HBO Cancels Luck in the Wake of Horse Fatalities

This is a shocker, to say the least. HBO just announced that all production on horse-racing drama Luck, which until today had been filming its second season, will cease. For good. In other words, the show's been canceled. The decision was made with the approval of series co-creators David Milch and Michael Mann.

Word comes down just a day after a third horse died during the production of the series after the animal reared backwards, fell over, and hit its head. Vets determined that the humane thing to do was euthanize it. The injury did not occur during racing or filming, according to reports, but rather while the horse was being walked back to its stable.

In a statement from HBO, safety was cited as a major concern. Here's what they had to say, straight from the... uhh... network's mouth:


It is with heartbreak that executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann together with HBO have decided to cease all future production on the series Luck.

Safety is always of paramount concern. We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horse racing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures. While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future. Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision.

We are immensely proud of this series, the writing, the acting, the filmmaking, the celebration of the culture of horses, and everyone involved in its creation.


I love Luck. The acting, the cinematography, the setting—they were are all superb. But Milch, who is incredibly passionate about the sport of horse racing and the animals that drive it, knows that the four-legged stars are just as important as the overpaid bipedal humans. This had to be an incredibly tough decision for all involved parties to make, and it's a shame that yesterday's death didn't even have anything to do with actual production. Luck was a risky show to shoot. I'm going to miss it dearly. I want to be mad, but I can't.

However, it has to be said: Luck was suffering from low ratings, and the Season 2 order was handed out just two days after the series premiere. One wonders if the same decision would have been made if the series was a hit.


Do you think HBO made the right decision in cancelling Luck?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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ITS ASHAME I HOPE THE TWO M' s focus on another great project!
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In fact, the series seems to be more about bad luck than good for all concerned.
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Just when I was about to ask someone to set up a complete bio site for all the characters in Luck, since after watching 6 episodes, I'm still not sure WTF is going on, other than the most obvious: Hoffman wants revenge, the big loner loser is... losing, the group of losers is... not sure, I can't make heads of tails of it.
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I really enjoy this show, but I understand their decision. I love the characters, maybe they could "write" them away from the track element and move towards the casino angle, just a thought. I will miss this show.
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Too bad it's getting cancelled. I liked the show, and probably some of Nick Nolte's best work. Emmy worthy!!
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Just commenting on how heartbroken I am for these animals is an understatement. However, HBO and the entire staff od the show Luck have gone above and beyond what was required of them to save these animals. The horse deaths were all tragic. On the flip side, my cousin (whom I am immensely proud of) was set to play a jockey in season 2. Toby McCreary is an incredible actor, and had faith in a show that when I watched from the pilot was incredibly invested in. I think Luck had all the ability to become an HBO hit, and look forward to what the creative team comes up with next.
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Good riddance! I usually give new series the 3-episode test, but never felt like watching the next two (especially after finding out that things didn't actually improve in those two installments) - glad I didn't bother, 'cos it was obviously going nowhere. Well, apparently, some people did like it, so it will be missed, surprisingly. I just don't buy this story of cancellation because 3 horses died. Yeah, right. Like someone said here before, it sounds more like a good PR move - they would cancel it anyway due to the low ratings, so why not make themselves look good? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of horses involved in the making of Game of Thrones. Any deaths? Well, I doubt they would cancel that one, though.
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What did the farmer say to the horse that broke it's leg?



Stop equ-whining.



