|Oklahoma Tornado Killed at Least 150 Horses|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 05/23/2013 4:17 PM
In a sobering count, more than 150 horses died as a result of the violent tornado that swept through Moore, Okla., on Monday. The number represents the entire community of farms that sit on the southern border of Oklahoma City, including Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses who were based at Celestial Acres Training Center.
Several organizations coordinating horse-rescue efforts, as well as local veterinarians and horse owners themselves, determined the number, said Joe Lucas, executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.
“We’ve counted, unfortunately, 150 head or more that have been found [dead], were killed, or had to be put down,” Lucas said. “And that’s not just Celestial Acres. That’s the Moore area. That’s what we’ve gotten up to.”
Lucas said a hotline is being set up through the state Department of Agriculture for owners to inquire about lost horses. In addition, there are plans to post photos taken of both surviving and deceased horses for the purpose of identification. The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association are helping with the process, Lucas said.
The team Lucas is working with has located 18 live horses in the Moore area, including five racehorses who were identified by their lip tattoos and sent to Remington Park in Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
“I think we’ve found everything that can be found that’s out there alive,” Lucas said.
Lucas said another 10 rescued horses were sent to facilities in Moore, and an additional three were shipped to Heritage Place, the auction house in Oklahoma City that has opened its doors to displaced horses.
“Horses that have fairly minor injuries that are treatable, they can spend the night for a few days until things get settled,” said Spence Kidney, general manager of Heritage Place. “Plus, if some are not sure where their horses are, it’s a central place to identify those horses. We’re just trying to chip in a little. It’s a terrible situation.”
Kidney said Wednesday the facilities received a miniature stallion, a paint horse, and a small gray mare who appears to be a Welsh pony.
The Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program is providing support to horses displaced by the storm, including helping owners with some of the medical costs for the treatment of injured animals. The organization, which is accepting donations through its website, www.otrp.info, also is seeking feed and equipment donations.
“We’re raising money to take care of the horses themselves,” said Chris Kirk, a director of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program.
Kirk said one of the most heartwarming stories during this difficult time was the rescue of an unraced 3-year-old Thoroughbred filly named Sasha’s Image. She was found at Celestial Acres on Tuesday evening, more than 24 hours after the storm hit. Sasha’s Image was heard whinnying from beneath some barn doors.
“From what I was told, she was laying flat on her side,” Kirk said. “Her ears were laying flat over the top of her head. They got her up, and her ears were still flat. They said the next morning her ears were pricked up again. She was in a lot of distress, but she’s doing better.”
Tornado hits Durant’s farm in Texas
Tom Durant, the all-time leading owner at Lone Star Park near Dallas, experienced significant damage to his farm in Granbury, Texas, last Wednesday due to a tornado. Durant lost nine horses in the storm, five of them yearlings from the first crop of his multiple stakes winner Sing Baby Sing.
“We took a direct hit,” said Jack Bruner, private trainer for Durant.
Bruner said there was no loss of human life at the farm, but the barns were destroyed, as were four tractors, stores of hay, and “countless miles of fence.” Bruner said he has yet to locate the farm’s six-horse trailer. He said 15 of Durant’s horses remain in the care of Equine Sports Medicine Surgery, an equine clinic in Weatherford, Texas.
“I cannot express how much they’ve done,” he said. “We could not have done it without them.”
Bruner said the majority of Durant’s mares and foals are based at Lane’s End Texas, while his racing operation is at Lone Star. The farm on Thursday was being cleared. “We’re going to rebuild,” Bruner said.
|Oklahoma: 34 horses found alive at Celestial Acres Training Center|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 05/22/2013 5:35 PM
A representative of the Celestial Acres Training Center in Moore, Okla., said 34 horses had been found alive as of Wednesday following Monday’s tornado, which packed winds of nearly 200 miles an hour.
The number of racehorses lost in the storm has been difficult to assess. Several trainers familiar with Celestial Acres estimate at least 80 horses were based there at the time of the storm. Tony Vann, a spokesperson for Glenn Orr and his son Tom, who own the facilities, said he is unable to give a “finite number” of horses stabled at the training center in part because those renting stalls were able to “come and go” as business dictated. As for the racehorse death toll, Vann said there is no accurate number that can be reported.
“There’s no way to quantify it at this point,” he said Wednesday. “Compounding things is that there are two other horse farms in that area and you can’t identify [the origin of some horses]. There’s a lot of things going on.”
A handful of racehorses were rescued from the rubble of the training center and were sent to Remington Park in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Also, Heritage Place, the nearby sales complex, has agreed to receive any other rescued horses and hold them until their owners can be found, said Joe Lucas, executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.
