Santa Anita officials and horsemen reacted with dismay and sorrow upon the news of the highly publicized equine fatality here on Tuesday morning and the subsequent decision Wednesday by HBO to cease production on season-two of LUCK.
“All of us here at Santa Anita, including horsemen, management and employees are deeply saddened by the stable area accident which resulted in the death of a horse being used in the production of LUCK here on Tuesday morning,” said Thoroughbred horse owner Mark Verge, speaking on behalf of the Stronach Group. “While it was the totally unpredictable result of the filly being frightened and then flipping over backwards as she was being hand-walked to her stall, we nonetheless feel badly for the horse and all of those involved with her care.
“As for the decision by HBO to cease production on LUCK, that is obviously their decision alone. While many have expressed disappointment in the direction some of the characters and episodes had gone, we feel badly that so many LUCK-related jobs have now been eliminated.
Meanwhile HBO send Beacon Media this press release:
Tragically, Tuesday one of the horses in LUCK’s stable suffered an accident while returning to the stall.
California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) official veterinarian Dr. Gary Beck stated, “I had just examined the horse as part of our routine health and safety procedures prior to work that would be done later on the track. The horse was on her way back to the stall when she reared, flipped over backwards, and struck her head on the ground. Fortunately, attending veterinarian Dr. Heidi Agnic was there to administer immediate aid to the injured horse and determined that humane euthanasia was appropriate.” CHRB Equine Medical Director Dr. Rick Arthur said, “As with all fatalities within CHRB racing enclosures a necropsy will be conducted. Unfortunately, we see several of these injuries in the stable area every year. They are more common than people realize.”
An American Humane Association Certified Safety Representative was on the premises when the accident occurred, and as always, all safety precautions were in place. HBO and everyone involved with the production are deeply saddened, and are working in full cooperation with the AHA and the CHRB to complete their inquiry. All our interactions with the AHA have always included 100% transparency.
From the very outset of this project, the safety of the animals was of paramount concern to us. Recent assertions of lax attitudes or negligence could not be further from the truth. We partnered early on with American Humane Association, who is the only mandated authority in the industry, and we work very closely with the AHA and racing industry experts to implement safety protocols that go above and beyond typical film and TV industry standards and practices. For example, pre-race exams are performed by a California Horse Racing Board certified veterinarian, and radiographs are taken of the legs of all horses being considered for use in any simulated racing sequences. Everyone associated with Luck cares deeply about the well-being of the horses who are so much a part of the heart and soul of the production.