Thursday, March 20, 2014

New York Times - PETA Accuses Two Trainers of Cruelty to Horses

The following is a quote from an article titled PETA Accuses Two Trainers of Cruelty to Horses that appeared yesterday in the New York Times:
"Over a 26-year career, the trainer Steve Asmussen has built one of horse racing’s largest and most successful operations. He ranks second in career victories, with more than 6,700; has earned more than $214 million in purses, the fifth most in thoroughbred racing; and was recently included on the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame ballot. 
But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, after conducting an undercover investigation, has accused Asmussen and his top assistant trainer, Scott Blasi, of subjecting their horses to cruel and injurious treatments, administering drugs to them for nontherapeutic purposes, and having one of their jockeys use an electrical device to shock horses into running faster. As a result of its findings, PETA filed complaints with federal and state agencies in Kentucky and New York on Tuesday, saying Asmussen "forced injured and/or suffering horses to race and train." 
The undercover inquiry was conducted by a PETA investigator who worked for Asmussen for four months in the spring and summer of 2013 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y."
The full article can read at the following link:

Earlier today, the New York State Gaming Commission issued a press release at the following link:

The following is a quote from that press release:
The New York State Gaming Commission has undertaken a formal investigation into allegations of abuse and mistreatment of thoroughbred race horses in New York State by licensed individuals. The investigation was initiated after the Commission was provided undercover evidence of alleged violations by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). 
"The allegations and footage provided by PETA are extremely troubling and we are fully investigating the matter," said Robert Williams, Acting Executive Director of the New York State Gaming Commission. "PETA has offered to assist the Commission in its investigation, and we welcome such cooperation. We expect that all other parties involved will be forthcoming as well. If the results of our investigation find that licensed individuals violated the State's laws and rules, the Commission will consider all options."

Earlier today a horseplayer I know sent me a link to a nine minute PETA video that had been posted on Youtube.

I find the video troubling and very hard to watch. 

As a horseplayer, I support this game on a daily basis with my hard earned money in the pools. As a horseplayer I can't help but see things on a daily basis that suggest the game has a darker side. As a horseplayer, upon careful reflection, I realize I have been blocking this out because if you don't: How else can you justify your own involvement in the game?

I don't know which is more troubling to me: 

The video itself even though I realize it came from PETA and was likely edited to cause max effect? 

Or racing industry decision makers who fight at all costs the idea that racing has even one single problem that needs to be addressed?

Jeff Platt
President, HANA

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