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Breeders' Cup 2017

Luck's Termination Derails Economy

Horsemen at Santa Anita Thursday morning were virtually unanimous in their opinions that cancellation of HBO’s horse racing series, “LUCK” following euthanization of a horse on Tuesday after a freak accident, will have a dramatically negative impact on California’s already bankrupt state.


As former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said during his administration: “Our wallet is empty.” The Golden State’s abysmal debt took another hit with LUCK’s termination.


Tragically, on Tuesday morning, a filly used in the production of LUCK, was being hand-walked to her stall when she became frightened, reared and hit her head when falling to the ground. She was subsequently euthanized.


LUCK, filmed in large part at Santa Anita, was canceled by HBO on Wednesday in reaction to the accident.


“It is with heartbreak that the executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann together with HBO have decided to cease all future production on the series LUCK,” the cable network said in a statement, adding “ . . . We are immensely proud of this series, the writing, the acting, the filmmaking, the celebration of the culture of horses, and everyone involved in its creation,” and finally adding these quotes from Mann and Milch: “The two of us loved this series, the cast, the crew and writers. This has been a tremendous collaboration and one that we plan to continue in the future.”


“Heartbroken,” was the first word from Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who had a major role in the series. “Everybody’s just in shock, the cast, the crew. A lot of people have been put out of work.”


Said jockey Chantal Sutherland, who also had a role on the show: “It’s sad, not only for the actors, but for the horses as well. They were actors, too. They’re out of a job and have nowhere to go. It’s too bad.”


Added Hall of Fame trainer and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert: “It’s very disappointing. I was hoping it’d be a big hit. I feel bad for all the people they employed, because the race track has really helped a lot of people.”


Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said: “It’s unfortunate, but they had some bad luck. Saying that, you do have to realize that horses in any environment, including in nature, will have accidents.”


“A lot of my friends were involved in that show,” said world-class jockey agent Ron Anderson. “I feel very bad. It affects their livelihood and their income. All those guys were depending on a job. Jobs are tough (to find) these days. It’s a harsh situation. You’re working one day, the next day you’re not.”


Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who has conditioned five national champions in a career spanning six decades, including two-time Horse of the Year John Henry, was perplexed and miffed by the cancellation.


“I don’t agree with it,” the 79-year-old trainer said. “They (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals--PETA) should watch that animal program (Animal Planet), where terrible accidents happen to animals, horses, dogs, cats, you name it.


“My position is, it (cancelling) was wrong, absolutely 100 percent wrong. Accidents happen in our business just like they do in football, baseball, every sport you can think of. It’s the same with animals. It’s a foregone conclusion that something can go wrong. It’s part of the game, just like it is in football and other sports. It’s unfortunate but it happens."


The California Horse Racing Board issued the following statement on the matter: “The California Horse Racing Board takes very seriously and cares deeply about the death of any racehorse in California and is conducting an investigation of the equine fatality in connection with the filming of the Luck television program Tuesday at Santa Anita Park. Even though HBO announced the cancellation of the Luck series Wednesday, the CHRB will conduct a thorough investigation, which will include a postmortem examination and toxicology testing.


The CHRB is assured by those onsite at Santa Anita who are responsible for equine health and safety that every precaution was being taken to protect the horses appearing in the HBO program. In fact, because the filming was taking place in an enclosure within the CHRB’s jurisdiction, the level of care for these animals exceeded the level of care for animals on other filming locations. Everyone involved in the handling of the horses that appeared on Luck is licensed by the CHRB and qualified to do so.


Three equine veterinarians were on the scene and did everything possible on behalf of the horse. They were Dr. Heidi Agnic, HBO’s attending veterinarian and licensed by the CHRB as a racetrack practitioner; Dr. Gary Beck, who normally works as the CHRB official veterinarian at Los Alamitos Race Course, and Dr. Scott Meyer.



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