Penn National incident points out serious flaws in oversight

by | 09.21.2011 | 1:10pm
Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa.

Injuries during racing and training are an unfortunate but inevitable part of this game. Research, scientific breakthroughs, advanced veterinary medicine, and common sense can be applied to reduce the incidents of injury and save horses that might have required euthanasia in the not-so-distant past.

When injuries do occur – especially those catastrophic injuries when a horse is in physical distress and cannot be saved – the animal deserves the attention of a licensed equine practitioner as quickly as is humanly possible.

That didn't happen at Penn National racetrack near Harrisburg, Pa., last Sunday morning, when a filly named Langfurs Answer suffered a severe fracture in her lower leg as she was pulling up from a routine gallop. She stumbled and fell to the track when the broken leg could not support her body weight. Enrique Alonso Jr., the son of the filly's trainer, was watching her near the gap on the backstretch, and rushed to her aid when the injury occurred. The exercise rider was thrown clear of Langfurs Answer and was not injured.

A call for a veterinarian and a horse ambulance was made immediately. It was 7:25 a.m., Alonso said.

The horse ambulance soon arrived, but there was no veterinarian. Langfurs Answer was in great distress and incapable of standing up.

So Alonso waited. And waited.

“She was whimpering, crying,” Alonso said. “She tried to get up a few times, but I just held her there on the ground. She laid there for an hour and 10 minutes.”

Alonso said he learned there was no commission veterinarian, association vet, or private practitioner on the grounds.

“There was no one licensed to put her down,” he said. “Nobody. I said I could go home and get a gun and shoot her, but that wasn't right, either.”

Alonso said the private vet that works for his father doesn't come out on Sundays, when training is light, but after receiving a call about the filly sent an associate to the track to euthanize Langfurs Answer.

Who's to blame for allowing this filly to lay there and suffer for over an hour?

Christopher McErlean, vice president of racing for Penn National and president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations and a member of the board of trustees of the American Horse Council, said the track is under no obligation from the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission to have a veterinarian on the grounds during training hours – only during racing.

“It's unfortunate when any horse gets injured,” McErlean said, “but the trainers employ veterinarians. They should make arrangements to have their veterinarian there or available should they be needed.”

Samantha Krepps, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture that oversees the racing commission, said the track does bear some responsibility.

“The commission is looking into this unfortunate situation,” Krepps said via email. “The commission expects that prior to racing or training that any race facilities do all that it can to ensure the safety of all participants, both horse and human.  It is their obligation to ensure the following:

– Ready access to emergency veterinary care in the event of an accident or illness during training and racing hours.
– Racetrack surface has been properly maintained, prepared and groomed for training or racing.
– Outriders properly trained on equipment and procedures with working communications systems in order to appropriately respond to emergencies.
– Horse and human ambulances staffed by properly trained individuals and adequately equipped for emergencies.

“The commission is committed to preservation and development of the Thoroughbred racing industry and considers the racehorse to be at the core of the industry,” Krepps said.

The commission investigated a similar Penn National incident in May 2010, when an injured horse was required to walk back to its barn because the horse ambulance was not manned and no veterinarians could be found on the grounds. (Click here to read about that incident.) A vet arrived an hour and 20 minutes after the injury and euthanized the horse. The difference this time was that the horse ambulance was on the scene within minutes.

Penn National has never applied for accreditation with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, which mandates that a veterinarian be available during training.

Mike Ziegler, executive director of the Alliance, said Section N, under Veterinary Care in the Alliance Code of Standards, covers this type of incident.

The applicable paragraph reads: “Racetrack Members shall make certain that a practicing veterinarian is available for treatment at all times during Racing Periods and training hours.  An organized rotation among practicing veterinarians to ensure coverage throughout Racing and training hours shall be considered a best practice.”

Failure to comply could result in suspension or revocation of Safety and Integrity Alliance accreditation until a track complies, Ziegler added.

But with Penn National not interested in the Alliance, the burden falls on the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, a regulatory body that has proven itself in recent years to be inept and disengaged on matters of both integrity and welfare.

The Pennsylvania commission does not require pre-race veterinary inspection of horses to help ensure racing soundness. It was reluctant to comply with national standards for TCO2 testing for bicarbonate loading, a practice commonly known as milkshaking. A recently completed grand jury investigation exposes multiple problems in Pennsylvania horse racing, and urged the commission to investigate whether certain trainers should continue to be licensed, including the current president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Stephanie Beattie. Another trainer, Darrel Delahoussaye, was indicted by the grand jury and agreed to give up his Pennsylvania trainer's license for the rest of his life.

At some point, someone in the governor's office is going to take notice, and either clean house or put the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission on notice that it is not doing its job of protecting the public or the animals who compete in this game.

  • Holy Bull

    Just horrible. Unthinkable for the horses. You would think someone would be liable.

  • Satch

    The horse comes first. Always. Until this industry takes this issue seriously, thoroughbred racing will continue its downward spiral. Seriously, what would any outside casual observer think of horse racing if/when this story makes it to the national public media?

  • this is awful. either get it together or shut down. I’m tired of reading this bush league crap about the Pennsylvania tracks.

  • Lost In The Fog

    I’m shocked by this story. I naively thought that a veterinarian would be available for emergencies such as this during training hours at any track. That’s the way it should be with no exceptions. Penn National and the state of PA should be ashamed of themselves!

  • Lynda Tanner

    This EXACT thing happened back around 2004(?) at Yavapai Downs. Even down to the having to hold the horse down for an hour +. I had a pistol in my truck out in the parking lot and offered to the trainer, but he refused. I myself, if it was my horse would have ended the suffering right then and there. Finally a vet wandered in from somewhere. Don’t remember who it was, but my guess was that it wasn’t a track vet.Probably a private one. I think it should be mandatory there is a track vet on duty at all times during training and running. Do your stinkin job. You don’t like the hours, then make a living in the private sector. Even then, once you’re a vet, you’re at the mercy of the animal’s hours!

  • flyfilly

    0 excuse for this one. Why is it supposed to fall to the trainer’s expense to pay his vet to hang out for several hours every single day in case of an incident like this? Even if the quoted rules didn’t apply here, it doesn’t make any sense that the track isn’t responsible. It’s like telling YMCA members they should bring their own paid lifeguard if they want to swim in the pool during regular operating hours.

    Are we to understand from this that McErlean is not only absolving himself of responsibility in this situation, but also making no promises to voluntarily take measures to prevent this from happening again? Because if so I think he should get some e-mails from the regulars here. Or better yet, give PETA his number.

  • Quagmire

    How can Penn National–and the reprehensible behavior of other D List tracks–continue?

    Please Feds—-come in and tell Phipps, Hancock, and the 25 other fiefdoms that the madness must STOP NOW!

    A Major League Baseball type system with A, AAA, AA, A. Sorry folks, but the world won’t miss Beulah Park and the other crap tracks that are doing much to ruin the brand.

    A list tracks want to use Lasix? FINE! Just agree to a Hong Kong Jockey Club security system (State vets administering all drugs, Biometric scanning for all visitors to backstretch, full disclosure of injuries,) and all will be well.

    The only good thing about parabolic foal-decline washout of the market is that the sport is naturally shrinking.

    Hasta la vista, Prairie Meadows….

  • tonyaz


  • Shameful, there is no excuse, NONE!!

  • Neil Parker

    My sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the Enrique Alonso family and the grooms/hotwalkers associated with this filly.

