We all know racing is a sport of extreme highs and lows, and
there is nothing lower than the death of a horse. When the public's perception
is that you are somehow responsible it makes the pain all the greater. Not only
am I distressed over the death of this tough, gallant horse, I am deeply
troubled by the comments on social media. They insinuate Tweebster's
death was a result of my dropping him down for a $12,500 claiming tag,
suggesting the horse was unsound and I was merely trying to get rid of him.
I respect and fully appreciate the sensitivity regarding the
well being of animals, so I feel I owe it to everyone to explain the
events that led to Tweebster's injury and subsequent death.
As is required, Tweebster was thoroughly examined by the
state veterinarian yesterday morning and found to be perfectly sound going into
the race. The decision to run him in this particular race was not based
on a lack of soundness, but rather a lack of races available for him at higher
claiming prices. Tweebster was healthy and happy. I felt he was in
need of a confidence booster and thought this would be an easy spot for him to
get it. I understand a severe drop in class can indicate a horse is unsound,
but I assure you that was not the case with Tweebster. Just before the
race, heavy rain and hail poured down, making the track more muddy and
heavier. The horse was moving great and his jockey says he felt
comfortable throughout the race. It wasn't until after the finish that
Martin felt him take a bad step. We brought him back to the barn in hopes
of saving him, but knew quickly that wasn't going to be the case.
The death of any horse on the racetrack is hard to accept.
When that horse is one who you saw and took care of everyday, the pain is
physically gut wrenching . While I realize some people are going to think
what they want, I want to express my feelings and deepest regret over the loss
of a horse for whom I had a great deal of affection.
I have run horses at lower levels in the past and seen them
regain their old form by getting their confidence back. Sometimes I have
had the horses claimed from me in the process and they have gone on to win
stakes and allowance races for other owners and trainers. I realize that
is part of the claiming game.