Simpsons producer Sam Simon, who’s giving away his fortune before he dies of cancer, secretly funded the rescue of an injured racehorse that its previous owners may have tried to race again.
Simon was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in 2012. Since then, he has been spending his vast fortune on animal rights and feeding the hungry, as The Hollywood Reporter previously detailed.
Simon purchased a horse, Valediction, for $60,000 in February via a frontman after learning about injuries the animal had suffered.
“I got a phone call from [PETA president] Ingrid [Newkirk] [about] an abused thoroughbred,” Simon told NBC News. “I say yes to everything she asks me.”
After Simon was diagnosed with his terminal disease, he talked to Newkirk about ways he could help animals in the time he had left.
The producer has long supported animal rights causes and is a PETA board member who has contributed so much money to the group that it named its Virginia headquarters after him.
PETA had conducted an undercover investigation of Valediction’s previous owners, NBC News reports, in which secret recordings suggest that the trainers were trying to get injured horses to race again. Reports reveal extensive medications were administered to help the animals overcome injuries.
Newkirk told Simon that Valediction’s owners might be trying to get him to race again despite a leg injury, and Simon agreed to buy the animal.
“I’m coming into it knowing that these horses are commodities, that this is factory farming more than it is a sport,” he told NBC News.
A veterinary exam later showed that Valediction was partially lame in his left leg “with significant arthritis,” inflammation and evidence of a past fracture.
“The future soundness of this horse given his X-rays and lameness … is questionable,” the exam results read, according to NBC News. “I would recommend he be retired as future soundness, even for trail riding, is questionable.”
“Valediction was in pain, arthritic and had suffered a fracture, and yet he was being prepared to race again, to wring every last dollar out of him,” Newkirk told NBC News. “If Sam Simon hadn’t stepped in to rescue him, I think it’s a safe bet Valediction would’ve had a catastrophic breakdown, that his next race would have been his last, and then, like most spent racehorses, he could’ve become hamburger.”
Valediction now lives on a farm in Loudon County, Va., an hour west of Washington. No one is allowed to ride him.
Simon, however, joked to NBC News that he wants to bring the horse to L.A. to show him off.
“I have friends with Teslas, and I want to know how to top that,” he said.
PETA posted a blog entry on Friday confirming NBC News’ report.