Janey Adams, a 22-year-old Indiana-based owner/trainer, has been accused of abusing and neglecting a Thoroughbred in her care and was recommended to receive a 10-year suspension by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. She is fighting the penalty.
Adams, who pleaded not guilty in the case, requested a stay of her suspension, but her appeal was denied by administrative law judge Kathryn Hostetter Oct. 25. A full evidentiary hearing before the same judge will take place in February 2012.
The subject of Adams’ case is the 7-year-old gelding Tony Terrific. The stakes-placed son of Gone West had been racing at the claiming level for Steve Zeehandelar in Indiana, Florida, and Kentucky, but was sent to Adams’ parents’ farm near Converse, Ind., in September 2010 for stall rest due to soreness from previous condylar fractures.
According to Adams, a local veterinarian took X-rays of the horse’s ankles last January and deemed him not fit to be put back into training due to arthritis. Because of the extent of Tony Terrific’s continued soreness, Zeehandelar decided to officially retire the horse and requested for Adams to send him to the Kentucky Equine Humane Center in Kentucky.
Following the horse’s arrival at the center when a spot opened up for him at the end of June, the organization’s then-executive director, Lori Neagle, sent an email to Zeehandelar alleging the neglect of Tony Terrific, including photos of the horse, who she contended was malnourished. Zeehandelar in turn forwarded the email and photos to IHRC steward Stan Bowker.
Neagle noted in her email there were other untreated abrasions on the horse's ears and face, that he had a spotty coat, and that his feet were in bad condition. Adams claimed during a June 29 interview with IHRC investigator Brad Jones the condition was due to the horse being distressed and injuring himself in the trailer on the way to the facility. Adams said the face scrapes were a result of his halter rubbing his face, and that she had attempted to treat the scrapes with an antibiotic.
Veterinarian Laurie Metcalf, who examined Tony Terrific upon his arrival at the equine humane center, allegedly told Neagle the horse probably wouldn’t have lived another week in his condition, and a local equine nutritionist gave him a body score of 2.
In a follow-up report to the IHRC, Neagle said Tony Terrific had gained more than 100 pounds by July 5 and his wounds had healed after eight days. Photographs showing the horse’s progress were attached to the email.
“How he lost weight, I don’t know,” Tony Terrific’s former trainer, Steve Cahill, said in an IHRC interview. Zeehandelar had forwarded Cahill the original pictures of Tony Terrific from Neagle after the horse’s arrival at the humane center. “He doesn’t look like he has been fed. And he sure jumped in the feed tub when he got down there at the new program.”
Neagle is no longer employed by the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, and the facility’s new executive director, Tanya Stalion, said she did not have any forwarding information and could not disclose the reason why Neagle left.
During Adams’ interview with Jones, she said she had fed Tony Terrific grain and hay twice a day and had turned him out daily along with the rest of her horses at her parents’ 10-acre farm. She invited Jones and any other IHRC representatives to visit her farm and see the condition of her other horses.
When the Tony Terrific inexplicably started rapidly losing weight last spring--about 200-250 pounds--Adams notified veterinarian April Reid and requested her to prescribe the horse a powerful equine dewormer called a Powerpac. Reid did not approve the treatment, however, because Zeehandelar wanted to send the horse straight to Kentucky to avoid investing more money in the animal.
In an interview with the IHRC, Reid said Adams had only requested the Powerpac to help the horse “shed out” his coat and hadn’t mentioned the fact he was losing weight. Reid, who lives a considerable distance from Adams’ farm, said she hadn’t seen Tony Terrific in more than a year.
Reid said Powerpacs are normally only used on horses in training, and the medication wouldn’t have been able to treat Tony Terrific’s malnutrition.
Adams said she spent her own money on high-fat food and other wormers for the horse, but he still wouldn’t gain weight. She said she had tried to contact Zeehandelar personally, but he did not return her calls.
Zeehandelar later told the IHRC Adams had never indicated to him there was any problem with Tony Terrific except the results from the January X-rays and the diagnosis that he was too sore to race. He said if he had known the condition of the horse he would have “provided whatever resources were needed to ensure that 'Tony' received the care he deserved.”
Adams was also boarding another one of Zeehandelar’s horses, Still Stormy, at the time she had Tony Terrific. She had trained Still Stormy at Indiana Downs and Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, but sent the filly to the humane center along with Tony Terrific at Zeehandelar’s request.
Unlike Tony Terrific, Still Stormy was reported to be well fed upon her arrival at the facility. Neagle did report the filly’s feet were in bad shape, however.
Jones at the end of his investigative report stated: “From this report containing the statements and vet reports that Tony Terrific was received in poor condition on June 27 at the (humane center) due to malnutrition and neglect, it appears that Janey Adams was not giving adequate care to Tony Terrific, as evidenced by the turn-around the horse has made since being at the (center).”
In her petition for a stay, Adams cited training recognitions she had received, as well as an email from the president of the rescue organization Friends of Ferdinand, where she had previously retired some of her horses. The organization contended those horses in Adams’ care had all been received in good condition.
The IHRC’s response to Adams’ request for a stay states: “Adams seeks to deflect blame onto others and avoid accepting any responsibility for her actions, which caused a beautiful, magnificent, and otherwise healthy horse to wither away to near death.” The response also stated the IHRC “granting the stay would be inconsistent with the best interest of horse racing.”
Adams’ lawyer, Michael Red, said he would be working to prepare the young trainer’s case until the full evidentiary hearing in February.
“We think there’s good evidence in the record that this horse had some prior medical problems, including problems with his teeth and digestive issues," Red said. "It says that right on the veterinary intake report (at the Kentucky Equine Humane Center). Lori Neagle, who did the intake and reported Janey to the IHRC, has mysteriously disappeared and no longer works for the (center), so I think it’s only fair to surmise that they were not happy with the way she handled this.”
Red noted the majority of the IHRC’s case rests on the set of photos of Tony Terrific that were sent by Neagle, and the remainder of the investigation involves interviews with people that had no personal knowledge Tony Terrific’s condition and the manner in which Adams had cared for him.
“It’s now October, and this preliminary (abuse and neglect) report came in July,” said Red, who noted the IHRC would probably spend at least $100,000 prosecuting the case. “We’ve invited the IHRC to come and investigate the Adams’ farm on numerous occasions, including just three days after the preliminary report just so they could see she cared for her horses very well.
"The argument is essentially that she somehow singled out this horse and fed all the rest of them and didn’t feed this one. That’s crazy.”
Red claimed that even though the law judge had denied Adams’ stay, she said part of the IHRC story was ‘Just not adding up.’ "
Red said the IHRC’s technique in Adams’ case was to “overwhelm her with the weight and power they have at their disposal. That’s they’re strategy—it’s, ‘We are all-powerful, and if you challenge us, we will bury you.’ ”