  • Andy

    It should be mandated that they have a vet on site whenever horses are on the track.If they don’t want to comply then shut the whole operation down,and that means the casino also.It is the only way to get there attention.They suck.

  • Erick Weiss

    God rest Langfuhr Answer’s soul. McErlean should be ashamed to put his name to that quote. Tonyaz hit the nail on the head “REPULSIVE”.

  • Tinky

    “It’s unfortunate when any horse gets injured,” McErlean said, “but the trainers employ veterinarians. They should make arrangements to have their veterinarian there or available should they be needed.”

    Disgraceful response.

  • Ron Taylor

    This is another example of the politicians who put together the slots bill as viewing the race horses as a necessary evil to keep the machines pumping….If each track in PA. took the TOTAL revenue from ONE slot machine they could pay the salary for a vet to be their during training…..Remember,if their are no race horses their will be no horse racing…….Greed destroys…

  • Patience Pays

    And just why in the world was she running? To cover expenses??

  • pragmatist

    The only one that should she ashamed here is surprise, surprise, the queen of the HPBA Stephanie Beattie herself. It is her and her organization’s responsibility to mandate things such as this. The track president, however distasteful is correct, it isn’t Penn National’s job to have a vet there during training hours.

    It is a longstanding disgrace that the veterinarians that practice at Penn National are the worst of the worst. Try and find one to scope a horse or for any post race need and you will be out of luck, they are all gone as soon as they are done with their pre race activities. heaven forbid one is lame after a race, you are on your own.

    If Beattie would stop with her nonsense and take her responsibilities seriously, it would have been mandated long ago that at least one private practitioner is to be on the grounds at all times, even on a rotating basis amongst them.

    As much as you want to bash Penn National management, it absolutely is not their fault. The private vets suck at Penn, and the horsemen allow them to get away with it.

  • elktonstable

    Penn National is going through a transition from a relatively poorly managed track to one that will be better as it completes its purgatory. This track is located in a rather remote area that is not known for horses. With the previous low level of purse money offered the only residents to appear were largely refugees from other tracks or neophytes with little experience or knowledge in the superior level of horsemenship encountered at major tracks. It is unfortunate that the spokesperson for Penn National came across as a discompassionate twit, totally ignorant of horses. No doubt he appeared from the casino side of the grand stand. Having raced at Penn National occassionally I have begun to see many changes for the better. Better outfits are arriving slowly to take advantage of better purses. With the better outfits will come better horsemen and Penn National will provide an improving environment for horses and horsemen. They still have a long way to go but they are headed in the right direction. Management needs to continue their education that you cannot cut corners in the budget providing a safe racing and training environment.

  • seabiscuit

    Now that PA has the slots/table games it’s to hell with the horse people. It’s a shame what happened, it should not have especially when one of the HIRED vets and a STATE VET live but 15 minutes away. Who DIDN’T they call now?

  • cmt

    PA needs to “clean house”. The leaders in the sport are the ones under investigation! Come on man! Oversight by the governor is needed NOW! PA racing clearly can’t govern itself.

  • ace

    No state vet on the grounds. Not mandated.
    No one to blame here but the racing commission for not mandating a state vet at all times during training or racing.

  • Wendy

    After reading this, no one should wonder why PETA needs investigate horse racing. Or why the federal government doesn’t need to step in. States make money off every bet and some of that money should be spent on legislating the safety and protection of the horse. They’re just dumb animals, right? And they don’t feel pain, right? Go get ’em PETA. When the powers that be do not jump in and protect the horse, then someone else will do it. Don’t come whimpering and complain about PETA. We need an organization like that to keep us honest. And we don’t seem to be very honest–at least not with the star athlete who has created this sport. This is unconscionable in any state and at any level.

  • Bob Hope

    unbelievable ! make their slot license dependent upon the rules of horse racing that SHOULD include at least one veterinarian on duty during training and racing hours!

  • Don Reed

    A weekly “McErlean Award” should be awarded to the sleazy weasel who can equal or top this guy’s indifference to equine suffering, or to any other piece of human waste on two legs who disgraces the sport.

    Yet another reason why Penn National is the fetid, reeking garbage can of American racing.

  • Larry Ensor

    First of all and above all it pains me beyond words to read this sort of thing regardless of what track it happened at, regardless of how long it took a vet to get to the scene. I have personally dealt with similar situations over the years be it with racing, mares, or horse turned out in a paddock and remember them vividly. But in all fairness to Penn #17 Elktonstables made VERY valid points. My family trained and raced horses when Penn first opened and until recently had not been back since the early 80’s. Though I can’t say much has changed on the back side I can say the the company has made tremendous improvements to the race track and grandstand. Granted a good part of the facility is devoted to the casino but they did NOT overlook the horsemen’s area. It is a VERY enjoyable place to watch the races and has been well attended by horse people when we have run horses there. And I have been to race tracks all over the world. Management by in large has been attentive to owners needs and wishes. It is hardly a “crap track”, “D list” track, I know I have been to those kind. So, please people get a grip. Now, was this handled well by Penn’s spokesmen NO and hopefully it will be addressed. Please stop bashing the PA Racing Commission I know people on it past and present I don’t always agree with how things are handled but it will improve. By in large most are well meaning with integrity and the ability to learn and make appropriate changes. What I do find hard to believe with the rather large horse population stabled, even though it was a Sunday that there was not ONE vet on the grounds. Especially during training hours. If I were on the Racing Commission or the person in charge at Penn I would implement the following rule. Veterinarians that are granted permission and licensed to work at the race track must appoint at least one of their members to be present on the ground on ANY given day during training hours. Also one member on any given day must be ON Call and within a reasonable distance at any given time so as to be able to attend to any emergency. I will take the proposal to the Racing Commission.

  • Gallop

    The pure race to the bottom game seems to have a new winner (or rather Penn was already the winner and seems to be opening up lengths). Funny that they don’t seem ashamed. They seem proud. They seem to imply it’s unAmerican to have big brother, be it a track commission or state, meddle in things. I didn’t realize the wild wild west extended so far east.

  • Racer Rex


  • Barbara

    What is the policy for vets at other tracks and/or state commissions?

  • miraclulous miss

    this is disgusting. no excuse and inhumane because of sheer laziness. any vetrinarian who pulls one penny out of penn national should be ashamed of themselves by not doing anything to change this.

  • B Hogan

    Customers of PN should never make another bet at that track. All they care about is slots.

  • Special Ed

    agree with a lot of what was said here. There are some biased opinions here. I think Penn should not allow training when a vet is not there just as they would not allow training if an ambulance was not there. Maybe they should just close the track for training on sunday. Simple. I think they are being held accountable for too much here. I don’t agree with everything they do but this one I think they are not as wrong as many here make them out to be. The pressure needs to be put on the private vets there, they are lazy. Until last year it was impossible to get a horse scoped after the lasix for the last race was given. As soon as last shot given, boom, out the gate. If a horse broke down in a race, you had 2 choices destroyed by track vet or wait till morning. And the track vet was not allowed to medicate. Trainers there should demand the private vets cover them. What will be next a suit against penn for something “their” vet did wrong.???

  • MH

    I find it hard to believe not a single vet was on the grounds, especially the private vets. How many horses are stabled there? Training hours are peak vet work hours.

  • The Punisher

    Some of that money that has been going towards greasing the palms of some of these clowns could have been used to have a vet onsite during training hours.

  • Disgusted

    Please be advised that PETA has been contacted!

  • JP

    Its a jip track always has been and always will be, I dont care how much the purses are.

