HBO Racing Series ‘Luck’ Scrutinized over Horse Deaths

Dennis Farina (left) and Dustin Hoffman in HBO's "Luck" (Photo: HBO)

Some horses used in the production of HBO’s new horse-racing drama “Luck” weren’t so lucky — two of them broke legs during the filming and had to be euthanized.

The working conditions for the horses being used in the series were apparently first scrutinized by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which reported last month on the two equine casualties — one in the filming of the “Luck” pilot and the other in a subsequent episode.

The New York Observer reported here on the PETA story, and HBO’s subsequent response to the charge that the production wasn’t doing enough to safeguard the safety of its equine actors.

The plight of the unlucky “Luck” horses first came to the attention of those observant enough to notice that this TV series about animals did not carry a seal of approval from the American Humane Association, the group that monitors the working conditions for animals on the sets of movies and TV shows.

After the second accident, racing was suspended while the production worked with AHA and racing industry experts to implement additional protocols specifically for horse-racing sequences.

“Luck,” which premiered just last Sunday (Jan. 26), is a new series from David Milch and Michael Mann that takes a look at the characters who populate a typical southern California racetrack — from the hard-luck gamblers (particularly one played by Jason Gedrick) to the manipulative higher-ups who “control” the sport (especially the ex-con played by Dustin Hoffman).

“Luck” airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.

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