by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am

By Ray Paulick


When the Judiciary Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives held a markup hearing on Sept. 17 to discuss H.B. 6598, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008 that would ban slaughter and criminalize the transportation of horses for the purpose of having them slaughtered for human consumption, a letter from National Thoroughbred Racing Association president and CEO Alex Waldrop said his organization took a neutral position on H.B. 6598 despite supporting previous anti-slaughter legislation.

Waldrop's position statement, read into the record by Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, outraged a number of prominent Thoroughbred industry participants, including Pin Oak Stud's Josephine Abercrombie, who wrote a letter signed by more than 40 individuals that was sent to the leadership of the Judiciary Committee stating that the NTRA did not speak for them on the issue. The Judiciary Committee passed the legislation on Sept. 23 and sent it to the full House.

On Oct. 3, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) referred the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act to the Agriculture Committee, giving that committee until Jan. 3, 2009, to take action on the bill. Since the 110th Congress has adjourned, the bill will not pass unless it comes up during a lame duck session, which is highly unlikely.

Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and ranking Republican Goodlatte both have been recipients of contributions from the NTRA PAC, most recently receiving $5,000 for their 2008 campaigns. Peterson is a member of the Congressional Horse Caucus and Goodlatte has been a strong ally of the NTRA's lobbying efforts concerning Internet gambling and tax incentives for breeders. Goodlatte has been an opponent of slaughter legislation. (Abercrombie, incidentally, is a “champion” level NTRA Horse PAC donor, giving $5,000.)

In the wake of the Judiciary Committee's action on anti-slaughter legislation and the NTRA's neutral position (the American Horse Council is also neutral), Paulick Report readers suggested we contact other major Thoroughbred industry associations and businesses to see if they have taken a position on the issue of slaughter and on the specific legislation (H.B. 6598).

Listed alphabetically by organization, here is what we learned:

ASSOCIATION OF RACING COMMISSIONERS INTERNATIONAL: According to RCI president/CEO Ed Martin, the RCI “normally does not take positions on pending legislation in Congress and has not been asked by any of its members to address the issue.”

BREEDERS' CUP:  Greg Avioli, president/CEO, said the Breeders' Cup “has not issued a formal policy statement on the slaughter legislation before Congress. However, it is the strong consensus of our board that slaughter is inhumane and any and all reasonable options other than slaughter should be pursued. In furtherance of this position, proceeds from this year's Championships will go to multiple retirement organizations.”

CHURCHILL DOWNS INC. Officials did not reply to requests for a position statement. Churchill Downs Inc, created the Greener Pastures program in conjunction with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and supports other retirement and retraining programs.

FASIG-TIPTON: Did not reply to requests for a position statement. Under the leadership of the late John Hettinger, Fasig-Tipton's majority shareholder, the company created Blue Horse Charities to offer support to various retirement and retraining organizations. Hettinger was the industry's leading anti-slaughter advocate.

JOCKEY CLUB: Spokesman Bob Curran gave no position on H.B. 6598 but said the official breed registry “is opposed to the slaughter or processing of Thoroughbreds for consumption by humans or animals. This includes the sale and/or transportation of Thoroughbreds for slaughter or processing for consumption by humans or animals.” The Jockey Club is a member of the Unwanted Horse Coalition.

KEENELAND ASSOCIATION: Did not reply to requests for a position statement. Keeneland and its foundation have supported Thoroughbred retirement and retraining organizations, including the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Rerun.

KENTUCKY EQUINE EDUCATION PROJECT: A statement from executive director Patrick Neely said: “It has been a topic of discussion in some of KEEP's industry working groups but no formal position has been taken at this time.”

KENTUCKY THOROUGHBRED ASSOCIATION: Did not reply to requests for a position statement. KTA lists several Thoroughbred retirement organizations on its Web site.

