by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am

By Ray Paulick

Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in West Virginia has notified horsemen they will lose stalls and may be excluded from the track if any horses racing at Mountaineer end up at the Sugarcreek auction in Ohio, the Amish-run livestock sale where many horses end up in the hands of killer buyers and headed for slaughter facilities in Canada or Mexico.

The new policy appeared on a Tuesday overnight entry sheet at the Chester, W. Va., track. Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston, Mass., was a pioneer in instituting a policy to prevent horses going to slaughter auctions, and Magna Entertainment recently adopted a company-wide policy at its tracks.

Mountaineer also is instituting a ban on toe grabs in excess of two millimeters in height on the front feet. That policy takes effect Dec. 1.

Thanks to the Paulick Report reader who brought this new policy at Mountaineer to our attention.

 Copyright © 2008, The Paulick Report

Sign up for our Email Flashes to get the latest news, analysis and commentary from Ray Paulick

Visit the Paulick Report for all the latest news throughout the racing world

  • STJ

    Good for Mountaineer. I don’t think it can be a coincidence that the new policy was announced the day after Ted Arneault left as CEO and Robert Griffin took over. I hope this is a sign that Mountaineer’s new leadership will remain committed to racing and the horses who make it all work. Under Arneault it was all about revenue and Arneault’s ego, and track safety and horse welfare were low priorities.

  • […] admin . Excerpt: Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in West Virginia has notified horsemen they will lose stalls and may be excluded from the track if any horses racing at Mountaineer end up at the Sugarcreek auction in Ohio, the Amish-run … […]

  • Ruthie Roberts

    Great news, All tracks should get on this program. We all dislike Sugarcreek.

  • LCM

    Wonder why the Blood Horse hasn’t picked up on this important development?

  • jock4hire

    Way to go Mountaineer!! A big Kudos to the track in W. VA. for doing the right thing for all their racehorses!! GREAT JOB standing your ground!!! lj (jock4hire)

  • What wonerful news from a track that has supplied Surgarcreek auction and LeRoy Baker for too many years. we can only hope they will apply to rule to sending them to slaughter at any place not just Ohio. I lived in Chester WVa for many years in the 70’s , my husband was jockey there RLSmith. There has always been so much cruelty there and many a horse was blinded by frozen clods in winter racing. If ever a racetrack needs to turn a page, it is this one.

  • Excellent news. It’s time for the NTRA to step up and commend tracks that support a zero tolerance and start throwing their weight into the anti slaughter efforts, including the legislation.

  • of course it doesn’t go far enough, though – needs to be expanded to a zero tolerance antislaughter policy such as at Suffolk and the Magna tracks. But surely a good start – and IMO it singles out Sugarcreek because of the recent documented exposee of cruel practices there. Kudos to those who pressed that issue, which surely factored into the new policy. Thanks for keeping us (as always) updated with important developments affecting horse welfare.

  • Sarah

    I appreciate that tracks are making these good faith efforts. But what happens to the horses now? Where do they go, when they can no longer make money for trainers and owners? Creating these policies without making provisions for the horses seems terribly short-sighted. Now these folks can pat themselves on the back without having done anything significant for the horses.

    I wish that such efforts were put into finding ways to painlessly end horses’ lives rather than simply making them somebody else’s problem.

  • Snowbum

    This is very promising. It puts the NTRA in a strange position for being a noodle instead of standing tall against horse-slaughter at a crucial time.

    All tracks will have to officially stand against slaughter then find ways to protect off-track Thoroughbreds (OTTB) by tracking them for one year.

    Mountaineer should ban horsemen if one of their horses is found anywhere in the slaughter pipeline, not just at Sugarcreek. These poor horses are shipped as far away as Canada and Mexico so Sugarcreek doesn’t go far enough. Low-life horsemen can skip auctions and deal directly with feedlots and killers. Low-life dealers find enough value in spent, broken horses full of chemicals, to haul them out of the country, over-loaded in unfit and dangerous cattle trucks.

    A nationwide network of volunteers could be organized to track these OTTBs for one year. The Jockey Club could enter them in a database as a charitable service to tracks, ex-owners, rescues and volunteers at large. Horses that are humanely euthanized or die should have their death certified by veterinarians and entered in the OTTB database with location and cause, to help prvent the slaughter traffic.

    What will quarter horse racing do after all Thoroughbreds tracks ban slaughter? Will the AQHA increasingly stand out as the villain for promoting mass-breeding and defending slaughter?

  • Picksburg Phil

    We should be careful here and not lose control of our emotions. This is also a property rights issue. If you allow an outside party (society) to ban slaughter, what other use of your property will be next? Limit the number of times a horse can race? Distances? Weight carried? Use of whip, blinkers, etc.? Or racing, or even riding, at all. Who is going to carry the expense of unwanted horses? Hell, we allow the abortion – even late term – of humans, for God’s sake, that are unwanted. The whole animal rendering business is vulgar and disgusting, but as long as humans consume animal products, whether for sustenance or raiment, or the myriad of other products that use animal entrails, there is no logical reason to exclude horses from these uses.

  • Lin

    Thank you Mountaineer ….:) Great news but I have to address Phil here. Property rights issue bs…animal abuse, horses are butchered alive, the captive bolt don’t work on Equines they were made for cows. tha’s it bottom line, and now it’s time for horse owners to take responsibility for the ones they bring into this world stop over breeding and there won’t be un wanted. Horse slaughter can not be an option. Humans….abortion go on that site…this is about The Horse an American Icon made into hamburger for rich Europeans to eat.

  • Janine

    Phil you have it wrong. Mountaineer is exercising their property rights by ruling off a killer buyer. Why are you defending outside parties (Belgian meat traders) who are trying to force their values on American owners and racing fans?

  • april

    Absolutly agree that Mountaineer is exercising their property rights .. Too many times people scream their ‘rights’ are being violated because they dont like what someone chooses to do.

    and as far as QH races, when MEC instituted their ban, it effected the tracks, which hold QH meets as well as TB, I’d think that would put a dent in the QH races horses being sent to slaughter… Glad to see PEOPLE stepping up to do whats right since congress evidently wont.

    Hooray for mountaineer.

  • Noelle

    Good for Mountaineer! Let’s hope that the trend continues at tracks across the country and that the NTRA steps up, too.

    Sarah says that “creating these policies without making provisions for the horses seems terribly short-sighted.” Maybe it seems so to her but I completely disagree. The problem of unwanted horses hasn’t been solved thus far because the unwanted horses can be sent to slaughter. An industry-wide, national policy that provides humanely for unwanted horses will be devised only when it becomes absolutely necessary, and it will become absolutely necessary only when slaughter is no longer possible.

  • Terri

    Good for Mountaineer Race Track. It’s high time that people started taking responsible actions and that the horses don’t have to go through the inhumane and horrible slaughter process. I personally would like to see all of the tracks follow suit and take the zero tolerance approach to horse slaughter. And whoever said that it was evident that Congress was not going to act on this is so very right.. thanks for bringing that to light. Personal property rights? Come one now… you can junk a car but these horses are not cars and can very easily adapt to another career (as has been proven time and again). I think that they are worth more than 25 cents a pound or $50 a head .. I wonder if there is any hope for the Quarter Horse Assn. as it’s board of directors is only looking at the dollar value brought by new registrations and new membership fees by mass producing. I commend any track that supports the ban on horse slaughter!!

    Thanks Mountaineer for jumping on the band wagon and taking a stand!

  • Erin in Indy

    May be a bit too soon for praise…
    From the Alex Brown Racing Forum, in the “Horse Rescue Issues” thread (

    “Gail just called. They had a team of people at New Holland this morning to recover 5 TB’S from a ZERO slaughter tolerance track. They recovered all 5 and they are safe and headed to a TRF facility.

    During the process they found 5 more TB’S in the direct to kill pen. 2 are injured. One of the injured horses just raced at Mountaineer on October 24th. They have contacted Mountaineer and they are unwilling/unable to help.”

    Ray, please, can you out Mountaineer like you did Iavarone?!

  • Erin in Indy

    Update to the aforementioned, Mountaineer was contacted about these horses AFTER the Nov. 1 announcement…and New Holland isn’t any better than Sugarcreek.

