I went to work at the track in 1965 because of my abiding love for horses. No one can question my love for the animal.
However, there is a faction of society that does not love our game. These are the animal rights terrorists whose agenda is nothing less than the ending of racing altogether. They don't want us to eat cows, chickens or pigs, they don't want us to use mouse traps, and they don't want horses to be subjected to the inherently dangerous sport of racing.
Instead, horses should be treated as pets. They shouldn't be treated with medication for their aches and pains, they shouldn't be hit with whips and they should be given a lifetime home when their racing days are over at anybody's expense but the terrorists.
The animal rights terrorists are not interested in the thousands of jobs that racing provides and the sheer joy that it gives its participants. They believe racing is an anachronism that must be ended.
If they stated the above positions people would not respond to their radical agenda. So they nibble at the edges, getting naïve and frightened stakeholders in the industry to slowly accede to their demands. But have no doubt we are on the slippery slope toward the animal rights terrorists' ultimate goal. These people cannot be placated. They are true believers who are much more dedicated to their goals than the leaders of our industry are to ours. In that sense they are tougher than we are.
So we try to calm them down by suggesting that we should use cotton balls instead of whips. We try to get them to stop screaming by stating that one breakdown is unacceptable when we can never guarantee that to be true. We say that we better do what they want or a ballot referendum will end racing. We are forced to be defensive about the very existence of our great game.
Enter The Stronach Group. Maybe they have the most dangerous track in the country or maybe their fatalities are happenstance. Obviously we all want them to make their track as safe as possible. But we must admit that there is no way to guarantee that horses will not break down. To make that guarantee is to play directly into the hands of the animal rights terrorists.
The Stronach Group has presided over the death of California racing. What used to be the crown jewel of racing is now a laughing stock. Congratulations. They tried to appease the animal rights terrorists by implying that Lasix is somehow linked to breakdowns. Are you serious? And now, they have used Jerry Hollendorfer as a sacrificial lamb. This is such a cynical reaction that nobody in their right mind should accept it. This man is one of the great horsemen of all time and we should not stand by and let him be disgraced.
Is there no one to stand up for Mr. Hollendorfer? Are there no horseman's groups willing to defend our game? Are there no industry groups that will defend racing against the onslaught of the animal rights terrorists? Or are we cowering in the corner hoping no other horse breaks down lest we lose the game we love entirely? Is there any leadership in our industry that has any backbone at all?
Now is the time for people to stop apologizing about the greatest game in the world before it goes the way of elephants in the circus.
Alan Pincus is an attorney in Pennsylvania.
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