Friday, October 10, 2008

Tearing at The Cloak of Neutrality

A Wonderful blurb from the Paulick Report;


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

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:

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 theUnwanted 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.

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.

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
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.

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.

Copyright © 2008, The Paulick Report

No comments: