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Grand Theft Horse: 08/13/20
Grand Theft Horse by G. Neri and Corban Wilkin is nonfiction based on a recent trial where the charge was grand theft horse — a law on the books but rarely used since the advent of the automobile. Although the events took place in California and initially began in nearby Pleasanton, I completely missed them. Instead I bought the book because I liked the title.
The book opens with a black and white photo of G. Neri standing beside Gail Ruffu. What follows is brief introduction on how she recounted her history of being a wanted woman, charged with grand theft horse. The remainder of the book is her story.
Gail Ruffu is a horse trainer. How she became one is included in the book. The important thing to note is that she's anti-doping and anti-whipping. She believes horses should be given time to heal from their injuries.
In the early 2000s Ruffu had the chance to buy a race horse. Being short on funds she called her lawyer to see if he wanted to partner with her. While he had been a good lawyer when she was his client, as a partner he was Mr. Hyde. From the get-go he screwed her over.
When it was clear Ruffo wouldn't be able to train Urgent Envoy as she wished and it was even more clear that his injury would become a fatality if the lawyer and his buddies forced him to run early, Ruffo took her horse and hid him somewhere.
Thus began the years long legal fight over who had ownership and whether or not Ruffo could continue to work in California as a trainer. The racing commission is led by the very men who profit off racing and it's misogynistic and corrupt.
This memoir is a page turner. It's an interesting read against the on-going problems at Santa Anita. Horse racing is deadly to horses. Lives are tossed aside at the slight chance of profit, driven by greed and stupidity.