Lucas said five racehorses, identified by their lip tattoos and with proper paperwork in place, were shipped to Remington, which is in the midst of a meet for Quarter Horses.
“The racehorses that we could identify all had papers on file at Remington,” Lucas said.
Lucas, who is helping coordinate horse-relief efforts, on Wednesday was working on importing a water truck to Moore. He said some water sources were contaminated, and others were shut off due to the storm.
“People are giving horses water from plastic water bottles,” he said. “Dehydration is a problem. Vets are in the field giving electrolytes.”
Lucas said the field efforts are being spearheaded by Danielle Barber, executive director of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, and Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association. Earlier this week, the organizations jointly established a charitable account to assist horsemen impacted by the tornado. All donations received will go directly to horsemen, according to a statement distributed late Tuesday.
“There are many horsemen who have been affected by this tragedy and have lost everything they own,” the statement said. “Both horsemen’s organizations, along with Remington Park in Oklahoma City, are working together in coordinating relief to horsemen that have been affected by the storm.”
Remington will race on Friday for the first time since the storm hit. A moment of silence in honor of the lives lost and the lives shattered due to the tornado will be observed prior to the start of the card, said Dale Day, a spokesperson for Remington.
The track, in addition to receiving horses, has also “adopted” 30 families impacted by the storm and is helping to meet some of their needs, said Day. Further, the employees of Remington on Tuesday sent four shipments of food prepared ontrack to the first responders command center in Moore. Remington on Friday will be hosting a blood drive from noon to 5 p.m., said Day. It is being held in conjunction with the Oklahoma Blood Institute.
The outpouring of support for the residents of Moore, as well as the displaced horses, has been outstanding, said both Day and Lucas.
“There was an anonymous person who gave $10,000 for feed and management [of the horses],” said Lucas.
Celestial Acres had four barns and a total of several hundred stalls, said Vann. Only one of those barns, on the north side of the five-furlong training track, was left standing after the storm. The 20 to 25 horses inside that barn all survived, according to Mark Lee, a trainer who lost the 12 horses he had stabled at Celestial Acres. The facilities also included several paddocks and an 85- by 200-foot arena.
“It’s just gone,” Vann said of the arena. “It’s just earth.”
Credit or debit card donations to the relief effort can be made by calling the OQHRA at (405) 216-0440. Checks can be made payable to the TRAO Benevolence Fund or the OQHRA Benevolence Fund, with the memo line to read 2013 Tornado. Donations can be sent to TRAO at 2620 NW Expressway, Suite A, Oklahoma City, Okla., 73112, or the OQHRA, P.O. Box 2907, Edmond, Okla., 73083.
|Minn. native loses horses in Oklahoma tornado|
Posted: 9:39 PM, May 21, 2013
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - From 800 miles away, the images of Mother Nature's wrath in Oklahoma are breathtaking. From a few blocks, they're something else entirely.
"It's tough. It's tough to grasp," said Minnesota native Randy Weidner, who lost nearly everything in Moore tornado.
Weidner, 38, grew up in Rosemount, but travels across the country as a race horse trainer with his girlfriend, Lindsey White.
Since February, he's lived at the Celestial Acres Training Center in Moore, Okla. He was set to head back to Minnesota on Wednesday morning to race his horses at Canterbury Park.
That all changed when the twister hit. With his voice sounding tired, he described the moments before the devastation.
"The winds were going crazy. And that's when we tried to get the horses out, but the storm chasers that were there were loading their equipment back in their truck and said you guys got to get out of here right now," he told KARE 11 by phone.
They were forced to leave their 12 horses behind. Looking to seek shelter they were on their way to the Moore Hospital when they decided to go to a friend's house instead.
"The Moore hospital that we were going to go to took a direct hit from the tornado. I guess it's a blessing that we continued on the road to our friend's house," he said.
Their horses were not as lucky. When Weidner returned to the stables, he found all of them dead, along with nearly 100 more lying in the field.
"Those horses are my livelihood and I consider them part of my family," he said as his voice wavered.
His trailer, his truck and all of his personal belongings are gone too. He estimates about $260,000 is lost. All that's left is a slab of concrete where he once laid his head at night.
And while he worries about paying the bills with his horses gone, he knows he hasn't even suffered the worst of it.
"My heart just breaks for these families that lost love ones," he said.
