The story of Valediction — son of Vindication and grandson of Seattle Slew and the horse whose trainer was caught in a PETA investigation describing him as a “rat” (a loser because of injuries) — has a happy ending.
After hearing that the 5-year-old thoroughbred was being cobbled together to race again despite recurring lameness, Simpsons cocreator Sam Simon, a philanthropist who is battling terminal cancer, put up the funds to buy Valediction, and the lucky horse was transported to retirement on a farm in Virginia where he’ll live out his life in peace and safety.
“I was not in the best of shape when I saw PETA’s video and heard about the condition of this horse, Valediction, but it was immediately clear the horse was in deep trouble,” says Simon. “He had been run on bad legs to start with and had clearly been injured during the race and had stood there shaking, unable to put weight on his feet. … When I see him in his blanket eating carrots, I know I helped one great horse … escape the track and live in clover until the day he dies.”
PETA’s investigation, which broke March 19 in The New York Times, captured behind-the-scenes videotaped evidence of chronic misuse of drugs to enhance horses’ performance and mask their injuries. PETA’s investigator first noted in May 2013 that Valediction’s legs were covered with circular, evenly spaced scars — the result of freeze-firing, the cruel practice of burning horses’ legs with liquid nitrogen to try to stimulate blood flow to damaged legs. After racing at Saratoga Race Course in New York on August 1, 2013, Valediction’s ankles were so swollen that he had to be transported out of the test barn in a trailer. He was claimed for $20,000 by horse trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who was reportedly dismayed to be told by a state veterinarian, “This horse is lame. … You gotta get an ambulance. Take it back to your barn.”
Valediction underwent surgery for his injures in August 2013, and on February 14, 2014, an agent for PETA purchased him for Simon. A veterinarian who examined Valediction after the purchase opined that the horse is so arthritic that he can never be used again — even for pleasure riding — at only 5 years of age.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.