PETA-backed racehorse welfare and safety bill introduced in California

Racehorse train on a California track. By DAVID JOLES / STAR TRIBUNE.

On Tuesday of this week, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) announced the introduction of AB 2177, the Equine Welfare and Safety in Horse Racing Act. If successful, AB 2177 would enact comprehensive reforms and improvements to racing and eliminate serious contributing factors to equine deaths on racetracks.

AB 2177 is co-sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

If the state is to continue to sanction horse racing and its wagering as a legal sport, addressing horse fatalities to the greatest extent possible needs to take precedence. AB 2177 tackles the practices that can lead to broken bones and death, including the misuse of medication, running horses with pre-existing injuries, utilizing unsafe racing surfaces, and more,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “I look forward to working with the state regulators and all those working in the horse racing industry to enact bold action to protect both horses and jockeys.”

Evidence from necropsies of horses that suffer catastrophic injuries show that the vast majority of racehorses had pre-existing injuries that went unnoticed. While trainers, jockeys, and racing stewards may try their best to prevent equine deaths, the authorized use of a variety of medications and the lack of procedures and technology to identify those injuries have become factors in the horse deaths.

AB 2177 mandates the use of CT scan equipment for screening horses; requires an onsite central pharmacy at the major tracks to control medication use and prevent abuse, and prohibits veterinarians from carrying medications on to the track; prohibits veterinarians from prescribing medications for anything other than the diagnosed condition; requires the suspension, pending an investigation, of a trainer’s license when a horse dies; authorizes the California Horse Racing Board to suspend or revoke a trainer’s license for repeat violations of medication regulations; and more.

See AB 2177 Bill Text at »

In the meantime, the Fund for Horses takes a somewhat blasé stance on the new California bill:

“American Thoroughbreds are bred to breakdown. That is where American horse racing really needs to start — with the cause, not the effect — if the industry is truly serious about eliminating the broken bodies and ongoing carnage of its horses.

This is typical welfarism. It keeps everybody in business.”

This bill may or may not be a kneejerk reaction fueled by the highly anticipated California Ballot Referendum aimed at shutting horse racing down altogether.

What do you say, dear Reader?

FEATURED IMAGE: Racehorses train on a California track. By DAVID JOLES / STAR TRIBUNE.

Fund for Horses Logo

‘Making some changes’; Horseplayers association to re-engage

Horses jump out the gate at Penn National racecourse.

PRESS RELEASE (Nov 26, 2019)

The Horseplayers Association of North America, a group that has tackled issues affecting bettors such as takeout rates and signal availability, is in a “fluid situation” as far as its future, says HANA President Jeff Platt.

The group, which had annually released horseplayer-centric track ratings since 2009, never updated for 2018 with the numbers based on everything from field and pool size to wager types. But Platt says HANA will be returning under a new iteration.

“We’re still active,” he said. “Even though we haven’t published anything there are still projects we are working on that we are going to release in 2020. We are going to be making some changes. You probably will see some new board member names on the HANA site. I don’t blame anybody for dropping out. I understand. You get tired of banging your head against the wall all the time and not getting anywhere.”

Membership to HANA remains free, with signups available at

“We are going to have a membership drive in 2020,” Platt said. “We‘ve taken a look at things that we were doing that have been successful. One of the things we’ve done in the past is we polled HANA membership, and we asked them, ‘How do you feel about odds that change after the bell, drugs, the current penalty system related to those that get caught cheating through the use of drugs, how do you feel about breakdowns?’”

Notably, HANA initiated a horseplayer boycott of Keeneland in 2017 in response to a takeout increase. In that instance, there was a response, with Keeneland partially rolling back those changes in 2018.

But Platt says that HANA has in the past addressed many issues at the forefront of racing’s current safety and public perception issues to no avail.

“We lag the rules changes that have taken place in every racing jurisdiction in the world except ours when it comes to race day meds,” he said. “I just shake my head because everything we’ve ever said or advocated for has fallen on deaf ears. To actually get the message across, if we had 50,000 members, it would be so totally different. Tracks, big tracks, would be listening to us about (raceday medications), takeout, safety or horse retirement.”

The newly formed Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, which includes representatives from organizations fielding 85% of U.S. graded stakes, does not address horseplayers. Platt said an organized HANA could be an asset for the coalition.

While Platt is accustomed to dealing with inaction from leadership at racetracks and in entire racing jurisdictions, he believes those entities can no longer brush racing’s problems aside.

“I am deathly afraid that maybe PETA will get the upper hand with California racing and put a ballot initiative out there and California racing will be made to go away,” Platt said. “And my real question is if that happens, will that wake up the rest of racing in North America to where maybe it will occur to them that adopting international medication standards might be in their best interest?”

Saying that “ it’s time for everybody to wake the hell up and actually make changes instead of just talking about them,” Platt promised that in addition to renewed activity in 2020, a new HANA project will be published soon.

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Image not filed with Press Release.


Sign Petition telling Texas A&M to stop abusing and sending horses to slaughter

COMMERCE, TX — Horses are being exploited and abused at Texas A&M University including at Texas A&M University-Commerce (TAMUC) reports One Green Planet.

