Horses recover from illegal racing tactics

Tuesday, June 24th 2008, 9:16 pm
By: News 9

By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9

THACKERVILLE, Okla. - A group of horses is still recovering a year after being seized from an illegal racing operation in Thackerville.

State Horse Racing Commission agents confiscated dozens of horses last year during an illegal horse racing bust in Thackerville, some of which will be auctioned off next month.

Around 100 people were arrested in the bust.

Of the 85 horses confiscated, 40 of them were returned to their owners, while others are still in litigation. Twenty-seven horses were sent to a farm in rural Oklahoma, and according to authorities, the illegal racing tactics took their toll on some of the horses.

"Physically, they were fine, but they were probably medically abused as far as certain drugs in their systems," said Tino Rieger with the Oklahoma Racing Commission.

Rieger said the horses were injected with illegal drugs to enhance their speed, and some of the horses had wounds from infected injection sites.

"During the raid, agents found a syringe," Rieger said. "It was filled with cocaine, obviously for a horse right before the race."

Illegal gambling not only put the horses' health at risk, it also robbed the state of money, Rieger said. The state agents discovered a log book detailing $900,000 in earnings for a 10-month span.

"That money never made it back to the state coffers, where it was supposed to go, had it been a legal race track," Rieger said.

Phoebe, a race horse, earned over $300,000 in legal races.

"We don't know what he earned illegally, because I'm sure he wasn't there for a photo session in Thackerville last year," Rieger said.

Phoebe, along with the other horses has had 11 months of recovery, rest and relaxation and will be auctioned off in July 19 at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City.

"I think there is still an opportunity for people to possibly make pleasure horses, riding horses, barrel horses or even racing horses out of this group of horses," Rieger said.