Then he shot it in the head.
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if you don't wanna be hypocrites talking about what a responsible decision it was to stop shooting after some animals died try typing "stuntman deaths" into your google search.

you spend so much time worring about horses just because it wasn't theirs choice to be part of dangerous production, you forget what animals are just animals. no need to give them human like traits (like ability to exersize freedom of choice). animals die. move on.

if you have time to waste - waste it to help people in need. lanch discussions about quality of safely regulations for human stuntmen in hollywood. be smart.
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NOOOOO!!! :-(
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terrible news :-(
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Man, that is just bad luck if true (pun NOT intended), a horse rears end over end? That's crazy. I hate to say it, but after the first animal death, they should have stuck with stock footage or something for the horse scenes, get the risk and cost out of their way. Milch was on The Late Late Show just a few days ago talking about the show too, seemed like things were working out. I understand why HBO would pull the plug though, it's just too many things stacked against it now, and would be a PR disaster to keep it. Still, I'd be very interested to hear what an investigation would show really caused a horse to react that strongly, that's beyond unusual.
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In the news tomorrow: Mad Men is cancelled due to the risk that Jon Hamm and the others become alcoholics!
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Is it April 1th? Must be joking to bring the ratings to another level... Tv-series is art, and you have to suffer to produce brilliant art (Luck). As long as there`s no danger for the humans involved, they should definately go on! I will miss Luck, because it`s a brilliant show, with good actors, plot, theme etc. RIP.
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In episode 7, one of the 4 Amigos wants to try to claim another horse. His friend challenges him that it's unlikely he will "catch lightening in a bottle twice." That's exactly why the show is so dull. There simply can not be enough champion horses to carry a series that depends on races every week. Even more telling is the scene right after that with the same characters. The guy trying to catch lightening in a bottle asks his friend "are you betting on my horse?" and he spits out "Why do you care what horse I'm betting on." That's my feeling exactly in every episode.
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This news post actually makes me want to watch the show. Anyone that cares enough for the four-legged stars of their show to cease producing it when it starts to threaten their safety is my new hero. Shame it's now off the air (especially if it's as good as everyone seems to think), but kudos to the folks who put lives ahead of money and made the decision.
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It was a great show -- the acting, directing, and writing was all top-notch; unfortunately, I found that I didn't give a lick about horse racing and felt bored out of my mind 90% of the time.



Anyways, it's pretty classy for a show to cancel themselves due to the danger they put on horsies.
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18 years are gone and HBO did it again. They canceled a series I love. After Todd McFarlanes "Spawn: the animated series" they cancel another gem.

Hm, in comparison to other cable or networks not so bad after all. But don't cancel the Borgias, HBO ! Don't tase me HBO !
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idiot
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Borgias is Showtime, so I think it is safe from HBO's hammer lol.
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They better do whats right and let the season air out and still bring it to DVD

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Why wouldn't they? They've stopped production on the second season, the first is completed and only has two more episodes to air.
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I have so much respect for them diong this, it gives me hope that we are not all concerned with making money and being successful alone, which is always great to hear!
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While, I'm glad to see the end of this show since it has caused so much tragedy, the point of the producers is well made. Yesterday, at the Cheltenham Festival, here in the UK, five horses died. It is an appalling 'sport', shamefully neglected by cruelty prevention organisations simply because it is a rich sport and the playground of the wealthy and influential. Perhaps Luck first, the entire sport to follow. Well, we can hope.
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Yes, horse racing is "appalling" by having horses... run. Boxing, however, doesn't upset you in the least.
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Probably the ratings killed it. A very good show in my opinion.
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Animal rights people can be very aggressive, and people who love animals are mostly feeling instead of thinking.:) However this decision was probably due to the ratings, and then they present it like this so they will get som credit with those weird animal-lovers.
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Personally, I have more regard for those who can have empathy with the suffering of a fellow creature than someone who has none and, worse, feels the need to get over their inadequecy by mocking those who do.
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So sandorxian you think we should have dominion over all animals and treat them however we want in order to further our standing? You sir are an idiot and part of the movement to hold back human society. Ever heard of the Dark Ages? You'd fit right in...
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I wouldn't call you "sir" but you are an idiot. Yes I think humans count more than animals in every respect. Is that hard to understand? Penn&Teller expressed it very eloquently in their Bullshit episode about the dangerous P.E.T.A organization. "We would personally kill all monkeys by hand, if it would save one drug addict with AIDS."
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You really shouldn't compare drug development to food production. Seriously, where's your head at?
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I love the show but as a horse passionate for horses and hate horse Racing so I can only applaud such a though decision
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How can anyone hate horse racing?
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'Cause we like horses, obviously.
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Absolutely the right decision and impressive they took it.



