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Horse scenes suspended on 'Luck' after a third animal death

March 14, 2012 | 12:55 pm

A racing scene in "Luck"

Filming of the second season of HBO's horse-racing drama "Luck," starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, continues, but any work involving horses has been suspended after a third horse died during production on Tuesday. Two other horses had died during filming last season.

According to the American Humane Assn., the horse had been inspected and passed by California Horse Racing Board official veterinarian Dr. Gary Beck and was being walked back to its barn at Santa Anita Park when it "reared up, fell backwards and was injured."

After it was determined that the only humane course of action for the horse was to euthanize it, the AHA demanded all filming involving horses be suspended pending a full investigation.

FULL COVERAGE: 'Luck'

In a statement from HBO, the network said it was "deeply saddened" and that "an American Humane Association Certified Safety Representative was on the premises when the accident occurred, and as always, all safety precautions were in place."

This unfortunate news comes just as PETA was moving forward with a complaint about the deaths of two horses during filming of the drama's first season last year.

In a letter dated March 6 to Michael Lombardo, the HBO president of programming, and Bruce Richmond, the vice president of production, original programming West Coast, PETA's vice president of laboratory investigations, Kathy Guillermo, warned: "We are hearing from multiple credible sources that horses are once again at risk on the set of 'Luck.'

"We understand that there are currently no licensed humane officers on the set. This is inexplicable, unacceptable, and dangerous. While the American Humane Association may have a representative present for filming, this is inadequate. We ask you to return at least one, and preferably more, California licensed humane officers to the set and to ensure that their recommendations about the choice of the horses used and the filming methods are followed to the letter.

"During the filming of the first season, there were reportedly four humane officers monitoring the use of horses. We are told that the production company, to its shame, did not always follow their advice, and this accounts, at least in part, for the two deaths during filming. These officers had rejected as unfit a number of horses who, we are now told, have been returned to the 'Luck' set for the filming of the second season."

The animal rights organization has forwarded its original complaint about the two horses in 2010 and 2011, Outlaw Yodeler and Marc's Shadow, to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

According to the necropsy report, both of those horses had been in severe pain and were under heavy medication at the time of their deaths.

Though the first season of "Luck," which is still airing, had only nine episodes, the currently filming second season would have 10 episodes.

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— Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Horses from a scene in "Luck." Credit: HBO.

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