Colorado Governor’s uninspiring response to unsanctioned horse racing

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Drew Angerer / Getty Images.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Drew Angerer / Getty Images.

COLORADO (Horse Racing) — You remember the undercover report on “unsanctioned” horse racing exposed by the superb Fox31 ProblemSolvers’ team of Chris Halsne and Chris Keoberl.

Thanks to horse advocates like you a lot of pressure has been put on the Governor of Colorado and the State’s lawmakers, but chiefly on the Governor.

It is Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who has finally responded, stating he is “supportive of some sort of new oversight”.

What? There’s more.

“When financial self-interest is involved, people might dope up horses — do things that are unacceptable for almost everyone,” Governor Hickenlooper told FOX31 during a recent on-camera interview.

“You want to get all those people together and say how can we make sure these horses are not mistreated for the lowest amount of cost and intrusion into people’s lives? We want to make the regulatory part of as minimum as possible and still guarantee the welfare of horses.”

The key words here are financial self-interest.

Chief of Racing Enforcement, Ron Hammerzell, told the FOX31 Problem Solvers he hears complaints about unsanctioned horse racing, happening at rodeo grounds like in Deer Trail, but can’t do anything about it.

Hammerzell said, “Simply, our statutory authority doesn’t really allow us to get involved there. Again, when local law enforcement calls, we assist them in any way we can.”

How about reporting it to the FBI? Isn’t this type of activity where illegal gambling is involved a federal crime, like dog fighting?

Governor Hickenlooper thinks with the help of venue operators, animal rights organizations (like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), lawmakers, and racing regulators, the state can and should start thinking about crafting some simple safety rules that bring horse match-races out of the shadows.

The ASPCA are animal welfarists and exactly who you do not want in a situation like this. It is nigh to impossible to make these horses safe in sanctioned horse racing let alone unsanctioned. Look at the horrible day-to-day drugging, abuse and death connected with sanctioned horse racing.

Sadly we see that no firm stand for what is right is going to be taken by the politically ineffective Governor of Colorado. And we are not simply talking about the horses here even though they are our main focus.

Hickenlooper asked, “How to we get to a compromise where everyone is satisfied – where we can make sure horses are not mistreated, the spectators and racers are safe and the end of every day, everything is going to be okay?”

It is never right in cases of potentially dangerous and abusive activities to try to satisfy everyone. It shouldn’t even be a consideration.

Compromise. What an ugly word in the context of this barbaric issue. For the most part, the only ones being compromised are the horses. Sound familiar?

Response from Legitimate Racing

We have been trying to get a response from legitimate horse racing in Colorado but none will give Tuesday’s Horse or The Horse Fund a statement. However, we notice no one we spoke with seemed particularly concerned. Is it because this is a way of unloading racehorses they don’t want any longer without having to go through the bothersome task of getting rid of them some other way such as via the meat man at auction?

The undercover report mentions that the unsanctioned races they investigated were run primarily by hispanics. Since there are so many hispanics working at U.S. racetracks they are in a prime position to acquire racehorses for unsanctioned races. Is this another reason those running horses at sanctioned races prefer to stay mum or don’t seem to have a problem with it? It seems they would at least be concerned about the gambling revenues they are losing. Why aren’t they? Is someone in sanctioned racing taking kickbacks?

Take Action

Take action residents of Colorado.

State Lawmakers

Find your State Legislators and call or email them. The Legislature is not in session but they are working. Tell them that you are disappointed with the Governor’s response and ask them to amend an existing statute or pass a new one that will make unsanctioned racing illegal Colorado.

Governor Hickenlooper

Please also contact the Governor of Colorado and tell him that you are disappointed at his response and to take a whatever steps are necessary to abolish unsanctioned horse racing in your State.

(303) 866-2471 (front desk)

Tip: Collect your thoughts. Make a note of what you want to say, rehearse it a few times until you feel you’ve “got it”. Then dial and deliver it. We all do that here so we present our views in the best possible way.

Use the Governor’s Share Your Comments Form
https://www.colorado.gov/governor/share-your-comments

Tip: Again, collect your thoughts, type it up and review it until you are happy. Be concise. Then copy and paste it into the comment area provided.

