Friday, December 19, 2008

AAEP 'in bed" with Horse Racing Industry,...creates Task Force that, they say, puts the horses first;

But do they really give....

Oh yeah, sure they do care, somewhat. A horse has to be healthy to race and win money for them. Once it is apparent that a horse is "a looser" and not meant to race,.....thats when the slaughter part comes in, AND THAT was not even mentioned as an issue in their new "Task Force" recommendations. Not worthy of even a thought on the subject. Hummmmm.

Frum TheHorse.Com
by: Kimberly S. Brown, Editor

December 17 2008, Article # 13283

"We have a crisis in Thoroughbred racing," stated Scott Palmer, VMD, of New Jersey, a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and head of the AAEP Racing Task Force.
The AAEP Racing Task Force was conceived in Austin, Texas, at the organization's Focus meeting because of the country's outcry following the catastrophic injury of Eight Belles. The result of four months of furious work is two white papers that will be presented to the AAEP board in January for approval. One will be an internal white paper for the organization's members, while the other will be released to the industry with recommendations of how to put the horse first in racing.

At the AAEP Convention's Racing Forum on Dec. 6, the membership went into closed session to discuss the recommendations of the task force.

In a later interview with Palmer, he said the task force will make recommendations to the AAEP board on four areas:

societal changes and the public perception of racing;
the business model of racing, and particularly those aspects of the current business model that may not be in the best interest of the horse;
the owner/trainer/veterinarian relationship that is broken and needs transparency; and
medication, which he said is hugely important.
He said in this "crisis" environment numerous safety commissions or task forces have been created, which he said was good, but he added that the AAEP felt that a veterinary perspective was needed, one which was based purely on the health and welfare of the horse.

"What is good for the horse is good for racing."
--Dr. Scott Palmer
"We have to put the horse first," he stated. "The horse is what makes racing different from all other forms of entertainment.
"What is good for the horse is good for racing," he emphasized.

Palmer said while the AAEP doesn't have the power to make changes throughout the racing industry, the task force members felt the AAEP could provide support to the people in the industry who can make the changes.

"We strongly support the efforts of others, like NTRA and The Jockey Club Safety Committee; we believe what we've done (the recommendations they will offer) will work hand-in-hand to make racing safer for the horse."

He said welfare and safety isn't a new initiative for the AAEP. "The AAEP was formed by a group of racetrack practitioners in 1954; we've been working toward this for more than 50 years," he said.

He noted there's a lot of "finger pointing" going on right now in the racing industry, "and we need to use scientific knowledge to see the big picture."

Palmer said many in the industry have been consulted in developing the task force's recommendations, including The Jockey Club, HBPA, sales companies, and racetrack owners.

"A number of these (forthcoming) recommendations involve considerable expense," said Palmer. "We don't expect overnight compliance, but we believe we have the support" to make the changes happen. "We anticipate the cost of the recommendations will be an obstacle that we'll have to address."

For example, in some jurisdictions within the United States approximately $200 is spent for drug testing of a racehorse, while in Hong Kong $700 might be spent per horse for more thorough testing.

There is a need to upgrade security and test racing surfaces, he said.

Palmer said there is now an opportunity to make changes in the business model of racing to reduce racing injuries, particularly in the way that claiming races are conducted.

Palmer said most veterinarians provide superior care of racehorses; others have created problems. The task force recommendations will address those problems. However, he stressed that medication is not just a veterinary problem, but an industry problem.

Palmer posed the question: Why are racehorses medicated?

The answers are:

to prevent disease (such as vaccination and deworming);
to treat illness; to treat an injury;
to minimize the disruption of the training schedule (the horse is headed for a particular race); and
to "level the playing field" when the owner or trainer thinks someone else has an edge.
The last two categories are driven by the business model of racing, and restructuring needs to take place to make sure that veterinary treatments are done with the best interest of the horse in mind, he said.

"We must put the horse first," he emphasized.

He said owner education is an important piece of the puzzle to address the problems of racing. "It's a complex puzzle, and if you miss one piece, it won't work," he said. "For example, you can't have uniform (medication) rules if you don't have uniform testing and administration.

"We have a great story to tell, but we can't 'spin' our way out of this crisis; we know we have problems, and we will address them."
--Dr. Scott Palmer
"The role of media is important," he said. "We have a great story to tell, but we can't 'spin' our way out of this crisis; we know we have problems, and we will address them."
The task force recommendations will focus on Thoroughbred racing, but many of the recommendations do apply to Standardbred, Quarter Horse, and Arabian racing as well, with the knowledge that there can't be a "blanket" approach, since each industry has unique problems and needs. Palmer added that some of the same issues that are faced by the racing industry apply to other performance breeds as well.

