HBO Cancels ‘Luck’ After Third Horse Dies On Set

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The horseracing series “Luck” was canceled by HBO after a third thoroughbred died during production of the drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, the channel said Wednesday.

“Luck,” about the seedier side of racing, will air the final two episodes of its first season now in progress, HBO said. But the series won’t return for the second season that began production last month, it said.

“While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future,” the channel said. “Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision.”

The move was made with David Milch, the show’s creator, and Michael Mann, his fellow executive producer on the drama that brought film actor Hoffman to series TV. It was a high-profile project for the premium channel that stakes its reputation on such fare.

HBO said it was “immensely proud” of the series and those involved in it, and the producers said in a joint statement that they “loved this series, loved the cast, crew and writers.”

Retired jockey Gary Stevens, who co-stars on “Luck” and was in the racehorse movie “Seabiscuit,” tweeted his support to the HBO series: “So bummed. Peace out to all my family in (hash)luck.”

The American Humane Association, which oversees animal welfare on Hollywood productions, said that in light of the three deaths “this is arguably the best decision HBO could have made.”
The group said it will work with HBO to ensure that horses used on “Luck” are “retired properly.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which had been sharply critical of the production, welcomed the cancellation and offered advice to HBO and the producers if they decide to resume it.

“PETA will be calling on them, as we have done from the start, to use stock racing footage instead of endangering horses for entertainment purposes,” the group said in a statement.

On Tuesday, a horse was injured and euthanized at Santa Anita Park racetrack, and HBO agreed to suspend filming with the animals after the American Humane Association issued an immediate demand “that all production involving horses shut down” pending an investigation.

The animal was being led to a stable by a groom when it reared and fell back, suffering a head injury, according to HBO. The horse was euthanized at the track in suburban Arcadia.

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 humane association and racing industry experts to implement safety protocols that exceed film and TV industry standards.

The humane association had called for a production halt at Santa Anita 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 passed the inspection, the AHA said.

When the horse was injured, 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, which is routine with all fatalities at racing board enclosures.

The necropsy and toxicology testing will be done despite the show’s cancellation, the board said.

The first two horse deaths drew criticism from PETA, 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.
On Tuesday, Guillermo said PETA sent complaints about “Luck” to Arcadia police and an animal humane society in nearby Pasadena.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Astonished

    . . .“Three horses have now died and all the evidence we have gathered points to sloppy oversight, the use of unfit, injured horses, and disregard for the treatment of thoroughbreds,” Guillermo said, calling for an immediate halt to filming.

    Unless PETA had their own vet examining the horses before and after an injury the above quote has no basis in fact.

    Horses are prey animals who, when startled, will react instinctively. This kind of flipping accident happens all the time in other than race track conditions. Sometimes, if you are leading a known flipper, you can try to prevent serious head trauma by putting padded headgear on the horse. However, it might not completely prevent injuries.

    Would PETA make keeping horses illegal just because they might injure themselves in any situation?

    • JPribble

      “Would PETA make keeping horses illegal just because they might injure themselves in any situation?” Yes they would, Peta equates owning animals, even as pets to slavery.

      • NoHorsePlay

        Unelected officials have taken over Washington and are orchestrating the daily news. Most of the comments and replies you’re reading online are government created too. With many stories the COMMENTS ARE CREATED BEFORE THE STORY IS REPORTED. They are designed to generate a response to engage “dangerous people” in real time.

        These self appointed tyrants think you can’t handle the truth. Fact of the matter is we have no democracy, president, and freedom of press is an illusion.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out. Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in history

      • george garris

        What about Obama and Dem Congress, Horse Slaughter Is Again Legal In US…

    • Trajan Long

      Peta worships animals above people and like Green extremists who would have us all living in caves, would have us all be vegans and let all animals run wild. Sorry to inform them there is a food chain and I wish they would all go someplace and have to catch their own food to survive.

      • ???

        i’m glad they canceled the show, for once they put animals first, instead of mans selfish need. A horse racing show is not part of a “food chain” or our food supply.

      • lk

        Where does this hostility come from from?

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  • Day at the Races.....

    I had no idea horses were so clumsy and “accident “prone!!! I guess you can explain any injuries and/or deaths on the horses themselves, after all, they wont say a word.
    One thing is for sure, this show is “unlucky” for horses. I wont be watching it .

    • freecheese

      Well, OSHA and PETA need to team-up and make sure these horses have safety helmets, safety glassses, ear protection, elbow pads, knee pads, and steel toe protection for the hoofs.

      • ???

        you need a safety helmet for that silly brain of yours !!!

    • twilliam

      You really have no idea how fragile thoroughbred horses are and probably never will, Until then, maybe you should stick to commenting on things that you have some idea about.

