KPIX reports on horse auctions brings change

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A racehorse steps onto the track during training. Image by Clarence Alford.
A racehorse steps onto the track for training. Image by Clarence Alford.

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — A KPIX 5 investigation into the dark side of the horse racing industry has led to results. Following our series of reports, Golden Gate Fields has launched a landmark new program to make sure retired racehorses avoid an all too common fate: ending up on someone’s dinner plate.

For Joe Morris it was a rude awakening. “We want them treated right before they race, while they race and after they race,” he said. The former general manager of Golden Gate Fields had come to visit “Come Catch Karen”, a racehorse from his track that could have ended up on someone’s dinner table.

She is one of the six race horses that we discovered at local auctions. Auctions are the beginning of the end for many horses. It’s where horse traders known as “killer buyers” pay pennies on the dollar to truck them off to slaughter.

That is not supposed to happen to horses from Golden Gate Fields. When KPIX 5 talked to Morris a few months ago he told us about the track’s no-slaughter policy, he said “It’s something we are adamant on.”

Now Morris admits: “Obviously there are still horses getting out and around that.”

Liz Morey is the racetrack’s new Director of Thoroughbred Aftercare. Her job: Cataloging every horse about to retire from racing. “So that 5 years from now we still have information about when the horse retired, why they retired, and that is the information we can share with rescues down the road,” she said.

Morey said trainers and owners at Golden Gate Fields now know they are being watched, and can’t just give their thoroughbreds away to just anyone. “There are people that will bring their children, say the horse is for their kids, and they are just fishing for horses,” she said. Read full report; view video >>