Low ratings did not help and also, animal rights groups are very powerful and Luck could have become a huge PR fiasco that could have dragged the entire HBO.
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I trust all these limps worried about the deads horses 'souls' are vegans. The dead animals people find it acceptable to eat have a much more miserable life than that of a thoroughbred racehorse.

for that matter thoroughbreds that are enslaved as racehorses have a much worse life than the one the horses acting in Luck had to endure.

If you didn't read it in the article on a per capita amount of racing sort of a basis less horses died during Luck's production than would have died if the same number of horses had been put through genuine racing.



Or is everyone in la la land where the pinkish red stuff found in pet food cans just 'happens' like Topsy?



I was positively enjoying the show by the time I watched the 2nd to last episode screened so far.



For me the biggest problem was that all of the actyors worked so hard at their regional accents (all from different regions thick NY to drawling pseudo South, newLatino, n even californian hip - not forgetting standard amerikan mock bog Irish) while mumbing their lines into their chests the dialogue was almost unintelligible for the first 6 shows.



That was exacerbated by the vastly differing patois or slang that was spoken between the various groups. A show like Boardwalk or Sopranos people use lots of obscure slang, but we the audience get to pick it up as we watch cause most everyone is talking the same slang.



Not in this show.

The arcane horse racing lingo was difficult to learn because everyone was saying the same words completely different ways so for those of us that don't hang off the rails at the local track, the context was too chaotic and confusing to give any insight.



I thought the horse racing lobby would complain because so many horses were getting maimed and put down in the story.

It's kinda ironic that Peta has succeeded in shutting the show down because if it had continued 'Luck' would almost certainly put the kybosh on horse racing in a lot of places, once people realised how cruel to horses the so called 'sport' of horse racing is.



Worse was the variations of slang
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So...in your world of bizarro logic, because other animals are being cruelly treated, in perhaps worse ways, that makes animals dying for the sake of entertainment acceptable?
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Go bother the ppl who are treating horses cruely (the racing industry) and save us the righteous indignation.



What have these horses been saved from?



Death? (likely not, if Luck had better safety standards than anywhere else they'll end up, then their life expectancy just took a fall)



Cruelty? No evidence of cruel treatment or at least much less cruel than a racing life or a work horse.



You speak in absolutes, you condem others, you type and you feel better, but dont kid yourself that these horses have been saved pls, they've just been out out of work and an owner who has to find new work for them, sell them or destroy them.



(no electrons have been harmed in the sending of this post)
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i can't find much daylight between your guys' arguments...



but i don't see why the dude can't express his opinion



however you feel about the use of horses in film, or in racing, or as pets on farms or as meat for that matter, I imagine horses have accidents all the time whether or not they are involved in TV shows or not...shooting an injured horse is a universal theme in almost every Western I've ever seen so perhaps it's a common occurence, I don't know...but...



if the producers of this show really believed in their show, they wouldn't cancel it because of a freak accident...



it was just a bad show going nowhere



Episode 7 said it all...the guy who wanted to claim the injured horse asks his friend and partner in 4 Amigos "are you betting on my horse?" and the guy responded "why do you care what horse I'm betting on?"



EXACTLY!
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i can't believe it...AND BRAVO...hbo you have made a huge number of friends with this decision. any $$$ loses you will have as a result of this decision will be gained back 10 fold in new nd more dedicated viewership!!! nice to see a big corp doing the right thing for the right reasons...my hat is off to those involved...
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Yes!

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i feel like i've been put out of my misery. I haven't missed an episode in hopes that the next one would have a point. This is not a good show in my opinion. And apparently the producers didn't believe in it either.
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It's one of those "it's just a horse" vs. "let's be humane above all" things... Personally, people die, animals die, people are killed, animals are killed, accidents happen etc. If you take all the possible care you could, it's a "calculated risk". And no, horses are not human.