The AAEP is planning to conduct a welfare assessment of other competitive disciplines (such as three-day eventing) to evaluate the need for veterinary recommendations, said Palmer.

"We need commitment in all areas; we need meaningful change" in the racing industry, concluded Palmer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

PoliTex as Usual: Texas Lawmaker Gets Perks from Gambling / Horse Racing Industry

Hot News frum BigMouth Broad Casting; Dec. 16th, 2008

Lawmaker got cabin from contributor

A powerful South Texas lawmaker who oversees the gambling industry — and is the subject of a wide-ranging corruption probe — quietly received the rights to a fishing cabin near South Padre Island from a family that's developing a racetrack in McAllen, records obtained by The Associated Press show.

Papers filed with the Texas General Land office show Joseph V. LaMantia III transferred a rare fishing cabin permit to state Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, in 2006, a year before the Texas Racing Commission gave final approval for Tesoros Race Park, in which the LaMantia family holds a major stake.

Neither Flores nor LaMantia returned phone calls from the AP. Flores' attorney, Roy Minton, said he was aware of the cabin but didn't believe it would hold any interest to Travis County prosecutors looking at Flores' relationship with the LaMantias as well as two convicted drug dealers from whom Flores acquired his Rio Grande Valley ranch.

One of the convicted felons, Roel Benavides, got a job with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality after Flores recommended him at the state agency, said Flores' attorney, Roy Minton. The TCEQ forced Benavides to resign in August after discovering he had lied about his criminal past, agency employment records show.

A probe began over discounted air travel Flores allegedly received from the LaMantias but has since widened to include Flores' land holdings. Minton has said he knows of no wrongdoing by Flores. Travis County prosecutors in Austin can examine allegations of misdeeds by state officials.

The fishing cabin, accessible only by boat, belongs to the state as part of a unique public-private partnership that allows people to acquire cabins on government-owned land along the Texas coast. There are only 413 state coastal cabins, which are acquired by permit and often held for years by those who hold them, officials said. Joe LaMantia III acquired one of the cabins, about 30 miles north of South Padre Island, in 1986, officials said. He transferred his cabin rights to Flores in August 2006, records show.

Flores paid a $325 permit transfer fee for the cabin, which measures 2,166 square feet, including a porch and outhouse, records show. Flores also has to pay $1,200 a year for the permit and can renew it every five years, records and interviews indicate.

LaMantia III is a manager with L&F Distributors, a family-owned Budweiser supplier for the more than 1,200-mile Texas-Mexico border region. He is also a stakeholder in Muy Buena Suerte Ltd., a limited partnership made up entirely of LaMantia family members. Muy Buena Suerte Ltd., which in English means "very good luck," owns 59 percent of Tesoros Race Park, a $23 million horse track approved for Hidalgo County, according to records filed with the Texas Racing Commission.

Tesoros Race Park received its final approval from the Texas Racing Commission in August 2007 and was scheduled to open for simulcast races in early 2009 with live racing to follow later in the year. But the city of McAllen, which would extend utilities to the track, has not received any permit applications. The family also owns a controlling stake in a racetrack planned for Laredo that was approved last year.

Flores, a colorful and combative lawmaker with close ties to House Speaker Tom Craddick, chairs the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee, which oversees gambling and liquor industries in Texas.

Regarding Benavides' TCEQ job, Minton said he didn't know if Flores was aware that Benavides had been convicted at least twice for drug-related crimes and had served several years in federal prison when the lawmaker agreed to vouch for him at the TCEQ.

"(Flores) either signed a letter or did something giving him a recommendation, but I mean he didn't get him the job," Minton said.

The AP requested emails sent to or from Benavides during his tenure at TCEQ, but officials said his account had been deleted and that his emails are "not recoverable."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NY Racehorse Retirement Stats

I have heard about "pensioned" or "retired" racehorses disappearing from the face of the earth, so I am wondering how many of these "so called" retired or pensioned horses are actually still around. Seems what is needed is someone (some org) to keep track of these horses even after they are "retired";


1 There were 1,845 race horses retired in 2007 by 1,108 owners living in
New York.
That equates to nearly 1.7 horses per owner that retired a horse.

2 Seventy-nine percent of the horses reported in the survey were retired in
New York
with the remaining 21 percent retired out of state. Less than 1 percent was
retired out of
country. Seventy-six percent of thoroughbreds and 84 percent of
standardbreds were retired
in New York.

3 Of the horses reported retired, 28 percent were still sound for racing.
Only 2 percent
were unsound and needed euthanizing. Thirty-one percent of thoroughbreds
and 24 percent
of standardbreds were still sound for racing.

4 Injury or lack of soundness and lack of economic viability were the
primary reasons
given for retiring race horses. Only 3 percent had reached the mandatory
retirement age and
11 percent were retired to breed. Forty-one percent of thoroughbreds and 39
percent of
standardbreds were retired due to injury or lack of soundness.

5 Over one-half of the horses that were retired had less than $2,000 spent for
retirement. Over $8,000 was spent of 16 percent of the horses. Fifty-five
percent of
standardbreds and 49 percent of thoroughbreds had less than $2,000 spent
for retirement.

6 Of the horses reported retired in 2007 by gender, geldings were of 46
percent, mares
were of 23 percent, fillies were of 21 percent, and colts were of 10
percent of the horses.
Standardbred geldings accounted for 50 percent of the standardbred horses
retired, while
thoroughbred geldings accounted for 43 percent of the thoroughbred horses

7 Of the horses reported by class last raced in, the primary races were
Allowance and
Claiming $4,999 and below. Only 1 percent raced in Claiming $50,000+ in the
last race.
Nine percent of thoroughbreds and 1 percent of standardbreds raced Claiming
$49,999 in their last race.

8 Seventy-three percent of the reported horses retired in 2007 had 2007
earnings of
less than $25,000. Only 3 percent of horses had earnings of
$75,000-$99,999. The 2007
earnings for thoroughbreds and standardbreds were significantly different.

9 Over two-thirds of the reported horses retired in 2007 had less than
$49,999 in
lifetime earnings. Horses with over $100,000 in lifetime earnings accounted
for 17 percent
of the horses. Twenty percent of standardbreds and 14 percent of
thoroughbreds had over
$100,000 in lifetime earnings

10 Over seventy percent of the reported retired horses were between the
ages of 3 and 6.
Twenty percent of standardbreds and 4 percent of thoroughbreds retired were
over the age of

11 Of the major networks used for placement, 54 percent arranged private
Other networks were of 17 percent of the networks used. Both standardbred and
thoroughbred owners listed private placement as the primary networks used
for placement.

12 Of the respondents perceiving there are buyers for retired horses, 51
percent agreed
and 26 percent disagreed. Also, 23 percent of respondents were uncertain.
There were no
significant differences between thoroughbred and standardbred owners.
- 2 -

13 Twenty-six percent of respondents were uncertain if they would take back
a horse
previously owned or bred by them. Twenty-one percent of respondents
strongly disagreed
with taking back a horse previously owned or bred by them. Forty-one percent of
thoroughbred owners and 39 percent of standardbred owners responded they
would take
back a horse previously owned or bred by them.

14 Of the horses taken back by owners after retirement, 93 percent reported
taking back
1-5 horses. Only 4 percent reported taking back more than 8 horses. Two
percent of
standardbred owners and 6 percent of thoroughbred owners reported taking
back more than
8 horses.

15 Forty-eight percent of those responding to the survey agreed they would
pay to retire
a horse. Twenty-five percent were uncertain. Thirty-three percent of
standardbred owners
and 21 percent of thoroughbred owners disagreed with paying to retire a horse.

16 Of respondents willing to pay to retire a horse, 44 percent would pay a
monthly fee
of $150-$200, 28 percent would pay a lifetime fee of $2,500, and only 1
percent would pay
a lifetime fee of $10,000. Fifty-four percent of standardbred owners and 36
percent of
thoroughbred owners would pay a monthly fee of $150-$200.

17 Sixty-five percent of respondents would support a voluntary payment fund.
Seventeen percent of respondents would not support a voluntary payment
fund. And
eighteen percent of respondents were uncertain. Seventy-one percent of
owners and 57 percent of standardbred owners agreed in supporting a
voluntary payment

18 Of those responding to the survey 43 percent would support a mandatory
fund. Thirty-seven percent would not support a mandatory payment fund.
Twenty percent
of respondents were uncertain. Forty-two percent of standardbred owners and
32 percent of
thoroughbred owners would not support a mandatory payment fund.

19 Of the respondents that would support a mandatory payment fund, 36 percent
would pay $5 per race start. Twenty-six percent of respondents would pay
$25 per race start.
Thirty-six percent of thoroughbred owners and 9 percent of standardbred
owners would pay
$25 per race start.
Of the respondents that would support a mandatory payment fund, 76 percent
would pay
1% or less of the winning purse. There were no significant differences
between thoroughbred
and standardbred owners.