  • ITP

    I think the comments by McErlean remove all doubt that all he cares about now are casino revenues from PN Gaming and expediting the elimination of racing welfare from the PN balance sheet.

  • mtneer

    You’re wrong about the governor’s office. The governor could care less. The tea bagger is more interested in cutting education funding to “save money” and pressing the party agenda than anything else. The Horse Racing Commission has been filled with political hacks for decades who might be able to identify one end of a horse from the other, but are more interested in collecting some easy big bucks for sitting on the board. So if anyone is optimistic that this incident will get any action at all I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.

  • Penn National has never applied for accreditation with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, which mandates that a veterinarian be available during training.
    But with Penn National not interested in the Alliance, the burden falls on the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, a regulatory body that has proven itself in recent years to be inept and disengaged on matters of both integrity and welfare.
    and there is your answer folks, Penn., has no intentions of putting the horse first !!!!
    Mr.E. Alonso this was a terrible thing for your horse to have to go thru. But I for one would fire your private vet., and whoever I would hire in that position has to be available whenever I needed a vet period. The vets at penn cant wait to give that last lasix shot to get the heck out, unbelievable… Trainers put your foot down, run them out of business, they work for you not the other way around !!!! it is a crazy place, anyone in there right mind knows that when horses are on the track, whatever time it is , you have to have a vet around.. very sad

  • The Penn National spokes person is an idiot, I mean really. If the track is open they should be responsible for having a vet on the grounds. What good is the horse ambulance without the people to do what needs to be done? Just what Pennsylvania needs is another black eye

  • Heartless and Unthinkable

    How can adults on all sides here the commission the track the vets and horseman and horsewomen not get together and figure out an amicable resolution. I agree with ray paulick that their needs to be wholesale changes on many levels in order for things to change. what gets lost in this dialog we are having is that a creature was in emmense pain for over an hour because neither penn national or the commission cared enough to address this issue. as ray pointed out this is not the first time its happened. what does it take for penn natinoal to do the right thing. who is in charge at the commission ray?

  • Rachel

    Everyone who commented on this poor filly needs to write or call the Governor’s office, even if your not a resident. It does no good here…
    Email link on
    Governor Tom Corbett
    225 Main Capitol Building
    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120

    Phone: (717) 787-2500
    Fax: (717) 772-8284

  • Rachel

    * that’s “state” not “stat” in my previous post’s email link…

  • This is awful! The PA racing commission should have at least 1 licensed vet on site. I mean, this is a racetrack where horses are exercising or competing; ANIMALS; and they can’t afford one Vet to be there? I would race elsewhere.

  • Heartless and Unthinkable

    mankind let this poor filly down. regardless of who you think is at fault they all share blame. does the Penn executive think every 80 year old 400 lb slot player should bring their personal doctor to the slots parlor in case they have a coronary?

  • ks m as

    typical for penn f the horses and horsemen we have our slots

  • ks m as

    to elkton stable what bull are you eating there are not reputable outfits coming here and nothing has been done in the year and half that i have been there to improve anything its f the horses and f the horsemen we have our slots wake up and smell the reality if they didnt clean out the racing commision when they got rid of jenkins it was always going to be the same status quo

  • Why didn’t they just shoot the hore,

    isn’t there security guys with guns

  • Here is a good question,

    If a trainer trains his horse on his farm,
    and the horse breaks down,
    what does he do,

    1. Always have a vet when training a horse on my farm
    2. Have a vet close by, maybe
    3. Have a gun to shoot the horse
    4. Or something else

    This stuff must also happen off track when people are training horses

    What do the Trainers do then,
    Come on now trainers, speak up

  • John Scheinman

    This is clearly outrageous. Does horse racing need this? Bottom line: Pennsylvania Racing Commission needs to ensure that a vet is at the track at all times horses are out on it. Whether that means staffing themselves or requiring PENN to do so is immaterial. It just needs to get done. Period.

  • Really?

    Something just doesn’t seem right with this story, I find it hard to believe that with over a thousand horses in training there was not one single vet on the grounds at Penn National. Most times when things like this happen there is a page for a vet to come to the track and within minutes there are vets tending to the ill fated horse. Really? no vets were on the backside that morning, I find that hard to believe.

  • Wallace

    McErlean’s comments should be the demise of his involvement in the horse racing business. All of the conclusions that the Grand Jury decided was wrong with Penn National Race Course should ring loudly in the ears of all law enforcement and regulatory bodies with jurisdiction over this place. Governor Tom Corbett should really take a close look at what he has inherited from prior administrations, and to date, what he has done nothing to address. As a former law enforcement officer and investigator meant to protect his citizens and businesses, please Governor Corbett, get engaged and forget about the horse industry attempts to sugarcoat and explain away their unacceptable behaviors.

  • I am an owner at Penn National and I take offense to being lumped in with the few scummy hold over from a time gone by. The do however have their claws dug in so deep those of us who go to great lengths to and expense to insure the best of care for our animals can not seem to get free of their grip. I believe that the new players on the front side are make progress in turning Penn national around I and a few investors have laid a big stake that these people will finally bust up the good old boy click that is comcerned only with their well being and not what is good for the group, if they do not soon wake up and understand that if they dont stop the back door deals and start working to clean this up , Big brother will get involved and they will all be moving to OHIO. Their are some very good horsemen at this track people who work hard and clean trainers like Flint Stites,Sandie Beattie,Norman Pointer and Murray Rojas. There are many more and they all desereve better then they get at the hands of the good old boys and girls . Many of these people swim at our training center so I see how hard they work and the care they take to keep their horses safe and healthy. please be careful lumping these fine horsemen in with the riff raff which i will remind you resides at every track in america even the high and mighty Dutrow,biaconne and others dont train at Penn..

  • DDD

    This is absolutely disgusting to hear. This poor filly lying there in pain for over an hour???!! Seriously!!!! I hope PETA gets involved. As a veterinarian, u should want to be there during training hours if you cared a little bit about the horses and the clients that they work for….this track itself is a joke, always something news breaking from a pa tracks!

  • Destinybeaker

    That poor poor filly.

    What is it with that track? They have to get out of the Prehistoric ages already. GRRRRR

  • SteveG

    Unfortunately, RJGman, there’s no immediate counterweight to balance the kind of gross negligence that permitted this cruel & brutal end for the animal.

    In fact, and don’t take this personally, but if you & others who wish to practice ethically at what’s been described as a sump pit by less diplomatic souls, then it would have behooved the group of you to be aware of the absence of veterinary care during training some time ago & taken steps to make that right. Right?

    Or, are you saying you didn’t know this was the case?

  • Induetty22

    Im glad to see one of these horrible stories coming to light. These incidents are quite the norm at penn and until penn national gaming, its officials, and the horsemen there decide to hold themselves to a higher standard nothing will change.

  • McGov

    I had to wait 12 hours to get a vet out to the farm to put a horse down once. I gave her lots of bute to make her comfortable for the night. It was either that or shoot her and I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
    It was a long night and it breaks your heart but on a farm, sometimes you have few options.
    I’m pretty sure I’d lose it if that happened to me at a track.

  • dh

    At Charles Town, also owned by Penn National, the condition of the race track is deplorable. When it rains, you can see the bluestone base come up as the horses basically hit the bottom. A fellow trainer had a horse breakdown recently and when he walked out on the track he could see the bluestone in the hoofprints left by the other horses. I have run at many tracks, top notch to bush league, and have never seen anything like Charles Towns racing surface. I can’t imagine Penn Nationals surface is any better, look at all the times they cancel when other tracks are running.