• Regular Mail

Office of the Governor
136 State Capitol Bldg
Denver, CO 80203

Last updated: 6:06 pm.

Ireland and China agree deal to allow direct export of horses

Irish bred Thoroughbred Mare and Foal. ~ The Flint Gallery.
Irish bred Thoroughbred Mare and Foal. ~ The Flint Gallery.

IRELAND (Horse Racing) — Chinese plans to develop racing and breeding industry is ‘good news’ for sector in Ireland declares The Irish Times, who interestingly filed this article in its “agribusiness and food” section.

The Republic and China have agreed a deal that will allow direct export of horses from here [Ireland] to the world’s second biggest economy, paving the way for a potentially lucrative trade in bloodstock.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed yesterday that it has agreed a deal with the authorities in the People’s Republic of China that will allow quarantine and pre-export approval of horses bound for Asian economic giant to take place in the Republic under the supervision of its vets.

Up to now, any horses sent to China had to undergo quarantine in the Netherlands, an arrangement that added to Irish exporters’ costs.

The deal confirmed yesterday was the next step from a protocol signed last year by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and vice-minister Wei Chuanzhong, where the two agreed that Irish horses could be exported to China subject to a quarantine period in an Irish facility approved by Mr Coveney’s department.

Key Sectors

All types of horses are covered, but one of the key sectors expected to benefit from the move is thoroughbred breeding. China is planning to develop its racing and breeding industries, lead by a project at Tianjin, where there are plans to invest $2 billion in a complex that will include a racecourse, training facilities and stud farming.

The Chinese authorities last year chose Irish bloodstock empire, Coolmore Stud, which has operations in Tipperary, the US and Australia, as a partner in the project.

Coolmore will provide 100 broodmares, sourced in Ireland, to Tianjin over a three-year period to help establish a breeding programme at the centre. There are also plans to acquire stallions for its stud farm.

The Tipperary-based operation, headed by John Magnier, is one of the world’s leading stud farm and racehorse breeding businesses. It owns leading European stallion, Galileo, and champion Australian sire, Fastnet Rock, among others.

* * *

In a seemingly unrelated story, Australia are considering the export of horses overseas for slaughter. As stated above, “The Chinese authorities last year chose Irish bloodstock empire, Coolmore Stud, which has operations in Tipperary, the US and Australia, as a partner in the project.”

 

 

One year after two horses died on Preakness Day, measures taken to prevent a repeat they say

BALTIMORE, Md. (Baltimore Sun, May 20, 2017) — A year after two horses died under different circumstances after going down at Pimlico on Preakness Day, procedures are in place to help ensure that kind of tragedy won’t be repeated during the races leading up to the 142nd running of the event — or in the featured race itself.

A spokesman for the Maryland Jockey Club said Friday that there was little to prevent what happened a year ago, but declined to talk about Saturday’s races.

“One horse had a heart attack and the other got [his] heels clipped and broke his leg,” the spokesman said.

Maryland-bred Homeboykris, a 9-year-old gelding who ran in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, collapsed after winning the first race and having his picture taken in the winner’s circle. A necropsy performed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture in Frederick showed that the horse suffered a heart attack.

The report examining the horse’s death also showed he was running with an elevated level of the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone in his blood, but it was determined that it had nothing to do with the heart attack.

In the fourth race last year, a 4-year-old filly named Pramedya collapsed on the turn during the final turn with a fractured left front leg.

The filly, who was euthanized at the track, was owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the couple who owned 2006 Kentucky Derby champion Barbaro, who shattered his leg in that year’s Preakness and was eventually euthanized.

The two deaths were among three dozen that occurred on Maryland tracks in 2016, according to a post on horseracingwrongs.com, which received its information through a Maryland Public Information Act request to the Maryland Racing Commission. There have been four deaths so far this year, according to a commission official.

Preventative Measures

The Maryland Jockey Club handed out a list of procedures that will be in place for Saturday’s race, including the fact that no veterinarians administering salix is allowed in any of the barns housing the horses after 6:15 p.m. Friday “unless they have approval from the state veterinarian and the stewards or it is a documented emergency.”

Also, “all salix shall be administered no later than three hours prior to post time for the horses by the veterinarian designated by the commission. Failure to do so will result in the horse being scratched. No exceptions.”