Obviously, I would be talking differently if I was involved with horses, looked into their eyes etc. As it is, and I'm not, I find it a strange, overblown decision.
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Talk about bad Luck (pardon the pun)
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Wow! Quite a blow. It was supposedly such a great show, up there together with shows like Boardwalk Empire. Couldn't they have just put a text at the end of the show like "No animals...err...almost no animals were harmed during the production of this show." Just kidding. I do not endorse cruelty towards animals, unless my siblings are considered pets.
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I never tuned in to the show, but it seems those in charge actually have respect for other living creatures perhaps? If 3 actors died on a show, it would have been a much bigger headline, but the point is these animals have souls just like us, and they deserve respect and compassion.
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Really? I've just read a few comments and everyone's like "oh, damn, I wanted to watch this show!". Doesn't anyone care about the fact that horses died??? Anyway, I feel sorry for them (which I also do every time someone mentions show jumping).
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Funny. As mentioned, no one focuses on the ratings of only around 500,000 total viewers each week. Wonder what it cost and how much they were losing, if anything. I also wonder how much the talent involved cost and and am surprised there were so few viewers for them. I always found horse racing and gambling to be boring subjects, so regardless of talent, I guess others did too.



Another consideration is to know how many horses die by accident in a normal racing season, year, track, whatever. It would be odd a TV series having more than what might be normal for the real thing.
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That really sucks. I was looking forward to watching as this show developed.
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I'm sad too. I was really getting into the show and I was liking Michael Gambon's big bad. I wonder if they'll air the episodes they've produced (including the Season 2 ones?) I had no idea about the horses, that's just really unfortunate. David Milch's curse continues!
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Me sad. Big Dustin Hoffman fan. Liked the show, especially as it is a unique perspective that you cannot find anywhere else on TV. Are they at least going to air the last couple of episodes of the first season? Maybe re-edit them to try and give the series a good (well... decent, at this point) closing?
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Season one was already shot. They shut down the production on season 2 so instead of getting 10 episodes of S2 we'll get whatever they can scrap together with footage they have I guess.
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I have no idea how far into the filming of season 2 they were, but unless they were pretty far I doubt we'll ever see anything from it. Maybe though
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Yep, they will air the last two episodes. Highly doubt they'll re-edit anything though.
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Have to say I've never actually even heard of Luck, but in light of being a horse-enthusiast and hearing about the deaths, I think they made the right decision. Granted, I've worked at a track and with of-the-track horses and have seen/heard of a lot worse and more frequent events happening.
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That frees up some room on the schedule. Bring back How to Make It In America, HBO!
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They canceled what now?!
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Thanks for your waste of a comment.
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Luck was the worst new series I tried to watch this year and I am happy to hear it has been canceled. At the least now we know how many living creatures have to die before HBO will cancel a horrible show: 3.
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Agreed, BarryDalton. The sentiment appeared clear as day and fweak has no need to explain his opinion to the silly creatures here who cannot accept that opinions differ and not everyone will like the same show they do. Also, is a show about horseracing really THAT complex that someone might not understand it, kavselj? I seriously doubt it! Please don't try to elevate yourselves to the level of geniuses just because you happen to enjoy a particular show. Intelligence has little to do with liking or not-liking, either way.
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And would you care to elaborate as to why you think it was terrible? Or was it perhaps just too smart for you like most cable shows tend to be?
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u dont gotta be a dick
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Judging by his comment where he's unable to provide one solid argument to support his claim... I'm assuming he simply doesn't understand the show so he decided to bash it for no real reason.
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And I would like to know why it's terrible because judging by a fair amount of people and critics the show is pretty good.