His family set up a fund at Wells Fargo in hopes of raising money for him since he lost most everything. Weidner said the fund is called "Randal Weidner Catastrophe Trust".
|Churchill Downs: Oklahoma on their mind|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 05/21/2013 1:20 PM
A handful of horsemen racing at Churchill Downs have close ties to Oklahoma, where a tornado caused widespread devastation Monday.
Steve Asmussen, Steve Hobby, and Randy Morse all have years of experience at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, but none can match Donnie K. Von Hemel, who is as closely identified with Oklahoma racing as anyone.
Von Hemel, stabled at Churchill with a full barn for the first time in years, is the all-time leading trainer at Remington and a member of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He has been closely monitoring the tragic events in his adopted home state.
“First and foremost is the concern we all have with the loss of life in Moore [Okla.], with the grade school and all,” Von Hemel said Tuesday at Churchill. “It’s just terrible. We’re all trying to come to grips with it. Obviously, our thoughts are with everyone affected there. My family and friends live to the northwest of Oklahoma City, and the tornadoes hit more to the south. I do know that some of my colleagues with racehorses have been impacted ... We’re all very concerned for them.”
|OK: Trainer Lee Loses Entire Stable in Tornado|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 05/21/2013 9:35 AM
Mark Lee, a Thoroughbred trainer who regularly competes in Oklahoma, lost his entire 12-horse stable in the deadly tornado that hit Moore, Okla., on Monday afternoon. Lee was based at the Celestial Acres Training Center that experienced extensive damage at the hands of 200 mile-per-hour winds. He believes a large number of horses were lost in the storm, but said one barn on the north side of the training center simply had its roof torn off and the 20 to 25 horses inside all survived. Lee lives six miles from Celestial Acres.
“I showed up a few minutes after it happened; there were mangled horses everywhere,” Lee said.
“I had one guy in the barn trying to let horses go when it hit. He survived. He dug himself out of the rubble. I have no idea how.”
Lee said the training center was pretty full, and in addition to Thoroughbreds, the facility housed mainly Quarter Horses due to the meet for that breed currently in progress at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.
Lee said there were a number of broodmares and foals stabled at farms surrounding Celestial Acres, and he believes many of those horses were lost in the storm Monday.
Lee will work to rebuild his stable, but is now simply helping the recovery process at Celestial Acres.
The full extent of the damage to Celestial Acres, which features a five-eighths-mile training track, was not known as of Monday night. Celestial Acres is one of two businesses on a 160-acre tract of land owned by Dr. Glenn Orr and his son, Tom, said Tony Vann, a spokesperson for the family. The other business is Orr Family Farm, a popular tourist attraction that features a petting zoo, trains and a zipline.
Tom Orr is a longtime owner who has horses in training at Lone Star Park near Dallas.
|OK Horsemen Disaster Relief Funds Established|
OQHRA & TRAO
In a joint statement released by the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (TRAO) and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association (OQHRA), the associations announced the creation of a benevolence account for horsemen impacted by the recent storms in the state.
Following is the joint statement: Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Oklahoma following this horrific event. There are many horsemen who have been affected by this tragedy and have lost everything they own. Celestial Acres, which rents out stalls to multiple trainers, took a direct hit along with the highly publicized damage at the Orr Family Farm. Both horsemen’s organizations, along with Remington Park in Oklahoma City, are working together in coordinating relief to horsemen that have been affected by the storm.
Both offices have been encouraged by the outpouring of support and offers for help from across the country; it truly displays “horsemen helping horsemen.” Many of those horsemen have lost everything – horses, possessions, tack and equipment, and their homes. They have many needs that cannot be met by traditional social agencies.
The TRAO and the OQHRA will be jointly accepting donations for horsemen who were affected by this tragic event. All donations will be distributed directly to horsemen and their families that were affected by the storms in this area.
If you want to make a donation using a credit or debit card, please call OQHRA at 405-216-0440. Checks should be made payable to either TRAO Benevolence Fund or OQHRA Benevolence Fund and put 2013 Tornado on the memo line. Your donations may be sent to:
Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma
2620 NW Expressway; Suite A
Oklahoma City OK 73112
Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association
P.O. Box 2907
Edmond, OK 73083
We are still in the process of evaluating the need for additional help for these families and are working together with the Oklahoma racetracks to coordinate activities and support services for our racing community.
|OK: Horsemen Suffer Heavy Losses in Oklahoma Tornado|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: Updated on 05/21/2013 7:06 PM
The tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., at almost 200 miles an hour Monday claimed not only the lives of more than 20 adults and children, but it also wiped out the Celestial Acres Training Center, home to both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse operations, killing scores of horses.