  • Patrick

    Another sad state of affairs at Penn National. A Grand Jury Investigation,indictments, and yet another horse that has to suffer after a catastrophic breakdown(talk to Mike Pappada about his horse). Here’s a novel idea for all involved in the track management at Penn…clean up your act! Remember PNGC, the only reason that you have slots is because of the thoroughbreds. They (the horses) have carried the burden of humans for over a thousand years and they continue to satisfy a means to an end for you and your shareholders. Do you think that you could possibly contribute your fair share in order to compensate a Vet to be on the grounds during training hours? Do something before the people who hate our sport take advantage of situations like this and continue to put us in a compromised positon. Once again, let me refresh your memory PNGC, NO HORSES NO SLOTS, but then again PNGC really hates racing anyways and would love to have the legislature change the law and do away with the horses anyways!

  • Picksburg Phil

    There’s just not enough money in racing, especially at the lower levels, to provide all of the services necessary to conduct safe and productive racing. Slots were supposed to be the answer. Not surprisingly, the racinos choose to invest capital in slots, their most productive assets, and not racing. Now the racinos want full Vegas style gaming. It will only get worse for racing. The racing industry wasted about ten years, and countless millions, pursuing the self-defeating strategy of lobbying for slot machine subsidies, instead of lobbying for deregulation and the independence to construct a business model based on competitive pricing and contemporary wagering options. It’s not too late. De-centralize, de-regulate, and de-throne the owner groups and government agencies that inhibit progress with failed self-preservation policies. Finally admit that there’s gambling going on, and that gambling is the main, though not only, attraction, and use the most successful gambling emporiums as templates for a contemporary racetrack. Instead of being openly hostile to the racing consumer, implement player development practices used by casinos to build, maintain, and grow attendance. Then they wouldn’t have to conduct racing on the cheap.

  • innocent bystader

    Isn’t this somehow, someway be labeled as Mike Gill’s fault?

  • Anderson

    This is awful. Saving a few bucks not getting cerified by the NTRA and now look….they’ll probably call NTRA and ask their PR people for help on getting out of this mess.

    The two tracks i’m most familiar with always had to have Vet and EMS on track for safety and liability reasons during training hours.

    Hope the filly’s owner has a good attoreny that can prove Penn Gaming was at fault and didnt take proper care of their animal.

  • rick

    should not bet, will not this track until changes are made



  • CommonSense

    Apparently there is a complete lack of it –
    1) NTRA accreditation should be mandatory –
    2) Executives without welfare of the horse- must be removed from their mounted perchs
    3)@rjgman – do not confuse the issues – and do not praise hardworking trainers that do nothing except support needlepushing enhanced racing and pay those vets
    those trainers are part of environment of drug your high value horse or fail – someday there will be complete mandate of no meds – and you will see good horsemanship rise back to the top- open your eyes and quit being naive and using a blog post to push your facilities — if that was your horse that couldnt have a vet im sure you would be outraged also !!!
    – Ban together horsemen and stop this behavior – your horses need your voice – imagine what they would say if they could talk – then react to this horrible tragedy –
    -STATUS QUO at penn will not work – CLEAN HOUSE –

  • jim culpepper

    When I must, I put my racing pigeons to sleep using ether. I find it very disturbing that a PH.D is required to show compassion for a horse, when a century ago, the dumbest side hill farmer could do the right thing. Is this what is called intellectual constipation?

  • Ryan Driscoll

    One disgrace after another and the guy in charge gets voted President of the TRA. Awesome.

  • pragmatist

    Stop blaming Penn National. It is not their fault. Read the back of any stall application.You are given a license to use the stalls, you aren’t renting them from the track, and occupying them waives any liability of the track. The fact of the matter is accidents happen, and a racetrack populated with cheaper horses is likely to have them with a higher frequency than say, Saratoga.

    The blame here rests solely on the shoulders of the horsemen and the organization that represents them for not mandating that at least one of the practicing veterinarians is on call at all times, and is on the grounds during training hours. The veterinarians suck at Penn, want to work as little as possible, and the horsemen let them get away with it. A simple condition in their license to practice at the track requiring them to participate in an on call rotation will insure this disgrace never happens again.

    Stop blaming the track, this is not their fault in any way.

  • Satch

    Pragmatist, the public at large really doesn’t care. The track, the trainers, the vets…everybody is lumped into the “horse racing industry”, and the “horse racing industry”, as perceived by the public, made the filly suffer.

  • pragmatist


    The “Public” that you speak of would have had no knowledge of this incident had Ray not written about it.

    As you can’t unring the bell, the only issue here is to insure that this blatant lack of professionalism doesn’t happen again. To portray this sorry incident as the fault of anyone other than the horsemen and their representatives who have the absolute power to mandate policy of the veterinarians they employ is simply incorrect.

    It is not the job of a state/track vet to euthanize a mortally injured horse during training hours, that is the province of the private practitioner employed by the trainer. All the hysterical rantings of the uninitiated posters blaming Penn National managenent rings hollow. Did the corporate officer misspeak ? of course he did, and his callous tone may be the only place you have a perception problem. He isn’t wrong however in his statement.

    If you want to assign blame, assign it where it belongs, and be sure the “oversight” is corrected.

  • Satch

    Pragmatist, so…it’s Ray’s fault? And…if it isn’t reported, then a grievous mistake really isn’t one? Really??? That’s your argument?

  • pragmatist

    Satch, it is obvious that you are a flaming imbecile on the level of Tinky. I am not making any argument, I am stating the unassailable facts.

    These hysterical rantings of yours, are inaacurate and do nothing to address the issue at hand.

  • Satch

    Pragmatist, your comments speak for themselves. Thank you.

  • ASL

    Disgusting treatment of the horse. Irresponsible behavior on behalf of the track and the PA horse racing commission. It is exactly this kind of attitude that gives PETA fuel for its fires. Seriously, folks, if we want to talk about how much we care about our horses, then we need to have racetrack regulations in place at every racetrack, irrespective of their NTRA alliances, that prove that we do care about basic animal welfare. How this horse was forced to suffer is just unacceptable.

  • Kaufer

    One of the most disturbing horse racing stories that I have read. Absolutely inexcusable. I feel guilty about constantly defending this sport to non horse racing people when a situation like this is allowed to let happen. I hope that the suffering of this poor horse will at least lead to reform.

  • SteveG

    It has never been wise & it’s particularly unwise now for racing insiders to turn a deaf ear to or fail to recognize the tone of voice of the “uninitiated”

    You’ll end up having to deal with ignorant of the sport pencil pushers like the legislator from NY and his shiny new proposed legislation…and all of his ilk.

    In more enlightened businesses those voices are defined as “potential customers” – every minor (or major) uproar & outrage over perception is not dismissed out of hand because the cost of doing so is clearly understood. Lost sales leading the list.

    The backward insularity & overall tone-deafness often displayed by racing “insiders” is, if nothing else, simply bad business – especially today, when news spreads like digital wildfire.

  • takethat

    “The backward insularity & overall tone-deafness often displayed by racing “insiders” is, if nothing else, simply bad business – especially today, when news spreads like digital wildfire”

    This is a phrase the horsemen should see every time they go to work. It should be etched into their brain. They apparently need constant reminders of its truthfulness.

  • Bonnie

    Christopher McErlean was totally incompetent when he was running the Meadowlands in New Jersey. So, it is not a surprise to read the callous and stupid comments coming from him at Penn ational.