    • Charles_Texas

      Horses are not clumsy but the are accident prone. The put their feet through wire, the rear and loose their balance. All of this is because they go into the flight mode at a moments notice as is right with a prey anaimal. Combine this with extreme strengh and fragility and you are just waiting for an accident. Before you start making comments about horses learn some about them.

      • Tony Hogben

        …….well said Charles, at least someone knows what they are talking about……….Tony Hogben……Australia…

  • McGehee

    It’s on HBO, so I wouldn’t watch it anyway.

    • freecheese

      I quit watching HBO about the same time I quit watching the Sunday morning talk shows. That was about 12-years ago.
      I won’t support any network that has a-hole racist jerks like Bill Maher.

      • Jim L

        Yea but Game of Thrones is so good

      • karl anglin


    • Carlos Labadia

      Agreed. Any wannabe TV station that supports the extremist positions of a nobody like Bill Maher is on my boycott list.

      • BadBird

        Boycott Bill Maher…but I have to get my Boardwalk Empire and Eastbound and Down

    • Jackie_Treehorn

      it does suck… i hate em but they make some pretty good shows…

  • Bill Henderson

    The operative sentence here is: It noted that the accident didn’t occur during filming or racing.

    So why is this a story about the HBO series?

  • Peter M

    HBO produces nothing but filth.

  • Slobby

    Things happen in threes. So they’re good to go now.

    • freecheese

      “Things happen in threes” That must mean that the Bermuda Triangle is REAL and you should stay at home on every Friday the 13th.

  • Jeff

    Horses die every day..

  • John Marzolf

    I will have a triple horseburger with cheese, please.

    • Man Hands

      well your president just okayed horse meat… so it’s coming.

      • Rooter

        I can’t stand obama but he didn’t “ok horse meat.” Horse slaughter in the US was outlawed, due to the touchy feely groups out there that forced the gov’t to think with it’s heart and not it’s head. No horse slaughter had the predictable unintended consequences of too many horses and nowhere to put them. He reinstated horse slaughter, with the meat going overseas for human consumption. It is not for sale for human consumption in the US, it has always gone overseas to the countries that like it.

  • lee

    The FBI and DEA fabricate evidence, steal from suspects and use murder to close bad cases.
    A corrupt DEA poisoned my dog to death because I called the San Francisco Attorney General’s office to complain that the FBI and DEA where fabricating evidence and stealing from me.
    Corrupt D.O.J. employees are also putting trace amounts, trying to stay under detectable amounts, of dangerous chemicals in their suspect’s food. The idea is to cause reduction in quality of life and eventual death.

  • Curmudgeon10

    I’d be OK if they would just saddle up Bill Maher and stick him into one of the races.

  • New York Nick

    HBO = Bill Maher = Cancelled long ago……

  • KG

    Bill Maher and HBO ARE HORSES A $ $ E $!

  • HBO Stops Production of “Luck” After Third Horse Death | iBC_FN | iBankCoin Financial News

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  • Clark

    Lee, I think you need professional help. Really. I’m concerned about you

  • FN Cee

    WOW >>> That PETA outfit is one powerful bunch!! … Pretty soon, no more horse racing … no more jumping events … no more polo …

  • Baja Bert

    Hey, “Day at the Races”…horses are big, powerful and unpredictable. If you’re around enough of them on a regular basis you’re going to see tragedies like this. But rest assured they’re safer at Santa Anita than in the wild where they’re subject to disease, starvation, predators and broken legs from kicks from other horses or gopher holes while in flight.

  • rawheadrex

    I understand two of the horses were despondent over the way the public has received this show and took their own lives, equuicide.

    • lk

      Death and suffering is funny. isn’t it?

  • DB

    Bill Henderson has got it right. This was a really stupid piece of “journalism”. It was an accident that had NOTHING to do with the filming of the series. People are SO dumb.

  • claude

    Is it that these horses are watching the show and dying of boredom?

  • Hunter Todd

    They should have suspended making “Luck” a long time ago because it gives new meaning to B-O-R-I-N-G!

  • Scott Brown

    This, from PETA that kills something like 96% of the animals in their care in 2011? Give me a break. If PETA had their way, they would confiscate all the horses for their protection and then quietly euthanize all but one at a later date.

    Just search for “Peta killed report 2011.”

  • nobozo

    All horses are unpredictable and they do injure themselves, however, that said, any program that is staged around the racing industry should by logic, be concerned for the safety of the non-human element of the production. I’m glad the filming was shut down, and also, stable management may be good at Santa Anita, but, is it safe? Maybe not so.

  • Phillep Harding

    As much as I detest HBO, they are not at fault here, IMO. PeTA on the other hand…

    That’s the same outfit that dumped a bunch of fighting roosters together in a barnyard and were suprised when the birds tried to kill each other. (BTW, fighting cox have strong instincts, and they are native to jungles, not barnyards.)

    Horses race each other for fun. Horse racing simply makes use of this instinct. PeTA is a pack of idiots, and so are their supporters.

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