Pap's Pal Wreath. Artwork by Vivian.

Pap’s Pal is run till his heart stops dead in the dirt at Suffolk Downs

Pap's Pal Wreath. Artwork by Vivian.

No doubt there are callous racehorse trainers everywhere, but the U.S. seems to be a hotbed for the most heartless and gutless of them all.

Case in point is the Pap’s Pal story that I happened across on Twitter.

If all they say is true, Tito Rivera who trains the late Pap’s Pal reportedly ran the horse into the ground until he died in the dirt of a heart attack at Suffolk Downs, Saturday, August 4, 2012.

It is said that stories like this are routine at Suffolk Downs, so what about all the people who do absolutely nothing for horses like Pap’s Pal? I can hear the excuses flooding in now, all legitimate no doubt. It is not that I am unsympathetic. I know it takes a lot of courage to put your livelihood, perhaps even your safety, on the line for a horse who may be treated little better than you are.

One of the people I met during the Twitter discussion on the death of Pap’s Pal has put the information together. I cross-post it below from her blog:

For well over a year, some fans discussed openly on Twitter the plight of Pap’s Pal, probably in the hope that public embarrassment would ease the overuse of this 6 year old horse. It did not.

A fan who had been watching and reporting schedule and performance facts of several horses considered at risk began to worry in earnest about Pap’s Pal and issued the following information as it happened. Each message was re-tweeted to over 400 followers by this blogger, and went well beyond that number:

From @NotCloudyAllDay

June 25
Pap’s Pal will now be watched – 6 yo @ Suffolk has a 67/3,4,10 record. He came in last of 9 today in his 3rd race since 6/6.

Pap’s Pal will race again June 30 at Suffolk R.5 for $4K. He just came in ninth and last 5 days ago, “fractious in gate…not used late.”

Pap’s Pal “cased two wide into turn, no response, tired,” coming in 7th and last today at Suffolk, five days after his last race.

July 7
(Not found in profile page and recorded here 8/8)
Pap’s Pal, ran 7th today in Race 1, beaten 22 1/4 lenths.

July 4
(Following 2 Actual Tweets Relocated & Added 8/8)
Since May 7, 2012, Pap’s Pal had six workouts and four races, Days between each: 12,4,5,9,6,4,9,5,4.

July 7
After his 7 day break, Pap’s Pal came in 7th at Suffolk today – and last again, for the grand sum earnings of $0. Why?

July 16
Pap’s Pal will race again at Suffolk 7/17, Race 5, a $4K claimer. His last race was July 7 in which he came in last (after a 7 day rest).

July 20
Something new for Pap’s Pal. Turf at 1 1/16 miles. Suffolk 7/23, R 8. This is his 6th race since June 6. NEVER on turf before.

July 23
In his first turf race at Suffolk today, Pap’s Pal “pressed the pace for 1/2 and tired,” coming in 10th and last, beaten by 24 1/2 lengths.

July 28
Pap’s Pal, who tried turf July 23 coming in last, worked on dirt today at Suffolk. Came in second of 13, 3f @ 36:60.

Aug 3
Pap’s Pal worked today (8/3) at Suffolk Downs – 5f @ 1.03:60 Breezing, fourth of six.

The next day, this message was received from a kind follower:

@NotCloudyAllDay Breaks my heart to report this: Pap’s Pal collapsed and died instantly coming off the track from this workout. Heart/Heat.

There’s more to the story. Continue reading >>

17 thoughts on “Pap’s Pal is run till his heart stops dead in the dirt at Suffolk Downs”

  1. I thinlk calling them isn’t going to be enough. We need to go to every news station we can get ahold of until someone will run the story, and post a facebook petition to boycott this track until they start doing something about this kind of abuse at their track. This is just the straw that broke the camel’s back, and if they refuse to take action, then an example needs to be made if this so some good can come of this horrible situation. I’m so sick of big money getting away with murder just because they can pay people to be quiet. This is beyond unacceptable!


    1. All good ideas. We are waiting to hear from the Mass. Racing Commission. We told them we will not wait forever. We are not approaching Suffolk Downs themselves; that would just be time wasting. Thanks Jasmine.


      1. VG, is there an action planned which we can support besides writing? I have a contact on Facebook who may be in racing, who is extremely angry and who has said licensing needs to be pulled.
        Is there a further action, even involving other tracks, which may bring pressure on Suffolk Downs?


        1. We are giving the proper authorities a short span of time to take action. If they do not, then we will inform everyone what our next step is. I hope everyone will take part when we call to action.


  2. They are turning Suffolk Downs into a “racino” which means the abuses will only escalate resulting in more deaths. That is what happened at Aqueduct with 20 horses dead (from the ones we know about) in a few months. .

    Suffolk Downs is supposed to have a no slaughter policy. It is never a good idea to make deals with devil. You will always get burned which I know plenty of people trying to deal with these people have. It is the horses of course who suffer.

    Trying to legislate this is not the answer. This has to be taken up with the State Racing Commissions, until the industry hopefully one day has a central governing body.


  3. I know from supporting Canter New England, that protesting at Suffolk Downs will hurt the horses there. The volunteers with that group work really hard to gain the trust of the decent trainers so when one of the horses is through racing the group can get the horse and find it a home, instead of the horse being sent to one of the auction houses. If people protest the racetrack the trainers will clam up and not work with the volunteers and the outcome will be so much worse than it already is. What I have learned is the way to change is through legislation, I have a friend who has already changed the laws for dogs in RI, and now is working on Maryland. She rocks and just knows what to do. I email and call all my senators, and today even the White House when there is a cause that needs change. But WE THE PEOPLE, THE ONES WITH VOICES need to speak for the voiceless, and start writing the legislation, this is how we change things.


    1. Thanks for your response. (That is what I have been doing re slaughter.) If you have any more ideas or comments, please post. I welcome suggestions re actions we can take. I find them really helpful.

      Anybody with more ideas, pls post. I will do what I can. Thanks.


  4. I knew three racehorses (OTTB’s). What it took to allow them to be horses was worth it. My own OTTB was so intelligent and talented, he could have succeeded at any discipline. Like any horse, the TB takes time and training and decent treatment to do well for the long term.

    One of the OTTB’s I knew had been horribly mistreated and in the end he forgave and was loved and respected by all for his courage, honesty, strength and sly sense of humor. He ended as a reliable and talented class horse and worked for years, part time. His last student was a little boy.They both got along just great.

    Knowing these three and owning one taught me what I needed to know about the heart, intelligence and courage of the Thorobred. Anyone who thinks TB’s are not intelligent or brave needs to stay away from horses. Once you know them, you admire them forever.

    A human being could never have forgiven and overcome beatings—the TB does all the time. I will write the Governor and post this blog entry on Twitter as soon as I can.

    The abuses and slaughter have to brought to an end. If this takes public protest, Ok. Then let’s have some suggestions on how we can capture media attention by public protests at the sites of the abuses and slaughter. If we can come up with any feasible ideas, we can influence public opinion to oppose these same constant abuses and even end horse slaughter. We have seen wars ended by public pressure. Why not try the same tactics to save the innocent?

    Surely some who care can afford to take some time to organize public demonstrations even if those in the horse industry can’t take that risk. (If you have kids and risk your job and end up homeless and with no health care coverage of any kind, the risk would not be possible. How would anyone in that situation get a job again and with a bad job reference?)

    There have to be backers somewhere in the humane treatment/animal welfare community (hopefully horsemen and horsewomen) with funding who would support direct peaceful actions at tracks, auctions, even kill plants.
    If anybody has ideas, please post.


  5. My TB gelding came from this same track, his racing name was Strong Finish, I called him BamBam because he was always hitting things with his head. He was raced until he was 7 years old, NOT because he was a winner, as he won just one race. He was a great great grandson of Spectacular Bid.

    BamBam was raced as a stallion until the trainer was ‘done’ with him, at that time he was gelded and thrown in a stall in a back barn, when the person who rescued him found him, he had infections from flys, and was starving. She brought him to RI and tried her best to get him better, he was angry, mean, and dangerous by this point. She managed to put some weight on him, a friend of mine happened to go to this barn to drop off another horse and took a tour down the aisle, she saw BamBam in his stall and asked about him, hearing his bloodlines, she took his mulitple blankets off and realized he still needed about 250 lbs of weight to be considered okay, she loaded him on the trailer and brought him back to her barn.

