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Another Horse Dies – HBO’s ‘LUCK’ Cancelled

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For the third time during it’s filming, a horse has died on the set of the critically acclaimed and PETA attacked HBO series LUCK. Production was underway on the second installment of the second season, when a 5 year old thoroughbred reared back and fell, hitting  it’s head which lead to it’s euthanization.

It was this incident that led Executive Producers David Milch and Michael Mann to call a halt to production. According to a statement from HBO;

“We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horse-racing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures. While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future. Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision.”

The series has been plagued with troubles, including an on-going investigation by The American Humane Association, and several animal-rights groups, including PETA, demanding an end to the show.

The series, starring heavy-weights Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina and Nick Nolte follows the drama and intrigue surrounding horse-owners, jockeys, gamblers and the large community of caretakers behind the legendary horse-racing shrine of Santa Anita in California.  Hoffman has been putting in a marvelous performance as recently-incarcerated and released gangster ‘Ace’ Bernstein who fronts Farina’s character in equine-ownership. Nolte has been brilliant as the aging trainer Walter Smith, and the antics from the group of misfit gamblers who form Foray Stables after hitting a massive pick-six has been thrilling me as I live vicariously through them.

This latest incident comes on the heels of two other horse deaths while the series filmed; the first two horses were injured during racing scenes, which prompted The American Humane Society to step in. Karen Rosa, the senior vice president of the American Humane Association’s Film & Television Unit, told PEOPLE.com;

“While it is not uncommon for thoroughbreds to be euthanized following injury at the race track, “it is very uncommon in the world of film and television”

The group pressed for filming to halt and more rigorous guidelines be set in place, which included much shorter runs for filming and radiography of all horses before they ran. Rosa did give HBO credit for implementation of the proposed guidelines, and the fact that the series hadn’t had an injury in over a year. Rosa added;

“It’s too premature to jump to any conclusions. We have to really take a look at all of the specifics and ask if there is something more that can be done to possibly prevent something like this from happening in the future. Or, as happens in the real world, is this truly an accident that can happen, even with all the protocols and guidelines and safety in place?”


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