  • I am absolutely appalled. The Pennsylvania Racing Commission should mandate that a vet be on grounds during training hours seven days a week. The only time things change is when they get sued, get bad publicity and have to pay. Absolutely disgusting. I guess thats why people say bean-counters have ruined this country and businesses across the board.

    I love horses and my horses and to know if I ever go to Penn they are at risk makes it real easy, WE DON’T GO TO PENN!I certainly haven’t supported their product and after this i sure as heck not going to support them or their casinos.

  • marybeth mackay

    Its no better for people when there is an accident on the highway. My husband was in a 3 car accident 8 years ago on 84 in CT. The state police were there in minutes, called for an ambulance one driver (who caused the accident) was unhurt, the 1st gentleman he hit had a broken knee, my husband was hit by both vehicles, he has a broken vertibre in his neck. No ambulance, after 45 minutes, someone called a cab who arrived in 15 minutes and took both to the hospital. The excuse was the town ambulance was busy on another run and returning from the hospital, private ambulance service was called but was a 30 minute drive away. So really we treat our animals no better than we treat our humans, very sad indeed

  • Madeline

    I would think that with 1000(?) horses on the grounds, it would not be unreasonable to have a vet on site at all times…

    That said, and not to be unduly gruesome, didn’t anyone have a knife?

  • During morning works, there is always a vet on the backstretch – it’s the most lucrative time of day for them. You mean to tell me that no one heard the horn and came running? Forget what the track statement was, how callous were the local vets?

    It’s my understanding that it’s the responsibility of the nearest veterinarian – whether they be a State Vet or a licensed vet doing routine rounds – to come to the aid of a fallen horse. I’ve seen vets ride in on tractors when the equine ambulance is called out, and others who come running onto the track simply because the horn has gone off.

  • pragmatist

    There are times when the hysterical rantings of the “uninitiated” should be ignored because those same individuals choose to ignore the facts of a situation and instead choose to distort them to support their own bizarre conclusions.

    Just an hour ago I watched a horse breezing in the first set after the break, bobble and get pulled up as he was completing his breeze. The rider jumped off and held onto him until help arrived, WHICH WAS WITHIN TWO MINUTES. The outrider and the exercise rider held onto the horse, the horse ambulance made its way up the stretch to the animal and the PRIVATE VETERINARIAN that works for the stable in question drove his truck onto the racetrack and around to the scene. The horse in question was determined to have shattered seasmoids beyond repair and he was euthanized within minutes.


    All the hysterics about blaming track management, calling the authorities and notifying PETA are coming from people who do not understand the reality of a situation, and more importantly DON’T WANT TO UNDERSTAND. Accidents happen, that was an otherwise sound horse who’s life just ended, and it wasn’t caused by anyones neglect, just a bad step, but an unfortunate and very real possibility faced by everyone involved with racehorses every day.

    This whole ugly incident at Penn National occured simply because the Horsemen and the Horsemen’s organization allow the shoddy and insufficent coverage by the veterinarians that practice on the grounds of their track. Those vets are not employed by Penn National, they are employed by the various trainers stabled there and it is incumbent solely on them to mandate that the veterinarians responsibly do their jobs.

    Penn National Gaming is not responsible for Enrique Alonso’s vet not showing up for work on Sunday. It is not their responsibility to arrange for coverage of said vet’s clients. If the ‘uninitiated’ took the time to objectively examine the facts, this would be clear.

  • Tinky

    While pragmatist has launched typical ad hominem attacks on this thread, his posts have also been uncharacteristically substantial. Unfortunately, some of the essential substance of his posts is misleading and inaccurate.

    So, for those readers who actually care about facts, here are a few revelant ones. I can’t speak specifically for Penn National, nor most other racetracks, including whatever tracks pragmatist is at. But his clear assertion that these situations are the responsibility of the horse’s connections, and that track management plays no role, is patently false in the context of NYRA tracks.

    Let’s take Belmont. If a horse breaks down at Belmont, the well-known and excellent vet Jim Hunt (or one of his associates) is IMMEDIATELY alerted by the outriders. It doesn’t matter whether he or his practice has any connection to the injured horse.

    If that horse requires urgent care, and/or euthanasia, a vet will be there quickly to attend. If the horse’s trainer prefers to use his own vet, he/she has that prerogative, of course.

    So while pragmatist’s central claim may or may not be true in this case at Penn, it is FALSE in any broad application to the industry.

  • equisponse

    There ought to be a law!!!!!

    Penn National 9/09/11 Race 9 Maiden Claiming 6th Chart
    Penn National 8/29/11 Race 9 Maiden Claiming 3rd Chart
    Penn National 8/22/11 Race 9 Maiden Claiming 9th Chart
    Penn National 8/13/11 Race 9 Maiden Claiming 5th Chart
    Penn National 7/30/11 Race 10 Maiden Claiming 10th Chart
    Penn National 7/06/11 Race 8 Maiden Claiming 2nd Chart
    Delaware Park 6/15/11 Race 4 Maiden Claiming 4th Chart
    Penn National 6/01/11 Race 8 Maiden Claiming 3rd Chart
    Penn National 5/20/11 Race 9 Maiden Claiming 3rd Chart
    Delaware Park 5/09/11 Race 9 Maiden Claiming 5th Chart
    Penn National 4/23/11 Race 2 Maiden Claiming 5th Chart
    Penn National 3/25/11 Race 3 Claiming 8th Chart
    Penn National 3/08/11 Race 5 Maiden Claiming 5th Chart
    Parx Racing 1/25/11 Race 10 Maiden Claiming 6th Chart
    Penn National 11/10/10 Race 2 Maiden Claiming 4th Chart
    Penn National 10/21/10 Race 1 Maiden Claiming 3rd Chart
    Penn National 10/09/10 Race 1 Maiden Claiming 5th Chart
    Calder 9/11/10 Race 9 Maiden Claiming 3rd Chart
    Calder 8/26/10 Race 3 Maiden Claiming 2nd Chart
    Calder 8/14/10 Race 6 Maiden Claiming 8th Chart
    Calder 8/05/10 Race 3 Maiden Claiming 5th Chart
    Calder 7/16/10 Race 3 Maiden Claiming 7th Chart
    Calder 7/03/10 Race 2 Maiden Claiming 4th Chart
    Calder 6/19/10 Race 3 Maiden Special Weight 9th Chart
    Calder 6/10/10 Race 5 Maiden Claiming 7th Chart
    Calder 5/28/10 Race 8 Maiden Special Weight 6th Chart
    Calder 5/15/10 Race 1 Maiden Claiming 5th Chart
    Penn National 3/26/10 Race 3 Maiden Claiming 8th Chart
    Penn National 3/06/10 Race 2 Maiden Claiming 7th Chart
    Tampa Bay 2/06/10 Race 6 Maiden Claiming 7th Chart
    Tampa Bay 1/03/10 Race 3 Maiden Claiming 9th Chart

  • Satch

    Pragmatist, that was a very thoughtful post. We’ll just have to disagree. The “uninitiated” don’t have the time or willingness to delve into the nuances of an issue like this. Neither does the public. Nor should they be expected to. If we want to draw new fans to horse racing, episodes like this one can’t happen. Who cares who is to blame? The industry as a whole gets a black eye.

  • jim culpepper

    Satch is spot on; that part of the public that cares, does not really care about the breed. Indeed, PETA apparently intends to elimate domesticated animals altogether, except, of course, their personal animal brothers and sisters with whom they live in mutual platonic harmony.
    Meanwhile, are these fragile steeds really only a century removed from what we mounted our cavalry and dragoons upon? Geez, no wonder Chief Joeseph, et al, ran circles around our guys.