  • AD

    You all finding TBs or QHs going to slaughter, in kill pens, etc. PUBLISH the horse’s name, where/when last race, last TRAINER, last OWNER OUT THESE SUCKERS in the Blood Horse, Thoroughbred Times, Daily Racing Form – PUBLISH – there is The Equine Humane Society in Nicholasville, Ky which will take these horses – they have a website, presently there are contacts at the tracks with stalls available to put these horses in – Trainer David Banks at The Thoroughbrd Center in Lexington has a stall in his barn for horses “given up ” – there are people out there willing to help – AND remember each horse found in a kill pen was put there by somebody OUT THEM PUBLISH run a list at the end of the racing shows on TV HRTV TVG point fingers w/race horses ban and/or take away trainers licenses not just stalls ban and/or take away owners licenses OUT OUT OUT

  • Mellony

    I am curious as to how the racing community plans to keep ex-race horses out of the killer pen and whom do you plan to blame if a horse eventually ends up there? Are you going after the trainer or the owner who raced the horse, even if they sold the horse months ago? It is not unusual for horses to change hands numerous times in just a few months and it seems unfair to hold a previous owner responsible for what the current owner is doing. Racehorses are purpose bred animals and when they can no longer fulfill that purpose they must find other employment. It is wonderful if they can be rehabilitated and be made useful as riding mounts, but what about the ones that are crippled or have behavior problems that eliminate that option?

    The rescues will quickly fill with the new horses coming to them with each racing season. I guess that the bright spot is that the number of broodmares and foals raised each year will decrease with the poor market. But just remember that fewer horses mean fewer owners, fewer jockeys, grooms or farriers needed, fewer meets, less feed bought and so on.

  • Erin

    Mellony: if there aren’t homes for them all, then humanely destroy them. Hanging them upside down with a hook in their spine while still alive should not be acceptable. The trauma of a creature as sensitive as a horse getting trucked packed in like sardines isn’t a reasonably acceptable outcome for these horses we have all created. A death filled with pain and fear is not euthanasia.

  • AD

    Erin – Please, what are the name’s of the newly recovered 10 horses found at slaughter – perhaps, there is always the chance they have former owners or trainers involved with who would be thrilled to assist in their placement, or perhaps a reader has cashed a big bet on one of them and would be happy to help, a former groom, the list is endless – these professional athletes have touched many hearts –

  • Erin in Indy

    AD: the people involved with saving these horses do not give registered names of the horses or owner/trainer info. It would be great to publicly shame them, however, that’s counterproductive only to the horses. Owners and trainers can send them to auction to be bought by kill buyers and get no attention. Letting a rescue intervene, or just allow them to buy, only to be “outted,” only makes them more reluctant to with rescues or individuals trying to keep them out of the slaughter pipeline.

    Alternately, if YOU are a breeder and want to try to ensure your horses never become at-risk for slaughter, submit your info to It’s a database of responsible breeders willing to take back their stock if unwanted.

  • Erin

    AD, I spoke too soon – some info is coming out. The rescuers are trying to secure funds to rehab these four, and I think are about only $187 short, if I’m reading the updates right. Visit for the whole story, pictures, and donation info, but here’s one of the five:

    GO GETA JOB 2002 GR/RO G, by WEKIVA SPRINGS 1991 — ONE YUM 1993
    by WATER BANK 1979

    Br-MCMILLIN BROS. & B(KY) 2008 11 0 0 0 $1,122
    Own-SILVA FERNANDO & Tr-SILVA FERNANDO 2007 25 1 1 3 $8,961
    Lifetime 48 1 1 4 $12,648 Turf 0 0 0 0 $0

    If you visit the Alex Brown Racing message board, you’ll see these stories of efforts and horses in need happening every day. But they shouldn’t be happening at a track who purports to be against slaughter…

  • Robin Varone

    This is excellent news. I am so happy that progress to save the horses that give so many away to make a living, is now being done. This will weed out the low end owners and trainers and hopefully keep the good ones who do right by their horses. It is a begining and something many have hoped would come for a long time. I stopped betting on TB’s when I learned the fate of so many. I want the racing industry to survive, just must do right by the horses, they should come first.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram