HBO Racing Drama ‘Luck’ Hit by Another Horse Fatality

by | March 13, 2012 at 7:21 PM | Luck

HBO's "Luck" (Photo: HBO)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A horse was euthanized after suffering an injury during production of the racetrack drama “Luck,” HBO said Tuesday. It’s the third horse death to occur in connection with the series starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte.

The animal was being led to a Santa Anita Park racetrack stable when it reared and fell back Tuesday morning, suffering a head injury, according to HBO. The horse was euthanized at the track in suburban Arcadia, where “Luck” is filming its second season.

During season-one filming in 2010 and 2011, two horses were hurt during racing scenes and euthanized. HBO defended its treatment of the animals, saying it’s worked with the American Humane Association and racing industry experts to implement safety protocols that exceed film and TV industry standards.

The American Humane Association’s film and TV unit, the group sanctioned and supported by the entertainment industry to protect animals used in filming, called for a production halt at the Santa Anita Racetrack in suburban Arcadia after the second horse’s death.

Racing resumed after new protocols were put in place and proved effective, Karen Rosa, the AHA unit’s senior vice president, said in February.

On Tuesday, Dr. Gary Beck, a California Horse Racing Board veterinarian, said he had just examined the horse as part of routine health and safety procedures before it was to race later in the day.

“The horse was on her way back to the stall when she reared, flipped over backwards, and struck her head on the ground,” Beck said in a statement. An attending veterinarian determined that euthanasia was appropriate, he said.

Dr. Rick Arthur, medical director of the state racing board, said such injuries occur in stable areas every year and are more common than thought. A necropsy will be conducted, he said, as is standard with all fatalities at racing board enclosures.

The first two horse deaths drew criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which said that safety guidelines used in filming failed to prevent the deaths “so clearly they were inadequate.”

Kathy Guillermo, a PETA vice president, said at the time the group didn’t consider the matter closed.

“Racing itself is dangerous enough. This is a fictional representation of something and horses are still dying, and that to me is outrageous,” she said.