MAGNA ENTERTAINMENT (owns Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Laurel, Pimlico, Lone Star Park, Remington Park, Golden Gate Fields): Does not have a position statement on slaughter or current anti-slaughter legislation, according to an official with the company. OCT. 10 UPDATE: MAGNA INSTITUTES NEW POLICY. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

NATIONAL HORSEMEN'S BENEVOLENT AND PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION: CEO Remi Bellocq said he could not provide a yes or no answer to whether the organization supports a ban on slaughter or H.B. 6598 because of the diversity of the 30 HBPA affiliates across North America. “Our horsemen and horsewomen fall across the spectrum on this issue,” Bellocq said. The National HBPA is a member of the Unwanted Horse Coalition. Bellocq said “this shouldn't be defined necessarily as a ‘slaughter for human consumption' issue but, rather, an ‘unwanted horses' issue. To a person, if given a choice, horsemen would much prefer finding a home and/or second career for their horses as opposed to slaughter. Unfortunately, no matter what legislation (state or federal) is passed, the real problem – the number of unwanted horses – will still exist. To stem the number of unwanted horses, education and awareness are a key first step to successfully bring the number down.

“To that end, in 2005 National HBPA was one of the founding members of the Unwanted Horse and we continue working actively within the UHC to better educate horsemen about the options including, should all else fail, humane euthanasia. The UHC has set-up a big tent under which all the wonderful horse rescue programs can work together. If we truly made an industry-wide effort to centralize, for example, an ex-racehorse outplacement / adoption program, I am convinced many could be placed with willing owners. Why not, for instance, establish a national site modeled after Already, organizations like the Illinois HBPA have created similar approaches with success (see Illinois HBPA's Horses Wanted link.”

NEW YORK RACING ASSOCIATION: Did not reply to requests for a position statement. NYRA offers support to the Exceller Fund, which helps place retired horses and has supported the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

THOROUGHBRED HORSEMEN'S ASSOCIATION: CEO Alan Foreman said the organization has not taken a position on the current legislation. “There will be a new Congress in January and we will visit the issue then,” Foreman said.

THOROUGHBRED OWNERS AND BREEDERS ASSOCIATION:  Position statement from TOBA president Dan Metzger: “We are categorically opposed to the slaughter of Thoroughbreds, and urge all those involved in the Thoroughbred industry to support rescue and adoption efforts and to work together to find humane means of dealing with the problems presented by Thoroughbreds no longer suitable for racing or breeding.” Metzger did not indicate whether or not TOBA has a position on H.B. 6598. TOBA is a member of the Unwanted Horse Coalition and is affiliated with Thoroughbred Charities of America, which supports numerous horse retirement and retraining operations.

THOROUGHBRED OWNERS OF CALIFORNIA: Did not reply to requests for a position statement. TOC's Web site offers advice to a horse's “last owner” and pushed for a first-of-its-kind charitable fund, the Calfornia Retirement Management Account  (CARMA), to solicit and distribute purse checkoffs for retirement and retraining programs. Transport for slaughter is illegal in California.

THOROUGHBRED RACING ASSOCIATIONS: Executive vice president Chris Scherf said the organization of North American racetracks has adopted no official position.



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  • Maria D

    One of the main problems is the over breeding of the animals. When are people going to realize this? It should be quality over quantity. I volunteer with a Standardbred Adoption Organization and I adopted my boy in 2007. These animals can have an amazing life as pleasure horses! Until over breeding is curbed, the slaughter issue will continue.

  • jo’s bud

    Brilliant Ray…..THANKS FOR THE SURVEY……just an example of the ABC groups who will not stand up to protect what should be their main concern, their most prized athelete – THE HORSE. If the thoroughbred industry would actually take a stand and go to Washington – We could stop this brutal practice NOW.
    But, while some of these groups will give lip service to the notion of anti-slaughter, they do nothing, or sometimes even worse, working behind the scenes with the opposition.

  • Faith

    This is what I like to see. “I echo brilliant.”

    I hope to hell you are shaking up these oragnizations that have never had to answer to anyone other than trade magizines and an inquestive mind or two that they know isn’t going anywhere.

    The PR is the best thing to happen to this industry since the Sheiks first flew into town.