If I don't like chocolate pie and someone asks me why, at least I'll have the courtesy to tell him that perhaps I don't like the taste of it or whatever. The easiest thing to do is go to an article about a show you don't even remotely care then post something like "OMG WORST SHOW EVER!!!1" just because that seems to be the hip thing to do these days.



And thanks for providing some arguments yourself. At least you have an opinion as to why you dislike the show.
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If you don't like chocolate pie, are you required to provide a "solid argument"?



When did that rule start? The guy thinks it's terrible. I understood that very clearly.



I don't like it either and I'll try to explain why.



1. None of the characters had a clearly defined goal.

2. The world of horse racing is not really all that fascinating as it is simply a business where they raise horses, train them, and the best ones win. All the while, people bet on which one they think will win.

3. Every week that had to manufacture a reason why a given race was "important". You can only watch a horse go from the back of the pack to winning by 1000 meters so many times, or see the horse rear up from an injury, before it starts to get a little boring.

4. There were no likeable characters that you could in good conscience root for. Even the doctor just seemed to be floating through life "doing" the trainer, for no good reason. I think she's attractive enough to find a guy who wouldn't treat her like a tramp.

5. Gamblers are inherently boring people who are stuck in a rut hoping to score it big. Gambling is inherently boring to watch (except for the Poker championships which is pretty awesome because it's real)

6. PLease tell me what the "young" kid is going to do to make a million dollars.

7. There is no chemistry between the Hoffman and his love interest.

8. I could go on but I will leave it with "the acting and cinematography were great" but that's about it.
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Sounds like HBO is using this as an excuse to cancel the show.
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Luck deserves to be canceled. Any show, where terminology is a determining factor to whether you can understand it or not, is already a failure. I don't know what Dustin Hoffman's plans are, I don't quite get what the gamblers are doing, the horse trainer seems to have some trick up his sleeve. The only stories I do understand are Nick Nolte's and the jockeys' because their stories are simple while Nick Nolte's is an insurance fraud non-mystery and the jockeys are just trying to ride. But the ever so quiet conversations between Dustin Hoffman and "The Greek', while Hoffman falls asleep at the end of every episode, are not artsy or prophetic, they're just boring and convoluted through a bunch of horse mythos that I don't really care about.

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who cares.....its a horse
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dude... its a living creature...the only time you should say what you said... is if we're talking about sarah jessica parker
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HA:)
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funny.. exactly how i felt about your comment
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so you mean......im a horse?
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Sad news. Great show and in my opinion 3 horse deaths are nothing compared to millions of animals that die in much worse conditions just to end up as a fur coat on someone etc.



But then again my opinion on animals probably vastly differs compared to most people. I hope they'll at least somehow tie up any loose ends.
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yes, but just because there are worse conditions doesn't mean the loss of these three horses are any less tragic. Those other animals die to give someone a fur coat, these horses died to entertain you for an hour every week. How many more would it take for you? Do a hundred have to die before you stand up and take notice? The first horse dead was a clue that something about the show wasn't working.
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You also realize that accidents do happen and that in fact 2 of 3 deaths weren't during filming but off the camera? They have taken more precautions than most people would.



Not to mention that on the other hand thousands of people die each day and no one gives a damn but when something happens to an animal suddenly everything goes up in flames. And like someone commented on Luck's FB page, where are all of these people when horses die on the actual race tracks etc.? Oh right, they don't care enough to bother.
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seriously upset to hear this news. Liked the show a lot from the first episode, but it was really starting to get great the past few episodes. Heard about the death of the third horse earlier today but didn't even think of the possibility that the show could be canceled because of it.

I have to think that they made the wrong decision, as like they said there were fewer accidents than would normally occur anyway. However, at least the decision was made the right way, with Milch and Mann deciding for themselves.
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I am bummed.
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Major Bummer . General Shocker. I hate those two. Love the series and I think it could have become even greater in future seasons. The "four guys" were some of the most original and likeable characters I've seen in a long time. And Dustin. And Nick. And Dennis. Miss it already.
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