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FOR writer David Milch, a TV se­ries’ early demise al­ways leaves some­thing ‘‘ bit­ter in the cup’’.

With Luck, the horserac­ing drama he and di­rec­tor Michael Mann fash­ioned to­gether, the dregs were un­like any other.

Luck, a high-pro­file project fea­tur­ing Dustin Hoffman in his first se­ries role, was can­celled af­ter the deaths of three horses pro­voked an out­cry from an­i­mal ac­tivists and a wave of bad pub­lic­ity for cable net­work HBO.

In an in­dus­try that usu­ally avoids us­ing the painful word ‘‘ can­cel­la­tion’’, let alone dwelling on the de­tails, Milch and Mann are do­ing just that to ad­dress what they con­tend are uninformed crit­i­cisms about how horses were treated in the mak­ing of Luck.

Milch’s re­flec­tions are also telling about HBO’S un­fa­mil­iar­ity with rac­ing and what he calls its ‘‘ in­no­cence’’ about the risks of us­ing frag­ile, highly strung thor­ough­breds.

While he and Mann tried to per­suade HBO to stick with Luck, Milch says the chan­nel’s decision is un­der­stand­able.

Two horses were put down af­ter suf­fer­ing frac­tures while run­ning, while a third was eu­thanised af­ter it slipped and suf­fered a head in­jury.

HBO ended sec­ond-sea­son pro­duc­tion on Luck in midMarch, af­ter the third death. The sea­son-one fi­nale ran on March 25. In Australia the first sea­son of Luck airs on Sun­days on Fox­tel’s Show­case.

Milch said their pro­duc­tion was com­mit­ted to the ‘‘ strictest pro­to­cols and safety pro­ce­dures any­where in the equine world’’.

The shock waves have gone be­yond TV, fo­cus­ing at­ten­tion on race­horse in­juries and deaths. Luck, Show­case, Sun­day, 6.35pm Scratch that: star­ring Dustin Hoffman and Den­nis Fa­rina, fell foul of bad pub­lic­ity.

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