The Fancy Hat Veneer


Audrey HepburnLast year I was contacted by first time author Joyce Anderson,  who was researching and compiling information for her first book on horse racing.  “The Fancy Hat Veneer,” is the result of her research; it is a compilation of information proving the undeniable responsibility the racing industry and Thoroughbred breeders have for thousands of racehorses being sent to slaughter every year.  Joyce chose the  title because,  for many horse racing fans,  fancy hats have become a fashion statement by women attending famous races such as The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.  The fine clothing of the spectators is the biggest tradition in thoroughbred horse racing,  while the brutality and horrors of the  racing world are kept from the public….well hidden by “The Fancy Hat Veneer.”   As we know, a “veneer” is a thin layer of wood that covers what is under it, so the actual commodity itself appears more refined and polished.

The book is a broad stroke collection of articles, blogs, reports, statistics, and personal stories from the world of Thoroughbreds, horse racing, and breeding. Selected articles take the reader behind the scenes to the world the racing public never has the opportunity to see and generally does not hear about – the underbelly of racing,  breeding,  and the journeys of racehorses before, during, and after their brief careers.

If you would like a bit more insight into the book please visit where the book can also be purchased online.


Front and Back Cover

Synopsis By Chapter

(as written by Joyce Anderson)


 Chapter 1 – A Bit About Horses, A Bit About Thoroughbreds

Horses have been an integral part of our life and our survival since rehistory.  They have been warriors, workers, allies, companions, protectors, explorers and even teachers and therapists.

Horses have died on battlefields, transported goods, carried our families, moved canal barges, couriered mail, pulled fire engines, provided transportation and plowed the fields.

They have performed every task we have asked of them. They have more than earned the right to a full life.

Chapter 2 – The Story of Two

Press Exclusive’s journey and photographs are reprinted with permission of Mindy Lovell of Transitions Thoroughbreds who intervened and pulled her from the gates of hell to safety and Susan Wagner of Equine Advocates who provided Press Exclusive with a safe forever home. Her story is not an unusual one for Thorough­breds. However, the end of her story is unusual. She is one of the lucky ones.  The particulars of how she was discarded and the severity of the injuries she sustained are an unforgivable occurance.

Philotimo’s journey from the race track to emaciation took just six short months.  His glory days on the track were over and there was no place for him anywhere.He was “free to a good home”. He was given to a good home and starved at that “good home”. Then the “good home” tried to sell him for $2,500, which would be 100% profit. Rescued by Lynn Cross of Little Brook Farm, “Timo’s” story is reprinted with permission of Lynn Cross of Little Brook Farm, Old Chatham, NY

Chapter 3 – The Thoroughbred Breeding Industry

Individual Thoroughbred breeders can “produce” a few, a few dozen or few hundred foals each and every year.  This is done with the full knowledge that approximately 70% +/- will not have the opportunity to live their full life, the majority will not survive past the age of 10 and only a small fraction will ever be “good enough” to race. This is of no concern to the breeder. Their job is to crank out as many as they can. In fact, the Thoroughbred breeders want to increase breeding numbers and also want more funding for that purpose. They have no conscience.

Chapter 4 – The Racing Industry

Remember Barbaro? He was euthanized at 3½ years old due to catastrophic injuries sustained while racing. Eight Belles was euthanized at 2½ years old due to catastrophic breakdown while racing.

Young thoroughbreds die every week on racetracks from injuries sustained while training and racing.

When Rachel Alexandra lost her last race she was shipped off to be a baby making machine. She suffered grave complications at the birth of her first foal.

Chapter 5 – Horse Racing Wrongs 2013

Horse Racing Wrongs is a blog by Patrick J. Battuello who meticulously documents deaths and injuries of thoroughbreds on America’s race tracks.  The entries are not Mr. Battuello’s opinion; he is simply documenting what occurred.  They are unalterable facts. Each death occurred on the race tracks while the crowds cheered.

This chapter contains just a few blog entries for the recent 2013 racing season.  There are several hundred additional entries you can read for yourself on 

Patrick J Battuello has been writing on animal-related issues for several years now. His blog, “Animal Rights,” debuted in the Times Union (Albany NY area) in 2009. It was the first of its kind in a Capital Region mainstream publication. In addition, Patrick has written for both the Albany and National editions of the Examiner, and has maintained three separate independent sites.

Chapter 6 – Horse Slaughter

Before we even discuss slaughter you should know how horses are transported to the plants.  Horses are usually transported in stock trailers, which are open without compartments.  All types of horses are together; old, young, babies, sick, injured, pregnant and blind.  Thoroughbreds, work horses and miniature breeds are loaded on the same trailer.  Those that are injured, too small or too weak to withstand the long trip are trampled.  When the trailer arrives at the slaughter plant those that have been trampled or are down are dragged out with a chain wrapped around their neck or a leg.