  • pragmatist

    In typical all knowing authorized agent fashion Stinky has taken a serious subject and has chosen to distort the facts while making straw man and ad hominem attacks on me.

    In typical Stinky the authorized agent fashion he/she has purported to report his/her version of the facts, not reality. From someone with absolutely no hands on experience, this is unfortunately not surprising.

    The Practice he/she mentioned is far and away the largest and does the majority of the work in New York. He is contacted first because he has the staff and resources to seemingly be in all places at all times, and has “volunteered” to be a first responder. (The guy is truly one of the all time greats). What Stinky fails to mention is that this is not mandated by NYRA, so his/her central claims are FALSE in any broad application to the industry… usual.

  • SteveG

    I have no problem with your point of view. It’s, well…very pragmatic.

    However, you said:

    “There are times when the hysterical rantings of the “uninitiated” should be ignored because those same individuals choose to ignore the facts of a situation and instead choose to distort them to support their own bizarre conclusions.”

    That’s not a description of the “uninitiated” – that’s a description of the “fringe” element that pounces on any incident they deem exploitable to further their own agenda.

    I wasn’t talking about those people, who are already foresworn to disregard explanations for “why” something bad may have happened in furtherance of their own cause.

    I was talking about the great mass of “others” that the sport routinely turns a blind eye & a deaf ear to & who are a huge potential customer resource if viewed in a more productive light.

  • Tinky

    Right, pragmatist. Dr. Hunt did this on his own. NYRA had nothing to do with it.

    Never mind that NYRA employs the outriders, and supplies them with the communication devices working on a frequency that Dr. Hunt monitors.

    Mandates aren’t the issue. The issue is that NYRA has a plan in place designed precisely to prevent the type of situation that occurred at Penn. Management at Penn National could have done the same, but they didn’t – and they passed the buck.

  • pragmatist

    Typical Stinky,

    Making straw man arguments and Ad Hominem attacks on anyone that presents the facts, not the fantasies that he/she believes in.

  • Able3

    If these gyps would pay their bills maybe a vet would be within a 30 min. call. Look around and see outfits that pay thier bills- you do not see them having any trouble getting someone there 24/7!!!!!

  • BuckyinKentucky

    Perhaps the Horsemen should consider working with the tracks having independent track supers do the inspections versus the costly NTRA Accreditation process which carries the hefty sums charged by the honorable Tommy Thompson?

    Using top notch track supers pulled from a pool the cost would be a fraction of the cost.

    Having a State Vet on the grounds during training hours should be mandated but that would take common sense.

    Skim it off the top and make the state help with the cost. It is in everyone’s best interest isn’t it?

    Let’s learn from this and let the Horsemen and the tracks work togetherto maintain a safe surface for these kind animals who lay it on the line every day for us.

    Getting the best supers to do each others surfaces with no repurcussions of stating what needs to be done for a safe surface would then put the burden on those who know of the shortcomings and choose not to act and it would let the Horsemen decide if they want to run in that venue.

    Problem is you need to get the track to participate and with each side giving a little for the good of the cause progress will be made.

  • It would seem obvious (ha!) that although Penn was not responsible by the letter of the law, a well-run operation that had horse welfare as a priority would make sure some sort of system was in place and that training was not taking place with no vets on the grounds. Do the horsemen bear responsibility? Sure, but as in many things (manure removal, licensing, water usage, parking regulations, smoking restrictions, etc., etc.), the track takes the lead to make the horsemen live up to their responsibility. Why not here? Anyone who thinks racing is more than a required annoyance to Penn corporate management is clueless. The company itself speaks openly of their plan to minimize racing expense while building the casino business.

  • Jef

    This is the most horrible thing I’ve read. It makes me ashamed of my sport. Someone take responsibility!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pam Clark

    OMG! Poor Langfurs Answer for having to suffer! This is horrible and just breaks my heart. My heart goes out to all the connections! RIP dear, sweet Langfurs Answer! You will suffer no more!

  • Horseman23

    On the New York and Los Angeles tracks there are ALWAYS vets on the grounds, regardless of how light the training is.
    This is absolutely ridiculous. It’s an embarassment and nobody can figure out why I sport is loosing fans? I feel awful for that horse.
    Penn National should be ashamed of themselves; the officials AND the trainers!!!! If you’re a trainer and you don’t want your vet on the grounds EVERY DAY, in my belief, that’s wrong. Anything can happen on any day.

  • Eastcoast Cowboy

    At what point does Penn take some responsibilty for what goes on at their track. Maybe the state should be looking at their license.

  • Don Reed

    “There are times when the hysterical rantings of the “uninitiated’…”

    Mr. Pragmatist (#82).

    Live up to your billing. Be pragmatic, instead, about stating your case.

    Insulting (with tone of voice) whomever you disagreed with, at the start of your post, guarantees one result:

    You lose.

    Try winning people over, instead of immediately reminding them that they aren’t in your alleged circle of the “initiated,” a tactic born of snobbery which immediately offends, not myself, but to whomever you are addressing.

    If you lose your audience, what good does your intellect – or your membership in this self-described circle of the “initiated” – do you?

    Won’t you just end up stridently talking to yourself?

  • Kate Papp, DVM

    I have been reading these posts with a heavy heart. I am one of those “atrocious” private veterinary practitioners currently working at the Penn National Racetrack and I felt compelled to make a statement.

    I have been working as a sole practitioner at this track for only the past few months. I have previously worked at facilities ranging from the Fair Hill Training Center, Delaware Park to Philadelphia Park and now Penn National.

    Absolutely there are some shortcomings at every racing establishment. However, to say the veterinarians at Penn National are horrible or do not care about the horses is extremely incorrect. Many of us are sole practitioners and are physically incapabable of being at the track 7 days per week during all training hours (6-11am) and then additionally on racing days from 2-6pm as well. And if we also would like to offer post-race services to our clients that would mean we would, at a minimum, have to be at the track almost every day from 6-11am and 2-10pm!

    I am lucky enough to live fairly close to the track and my phone is always on for situations like these, however, it is impossible to have one person available at all hours for all horses. I absolutely agree with suggestions others have made to employ a rotating schedule of veterinarians in order to ensure coverage during all training hours.

    I, myself, have made some recommendations to the commission and have talked with other private practitioners at the track regarding immediate action to improve these situations. As is the case most of the time, those who work hardest behind the scenes are often the ones accused of doing nothing.

    There is nothing that I care about more in the world than the horses’ welfare and I have dedicated my life to the endeavor of ensuring their well-being. It was a true tragedy that happened this past weekend and I urge anyone who has any constructive suggestions or thoughts to contact me privately via e-mail at [email protected].

  • ASL

    Dr. Papp,
    Thank you for your comments and efforts to make improvements. Curious, but in making your recommendations to the commission, did the commission provide any reason why Penn National and the other PA racetracks don’t feel the obligation to provide such a basic service as an on-site vet during training hours?

  • Neil Parker

    Day racing would help solve the problem.

  • The Punisher

    “at a minimum, have to be at the track almost every day from 6-11am and 2-10pm!”
    “however, it is impossible to have one person available at all hours”

    It’s ok for grooms to work these wacky hours for roughly $400 a week, but vets who are raking in in the neighborhood of a $1000 a day or more, well I guess its just too much to ask for them to actually earn their pay?

  • pragmatist

    Don Reed # 98

    It was very nice of you to make my point for me. You took my quote from # 82

    “There are times when the hysterical rantings of the “uninitiated” should be ignored because those same individuals choose to ignore the facts of a situation and instead choose to distort them to support their own bizarre conclusions.”

