get to work while the lawyers and track sort this one out.but why should the horses and owner suffer such loss form a ‘stuck on stupid’ employee.??? Remember the scene in Seabisqut where the tractor back fire spooks a horse that causes a broken leg on his rider.

  • Buster Gonad

    Before we lynch the guy It would be nice to hear the much maligned cameraman’s story. Please step forward Mr. Zapruder so we can get to the bottom of this case.

  • delmarla

    Racetrack’s liability with the cameraman being irresponsible with his actions….

  • Ron Micetic

    I’ve been a licensed insurance agent for 39 years. The groom’s insurance company is dodging the claim. If she has comprehensive coverage on the car the insurance carrier should pay the claim and they would subrogate against whatever party is ultimately responsible. If Ms. Page were my insured I would suggest she make a formal complaint to the Florida Department of Insurance, as well as inform her weasel insurance company that she believes they are dealing in bad faith. The “bad faith” statement ALWAYS gets their attention.

    • Bart Conrad

      Ron , the guys and gals who work on the backstretch cant afford comprehensive coverage on their cars. In fact its a wonder she had any insurance at all.

  • Guest

    It is actually the trainer’s liability. It is the reason trainers must carry $1 million in liability in addition to worker’s comp, for exactly this kind of accident.

  • Sue V

    I have a general liability policy that covers all my horses for just this reason,it’s cheap enough .

  • Jessie Baker

    I can give you a definitive answer the owner of the horse is responsible for any and all damage done by the animal in Florida

  • Proc

    Trainers should take out liability insurance to cover things like this. Over the last few years twice horse I train has damage a car on racetrack property. My liability insurance paid the cost of repairs, and I took care of little out pocket money the owner of the car incurred. Getting liability insurance is not that expense and can save you if your horse injuries somebody like in paddock. They will go after the owner and trainer for damages. Congrats on win JoAnn

    • nu-fan

      Agree to a point but all parties to this should have insurance. Usually, the insurance companies will hash out who owes what and to whom. Sometimes, there is more than one party at fault.

    • MN

      I thought that trainers are required to carry a liability insurance, even here in Florida…

  • Mimi Hunter

    I do know that in PA the owner is responsible. The only moving violation I’ve ever been charged with was backing a horse cart into a pickup. The colt spooked by a group if turkeys coming across the road, and he went backwards. It was a solid breaking cart made of 2″ angle iron – we opened the side of the truck like a can opener from the front wheel to the start of the bed. My fault – I hit a parked truck. End of story.

    • Kristen

      Yes, but your incident did not happen at a racetrack, and the turkeys who spooked your horse did not work for the racetrack. So this situation is a bit more complex than your damage to the truck.

      • Mimi Hunter

        Maybe not. They were owned by the land owner who also owned the truck – like the person who spooked the horse worked for the track. It happened on the truck/ turkey owner’s land – it happened on track property. Huge difference in the value of the damage, but quite a few similarities. And nobody in my incident died. A lot would depend on any paperwork involved with working there [park at your own risk] and with having a horse there [responsibilities when a horse gets loose].

  • Ladyofthelake

    Can someone explain why racetracks don’t do a better job of building barriers like fences in between areas where horses are moving and any area where they aren’t supposed to be, like a parking lot? And yes the cameraman should have used more sense and waited to climb down from his tower. Heck I was once at a horse auction and had to stop walking on the far right side of a horse after she started looking at me all wild eyed & the guy showing her said “She sees you!” So I stopped walking & stood there until he got done showing her. What kind of stupid track built a camera tower right above where horses walk?? (end rant)

    • nu-fan

      I couldn’t agree with you more. The racetrack should have designed spaces that prevent such injuries or damages from occurring. The horse is not at fault and neither should its owner/trainer/groom be held liable. Where these horses are located and moved, should be securely fenced and off-limits to those not directly involved in the care of these horses. Who allowed the cameraman there? If the tower was that important for photo shots, then, the track should have had someone, who knows what they are doing, accompany the cameraman. Or, move the tower elsewhere! This isn’t the first time that a horse has broken free from a handler and run off. Good grief! If a track can’t do a better job of designing its track for security/safety, they aren’t professional enough to even be operating it!

      • Ladyofthelake

        But on the other side I can *sort of* understand why the track hasn’t paid yet because if they did that would be like admitting liability, which would open them up to other lawsuits, and so on. But it’s not like the track itself couldn’t afford the repair bill!

  • IrishMick

    Typical BS, everybody pointing fingers and nobody willing to step up and do what’s right.

    Ray, put me down for two hundred bucks and tell me where to send it. Hopefully, others will follow suit and do what matters – get the groom’s damn car fixed.

  • Susan Crane-Sundell

    What a nightmare. If this number of knowledgeable people can’t determine liability, Florida law must be as clear as mud. If this were New York state, the private company where the accident happened would be held liable for all damages, as the accident happened on their premises. There’d be no issue and the car and the horse would both be covered due to the property owner bearing onus for all accidents that happen on their property. Not so in Florida. Florida is an odd duck with legislation/laws anyway (Stand Your Ground laws anyone?)

    This incident happened as a direct result of a course of business. Horse has to go to testing shed, horse needs to be escorted to training shed (grooms doing their job), backstretch worker is at track doing her job (course of business) and so is photographer doing theirs (course of business). The car is parked in appropriate area. Anyone who thinks they can hold and restrain a young TB out of control and frightened is fooling themselves. It’s an accident…essentially no-fault can be placed.

    I feel most sorry for the poor groom, Ms. Page she is completely put in the worst position in this (except for the poor injured horse), who is most lucky to be alive and we can all be very glad that his owner was responsible to Malibu Blues and paid the vet bill for surgery rather than having the poor horse destroyed. I understand that Ms. Dew might be strapped for cash after paying for such an emergency procedure if she is a small operation. One can definitely understand why Ms. Page, being employed as a groom, might not be able to swing comprehensive insurance on her car. Especially if the car was not new and was paid for. Most insurance agents advise against carrying comprehensive for a car that is paid for and is more than 3-4 yrs old. Comprehensive insurance for a safe driver averages out to add $50 per month to an insurance bill. That’s about $600 per year, a lot of money if you are employed as a groom.

    Actually, this could have been much worse, the horse’s escorts could have been severely injured, the cameraman could have fallen, and the car could be totaled and the poor horse dead. Be grateful no one is collateral damage. So why don’t people do the honorable thing?

    Schedule and hold a race in honor of the Backstretch Benevolent Fund and give the proceeds to Miss Page. Bettor proceeds could be donated (above costs incurred and state fees) and the winning connections could donate their purses above and beyond all costs incurred. Mr. Stronach ( a very honorable man and owner/breeder) and Gulfstream could kick in a little and no one has to take the blame. Interested fans and owners/trainers and track employees could have a whip-round in connection with the race. Ms. Page could get her only mode of transportation fixed. We all know she isn’t rolling in the green stuff.
    Where is that wonderful spirit that the racing community takes care of their own?

    And boy if this isn’t just the kind of incident that makes corporate lawyers burn the midnight oil to restructure policies, I don’t know what is. This might just serve as a very instructive incident for the future. Just fix it to everyone’s minimal satisfaction.

  • Mr Obvious

    Gulfstream should give the groom her Dew and turn the Page.

  • Nucky Thompson

    Sounds like the ideal case for “Help Me Howard” *. Maybe he will throw some oil on the fire.
    * Investigative lawyer on South Florida’s Channel 7 News

  • Tryandkeepup

    My husband trains horses and we had a loose horse after it dumped the rider, the horse hit a car trying to turn. Our liablity insurance covered the vehicle damage. No sweat. Kellyn Gorder should turn this in on his insurance anyway as he should have this covered in his per day rate. Accidents happen, and for them to try and collect from the owner when it was under the trainers care is totally wrong. Pay up Kellyn. It was your help that were caring for the horse.

  • Tonto

    Stuck on Stupid seems to be a common condition. Bill Kyne or John Alliso (owners of Bay Meadows and Alga Calenti Tracks) would have said – ‘what was the car worth and who do I make the check to and tell the horse owner to send me the vet bill. Case over. That was when Sportsmen owned tracks not ‘business men’

  • Len at Backstretch Studio

    The blame game is just a lose – lose battle. Often these situations go to the deepest pockets, whether right or wrong. The solution might be to consider whose insurance policy will cover the damages and if one is found Gulfstream should pick up the deductible. Sure this is not a clear cut and dry case so the solution cannot be either. If no policy will cover this (and get an independent reviewer to make that determination) then get an arbitrator with all parties at that table. Cooperation might make this bearable for all parties.

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