Renowned Horse Trainer Sues Penn National Race Course Over Star Horse’s Tragic Death


In an event that has sent shockwaves through the equestrian community, renowned horse trainer Erin Carpio has brought charges against Penn Entertainment, a prominent figure in the national entertainment circuit. Carpio is alleging that the negligent behavior of the employees at Penn National Race Course situated in Granville, Pennsylvania resulted in the premature tragic death of her esteemed horse, Sir Steele. This upscale racecourse is famously recognized for housing the Hollywood Casino.

In August 2023, during a race at Penn National Race Course, Sir Steele tragically sustained severe injuries and subsequently had to be euthanized, as documented in the lawsuit. A common practice among racing officials is to clamp a horse’s tailbone onto the rear gate as a measure to calm it if it is perceivably restless. However, Sir Steele’s demise has been linked to this exact practice after he was tied to the starting gate by racecourse staff.

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Standing tall at the ripe age of six, Sir Steele was a well-known gelding. But, of particular note, Carpio had explicitly requested Penn National staff not to employ the tail-clamping technique due to Sir Steele’s unique sensitivity.

The tragedy sprouted in the eighth race at the National Penn racecourse on the fateful day of August 16. As the equestrians readied to enter the gate, Sir Steele’s jockey had, on three different occasions, pleaded with the assistant starter not to bind Sir Steele’s tail. Yet, for reasons the lawsuit seeks to clarify, the command to tie the horse was nevertheless given.

This caused Sir Steele to panic, and in a cruel twist of fate, become wedged beneath the gate. This surprise activity left Sir Steele wounded, a sight that would be scarcely imaginable to the gentle creature’s affectionate fans.

A subsequent study, conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center and submitted for legal examination, disclosed a high probability of fractures in Sir Steele’s tailbone and right orbit. This finding was supported by imaging tests. Furthermore, Sir Steele suffered a rip to the right carpus.

By the following day, Sir Steele was battling varying levels of intense pain that necessitated sedation, a poignant reflection of the horse’s history of exertional rhabdomyolysis – a muscle-breakdown disorder. But, as the hours wound down, the pain became steadily unbearable, reaching the point where Sir Steele was unresponsive to sedation. It was at this point that euthanasia was suggested and carried out on August 19.

A lawsuit has been officially filed with the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas on June 11. The claim alleges a multitude of violations, including several state racing regulations and mistreatment of a horse. The aggrieved party, Carpio, is seeking $22,272.84 in damages for the loss. This figure includes the fair market value of the sadly departed Sir Steele ($10,000), plus the veterinarian expenses and legal bills accrued.

Penn National’s director of racing, Eric Johnston, head starter Lindy Riggs, assistant starter Freddy Diaz, and William Otero, a Penn National employee, were all named defendants in the suit.