Luck Struck With Shock Cancellation

HBO scraps show after horse deaths

Even if we were betting people, we’re not sure we’d have put money on this: HBO horse racing drama Luck has been unexpectedly cancelled following a third animal death on set.

The series, which had only just been renewed for a second season by the US cable channel despite low ratings for its first run (which still has episodes left to air), had already shot one new episode and was in the middle of another. Now it will be left as a one-season show.

Created by NYPD Blue and Deadwood’s David Milch alongside Heat / Public Enemies director Michael Mann, Luck featured an ensemble cast led by Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina and Nick Nolte and revolved around various characters at the Santa Anita horse track in California. An assembled group of gamblers, gangsters, jockeys and trainers brought to life interweaving stories. You may already know what we thought of the first episode.

But the show has been beset by problems, with two horses dying during the first season’s shoot (resulting in the production briefly shutting down to adjust safety procedures for the racing scenes) and a third dying just yesterday after rearing back, falling and hitting its head on the ground, which resulted in a serious injury and the production vet choosing to euthanize the animal.

In a statement, the network and the show’s creators talked up their reasoning: "Safety is always of paramount concern. We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horseracing 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."

The show aired in the UK on Sky Atlantic. Were you a fan? Will you be sorry to see it go and join the list of series cancelled before their time?