Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Michael Gills' interviews: The guy's got gonads

The latest news is that Michael Gill has been ejected from the Penn National Racetrack (by the PHRC I think). The PHRC sent a mixed message, though, saying that no charges are being made against Gill. His presence was just "disruptive." Gill had a horse entered in race on Wed (today), inviting a showdown with jockeys who threatened to boycott races where his horses were entered. When Gill told officials he would not pull his horse out of the race, they sent him an ejection notice. Gill has threatened a law suit, he says he's getting out of racing, but he maintains that he is being used as a scapegoat. The breakdowns, he maintains, are from the track's poor surface. You can see a rather sympathetic interiew will Gill here:

There is also a sympathetic radio interview. I'm trying to keep an open mind as all of this unfolds, but this guy is so self-righteous and indignant his interviews actually make me a little ill.

Are we picking on him?
Maybe Gill is right that the track conditions weren't great when Laughing Moon went down (windy, cold/icy), but then why is his horse in the race? Saying that you're persecuted because others are jealous of your success is never a convincing argument. These interviews are revealing -- Michael Gill shows you who he is.

Hints and allegations
But the real issues go beyond Laughing Moon and his unfortunate end. Here are some stories about MG from blogs and discussion lists. Some of the stories are from credible sources, but admittedly a lot of the "buzz" is unsubstantiated. Take it with a grain of salt.

  • A New York Times article reported that in 2003 at Gulf Stream Park, one of Gill's horses broke down and was euthanized. The veterinarian removed the injured leg -- as in severed it -- reportedly to "hide evidence" of mishandling an injured/sore horse. Apparently in a necropsy they look for signs of a pre-existing injury or assault to the broken down area. The vet was later suspended for a different infraction.
  • Stats reported on a COTH thread allege that Gill has 7 breakdowns for 800 starters, about 2.5 times the national average. The talk on the track is that Gill's horses recover too quickly from injuries (back on the racetrack a little too fast) given that Gill has no high-end rehab facility. Alternatively, some folks report that he uses shock wave therapy just before the race to numb the injured area just to get through the race. I don't know about this -- who can confirm or deny the effects of this therapy?
  • The Paulick Report talks about the "gang of misfits" that Gill surrounds himself with -- people at the margins of the sport.
  • One trainer commented that Gill did not give horses time off to recover from minor wear and tear. "When Gill claims a horse, I know it will be run into the ground, usually in a very short period of time. He takes a lot of good, older horses out of circulation."
  • There are many, many allegations that he sends his ex-racers to slaughter in Canada. Like, by the truckload. There is a list of horses of Gill's that have gone AWOL. The problem with this allegation is that there are a ton of anonymous sources, heavy on verbal detail but light on actual proof. There are verified anecdotes of his horses ending up in bad circumstances, but that's hardly new.
  • Gill now says he is leaving racing -- which he said he was going to do in 2006. Although he reduced his stable, he has gradually built it back up since then.

The racing industry is not a horse-friendly world, and it has more than its share of sleazebags. I think about the natural class and nobility of the horses under their care. It makes me sad.


  1. Didn't listen to the interviews...not sure I can. IF the track conditions are bad, and the footing is bad, then why would you run your horse?

    I too have to be suspicious that he runs sore horses or horses not fully recovered from injuries. It's all about the money, and nothing else.

    "Threatening" to leave the business is just another ploy for sympathy. *sigh*

  2. Makes me very sad to see how these horses are used up and then thrown away. I feel the same way about greyhound racing.

  3. See the paragraph titled "Shock wave therapy demonstrates significant analgesic properties" at

    That's why it's banned within a certain amount of time before racing in some states.

  4. Seems like either racing is full of bad boys, or the bad boys get all the press. Either way, it is enough to make a real horse person POed. I've known my share of great off-track horses. Too bad about some of the humans. They should go into car racing instead.

  5. This guy is a piece of work. I own a 4yo that ran under him and somehow managed to escape sound and sane. Most people like to talk about what a good racer their horse was; I couldn't be more proud to say how much mine sucked, because at least that was her ticket out of there. God forbid she had been good at her job; she'd probably be broken down or on some rich French guys plate right now. Good riddance!


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