A 1,300-pound show horse was slaughtered on a ranch by a mystery butcher who detectives believe targeted the massive animal to sell its meat on the black market, police said.
The horse, a 12-year-old jumping horse named Phedras de Blondel, was led from his stall at Imperial Farms in Palmetto to a pen in the back of the 27-acre farm, said Dave Bristow, a spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
The horse was expertly butchered either late Saturday or early Sunday, with only his head and neck left intact.
"It could be the suspects scoped out this ranch,'' Bristow said. The ranch is not far from the interstate.
While eating horse meat is generally taboo in the U.S., it is common in dishes in Cuba and Europe.
It's not the first time a show horse has been targeted for its meat in Florida. In July, animal rescue officials said a competitive show horse named "Smart Amanda Whiz'' was slaughtered for its meat in Hialeah. And earlier this month, officials in Palm Beach County raided three slaughterhouses accused of illegally selling horse meat.