    And edited it down to this:

    ““There are times when the hysterical rantings of the “uninitiated’…”

    Then you proceeded to bash me for speaking impolitely. You chose to ignore the facts of a situation and instead chose to distort them to support your own bizzare conclusion.

    You are precisely what I am refering to. You never bothered to follow the chain of the conversation to see what exactly I was referencing.

    SteveG # 95

    Would you call Don Reed # 98 and Pam Clark # 95 Uninitiated or Fringe ?

  • Saddened that the horses connections could not find or could not care to train when vets are present.Sunday morning is for church.Trainer should know better.Trainers have licenses start making them act professionally.

  • Pragmatist

    “Sunday mornings are for church”

    Lori # 104 What are you smoking ?

  • Wallace

    I have read this thread again. Based upon the multiple postings by this Pragmatist, and the frequency by which he or she posts, my guess is he or she is a strawman/woman just like he or she acuses Tinky of being. Obviously, with an HBPA slant and horsemen bias to boot. “Please don’t call me “unintiated” Mr. or Mrs. “know it all”, because you have really met your match. Bring it on oh knower of all and master of the universe, albeit your own perspective is all you can actually muster. The folks on this blog are offering up opinions and positions unlike you, whomever you are, that offers up gospel.

  • Larry Ensor

    #104, Sunday mornings are for church for some Christians but not for Jews, Muslims,atheists, vets and people that work with horses

  • Vicky Burnham

    They’re making enough money to afford an on-call vet for this. DISGRACEFUL AND UNACCEPTABLE! Another terrible black-eye for racing and for what possible reason? Geez, even little Turf Paradise has more than one vet available in the morning!

  • SteveG

    “SteveG # 95
    Would you call Don Reed # 98 and Pam Clark # 95 Uninitiated or Fringe ?”

    Pragmatist, I’ll leave the pigeon-holing & provocation to you. I’m sure the people you are referring to can speak for themselves.

    As far as I’m concerned, comments on these threads rise & fall on their own merits whether they come from inside or outside the game.

    It’s just another form of insularity to promote the idea that the only worthwhile ideas come from within the ropes. Case in point in recent news – look at how quickly those supposedly vacant-minded video gamers were able to solve a visualization problem (about an aspect of virus) their distinguished & lettered “betters” were unable to solve through traditional means. Further, props should go out to those science “insiders” for reaching out for a solution. Would that the decision-makers of horseracing had the kind of smarts to take a peek through the curtains once in a while.

  • Don Reed

    Thank you, Steve.

    I have nothing to add.

  • The sad part about all this bantering is the rhetoric amongst ourselves only serves to strenthen the case that the penn mgmt uses against horsemen and our trade and lets us slowly tighten the noose around our own necks while the educated heirarchy in the casinos roll their hands in quiet gratitude for putting ourselves out of business so they dont have too. Only a criminal mind could’ve conceived of a better plan and to have it come in fruition so quickly!

  • come on ray there was nothing wron with that synopsis of the situation….only the truth. Thank God the horseman in Maryland learn quickly.

  • Rosemary

    I have been to penn national. Although it is true that management has made improvements to the front side of the track, the backside is a dump. The stable area is falling apart, most of the barns are dirty and dingy, an extremely depressing backside, especially at ten pm in the middle of winter. UGH! I agree that the HBPA should also be held to blame, where is the leadership? Casino monies have done nothing to upgrade the welfare of these horses. I believe the horsemen want to keep the the barns and the quality of racing as “low life” as they can because then they won’t have to worry about anyone of any quality wanting to stable there. Too bad no one got a video of that poor horse and the lenghth of time she laid there suffering……if they had maybe Penn National would be closed down for good, and then we can work on closing down Mountaineer park in West Virginia which makes Penn national look like the Hilton!

  • Trickledown

    If anyone reading this has connections to a national media reporter please shine the light on Penn.

  • Rosemary you are right on.The hell with all the horsepeople and workers that support families and do a great job w/the little they are given. Lets build hotels for the animals and throw the people out in the cold. I kind of like the barns at night but I understand that we underprivleged are like that.

  • MH

    AGAIN, how the heck was there not a single vet on the grounds? More than a thousand horses during the main business hours, and not a single vet. Even during the Cashcall Futurity last year when the on-hand paddock farrier ultimately couldn’t fix Comma to the Top’s shoe problem, there happened to be a private farrier on the backside late in the afternoon who found out about the problem and came over to solve things.

    A mortally injured horse during peak business hours for veterinarians with 1,000+ horses on the grounds and there wasn’t a one vet around, let alone one that would come end poor Langfurs Answer’s suffering. BULL

  • Don Reed

    Actually, sorry, there is one more thing to add – having just realized that in less than one month, here’s what’s been news:

    1) The CDI $50 confiscatory fee for 2012 Derby Tickets – if you DON’T get them;

    2) The KY Downs Superfecta photo-finish fiasco –

    Which re-ignited the smoldering issue of the 2010 BC Life At Ten KY stewards & betting fiasco;

    3) The Iavarone/IEAH news about the sheriff almost seizing their horses for non-payment –

    Reminding people of the 2008 Belmont Stakes when Iavarone’s earlier, disreputable penny-stock career was unearthed by investigative journalists, etc.;


    4) A mortally-injured horse at Penn National suffered in agony for over an hour before he could be put out of his misery.

    That’s four new fiascoes – and the reincarnation of two indirectly related past fiascos – in less than 30 days.

    Nice work, gentlemen. What a “sport” to be proud of.

    Maybe IT should be put out of its agony… but given the ineptitude of the participants in this ongoing farce, no one would be able to find the vet.

  • jim culpepper

    It is not likely that anyone on this forum is specifically to blame for the problems discussed here, so the growling back and forth is useless. Even so, these issues are among those which make it difficult to recruit new fans, so let’s be easy with the insider / outsider stuff.

  • pragmatist

    There is no “insider/outsider stuff”. The discussion revolves simply about the unassailable facts vs. internet hysteria.

  • Backontop

    I’ve never seen a racetrack open for training or racing that doesn’t have an ambulance at the facility in case a rider is injured. How about the same for the horses? There must be a vet on the facility while track is open for use. Once again: common sense, just isn’t that common!!!!

  • Pragmatist

    Obviously Backontop is not interested in the facts. THE HORSE AMBULANCE WAS THERE AND READY TO DO ITS JOB.

    Yet another comment distorting the facts to justify making uniformed criticism of the incident.

  • Backontop


    The ambulance for the riders includes people that are qualified to tend to the injured rider, the horse ambulance does not. That is why I said that there must be a vet on track while track is open.

    I’m very informed of the workings on the track!

  • jim culpepper

    I was trying to tip toe around using the term ‘uninitiated” since it appears problematic. In any case, the utter failure to draw the “uninitiated” into the fan base is among the lame excuses for the lack of funds to do whatever the owners should do to see their horses in responsible hands. Meantime, do we have to sacrifice a chicken or something, in order to be ininitiated?

  • SteveG

    Jim Culpepper, I’m partly responsible for some of the semantic hair-splitting stuff & for that I apologize. However, be careful with chickens. The VETC (Vegans for Ethical Treatment Of Chickens) will be at your door.

  • Backontop

    Just saw this on Paulick, and this is the second time that something like this happened. Penn National really has to get there $hi+ together because in the above matter the horse ambulance wasn’t even available at 6:30am!

    And in reading this article over, yet again, it sure seems odd that NO vet was on the grounds at 7:25am even on a Sunday!

  • CER

    WOW….just when the dust starts to (somewhat) settle at Penn….BAM!!

    It’s about time someone grabs a hold of the reins out there and take control.

    Couple of things:

    Pragmatist — you should really find something CONSTRUCTIVE to do with your time; rather than chastising everyone with your “know-it-all” responses/comments. While I’m pretty certain most ppl commenting on this HORRIFIC accident are doing so out of concern for the horse…PERIOD. No ATHLETE should suffer like this.

    In that regard, it should be common practice, whether it be a horse, or a person, when athletes are “training”, medical personnel should be readily available.

    If Penn isn’t going to enforce that a “rotating” vet be available during training hours — then, unfortunately, the trainers are putting their “athletes” at risk if they continue to train KNOWING that a vet is not on the backside or is not readily available.

  • Really?

    Just read the Paulick Report brought to our attention by backontop in his/her post #125

    To have almost two exact instances at one track in a little over a year is unexceptable. The Racing Department is going to have to take charge, because it evident that Penn National Gaming thinks it just part of the game, with no regard for the horse.

  • LORY

    WHILE THEY SHOULD MANDATE A ROTATION BETWEEN VETS THAT WORK THERE I HAVE A STORY THAT I THINK IS ALLMOST AS BAD. I had a horse break down at a track badly and the track vet refused to put him down on the spot. he said he did not like to do it and would not. my vet was waiting at the barn when horse was delevered by ambulance and put him down as soon as he was unloaded.i complained to management but was told this vet was the only one that they we able to hire and that due to that they could not make him do it.

  • Matthew Martini

    In the article, Ms. Krepps states that the commission “considers the racehorse to be at the core of the industry.” Evidently, the people running Penn National do not. I hope they remedy this problem quickly.

    It is hard to turn friends and acquaintances onto the sport with this kind of news. It also creates cognitive dissonance that I love a sport in which some tracks do not have the basic parameters for providing proper care for the horses. I’m a fan, but I cannot say a proud one, when I read stories such as this one. The industry has a long way to go to improve.

  • Wingtips

    HBPA President Beattie, what does your group have to say about this? What is your group going to do to fix this?

  • Cris

    The track should be shut down until there is an on site vet available during training hours as well as racing days. There should be a Vet’s office on the grounds with someone there 24/7. The horses are the show. If they are not the show then there is no reason for them to be there. They should show the ass that calls himself the VP of racing the door. What kind of brains does it take to be that big a butt head? Penn National is right off the interstate surrounded by horse farms. There is no reason why someone could not make a good living with a vet office on the premises. The Gov. of PA should shake this place up. No excuses just correct this or shut it down.

  • Patrick

    I have followed this story for several days now. I have read every post and regardless of which side that you are, the problem is that all of us who love (and participate)in the sport of thoroughbred racing, understand that there are inherent risks involved. What happened at Penn was horrible, and I truly feel that it is inexcusable (time frame for putting the filly down), but regardleess of my opinion, we must ALL understand that if we want thoroughbred racing to thrive and continue for years to come, then we must not only address this situation, but also do a much better job at finding solutions, and as being ambassadors to the sport. There is a group of people out there that want to do away with our sport, and with stories like this, they are slowly chipping away at the stone. Don’t let the once giant stone become a grain of sand.

  • Neil Parker

    Wingtips The HBPA is not at fault in this situation. Todd Mostoller has been trying to get this situation resolved for a long time.

  • Paul Rudy

    Todd Mostoller resolves absolutely nothing! all he worries about is having his nose in things he shouldn’t have his nose in. He cost a very good friend of mine who has always been a total professional his living. He should concentrate on doing a better job for the horsemen in which he has failed miserably.

  • Paul Rudy

    I can’t believe that you Neil Patker could ever say anything positive about Mr. Mostoller. I feel the statement you just made shows how much of a coward you are.

  • Neil Parker

    Stick to the facts, Rudy. We have night racing. You can’t expect private vets to work from 6am to 10pm at night. Todd can’t tell private vets how to do their job or run their schedule. It’s up the framers of the racing product to decide how to do provide a safety net for the horses who unfortunately break a leg. By the way, Enrique Alonso’s horse ran a game race in the 1st tonight. I was pulling for him.

  • Wallace

    Agreed. Hard to swallow a positive HBPA comment from Hertz? That has not been his modus operandi. Perhaps the poster is just using his name?

  • Rosemary

    I may have missed it earlier but doesn’t Penn National have a state vet? Who scopes the horses to put them on the Lasix list? Even if it was a Sunday, someone should have been there during training hours. Lets face it , Penn national is a third rate racetrack with more scandals than the average track. Everything from race fixing to sending horses to slaughter. The quality of racing is a joke . night after night of non winners of a race in six months to a year running for bottom dollar. The charts don’t lie. These poor horses run every seven to ten days until they either drop dead, become so sore they can’t run, or disappear to New Holland or Bruce Rotz. Too many owners and trainers, who don’t have the money to be in the sport in the first place, are racing horses. the horses at Penn National get the short end of the deal on a daily basis. The real reason no vets were there is because half of them probably have clients who never catch up on their vet bills. Racing was once known as a rich mans game but not any more. There are too many unqualified people training horses, and the horses suffer daily because of that incompetance.

  • george

    inutes after the last race they turn out the lights ,like its not dark enough at the receiving barn . THIS PLACE IS DELIVERENCE AT ITS BEST LOOK AT STEPHS GET UPS WOWIE ITS THE JETSONS NOT RETURNONG…………

  • george


  • Wildhorse13

    My previous post was removed, because, I guess, I said unkind things about Penn Gaming and CDI. Therefore, I want to stand corrected and announce that I feel Penn Gaming and CDI have nothing but the best interests of horsemen in any actions they take. Am I beginning to look like Pinnochio?

  • This won’t stop unless the horseman and owners race their horses elsewhere. The jockeys should also refuse to ride. The gaming public shoud not spend their money at this track/casino. Hit them in their pocketbook and you will see the changes start to occur. How anyone could support this track is beyond me.

  • Joe

    #136 Rosemary: very well said.

  • The Other Stephanie

    After serving on three board of directors for the HBPA and trying to get them all to address this problem I have to say that the previous boards are the first to blame. They were just not interested or did not think it was important. I was told that it would be too difficult to get a vet to be present during training hours or front side would never agree to it. No one on the board was even willing to take the time to find out. As much money as we spend on vets and as many as their are on the back side I found it amazing that something couldnt have been worked out to solve this problem. Even if the HBPA had to pay them it would be worth it.

  • Tom Dixon

    Right or wrong, vets who might be on the track could be reluctant to put down a horse for a total stranger. Lawsuits are always lurking in the background. Tom D.

  • Wallace

    With all the money in the game in PA, shame on them all for not having thought this situation through. Horsemen, racetrack, regulators c’mon you guys and gals that are getting rich via slots. Take care of your own kind. If not, may you lie awake at night not sleeping forever!

  • Cynthia

    This is just abslutely horrifying! This track should NOT be allowed to operate AT ALL without appropriate medical staff for humand AND especially horses. And the industry wonders why the fans have left! NO ONE, especuially those that cannot help themselves, should be made to suffer like this. Everyone that has read this should call and write Penn National as well as get as much attention to this as possible.

  • Tina Edmond

    that is absolutely hideous! What kind of society are we to use these animals then let them lay in pain for over an hour when they are irreparably injured. Makes me sick.

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