Dustin Hoffman's new TV drama "Luck" has been hit by more bad luck - a third horse used in the show has been euthanized after it fell backwards and broke its neck on Tuesday.
A production spokesperson at HBO insists the horse died following an accident at the show's stables area - and not during the filming of a scene.
A statement released to WENN reads, "Tragically, this morning, one of the horses in Luck's stable suffered an accident while returning to the stall.
"California Horse Racing Board official veterinarian Dr. Gary Beck stated, 'I had just examined the horse as part of our routine health and safety procedures prior to work that would be done later on the track. The horse was on her way back to the stall when she reared, flipped over backwards, and struck her head on the ground. Fortunately, attending veterinarian Dr. Heidi Agnic was there to administer immediate aid to the injured horse and determined that humane euthanasia was appropriate.'"
CHRB Equine Medical Director Dr. Rick Arthur adds, "Unfortunately, we see several of these injuries in the stable area every year. They are more common than people realize."
The HBO spokeswoman adds, "An American Humane Association certified safety representative was on the premises when the accident occurred, and as always, all safety precautions were in place. HBO and everyone involved with the production are deeply saddened, and are working in full co-operation with the AHA and the CHRB to complete their inquiry."
Two equine stars of the hard-hitting racing series were put down last year following on-set accidents, prompting People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials to call for better safety measures and the presence of welfare officers and proper consultants.
Just last week, PETA's Kathy Guillermo sent a letter to producers Bruce Richmond and Michael Lombardo urging them to review safety on the set following reports that questionable decisions surrounding the welfare of horses were being made.
She wrote, "We are hearing from multiple credible sources that horses are once again at risk on the set of Luck. I urge you to take immediate action today to correct this situation.
"We understand that there are currently no licensed humane officers on the set. This is inexplicable, unacceptable, and dangerous. While the American Humane Association may have a representative present for filming, this is inadequate. We ask you to return at least one, and preferably more, California licensed humane officers to the set and to ensure that their recommendations about the choice of the horses used and the filming methods are followed to the letter."
In response to the letter, a HBO spokesperson told WENN that methods of selecting the horses for the show have been improved, adding "protocols" had been put in place and "rigorous training processes" adopted to minimalise horse injuries during shooting.