Horse Abuse Caught on Film Leads to Extended Trainer Suspension in PA, DE

Written By Kevin Shelly on September 14, 2021 - Last Updated on September 22, 2021
Horse abuse caught on film leads to trainer suspension in DE, PA

Amber R. Cobb‘s inhumane treatment of a two-year-old filly tied to the back wall of a horse stall in a New Jersey barn is burning through the Internet, exacerbated by back-and-forth positions taken by the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission.

The video of the horse trainer has already had repercussions in Pennsylvania.

Under a reciprocity agreement, Cobb of Somerdale, New Jersey is currently suspended in PA until at least Sept. 20 – and tremors are likely to continue as horse racing works to recover from virus restrictions that shifted horse betting online.

UPDATE: Delaware stewards on Sept. 15 upheld their summary suspension of trainer Cobb, pending a disciplinary hearing. No date is set for the further hearing. PA has followed suit with a suspension that has no end date.

PA racing advocate and skeptic stunned by video of Cobb beating horse

Pete Peterson of the PA Equine Coalition said:

“Everyone in the industry is horrified by the video. They are unified in disgust.”

PA Veterinarian Dr. Bryan Langlois, both a fan and critic of horse racing, was dumbfounded that Delaware officials had at one point equivocated about a two-year suspension of Cobb, reducing the punishment period from two years to just 60 days despite the clear and compelling video.

“It’s right there,” he said of the video.

Delaware flip-flops on the punishment of trainer

Delaware racing officials had initially suspended Cobb for two years on May 26 following the May 11 incident at a New Jersey barn. Cobb lives in NJ.

As part of the punishment, they also made Cobb take anger management classes. According to two previous records from her time training in New York state, it was the third anger incident for Cobb. The previous incidents involved personnel at the Finger Lakes track, though not horses.

In July, Delaware reduced the suspension of Cobb to just sixty days, which would have ended Sept. 20.

But on Sept. 10, Delaware officials again reversed course.

Trainer now ‘summarily suspended’

Cobb is now “summarily suspended,” an indefinite suspension pending a full formal hearing which she would have to request before a steward’s board at Delaware Park, a racino, where she had been set to race. She has three days from Friday to seek the hearing.

Sarah Crane, the executive director of the Delaware commission, told Bloodhorse, an industry publication, new but unspecified information had come to light about Cobb.

Crane was said to be “conducting an investigation” on Monday and did not immediately respond to a request for comment left for her by a reporter for PlayPennsylvania. Cobb could not be reached for comment.

Other tracks take notice and ban trainer

Over the weekend, Cobb was permanently banned from training and racing at the five racetracks owned by the Stronach Group and 1/ST Racing.

The tracks are Golden Gate Fields in Berkley, CA, Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA, Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, FL, Laurel Park in Laurel, MD, and Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

They deemed her actions “abhorrent.”

Video of the incident is gasp-worthy

In the video available on YouTube and making the rounds with horse racing opponents, the horse is clearly seen beaten with a plastic rake while Cobb repeatedly screamed profanities.

The frightened horse was literally climbing the wall of its stall with its front legs. While rearing up, the horse pitched over and fell. Then she could not immediately get up.

A human gasp is heard then during the video.

Next, there is a series of distress sounds from the horse after failing to get up.

An off-camera male barn worker can be heard saying:

This bitch is gonna get someone hurt. Someone is gonna get killed.”

Video made by a Jersey resident who has worked at Parx

The video was apparently taken by Cobb’s then-employee, Lisa Whittaker. She is a resident of South Jersey who had previously worked as an exercise rider for John Servis at Parx Casino and Racing. Servis notably trained Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones.

Whittaker worked as an office manager at an equine practice at the NY track where Cobb had previously trained. She could not be reached for comment.

PA suspended trainer through Sept. 20

On Aug. 2, PA suspended Cobb through Sept. 20 based on the Delaware decision. Additional action by PA is now likely since DE has modified its ruling.

A spokeswoman said PA will review the newest DE decision.

Cobb began training in 2013. She has a record of 83 career wins from 872 starts and $1.35 million in career wins.

She last ran horses at Delaware Park on July 21.

Lead image credit: Image via – Welcomia

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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