  • Homestretch II


    Thanks for doing the homework that we all should have been doing ourselves. Your BLOG is going to go to every elected official that I can contact and to every horse organization listed on the Net. Big Adda Person to Suffolk Downs, for showing fearless leadership on this issue. The dog certainly did not eat your homework. Echo number two: “Brilliant”

    Homestretch II

  • Pattie Benedix

    I do not understand why MORE Horse Organizations and individuals do not stand up and support the Anti-Horse Slaughter Bill. Especially when they are making lots of money from the Thoroughbred Racing Industry. I live in area that has been hard hit with the drought & high hay prices, but we the horse owners provide and take care of our horses. It disgust me that people are so weak minded and won’t speak up about the cruelty of Slaughtering God’s Greatest Creation. GREEDY HUMANS, you will face God someday. Hope you have a good excuse for what you have allowed to happen. Thank you Ray, for bringing this to our attention. Perhaps we can bombard these organizations with our letters & e-mails protesting Horse Slaughtering !! I know I will :)

  • what a bloody shame that so many of these groups take no position or failed to respond. OY!

  • ~Connie

    The least these industry “leaders” could do for the animals at the center of their business and livelihood ~ animals who give their lives on the track to the tune of about 1,000 track fatalities a year ~ is to promise the horses they’ll never have to meet their end at the slaughterhouse.

  • F. Weldon

    UNBELIEVABLE! These racing organizations are stating that they are FOR SLAUGHTER by not taking a public stand against it.

    They don’t have the guts to come out and state publically that they don’t want this practice to stop, so they say nothing at all!

    They are saying, “To hell with the horses! We don’t care if they are only stunned while having their throats slit while hanging upsidedown from a chain, while their legs are amputated before they are even dead!”

    This is sickening! These people don’t have the testicular fortitude to watch a video of a horse being slaughtered, and they hide behind their white picket fences and have cocktail parties before jetting off to their next race.

    SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on the racing industry! What a pathethic lot you are!

  • Steve Kweskin

    So many organizations in our industry are gutless and care more about the money than the horses. It is obvious by their non-positions on the horse slaughter question. How do they expect the public to support racing knowing that the horses they watch on the track today might be on the slaughter-house floor tomorrow. Shameful.


    While refusing to take an official stand on anti-slaughter legislation, many of the organzations above offered up the information that they support or are affliated with various thoroughbred retirement and retraining programs like the Exceller Fund, ReRun and the TRF.

    I’m curious. . . Mr. Paulick, maybe you can help find these answers.

    1. How much money do these programs need to operate for a year, and how much of that support actually comes from the thoroughbred industry, as opposed to non-industry private donations?

    2. How much money has each of the organzations above given to these programs and what percentage of their total operating budget does that represent?

    3. What specific plans do the organizations above have to increase their support for these programs?

  • Snowbum

    Agree with #8 and all. A horse racing organization without a position regarding horse slaughter at best means “we don’t give a damn” but are probably pro horse-slaughter eunuchs. It is easy to list horse retirement facilities on a website to appear compassionate and honorable. How much these organizations donate each year to Thoroughbred equine rescues?
    Ray, you should compare what these racing organizations spend on good time for themselves, also how much they donate to the pro-slaughter AHC vs. what they donate to equine charities to rescue and repair discarded racing and breeding horses, to heal, rehabilitate, retrain, adopt, retire, rescue from feedlots and kill auctions, including pregnant mares and mares with foals, where horses are sold by the pound and on humane euthanasia.

    The AHC is pro-slaughter. The UHC is controlled by the AHC.

    When horses become worthless to owners and trainers, often after suffering an injury, they may be denied proper veterinary care, and all too often end up in the brutal hands of killers. This along with sending racing and breeding horses to slaughter must end.

  • Patty W.

    If all of these organizations support retirement funds and horse rescues, how come more than 25% of the horses slaughtered are TB’s? What a lot of baloney. And they wonder why racing keeps losing fans. I have been a part of raising money for several TBs to save them from slaughter. It is beyond shameful when the fans have to save the athletes of the sport at the end of their career. I hope they all find some guts and stop thinking about the money. But then earning another dollar is far more important to them than standing up to the responsibility they have for the horses’ welfare.

  • Organized, funded retirement for racehorses is not only the right thing to do. It is also the best business and marketing move that racing can make at this time. I am encouraged to read that proceeds from the Breeders Cup Championships will be going to this cause!
    Diana Pikulski

  • danell

    Ferdinand. I like to think his ghost hovers over the mealy industry mouthpieces as they spout new fan recruitment endeavors.

  • LCM

    GDMII asked the important question

    “HOW MUCH DO THEY DONATE?”….I know it’s a pathetic, token amount.