Horse slaughter is a savage, cruel, violent and barbaric solution to a man made problem. It is horrific, excruciating and brutal.  Nothing about it is humane.

Chapter 7 – What About The Other Horses

In my opinion horses are the most brutalized, abused and mistreated animals.  Maybe it’s their size or maybe it’s their beauty that makes men need to dominate, control, brutalize, harm and torture them.  There is something very deep, very dark and very, very primitive still lingering in our un-evolved psyche.

We live in a society where people are emotionally dead.  Perhaps it’s the internet or social media which has removed us from any personal sensitivity to horror, blood, guts and gore. Thanks to all the groups within the media industry (TV, films, computer games, etc) we have become immune to violence. We can witness the most appalling atrocities first hand and there is little or no reaction.  It barely causes a ripple.

Chapter 8 – In The News

The “In the News” chapter could have been filled with a ton of recent horrific articles.  Sadly there is no lack of appalling stories related to horses.  If you are inclined to read more the internet puts every news agency in the world and their archives at your fingertips.



About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic plant-based eater, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

5 responses »

  1. Please read the story of Pap’s Pal, who was raced to death.

    Pap’s Pal was a youngster. He could have had a long life as a companion for anyone. He is dead.

    This incident was alluded to on Indian Charlie, an online newsletter for racing which I have found helpful in the past. There is no enforcement in horseracing and a variety of corrupt career politicians will never act to bring humane standards to this hell for animals and underpaid people who work in bad circumstances at tracks. The audience for racing seems to be one of the most uneducated and most unfamiliar with the skills involved in horseracing and the worth of the Thorobred. I don’t know what happened to horsemen. I guess most have left. .

    Vickery Eckhoff has also spoken out regarding the constant slaughter after the abuse these horses suffer at the tracks: This entry on her blog is dated 2012.

    Even Indian Charlie, an industry publication, has stated that it is time to bring in the feds to have a good look at the horrors of racing. While the usual jokes about PETA will always be made, the conditions in racing are so bad that this source finally states the general feeling.

    Gary Stevens had a long career as a winning jockey and is a respected name for race fans. He has spoken out. Stevens was not discussing the constant slaughter of these very valuable companion animals.

    Useless medication used at tracks is not the only issue here. The horses are raced too young, are not trained and are disposable. I have never heard of such revolting garbage done to horses as I have seen in reporting in the past few years. Horse slaughter destroys evidence and if we intend to convict, we need laws and funding for adequate enforcement. No horse needs medication in order to run and win a race. They never did. This report from the NY Times shows the insanity of the track now:

    Apparently Thorobreds now regularly also suffer gastrointestinal ulcers. They never did before.
    No horse needs to be doped to run. Any animal in poor condition is to be on layoff and retired after racing days are over. No genuine vet ever doses an animal according to the ignorance and bad faith of a so-called trainer or assistant.

    That racing is reputed to be laundering drug money is no surprise. This is not a sport. This is a crime in action and all the time. We no longer have any form of racing. That died with the horsemen I used to respect years ago. As a former fan of racing and a lifetime fan of the Thorobred, I don’t need racing at all. As a taxpayer, I would appreciate an end to the horseslaughter scam and an end to this vile excuse for entertainment.

    I would not hand racing a dime. I want to see this scam gone and all the horses safe. I want to see good jobs for human beings, including healthcare benefits and a chance for higher education. I miss genuine horsemen in racing.

    Until we value those whom we use for our own cheap thrills, we will never understand the greatness of the Thorobred or any other living creature. It says volumes about our culture that we watch the innocent die and go on tolerating this horrific display of insane cruelty. Any race fan who tolerates the idea of doping and killing any horse is simply another petty criminal with a very low IQ. Horsemen and horsewomen would not tolerate the presence of these drugs or these abusers anywhere near their horses.

    I will not watch racing anymore. I remember the days of Secretariat. We used to worship the horses at the bluegrass alter in KY. We don’t feel the same way now. I refuse to support racing in any way.

    The Thorobred is traced back to 1640, online. The people who would breed and kill them for money can’t compete with those old bloodlines. These humans are inferior to the horses in every way. At least we know the truth about these people now. They fit right in with Kelsey Lefever of PA, who lied and killed for cash in PA and walked away. She promised to rescue horses off the track and instead, shipped them off to die.

    I hope racing remembers that the facts are known and that our money is gone. We value the horse. We don’t need these people. We will not pay for them. Let them be held for what they did to the innocent while they lied to those of us who cared for and loved the horses.

    Racing sold itself out. We won’t miss these people at all. Remember Ferdinand from Manes and Tails (entry dated 2007) website link

    Write the US Congress as you can through We have very little time to pass The SAFE Act and the PAST Act. Agriculture has plenty of payees in Congress who want horseslaughter back in the US.

  2. Pingback: Welcome to The Fancy Hat Veneer | The Fancy Hat Veneer

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