The drama surrounding Santa Anita, the current poster child for racetrack carnage in America, continues as those in and out of horse racing debate and comment.
Commentators are citing things like the track surface, bad weather, how often horses are being pushed to race to fill cards to meet gambling quotas, as reasons for the high Thoroughbred mortality rate at Santa Anita. These may be contributing factors from time to time but they are not at the root cause of the spectacle of death and disarray that has gone on at Santa Anita. What has gone on there, and worse, is business as usual at U.S. racetracks around the country.
It is the egregious use of drugs in U.S. Thoroughbred racing — whether approved or illicit — that is killing its horses on the racetrack while at the same time threatening the future soundness of the U.S. Thoroughbred as a breed.
Since we last visited the Santa Anita issue, there have been a boatload of articles but only a few bits worth a quick mention.
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was banned by the ownership of Santa Anita after a fourth horse from his stable died. ESPN. Way to go Jerry. This man is a serial abuser of horses. Yet other than animal activists, where’s the hue and cry? We just don’t get it. What’s the difference we ask between Hollendorfer and say, someone who trains for and holds dog fights?
Plus these races are gambled on. Why aren’t trainers who have cheated and doped horses not arrested for race tampering, because that’s what it is.
One day after being notified by The Stronach Group that he was no longer welcome to stable or race at any of the company’s racetracks (Santa Anita and Golden Gate in California, Laurel and Pimlico in Maryland and Gulfstream Park in Florida) Jerry Hollendorfer got the green light from the New York Racing Association to stable and participate at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga. PAULICK REPORT.
Shame on you New York Racing Association. This has put you in our headlights yet again. However, forget about us. You’ve brought Mr. Hollendorfer to Patrick Battuello’s backyard. Watch and pray.
Can’t pass on sharing this other unbelievably stupid offer made to Hollendorfer and particularly the comment that goes with it.
“Los Alamitos will gladly provide stalls to Jerry Hollendorfer, a Hall of Fame trainer and an unexcelled horseman,” said Ed Allred, owner and chairman of Los Alamitos. “Unless forbidden by the California Horse Racing Board, we intend to permit entries from Hollendorfer. HORSERACING NATION
People who love horse racing are appalled. The general public who have never been near a racetrack are appalled. Yes, the death of the Santa Anita 30 is still very much on the public’s mind.
Yet, it appears that U.S. horse racing thinks once again they can ride this sort of thing out. After all, they have done so in the past. This time we believe it is different. We believe that horse racing American style and all the cheating, abuse and death that goes with it has reached tipping point with both horse racing lovers and haters.
If you are interested in what’s being done in Congress, there is a bill called The Horse Racing Integrity Act — H.R. 1754 — that deals explicitly with racehorse drugging. It currently has 120 cosponsors and has been assigned to a single Committee.
The summary of H.R. 1754 reads:
This bill establishes the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority as an independent, private non-profit corporation with responsibility for developing and administering an anti-doping and medication control program for (1) Thoroughbred, Quarter, and Standardbred horses that participate in horse races; and (2) the personnel engaged in the care, training, or racing of such horses.
The Federal Trade Commission shall have oversight over the authority. An interstate compact may be established after five years to take over the authority’s duties.
• The slow and merciless death of American horse racing, by Vivian Farrell, May 28, 2019