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.)

Comments (85)
  1. Astonished says:

    . . .“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?

    1. JPribble says:

      “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.

      1. NoHorsePlay says:

        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

      2. george garris says:

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

    2. Trajan Long says:

      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.

      1. lk says:

        Where does this hostility come from from?

      2. ??? says:

        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.

  2. Day at the Races..... says:

    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 .

    1. Charles_Texas says:

      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.

      1. Tony Hogben says:

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

    2. twilliam says:

      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.

    3. freecheese says:

      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.

      1. ??? says:

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

  3. McGehee says:

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

    1. freecheese says:

      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.

      1. Jim L says:

        Yea but Game of Thrones is so good

      2. karl anglin says:


    2. Carlos Labadia says:

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

      1. BadBird says:

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

    3. Jackie_Treehorn says:

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

  4. Bill Henderson says:

    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?

  5. Peter M says:

    HBO produces nothing but filth.

  6. Slobby says:

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

    1. freecheese says:

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

  7. Jeff says:

    Horses die every day..

  8. John Marzolf says:

    I will have a triple horseburger with cheese, please.

    1. Man Hands says:

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

      1. Rooter says:

        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.

  9. lee says:

    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.

  10. Curmudgeon10 says:

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

  11. New York Nick says:

    HBO = Bill Maher = Cancelled long ago……

  12. KG says:

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

  13. Clark says:

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

  14. FN Cee says:

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

  15. Baja Bert says:

    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.

  16. rawheadrex says:

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

    1. lk says:

      Death and suffering is funny. isn’t it?

  17. DB says:

    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.

  18. claude says:

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

  19. Hunter Todd says:

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

  20. Scott Brown says:

    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.”

  21. nobozo says:

    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.

  22. Phillep Harding says:

    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.

  23. Edward says:

    “We are also insisting that this stoppage remain in full effect pending a complete, thorough, and comprehensive investigation.” Meanwhile, thousands of unheard death-cries from aborted babies go unanswered because they are reasoned away by the selfishness of thier killers. But hey, the horses are being watched out for!

  24. Davey Jones says:

    Horses are beautiful, but they are also one of the stupidest animals on the planet…. even dumber than dogs… and I love both horses and dogs. You can’t always protect them from themselves.

  25. Davey Jones says:

    Edward… have you ever tried riding a baby?

  26. Dan says:

    I was turned off any type of Horse Racing when Ruffian and and Foolish Pleasure had there match race in 1975, Heartbreaking

  27. geeM says:

    I do feel for the loss of horses, but there are inadvertant accidents. A horse needs intellligent care.
    You may not agree with Bill Maher, but I don’t think most would not label him a racist. Where does your buddy Rush come in on this ?

  28. Kozaman says:

    They should use the horses from the show FMJ “Full Metal Jousting”. They seem to be pretty tough!

  29. tocelp says:

    Sad, Maybe the Federal Government needs to pass a law requiring race horses to wear helmets!

  30. guillermo says:

    is not a great serie anyway… cancel the damm thing!

  31. Paolo says:

    This show would be better if they made elected officials run till they dropped.

    1. Astonished says:

      Now that’s a show I would definetely watch!!!!!!

  32. Shelley Peck says:

    Thoroughbreds are high strung animals. Things like this happen every day whether at a race track or in the pasture. They spook easily. I see no reason to suspend the filming of LUCK.

    1. lk says:

      How about that it’s just incredibly boring?

  33. alpo says:

    mmmm, horse………..tastes like chicken!

    1. lk says:

      Does this comment make you tough? Does it insulate you? Are you afraid to truly consider what happens to there creatures? If so, you have character. If not, you’re just a twit.

  34. arg2015153 says:

    Will HBO now shut down production of Bill Maher’s show because it kills good taste?

  35. Dennis D says:

    If they were aborted babies HBO would have no problem

  36. socks says:

    the horse was walking with a groom when it reared and fell. the show wasn’t even filming. some of these comments are moronic. most thoroughbreds live better than humans.

  37. horseperson says:

    I’ve owned horses all my life. They are wonderful creatures…
    HOWEVER… unfortunately… it often seems that if a horse can figure out a way to injurse itself, it will… in sometimes the most bizarre way.

    Someone else pointed out that they are prey animals… that gives them an entirely different mindset than your dog or cat, which are predators. Even the most calm, “dependable” horse can freak at something that appears totally insignifcant to humans, The hotter the breeding, the higher the risk that they will do sometihing unpredictable.

    I’ve owned all types of horses, including tbreds that have gone to the track. If you’ve got a race horse, then be prepared to either keep it in bubble wrap 24/7 as a display model only, or accept the fact that some type of injury is going to happen.

    1. Astonished says:

      Amen to that! I have worked with horses for years, and even those who are classified as “bombproof” can have a reaction to something their handler may not even see. Race Horses are flighty by nature, and get even worse when fed a diet meant to give them the “Energy” to race like they do. Most of them never settle down enough to be good trail horses. That doesn’t make them dumb or stumblebums, it just makes them what nature designed, fast, elegant prey animals.

      I have to say tho’ that they can have the most wonderful personalities!

  38. Lipstick says:

    I know I hope they protect the horses during and after the filming as best as they can. Sometimes things happen. This may be an unlucky set. Peta cannot equate pet ownership to slavery because around my house the dog has us trained. In and out all the time to potty. Hegets you up just so he can have you oped the door and he can look through the screen door. His bed has to be so so or he will just stand there and look at you until you fix it. He is very pampered and my big old baby. Wish I had it so good.

  39. Victor says:

    They should put the show and 99% of it’s actors down (Nolte’s actually good in it). The show and Milch are both horrible. IHuge disappointment.

  40. george garris says:

    Thanks To Obama and Congress, Horse Slaughter Is Again Legal In US…

    1. Astonished says:

      The law banning horse slaughter was passed with the best of intentions, but had horrible consequences. One of the main reasons for passing it was because horses are not governed under the category “food animals” and therefore, while in the care (for better or for worse) of humans are given all kinds of substances such as medicines and steroids. Those substances can be harmful to man. Also, many unscrupulous people were going out and trapping wild mustangs and selling them to slaughter houses. One other reason is the inhumane way horses were being slaughtered in the first place.

      However, the law went into effect without considering what would happen to all the unwanted horses or those horses removed from government lands. Once caught, wild horses not deemed to be premium breeding or foundation stock can’t be re-released, and they spend the rest of their lives bunched up in pens on BLM land. Horses no longer wanted by their owners are simply abandoned to starve or wander.

      Personnally there is no way I’d eat horsemeat. Especially after having known some of the horses as I have. It would be like eating one of my children.

  41. j0nx says:

    This show sucks anyway. I’ve watched 3 episodes from season 1 now and can barely take any more. It’s a poorly acted version of the Sopranos so far with the same old recycled actors from 20 other HBO shows. I expected a LOT more from HBO considering their other shows and particularly with Dustin Hoffman leading the cast.

  42. Todd C says:

    Peta kills 98-99% of the dogs and cats that enter it’s “shelters”. It’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, if you ask me. petakillsanimals.com

    1. lk says:

      You have to be kidding. Else you are simply dim witted. What exactly are you doing to help unwanted pets?

  43. davey nash says:

    I hope Jill Hennessy wasn’t the vet who checked out the horse and ok’ed euthanizing it.

  44. Coolio 567 says:

    I have grown up with horses my whole life. They are fight or flight animals who generally choose flight. Race horses have a lot of energy and I bet they are more twitchy than even a hot Arabian. More accidents happen in the stall or pasture than during the actual sport.

  45. flyovercountry says:

    where are liberals when you need them. i cancelled hbo after 30yrs of service – one reason: bill maher.

    1. lk says:

      Could you please explain the relevance of this comment?

  46. Aangela says:

    I love the show. Please bring it back.

  47. lk says:

    You have to be kidding. Even the soundtrack is best described as funereal.

  48. Janir says:

    I don’t have a dog in this fight so to speak, I am just sad that yet another TB has died.Just when I was recovering from Ruffian and Barbado’s deaths… I hate horse racing, it is so astonishing to me that TB’s are breed for chestiness & stamina while running on those little matchstick legs. They may not be the smartest of animals, but they have a lot of heart.

    1. Astonished says:

      That’s Ruffian and Barbaro!

  49. jenna says:

    It’s astonishing to me how many of these comments are not only so off the mark, but clearly show not only a lack of compassion, but a complete lack of knowledge about horses. Yes, they are fragile, in particular, Thoroughbreds are bred for speed, have thin, fragile legs and are grained to the hilt, kept in tiny box stalls, not turned out and then expected to run full out at two years old, when their legs are not even fully formed.
    Despite all that, not only is PETA correct here (and I rarely, if ever agree with them) they are right on the money. This is a Television show. No horses should Ever die for the sake of entertainment. You could say one was an accident, but never three. This shows clearly that AHA was in way over it’s head, had people on the show that didn’t know what they were doing, HBO didn’t listen to many of their requests, despite what they claim and this is not the first time horses have died on the Director’s Watch. There are many, many others. Remember Flicka? 3:10 to Yuma? That’s just in the past five years. No excuse here, it’s time to find an organization that will take responsibility for deaths such as these and Actually Prevent them from happening. Not just make excuses once they do. Really discouraging, unnecessary and tragic. No, not accidents, preventable deaths with the blood on their hands.

  50. DustinCrawlBackInYourHole says:

    The show was euthanized, because it sucked

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