• Read full story »

Crime and Punishment

Regarding Homeboykris “[t]rainer Francis Campitelli was fined $500 for the medication violation and was also assigned a point in the state’s penalty system, which could lead to a harsher punishment in the future if he commits subsequent violations”. (Source: Baltimore Sun, July 12, 2016).

That’s sort of a punishment. Seems pretty flimsy to us.

Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid hormone (basically a steroid) — a potent anti-inflammatory commonly used in horses to treat allergic reactions such as respiratory allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (heaves), hives, itching and inflammatory diseases including osteoarthritis.

Very potent where overuse can cause serious problems in horses especially in combination with other drugs — pain-masking of course. (Source: Jane Allin, ref’g article by David W. Ramey, DVM.


Amazing isn’t it? They talk about the preventative measures they are taking this year after saying little could have prevented the deaths of those two horses last year. Look who’s involved too.  —Editor.

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Race one winner Homeboykris (3) collapsed and died following the post race Winners Circle presentation while returning to the barn during the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes day at Pimlico Race Course. May 21, 2016. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

 

Horse racing talks aftercare for the Thoroughbreds it uses

LOUISVILLE, Ky — It’s that time of year when the spotlight falls on horse racing — what little spotlight falls on it these days — and the industry and its hangers on laud the winner of the Kentucky Derby and turn their thoughts to the Triple Crown.

Historically at this time, the powers that be in Thoroughbred horse racing hold meetings and talk about the state of its industry.

This year up pops the subject of aftercare concerning the horses the industry uses until they can no longer use them.

Here are a few excerpts from the Daily Racing Form report, “New idea floated to raise aftercare funds.”

Aftercare funding has become a topic of increasing importance in the racing industry as the sport’s viewpoint on retired racehorses has begun to evolve and mature, in no small measure because of pressure from animal-welfare advocates. The overwhelming consensus in the racing industry is that the sport needs to raise millions more dollars each year to properly address the issue.

Currently, the Thoroughbred industry seeks funding for aftercare organizations in a variety of ways. Some are mandatory, such as contributions from purses earned at tracks that have launched retirement programs and a mandatory surcharge on sales that require buyers and consignors to contribute 0.5 percent of the price of a horse sold at auction. Also, in 2012, The Jockey Club added a $25 surcharge to its foal-registration fee to raise funds for aftercare efforts. Other funding is sought through voluntary donations.

A proposal by former racetrack executive Allen Gutterman to ask racetracks to add a surcharge to their reserved seating tickets on popular race days to raise money for the care of retired racehorses is generating discussion among the racing industry, according to attendees of the Pan American Conference.

Gutterman’s proposal would add a surcharge to reserved seats, with the surcharge clearly advertised as being earmarked for aftercare funding. Gutterman said the industry should ask each North American racetrack to apply the surcharge for a single day of the year, and he estimated that the plan could raise as much as $1 million a year, provided the most high-profile tracks participate on their most popular days.

“If a fan is willing to shell out, say, $2,500 for a prime seat on Millionaires’ Row at beautiful Churchill Downs, would he object to spending an additional $5 for the same seat knowing that the additional $5 is earmarked for aftercare?” Gutterman said. “Honestly, do you think that on these days, fans would object? Especially those paying with corporate credit cards?” (DRF)

I quote Karen Richards from the famous Bette Davis film, All About Eve: “This beats all records for running, standing or jumping gall”.  Well just about all.

In essence, the mighty U.S. horse racing industry wants racegoers — albeit perceivably rich racegoers — to help pay for the care of its cast off racehorses. No wonder the idea is being talked about and well received. Anyone other than themselves to pick up the tab.

They brag about the $8.3 million the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance raised which is commendable. However, they have raised that sum since the TAA was founded in 2012. The monies are divided up among 180 accredited facilities.

The industry currently coordinates the majority of its fundraising through an organization founded in 2012, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, whose members had a major presence at the International Forum on the Aftercare of Racehorses, which was held for the first time this year. The TAA has accredited 180 facilities in the U.S. and has awarded $8.3 million in grants since its founding, the organization says. (DRF)

How is that money raised?

