Success: HBO Series ‘Luck’ Cancelled After Third Horse Death

The good news is HBO’s horseracing series “Luck” has been cancelled. The bad news is it took the death of a third horse to make it happen.

The American Humane Association (AHA) and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recognize the help of whistleblowers and animal advocates in Wednesday’s announcement by HBO permanently shutting down production of the horseracing series Luck.

After two horses sustained broken bones during the filming of the first season — necessitating the humane euthanasia of both — AHA stepped up monitoring on the Luck set. According to AHA on Monday, a horse was being walked to her stall when she reared up and fell backwards hitting her head.

Examination by a veterinarian recommended euthanization for the injury. A necropsy will be conducted on the horse, as required for deaths at racing board enclosures. AHA recommended production shut down pending a full investigation. Within 24 hours,HBO announced cancellation of the series.

It’s ironic to call this a success story because it took a third horse dying to get HBO producers to cancel the horseracing series Luck. But cancelled it is. Thanks go to the many Care2 members who signed the online petition.

AHA’s No Animals Were Harmed Disclaimer

AHA has monitored the filming of Luck from the beginning. Details are reported on the site. After the second horse death, AHA insisted that production be suspended and imposed additional protocols, including:

“…daily training and care records, microchips in all of the horses, hiring an additional veterinarian to do the comprehensive soundness checks at the top of the day, and radiographs of the legs of all horses being considered for use on the show. We insisted that these protocols be in place before any filming could resume. HBO agreed to all our requests and worked collaboratively regarding these many additional safety guidelines and precautions, and resumed filming once all of the horses in the show stable were radiographed and those deemed at risk were pulled.”

PETA Investigation

PETA advocated from the beginning to use stock horse racing footage rather than filming a race scene in each episode. HBO declined to take this advice. The result is three horses have died while filming HBO’s Luck.

Details of PETA’s own investigation of the first two fatalities during Luck filming resulted in PETA contacting Los Angeles law enforcement agencies to file a complaint and request charges be brought.

Information obtained from whistleblowers describe a 5-year-old thoroughbred named Outlaw Yodeler, who hadn’t been raced in months “was apparently so sore that he was given a potent cocktail of muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory and painkilling drugs so strong that it’s often used as an analgesic for horses undergoing some kinds of surgery.”

Marc’s Shadow, Luck’s second equine fatality, was 8 years old, arthritic and hadn’t been raced in four years. The difference in findings between AHA and PETA is not clear.

The Right Choice
AHA is responsible for overseeing animal welfare in Hollywood and television productions and said “that in light of the three deaths this is arguably the best decision HBO could have made.”

In any event, AHA’s press release states “… [AHA] will now follow up with HBO to find out the disposition of the horses in the Luck barn and ensure that they are retired properly.”

Related Reading:

HBO Horseracing Series ‘Luck’ Not Lucky for Horses

How Many Times Should A Jockey Whip a Racehorse?

6 Thoroughbreds Killed After Motorist’s Cigarette Sets Trailer on Fire

Photo credit by Gary Graves via Flickr


Carolina Garcí­a
Carolina Garcia4 years ago

It's sad and so cruel that the series wete cancelled until 3 precious horses died, but I'm happy that there won't be no more horses in danger. Thanks!!

Carrie Anne Brown

shame about the 3 deaths :( but glad its been cancelled thanks for sharing

Diane L.
Diane L.4 years ago

Liz, read the comments in the discussion. YES, I replied to a comment in the discussion, but not to you, personally, nor was I sarcastic. It appears that you are commenting based solely on what shows up in your Care.2's IN BOX and haven't bothered to read what was said just before to warrant that comment or to whom it was addressed? I believe I mentioned Nadine and said that Karen "had said it very well" and that Kathryn had already addressed the issues with PeTA. That post was made April 3rd.

Liz Simpson
Liz Simpson4 years ago

Then Care2 sent me an email indicating a reply from you in error. You were identified as the originator of the response.

Diane L.
Diane L.4 years ago

Liz, I don't have a clue why you felt the need, after DAYS, to comment to me about PETA. I wasn't even addressng my comment to you, and I was also not the one to bring PETA into the discussion. You sound a bit defensive towards them, and there certainly was not any need for the sarcasm.

Liz Simpson
Liz Simpson4 years ago

Diane L. - Your comment about PETA's euthanasia policy is not shocking or new. I've been a member since the 1980's and I'm fully aware. Read my comment again - "fantasy version of our society" must not have been plain enough. The homeless pet problem is only improving at a glacial pace. Municipal and private shelters will always be crowded. And sometimes, for a certain segment of these populations, sad to say, euthanasia may be the most kind release. And since this was an article about the cancellation of "Luck", I'm done commenting.

Diane L.
Diane L.4 years ago

Karen H. said it very well. Nadine, they DO race people..........maybe you should watch the Summer Olympics more instead of reading blogs on the internet and believing everything you read.

Kathryn addressed the facts about PETA, and there are even websites available to list the statistics about the sheer number of animals that PETA is responsible for having killed. They have killed far more companion pets (dogs and cats) than they've saved.

Liz Simpson
Liz Simpson4 years ago

First off, Kathryn M. - would you rather all those animals wind up in "sanctuaries" that later show up in the news as hoarder hell-holes? No, I'm not for wholesale euthanasia but humans are directly responsible for this travesty and must face it head on. I sincerely wish that in some fantasy version of our society, EVERY homeless pet would get adopted - but that doesn't happen and no one should sleep well at night knowing that. And "perpetuating oppression..." on women and minorities? You are delusional unless you can produce solid facts and evidence.

Now, as far as the actual conversation here; from the moment I saw the first ad for this show, I knew it was trouble. HBO takes great pains and spends much money on verisimilitude for their programs. This automatically meant danger and trouble for the horses with what I know of the "sport of kings". I watched one episode, became nauseous and then just waited for this horrible news to materialize. Shame on the producers, writers and HBO.

Louise Peacock
Louise Peacock4 years ago

@jgsaaw S luckily for you, I was unable to flag this stupid message as inappropriate, due a glitch on this site. This has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DISCUSSION, take your stupid spam elsewhere.

Louise Peacock
Louise Peacock4 years ago

Animal racing of all sorts should be stopped. This TV series sounds like a nightmare for the horses and I must wonder how come there were so many injuries. What kind of crappy handlers did they use? the last death, where the horses was ostensibly being walked to her stall and reared up, then fell over backwards sounds pretty far fetched. I've had many horses decide to rear up suddenly but non have ever fallen over backwards and hit their heads ....bizarre. Was this animal drugged? or did anyone actually witness the accident?

Karen H, I could believe anything of PETA, how did you find out about the various abuses you mentioned?