Justice for Tina

According to a petition on Care2 written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a horse by the name of Tina was brutally shot to death after being impregnated when she was suffering from a severe case of painful laminitis. Her foal was removed from her body and used for “educational” purposes at the school. (See Image. WARNING-GRAPHIC).

Reports showed that Tina’s laminitis had been neglected for so long that the pedal bones in her feet had “rotated through the soles of her feet,” causing “debilitating pain.”

It was also established Tina was not healthy enough to be impregnated.

This egregious cruelty was exposed by a whistleblower. Read more and sign Petition »

Horse Slaughter

Additionally, TAMUC has been known to sell horses online and send them to animal auctions, where their destiny is an almost-certain trip to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered.

Sign the Petition

If you love horses and are saddened by TAMUC’s treatment of them, please take a moment to sign this petition addressed to the university asking them two things: to instate a zero-tolerance policy for neglect and abuse of their horses, and to stop selling horses online and at auctions, where they are almost always purchased to be slaughtered.

Social Media

Shame them publicly on Twitter. Tweet them using @TAMUC. Example: I just signed the Petition at re horrible horse cruelty @TAMUC. It will also raise awareness.

See also their Facebook page at

Texas A&M and Horses

The Department of Animal Science Horse Center at Texas A&M University supports the teaching, research and extension efforts of the faculty and students within the Department of Animal Science. The Horse Center breeds and sells horses throughout Texas, giving students a hands-on approach to the horse industry from breeding to management to marketing.

Texas A&M University–Commerce is a public research university located in Commerce, Texas. With an enrollment of over 12,000 students as of fall 2016, the university is the third largest institution in the Texas A&M University System.

Source: Texas A&M University’s website.

Headshot of a horse at Texas A&M. From their website.

5/10/17, 3:07 am

National uniform medication program gets a push

Thoroughbred racehorse Nehro. By Rob Carr, Getty Images.

TOM LaMARRA, reporting for The Blood-Horse reports:

The National Uniform Medication Program wasn’t on the agenda at the recent American Horse Council convention, but progress on that front was addressed during forums and in conversations among attendees.

State-by-state adoption of model medication rules and the companion multiple medication violation penalty system continues around the country.

During the AHC National Issues Forum June 24 in Washington, D.C., New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association president Rick Violette said he’s optimistic about the industry despite a declining foal crop and decreases in pari-mutuel handle. He noted the earlier banning of anabolic steroids on race day, as well as progress on racehorse aftercare and the National Uniform Medication Program as reasons for optimism.

“There are really good things going on in racing, but we forget about them or leave them in mid-sentence,” Violette said. “Eighty-eight percent of national handle is committed to (uniform medication rules). There are a few major racing states that need a kick in the butt, but we’re light years ahead of where we were.”

Violette suggested not enough is being done in the industry to show progress on the medication front, and also hinted at the belief by some that individuals in the industry may have helped push the controversial undercover barn investigation performed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals last year.

“What has got to stop is this railing against the industry,” Violette said. “We constantly stop to shoot ourselves in the foot. It’s not OK to constantly go out there and aid and abet the enemy. (Industry) leaders need to pull together and march to the same drum.”

Scott Wells, president and general manager of Remington Park Racing & Casino in Oklahoma, said he has spoken to owners who pay $1,800 in veterinary bills every time their horse races. Though the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission has thus far opted not to pursue the National Uniform Medication Program, Wells urged every jurisdiction to do so.

“That’s just a crime,” Wells said of expensive vet bills for pre-race medication. “Owners end up leaving the sport. People will feel better about owning horses when they don’t feel that they are being beaten by cheaters.”

Another forum panelist, American Association of Equine Practitioners president Dr. Jeff Blea, also commented on uniform medication.

“We’re closer than we’ve ever been,” he said. “It’s good for the industry and good for the horse.”

These people are incredibly, redundantly unbelievable. We have been listening to this rhetoric for more than a decade. And it was going on long before we started watching them. Meetings. Studies. Databases. Talk and more talk. But no forward movement.

What surprises me is how surprised they are that absolutely no one believes them. Why should we? If you were to handicap this bunch getting a win of any kind in cleaning up the horse racing industry, you would have to pick them as no hopers. If you could even could get a bet on. No doubt they would scratch before they got to the gate. Just like they did with the plan to race two-year olds Lasix free in the Breeders Cup.

We would love to believe them. Have tried to believe them. And have given up.

But light years ahead? Really? Closer than they have ever been? In what way for heaven’s sake?

I am sure the industry would love for people to stop mentioning the Peta/Asmussen horse abuse accusations exposed in the New York Times in March of this year. So, does this mean that horse racing is done with this?

What other horse-related sport would act in such a cavalier fashion in the face of such cruelty, or even a hint of it? Oh, yes. The Tennessee Walking Horse soring folks. They can give horse racing a run for its money.

Remember Nehro.

Featured Image: Nehro, center, the 2011 Derby runner-up, died last year. PETA recorded discussions of his foot problems. Credit Rob Carr/Getty Images