HBO has a new series titled “Luck” about the horseracing industry; it premiered Sunday, January 29. With big stars like Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina and Jill Hennessey, it is sure to command viewers.
Horse racing has a long tradition in the U.S. and other countries. Make no mistake — it is a cruel practice for the horses involved. They suffer injuries, are transported over many miles in cramped trailers and endure being drugged and whipped. All in the name of money.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had contacted the show’s creator David Milch before filming began to discuss and recommend safety methods for the horses. But all efforts were ignored. With shooting of the first season completed and the second about to begin, PETA is currently in communication with HBO in an effort to recommend animal safety.
The ironic thing is so far two horses have been killed as a result of their participation in the making of this show. During filming of the series’ pilot episode, the script called for a horse suffering a fracture during a race scene, which necessitated euthanizing the poor creature. As real life sometimes imitates fiction, the irony is that actually happened on the set. Since then one other horse was killed in the name of “Luck.”
Reportedly, the scene in the series pilot where a racehorse was put down was not the actual racehorse that was killed during the filming. One comment on masslive.com from someone identified as “Kentucky Girl” who claims involvement in thoroughbred racing for 30 years said “I don’t know how they captured the horse dying. It was so realistic it bothered me.”
It was so realistic, though, I had to ask the question. I contacted PETA and spoke with Kathy Guillermo. She confirmed PETA is in contact with HBO and was informed the horrific scene in the pilot where a horse broke a leg and was euthanized was filmed through a combination of a using a “trick horse” and animatronics.
The positive thing about the series is it aims to show the seedier side of horseracing. An HBO promo states “’Luck’ takes a provocative look at the world of horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players.” The negative thing is: are the needs of the horse actors being met?
What About the Horses?
Guillermo told me statistics indicate an average of three race horses per day break a bone. “That’s almost more than I can wrap my head around,” she said. Guillermo confirmed HBO is now in communication with PETA and “answering all our questions” regarding the series “Luck.”
PETA applauds the recently released movie “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” filmed entirely using animatronics, as I imagine do most animal advocates. With the sophistication of computers in this day and age, is it time to stop all animal participation in film and television? Watch how the Apes movie was created using human actors in place of animals.
How You Can Help
A Care2 petition has been started. It states in part:
“The series “Luck” is commendable for exposing the dark side of horse racing, including the abuses that horses suffer regularly. Unfortunately, this message is tarnished by the preventable horse endangerment currently taking place on the set.”