Currently, the Thoroughbred industry seeks funding for aftercare organizations in a variety of ways. Some are mandatory, such as contributions from purses earned at tracks that have launched retirement programs and a mandatory surcharge on sales that require buyers and consignors to contribute 0.5 percent of the price of a horse sold at auction. Also, in 2012, The Jockey Club added a $25 surcharge to its foal-registration fee to raise funds for aftercare efforts. Other funding is sought through voluntary donations. (DRF)

That is a nice beginning but they could do much more and should continue in our opinion to develop ways to raise money from within the industry itself.

Jane Allin

Jane Allin is a highly regarded and widely cited racehorse advocate and watchdog. Allin observes:

Aftercare is a conspicuous symptom of this industry’s morality. The callous treatment of cast-off racehorses is both shameful and abhorrent. A conscious undertaking led by those directly accountable for breeding and purchasing these horses would lend credence to any so-called effort to fund the necessary aftercare programs.

Not at the expense of the fans through increased ticket prices or other means of unloading the associated costs but rather by holding those who bring these horses into the world accountable — for their lives, until the end. Horses are not disposable goods, yet this vile industry does just that.

“We are in a modern era, and a lot of people have a need for immediate gratification,” Gallo said. “A lot of owners (today) aren’t in it for the love of the horse. When I talk (to people interested in partnerships) I tell them, ‘You don’t own a horse until its last race. You own a horse until it is properly placed in an accredited (aftercare program).” (BH, JA)

Viable Option

There is a workable solution that would benefit many.

Every State that races horses can take as little as .5% of its race related gambling profits and provide aftercare for virtually every racehorse that enters the industry there, including racehorses requiring long-term aftercare, plus have monies left over to prepare these racehorses for second careers.

Money spent on racehorse aftercare programs would boost State revenues, create jobs and perhaps begin to rehabilitate horse racing’s sagging reputation. (Private Source)

No one in horse racing’s hierarchy are interested. They are too blinkered by greed and callousness.

Wagering windows. Kentucky Derby. NJ.com.
Image Source: NJ.com.

Record Betting

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Churchill Downs reported that wagering from all sources on all the races on Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $209.2 million, a 9 percent increase over the 2016 total of $192.6 million and an increase of 8 percent over the previous record set in 2015 of $194.3 million (LC-J). Imagine what a tiny percentage of Kentucky’s revenues from a handle that size alone could do for Kentucky’s racehorses.

Yet horse racing says it doesn’t have the money to provide aftercare for horses who do not bring sufficient return on investment without help from the public.

Perhaps what halts the horse racing industry from investing in a comprehensive aftercare program is the specter of endless racehorses virtually destroyed within their short careers by the laundry list of debilitating drugs given them turning up on on their doorstep for healing.

Relatively sound racehorses do cross that barrier into rehabilitation and re-training. Tragically, however, the too broken and unvalued racehorses are carried off by the meat man.

Racehorse Owners — Take Action

We certainly do not mean to dishonor those who care and work hard for reform within the horse racing industry, but they must work harder and find a way to be heard.

Lobby your State to be the first to set up an aftercare program described above. Prove it can be done. Become a blueprint for the rest of the horse racing industry to follow.

International Forum on Racehorse Aftercare

Thoroughbred racing held its first international meeting in Washington D.C. May 17-18. Topic: Racehorse Aftercare. We wonder what Di Arbuthnot of Retraining of Racehorses in Britain thought of the American horse racing hooligans she was exposed to there. What an eye opener for her!

See coverage at the Paulick Report, “International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses Concludes First Meeting »

Conclusion

Of course this outward appearance of concern for the racehorse when they are done racing is a load of old rubbish especially in the U.S.

The subject of aftercare is only on this cruel and insidious industry’s radar in America because the spotlight is on horse racing due to the Triple Crown races when a large and unassuming audience is watching.

Recommended Topic

Concerning the International Forum itself, why don’t they talk about the one topic that all of horse racing has in common — sending its racehorses to a horrific death by slaughter when they are through with them. We invite this forum to sink its international teeth into that topic.

See Racing through the slaughter pipeline — Remember Ferdinand and Exceller »


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Jockey John Velazquez celebrates as he guides #5 Always Dreaming across the finish line in the slop to win the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)

Last Updated: 5/20/17 7:51 am EST