The training center was in the direct path of the storm, bordering the southern part of Oklahoma City.
"This thing was a little over a mile wide and traveled on the ground 11 miles," said Betty Raper, who with her husband, Dee, operate Belle Mere Farm in nearby Norman, Okla., about three miles south of Moore. "It just gives you the chills."
Trainer Mark Lee had a small Thoroughbred operation at Celestial Acres at the time the storm hit Monday afternoon.
"I had 12 head, and they're all gone," Lee said Tuesday. Lee lives about six miles from Celestial Acres.
"I showed up a few minutes after it happened," he said. "There were mangled horses everywhere. I had one guy in the barn trying to let horses go when it hit. He survived. He dug himself out of the rubble. I have no idea how."
Lee said that 20 to 25 horses in a barn on the north side of the training center survived. He said that the structure simply had its roof torn off and that the animals were okay.
Randy Weidner, a trainer racing Quarter Horses at nearby Remington Park in Oklahoma City, was not as fortunate. The horses he had stabled at Celestial Acres were victims of the storm, according to Betty Raper.
"I know of one young man from Iowa that lost nine head, his truck, and his trailer," she said, referring to Weidner. "It was a very devastating situation for anyone that was there. From what I understand, he walked away with no injury. The clothes on his back is all he has today."
Celestial Acres Training Center is one of two businesses on a 160-acre tract of land owned by Glenn Orr and his son Tom, according to Tony Vann, a spokesman for the family. The other business is Orr Family Farm, a tourist destination featuring a petting zoo, trains, and a zip-line. The training center rents out stalls. Tom Orr races horses and has some runners based at Lone Star Park near Dallas.
Vann said there was no loss of human life on the Orr properties. The number of horses stabled at the facility and their status could not be confirmed, he said late Monday, but some trainers speculated there were at least 80 Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses there. Raper said she heard that as many as 75 horses in the Moore area may have died.
Lee said that there are mare-and-foal farms bordering Celestial Acres, and he believed that most of those horses were victims of the storm. Lee said a large number of runners based at Celestial Acres were Quarter Horses competing at the Remington Park meet.
Remington canceled its final five races on Sunday afternoon when the storm system was building and severe-weather sirens began sounding in Oklahoma City.
"They were calling for possible tornado outbreaks at any time," said Remington spokesman Dale Day. "No one knew where the outbreak was going to begin. As it turned out, it didn’t hit our part of Oklahoma City."
Day said Remington planned to race as scheduled Friday.
Raper said that rain continued to pour down in the Moore and Norman areas Tuesday. She and Day said Moore was “sealed off” and exits serving the community off Interstate 35 had been blockaded.
"They’re recommending if you don’t have to travel I-35, to take alternate routes," Raper said. "There’s still a lot of debris, and emergency vehicles need to go in there."
Vann said some of the debris from the storm has been found as far north as Tulsa, Okla., about 100 miles from Moore. The storm system itself had extended south into the North Texas town of Denton as of Monday night, and by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, heavy rains and winds were pummeling communities surrounding Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Charitable fund for horsemen
The organizations that represent Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse interests in Oklahoma have jointly established a charitable fund to assist horsemen affected by the tornado. Donations will go directly to horsemen, according to a statement distributed late Tuesday by the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association.
"There are many horsemen who have been affected by this tragedy and have lost everything they own," the statement said. "Both horsemen's organizations, along with Remington Park in Oklahoma City, are working together in coordinating relief to horsemen that have been affected by the storm."
Credit card and debit card donations can be made by calling the Quarter Horse association at (405) 216-0440. Checks can be made payable to the TRAO Benevolence Fund or the OQHRA Benevolence Fund, with the memo line to read 2013 Tornado. Donations can be sent to TRAO at 2620 NW Expressway, Suite A; Oklahoma City, Okla., 73112, or to the OQHRA, P.O. Box 2907, Edmond, Okla., 73083.
|New Federal Drug Legislation Introduced|
Date Posted: 5/20/2013 10:54:23 AM Last Updated: 5/20/2013 1:20:30 PM
A U.S. Senator and four members of the House of Representatives have introduced the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2013 to regulate/prohibit substances, methods, and treatments that may be used in racing.
The legislation, introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), is not the same as the bill they introduced in the last Congress, according to the American Horse Council.
The bill calls for a new "independent anti-doping organization" to be responsible for "ensuring the integrity of horse races that are the subject of interstate off-track wagers and the safety of persons involved in such horse races," according to the AHC. "The bill gives this anti-doping organization authority to permit/prohibit the drugs and medications that may be administered to a horse in a race subject to an interstate off-track wager and set the withdrawal period for its administration."