    Ray, I think you need to keep the picture up on your website of the horse facing the killing floor. People need to look into his/her eyes….. God only knows who owned that particular horse, but they weren’t there when his/her time had come, were they? I admit, I have never brought myself to watch the videos. Just the still photos are enough to bring me to tears.

  • Carlene Lee

    After reading this article and having only recently become aware of “the dirty little secret ” of slaughtering thoroughbreds, I find it appalling that leaders in this industry have no position on this horrific subject. Those who overbreed these beautiful COMPANION animals, earn their living from, or exact their pleasure from these georgeous creatures, and then turn their heads on the issue of slaughter are no better in my eyes than sleazy owners of puppy mills that have been raided by law enforcement officers. I always wonder why a blind eye is turned to horse slaughter for human consumption when millions of cats and dogs are euthanized every year due to overbreeding; yet our “cultured” society would NEVER offer for sale this available “meat” to cultures who would partake of it. That would be a disgusting act for our “high-class” society! We are civilized people; and our horses, along with any other COMPANION animals, should not end up on the dinner plates of those who would evidently eat anything. Horses are not bred for human consumption, and this should NEVER be an option for those who will not fulfill their obligation as owners. When we look out over a field of mares and foals or watch a group of fillies or colts fighting for the lead at the finish line, believe me the thought of those creatures on our dinner plates never comes to mind. The general public is now aware of how sick this industry really is, and to survive, it better heal itself.

  • Pattie Benedix


    Feed me, give me water, and care for me, and when the day’s work is done, give me shelter, a clean bed and a wide stall.
    Talk to me. Your voice often substitutes for the reins for me.
    Be good to me and I will serve you cheerfully and love you.
    Don’t jerk the reins and don’t raise the whip.
    Don’t beat or kick me when I don’t understand you, but rather give me time to understand you.
    Don’t consider it disobedience if I don’t follow your commands.
    Perhaps there is a problem with my saddle and bridle or hooves.
    Check my teeth if I don’t eat, maybe I have a toothache.
    You know how that hurts.
    Don’t halter me too short and don’t dock my tail……
    It’s my only weapon against flies and mosquitoes.
    And at the end, dear master, when I am no longer any use to you,
    Don’t let me go hungry or freeze and please don’t sell me.
    Don’t give me a master who slowly tortures me to death and lets me starve, but rather be merciful and take care of me,
    by letting me run and enjoy a warm pasture.
    Let me request this of you and please don’t regard it as disrespectful
    if I ask it in the name of HIM who was born in a stable like me.

  • Lin

    Horse slaughter can not be an option, it is animal abuse, from the day they are left at an auction or feedlot, transporting them thousands of miles, on top of each other with no food no water. Then the slaughter house, hit with a captive bolt made for cows, don’t work on horses, their brains are set too far back…..USDA and AVMA testified before Congress that the horses are only stunned for 30 seconds and are hung up by their back leg alive. Mexico is worse, stabbed in the spine till they drop. Still alive for the start of the butchering process. There are videos of this, news articals, investigations about how horses are being bred to supply Europe horse meat, it’s a big money making disgusting business. It is still going on every single day…. Save our Horses.

  • Magna released a statement this morning:

    Magna Entertainment Corp. (“MEC” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: MECA – News; TSX: MEC.A – News) announced today that it has recently formally adopted a company-wide policy promoting the humane treatment of racehorses. Under the policy, any trainer or owner stabling at an MEC facility who directly or indirectly participates in the transport of a horse from an MEC facility to either a slaughterhouse or an auction house engaged in selling horses for slaughter will be prohibited from having stalls at any MEC facility. The policy also applies to any actions related to the transport of a horse from an MEC facility where the ultimate intended result is the horse’s slaughter.

  • Diana Baker

    Thank you Ray for getting all of this information together. Any group that “officially” takes no position on slaughter is taking a pro-slaughter position in my opinion. They’ll either stand up for the horses and offer them the protection they need, and deserve, or they won’t. The news from Magna is another positive step in the right direction for the horses. The question remains though, have the tracks offered these horses any viable alternatives?

  • Here is your answer to who will care for so many “un-wanted” horses;

    Wont you join our “Friends of Equines FOES of Equine Slaughter Industry Accountability Campaigns?”

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