20 Respondents were able to select all applicable responses, so the percent
response does
not sum to 100 percent. Of the respondents indicating who helps in finding
a home for their
retired horses, 54 percent reported the trainer helped. Forty-six percent
reported other
sources that helped retire the horses. Fifty-eight percent of thoroughbred
owners and 49
percent of standardbred owners indicated the trainer helped in finding a
home for

Monday, December 1, 2008

More on Magna's Slaughter Ban

Track policy seeks to protect horses

By Bethania Palma Markus, Staff Writer

Posted: 11/30/2008 09:29:03 PM PST

Leigh Gray, president of the non-profit Thoroughbred Rehab Center, with rescued mare Another Variety. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)ARCADIA -- Trainers and owners found to have sent injured or retired racehorses to slaughter will be banned from running or stabling horses at Santa Anita Park under a new policy from Magna Entertainment Corp., the company that owns the track.
Santa Anita President Ron Charles said the track hopes to ensure the safety of its racehorses by closely monitoring injured or retired horses and keeping dealers known to sell horses for slaughter off the property.

"It's not perfect, but I think it's a great first step, and it's something that's long overdue," he said. "If we know a horse is injured, we're doing our best to make sure when it leaves we have a commitment from the trainer and owner that it's not heading for slaughter."

Charles said the policy was entered into the track's horseman's agreement, which governs racing terms and conditions. Track officials plan to work with horse retirement and rescue organizations to help keep racehorses from grisly fates.

Owners also have been asked to donate a small percentage of winning purses toward racehorse retirement, Charles said.

No one has been banned from the track for violating the policy as of yet, Charles said.

Similar policies have been implemented by East Coast tracks such as Suffolk Downs.

The move comes after the demise of some of the world's racing legends, including champion stallions Ferdinand and Exceller, outraged racing fans.

Both horses earned millions of dollars on the track


and changed hands several times after the end of their racing careers but ultimately ended up in foreign slaughterhouses.

While the last U.S. horse slaughterhouse was closed in 2007, the Humane Society of the United States said 2003 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated about 10 percent of the equines slaughtered were thoroughbreds.

The Humane Society estimated nearly 20 percent of all thoroughbreds bred for racing eventually were slaughtered. But some in the business of rescuing the animals say the percentage is higher.

Horse meat is eaten in some European and Asian countries, but the practice is taboo in the United States.

Some said selling horses to slaughter is a dark side of an industry that over-breeds the animals in search of the next star racer.

Caroline Betts, president of Southern California Thorougbred Rescue, said while domestic slaughterhouses are now closed, she often finds former race horses at auctions known for selling to "killer buyers" or dealers that ship the animals to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.

"What typically happens in Southern California is horses are purchased very cheaply at auction," she said. "They're then resold to another dealer in New Mexico or Arizona and that person ships them to the border for the slaughterhouses."

Betts said the going price for a thoroughbred at some auctions can be as low as $200 or even less. More reputable auctions have raised the minimum price for horse sales to $500 to deter killer buyers, she said.

Many race horses can become riding, show, jumping or trail horses.

Leigh Gray, who runs the Thoroughbred Rehab Center in Bradbury, takes horses off the track, rehabilitates them, re-trains them and finds new homes for them.

Gray, a former exercise rider at Santa Anita and veterinary technician, has rehabilitated and placed hundreds of horses.

She currently is helping Super Strut, an 8-year-old gelding fresh off Santa Anita's track, overcome a leg injury. Gray said his owner wanted to ensure his well-being and turned him over to her nonprofit organization.

The big, gentle brown horse had 38 starts and won more than $500,000 on the race track.

"He'll make somebody a really nice riding horse or show horse," she said. "He needs to have his legs heal."

Rex Levi, 46, of Agoura Hills adopted a former race horse from Tranquility Farms, a Tehachapi-based rescue that specializes in thoroughbreds. He couldn't be happier with Mr. B, a 5-year-old gelding who raced as "Braggart."

"He's becoming a fine jumper, and we're having a blast," Levi said. "He's become a phenomenal horse and has far exceeded what I ever thought I'd get."

While many said the racing industry needs to do more to help its racetrack veterans, Charles said Santa Anita is taking steps.

"We need to do more to protect our athletes and our stars," he said. "It's really about public awareness and putting the trainers and owners on notice that we are taking this very seriously."

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