The legislation prohibits a horse from receiving any medication/drug within 24 hours of a race. There is a two-year exception for furosemide (Salix or Lasix) used for 3-year-olds under the current Association of Racing Commissioners International rules and administered by a veterinarian with a client-patient relationship.
The legislation specifically designates the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)—a private, non-governmental agency that is the official anti-doping agency for the U.S. Olympics—to be the organization responsible for overseeing the initiative.
According to the AHC, the bill charges USADA as the overseeing agency to develop and enforce rules for permitted and prohibited activities, including:
*Permitted substances, methods, and treatments that may be administered in the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship;
*Guidelines for the use of such permitted substances, methods, and treatments, including withdrawal times before a race; and
*Prohibited substances, methods, and treatments that may not be administered.
Under the legislation, USADA would also be charged with organizing programs for anti-doping education, research, testing, and adjudication to prevent a horse from racing under the influence of medications or drugs. In developing the rules and programs, USADA may consult with state racing commissions, racetracks, horsemen's groups, and others.
USADA would have the authority to exclude any person from racing for the first violation of the rules against the use of any prohibited medication/drug and for the third violation of the rules against the use of permitted medications/drugs. Also, USADA has discretion to suspend any exclusion if a person assists in identifying other violations of the rules or federal or state laws under the legislation.
The AHC said the bill does not amend the Interstate Horseracing Act; rather it prohibits interstate wagering under the IHA without the "consent" of USADA. To offer interstate off-track wagers, the racetrack putting on the race, and the off-track system accepting the wager, must have the consent of USADA, in addition to the other consents presently required by the IHA. As part of granting this consent, the racetrack must have an agreement with USADA that includes the terms and conditions regarding compliance with the new rules and specifies payments to USADA to fund the costs of regulation and enforcement. USADA is charged with ensuring that all costs incurred in carrying out its duties and responsibilities under the new law are paid by the industry.
By tying the new requirements, even indirectly, to interstate wagering, it applies the new prohibitions and requirements to any race that is simulcast interstate under the IHA, the AHC reported.
The House bill (H.R. 2012) was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on which Reps. Pitts, Whitfield, Schakowsky, and Eshoo sit.
The Senate bill (S. 973) was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
|CO: Curtain Rises on Arapahoe Parks Summer Meet|
Coming off some of the best performances in Colorado racing history last year, Arapahoe Park will begin its 2013 season on May 25. The Aurora racetrack will conduct 39 days of live horse racing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, along with Memorial Day Monday. First post time for the daily card featuring Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Arabian races will be at 1 p.m.
The track’s marquee Thoroughbred stakes will be the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity at 6 furlongs for 2‑year-olds on August 18. Last year’s Gold Rush Futurity was won by Colorado-bred Get Happy Mister by 9 1/4 lengths. As a 3-year-old this year, the Tangarae Farms’ Get Happy Mister has shined outside Colorado as he won the 1-mile, $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on April 13.
In addition to the big performances on the racetrack, Arapahoe Park’s posting an increase in wagering handle for the third year in a row translated into extra prize money available for horsemen. Purses on all overnight races were increased during the final month of last season, and the closing weekend of the meet featured an additional three races each day.
“The quality of our on-track product and the success we had on the business side last year have us all excited about the 2013 meet,” Arapahoe Park plant manager Bill Powers said. “We really believe that Colorado racing has nowhere to go but up.”
The top Quarter Horse stakes of the season will be the $150,000, Grade 3 Mile High Futurity at 400 yards for 2-year-olds on August 18 and the $75,000 Mile High Derby at 400 yards for 3-year-olds on August 17. Like Get Happy Mister, a Quarter Horse that raced at Arapahoe Park last year also made a splash on the national scene when Ultimate Wave won the 400-yard, $200,000 Grade 1 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship at Prairie Meadows in Iowa on October 27. Owned by Junior’s Quarter Horses, Ultimate Wave had qualified for that race on Quarter Horse racing’s championship evening by winning the 400‑yard, $42,100 Adequan Arapahoe Derby Challenge. This year’s renewal will be held on June 8 with trials run on opening day, May 25.
The feature races of the meet for Arabians will be the 1 1/8-mile, $25,000 Grade 3 Soaring Eagle Ranch Distaff for fillies and mares aged 3-years-old and up on August 17 and the 1 1/4-mile, $25,000 Grade 3 Crow Valley Ranch Classic for 3-year-olds and up on August 18.