    A year later, she needed to place him because she could not ride him or handle him, he could not be expected to behave or be trusted under any circumstances. I saw the ad in the paper, and went to meet BamBam, I had lost my beloved mare after 23 years and had always dreamed of rescuing a racehorse. I went to look at my friends other TB, but saw BamBam first, it was like I had been hit over the head, he was everything a TB racehorse was supposed to be (in my dreams) he needed me as much as I needed him, and for the next 3 months I went every day to the barn to spend time with my amazing horse who hated humans.

    Well, I hated them too, so we understood each other, we went swimming and trail riding. And by the end of the summer BamBam came home to my barn, I don’t want this to sound like it was easy, he was difficult, he would bare his teeth and bite, he would kick and get so frustrated that he would grab the wall or bucket and bite as hard as he could. BUT he learned over time that I would let him bite the back of a brush if he needed too, he learned to paint pictures by clicker training, and the day he nickered to me for the first time was the most rewarding day of my life.

    BamBam left me a year ago at the young age of just 15. I miss him terribly, he was such a presenCe. I have not gotten another horse yet, I honor his memory still. His paintings hang on my living room wall, but I look forward to the day that I hear the news that Suffolk Downs is closing for good. I know my boy will have something to do with it.


    1. What a story Amy. Thank you for sharing.

      I was okay until I got to the “the day he nickered to me for the first time was the most rewarding day of my life”. Then the tears rolled. I have been blessed with all sorts of loves, but there is nothing quite like being loved by a horse. And no matter where the Spirit takes them, they never, ever forget you. Their love is forever.


  6. Heartbreaking, indeed. I have loved going to the races and taking photos of these gorgeous animals, but I am beginning to have second thoughts about even doing that. R.I.P, PAP’S PAL. YOU DESERVED SO MUCH BETTER.


    1. It is so difficult for me to be objective because I grew up with Thoroughbreds (Kentucky, England), worked in racing (England, Maryland) and as cruel as it is here … I just cannot take it because I am not used to this kind of barbaric treatment of the horses. I know it was a bit iffy before I went to England, but since coming back it is off the charts cruel and crooked. And the evil thinking behind it all is so entrenched.

      I do see a glint of hope shining through, whatever the motivation, but to watch these poor horses suffer and so many dying. How can we look the other way while they “reform” it — if that is even what they are honestly trying to do. Heartbreaking. Such a beautiful, majestic sport when done properly.


  7. There’s no justification for the undeniably excessive schedule that Pap’s Pal’s trainers and owner(s) put him thru. It’s a wonder that he didn’t drop sooner. What were they thinking? Insurance money’s better than his expenses?
    And if the individuals still have their licenses and access to Suffolk, WHY DO THEY?
    Suffolk Downs’s “No tolerance” policy for slaughter was of no help to Pap’s Pal. Suffolk needs to get on this, and fast.
    Will the Governor hear from horse heroes?
    Contact MA Governor Patrick here:
    Contact the MA state racing commission here:


    1. Thanks so much K. We are on it but want everyone’s help on this. So far Suffolk Downs not responsive to people calling about Pap’s Pal’s death or asking for help for the other horses. Please everyone, use K’s links to complain, especially to the Governor. Thanks!


  8. It definitely needs to go. I have had it. Whatever good there are in the industry, they are the voiceless minority. I hate it that thousands would lose their jobs. If they want to keep them they better start speaking up or putting pressure on some other way. They would probably be better off anyway. Amazing that all these other horse racing nations can manage it but this one really doesn’t care.


  9. I hate horse racing. To much cruelty and not enough compassion from dirt bag trainers/owners. I’m sick of hearing of horses dying on the track.


  10. What the stupid racing fans are seeing are horses beaten half to death on these tracks. It’s the same thing the rodeos have been doing for decades. If you could see past the horses coat you would see welts all over the horses body. Shut down this cruelty.


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