Did the Descendant of Secretariat Almost End Up on Someone's Dinner Plate? INSIDE EDITION Investigates
Freedom's Flight is a majestic Thoroughbred with the blood of a legendary champion running through his veins. He's the great-great-grandson of the most renowned race horse of all time, Secretariat!
The famed stallion galloped his way into the record books and is now the subject of a new Disney movie starring Diane Lane.
Today, Freedom's Flight bears a startling resemblance to the noble Secretariat.
But not too long ago, he looked completely different. He was emaciated, with protruding bones and open sores, making it hard to believe he's a direct descendant of Secretariat.
"He was in the worst condition that I've ever seen a horse in my life," said Richard Couto "Kudo," an activist who runs the Animal Recovery Mission in Miami, Florida.
Kudo believes Freedom's Flight was about to be butchered alive. He told INSIDE EDITION's Lisa Guerrero, "He was basically up for slaughter."
INSIDE EDITION obtained video shot during a police raid in South Florida, where Freedom's Flight was found tied to a tree and clinging to life at what Kudo claims was an illegal slaughter farm.
Freedom's Flight's regal bloodline to Secretariat was discovered when Kudo noticed a unique tattoo across the horse's upper lip, which identified him as a Thoroughbred.
The tattoo also allowed him to learn of the horse's history. Freedom's Flight last raced in April 2008, when he actually broke his leg right out of the gate. Amazingly, in a display of sheer guts that would make the great Secretariat proud, he still finished third!
But he was unable to ever race again, and was sold several times before Kudo says he ended up at death's door.
The owner of the farm where Freedom's Flight was discovered denies that he slaughters horses and has not been charged with animal cruelty.
So how do some million-dollar Thoroughbreds go from the glamorous world of horse racing to the grizzly confines of an illegal slaughter house, where they're butchered alive for their meat?
When race horses can no longer compete, some end up being slaughtered, their meat sold for profit on the black market. Kudo calls this Thoroughbred racing's dirty little secret.
He said, "It happens every week. Unwanted, injured, whatever the reason if they can't perform on the track they go to the illegal slaughter farms. The way they're butchering these horses, many times they'll just go up to a horse, take him by the halter, [and] plunge a knife under his throat."
Horse meat is considered a delicacy in Europe, South America, and also in parts of Florida.
In most of the United States, eating horse meat is considered taboo and killing horses for human consumption is illegal. But Kudo says dozens of Thoroughbreds are still being slaughtered every month in South Florida.
Kudo took Lisa Guerrero to a field where horses were being kept just off the Florida turnpike, not far from where he shot grim video showing horse skulls and bones strewn about.
"This is death row for horses?" asked Guerrero.
"I would say within the next two weeks, every single horse that you see in this field will be on someone's dinner table," Kudo said.
But at least Secretariat's offspring is alive to run another day.
Kudo now keeps Freedom's Flight in an undisclosed location because he says there have been death threats made against himself and the horse.
To learn more about Kudo's work with the Animal Recovery Mission please check out his website below: