Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Horse Trainer Faces Cruelty Charges

Sallisaw horse trainer Robert Dimitt, 57, (above, top)  was free on a $25,000 bond Monday night after he was booked on three felony counts of cruelty to animals Monday.

The charges allegedly include a winning filly, Gold Digging Ashley, shown above winning the $100,000 Sooner State Stakes on May 2 at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. The filly was bred and is owned by Dr. Edward Leslie of Frankfurt, Kentucky.

Sheriff Ron Lockhart said Leslie's agent, Charlotte Northam of Ada, came to pick up the horses on July 9 but got a call that morning that one of the three horses was dead. Northam said she found the horse had been dead for a couple of weeks. When she arrived at Dimitt's ranch she said she couldn't believe what she found. She said she found, "...nothing but starved" horses, with "mutilated feet and two horses dead and a million-dollar horse that should still be having her chance to run the track."

That horse is Gold Digging Ashley. Her racing career is over, Northam said, because the filly is fighting for her life. According to American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) records, Gold Digging Ashley has won eight of her 12 career starts with three wins at Remington Park in Oklahoma City this season. The filly collected $59,730 for her Sooner State Stakes win on May 2. Gold Digging Ashley is listed at Number 29 on the AQHA most money earned this year list, and claims the top spot for the AQHA 3-year-old fillies. She has a 104 Speed Index. According to the AQHA, the filly's total earnings are $355,195.

Lockhart said he is going to do all he can to see Dimitt does not continue training horses. Dimitt does not have an Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) license, Lockhart said. Gold Digging Ashley's trainer is listed as Ty Blackwell, who lives with and works for Dimitt, Lockhart said.

Lockhart said local veterinarians are checking the health of the other horses that are in Dimitt's care. He said several horses' carcasses were found at the ranch.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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