The Louisiana Racing Commission is investigating an Evangeline Downs trainer after a starving Thoroughbred was removed from his property in Opelousas last month. I Promised Youhuff, an 8-year-old son of Huff out of Placid Fund mare Sammi's Promise, was found by St. Landry Parish Animal Control lying in the front yard of a house on the property of Thomas W. Sam. The gray gelding was severely emaciated, weak, and had sores indicating he had been down for an unknown period of time.
According to Stacey Alleman-McKnight, director of St. Landry Parish Animal Control and Rescue, a woman at the scene claimed the gelding had failed to stick up to other horses on the property (who appeared to be in good condition) to fight for food. The woman also claimed I Promised Youhuff looked fine days before the officers' arrival and had been given multiple meals each day.
Animal Control officers had to help the horse rise so he could be loaded into a trailer and transported to a veterinary clinic. I Promised Youhuff died a few days later due to long-term starvation. Alleman-McKnight said she told veterinarians to “spare no expense” in his recovery and had already found him an adoptive home ready to take him once he was physically stable.
“This horse needed help and he needed help from his trainer,” said Alleman-McKnight. “You cannot tell me this horse didn't deserve veterinary care.
“I thought this horse deserved to be given a chance. It's horrible to see a horse like this, knowing there were other options.”
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office is investigating.
I Promised Youhuff was a homebred for owner Keith T. Sam and was conditioned by multiple stakes winning-trainer Thomas W. Sam. The gelding, who made his first start at the age of 6 and did not win a race in 15 tries, most recently ran at Delta Downs on Feb. 23 of this year, where he finished eighth of ten in a $10,000 maiden claimer.
According to a profile published last year by Daily World, Thomas Sam has worked on the track since he became an exercise rider in 1967. Sam was a jockey for several years before becoming an owner/trainer. According to the article, Sam maintains a string of about 20 at Evangeline.
Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission, was one of several commissioners and commission staff who received a letter last week detailing the case of I Promised Youhuff from the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization. The letter called for the revocation of licenses for both Thomas and Keith Sam. Gardiner told the Paulick Report he has contacted Louisiana State Police, and those authorities are in touch with St. Landry Parish officers. Gardiner plans to present a report of the findings to the commission.
“Someone needs to figure out what the plan is for these horses,” said Alleman-McKnight. “The racing industry says they can't keep up, but shouldn't they?”
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