Victory for the Horses?

Seth Victor

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a Republican governor in a traditionally blue state, and an unapologetic brash mover and shaker in Trenton, judiciary and legislature be damned.  He has been making headlines this week following his announcement that the State will essentially take over Atlantic City and other entertainment facilities. This move is intriguing for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the property and land use suits that will inevitably arise from it, since there will be a state takeover of the casinos, while potential privatization of the state managed sports arenas. Having been to Atlantic City, I’m happy for action that will make the place a more desirable attraction, but I am concerned about the impact Christie’s decision will have on the horses.

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Racing “At” (Not “To”) the Airport

MIAToday, I learned that county officials would like to install slot machines in Miami International Airport (MIA).  Generally, I disapprove of slot machines; they embody all the bad about gambling (anti-social, no skill involved & you can’t beat the house) and none of the good (skill involved, you can beat the house, and it’s social).  However, the thing that makes this issue blawg-worthy lies with the Florida law that only permits slots at places where there is quarter horse racing.

That’s right, in order to have slot machines at MIA, there must also be horse racing.  One would think that would end the matter — it’s a ridiculous law, but it’s the law nonetheless, and horse racing and airports do not mix.  That’s what one would think but . . . Not so much.

County officials are currently considering a plan to hold horse races in the airport’s employee parking lot.  I kid you not.  Of course, holding races in the employee parking lot (the law requires 20-40 per year) would raise a host of problems — not least of them where employees would then park.  Nevertheless, officials, seeing the $17 million/year in revenue that slots will supposedly pour into county coffers, push on undeterred.  They are also negotiating with other tracks to hold the airport’s races there — whatever that means.

If this goes through and MIA starts having races in the parking lot, I have some other great ideas.  Cock-fighting in the VIP lounge?  Canned hunting in baggage claim?  I also think the security area would make a great CAFO.  If any airport officials read this blawg, let’s talk asap; we need to get in front of this thing.

–David Cassuto

The Underbelly of Horse Racing

8bellesSummer Bird won the Preakness yesterday.  So, perhaps now would be a good time to revisit the world of thoroughbred racing (Luis first posted about it here).

A Few Basic facts:

– Horse racing is a $4 Billion industry

– racehorses weigh over 1000 pounds, but have been selectively bred to have smaller legs – you do the math

– over 3000 horses have died at the track in the last five years

(read more here)

The most prevalent race horse injuries that result from the actual race are bowed tendons, knee injuries, bucked and split shins, and various other bone fractures. These injuries are usually critical, often ending in euthanasia (more here).

From PETA’s website:

“Finding an American racehorse trained on the traditional hay, oats, and water probably would be impossible,” commented one reporter.

There are trainers pumping horses full of illegal drugs every day,” says a former Churchill Downs public relations director.

Which drugs are legal varies from state to state, with Kentucky holding the reputation as the most lenient state.

According to the The New York Sun, because “thoroughbreds are bred for flashy speed and to look good in the sales ring … the animal itself has become more fragile” and that “to keep the horses going,” they’re all given Lasix (which controls bleeding in the lungs), phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory), and cortiscosteroids (for pain and inflammation).

The trainer of Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, openly admits to giving his horses Winstrol, a steroid that is illegal for equine use in 10 states, although not in the three that host the Triple Crown. Before it was banned in Pennsylvania, nearly 1,000 horses were tested for steroids and more than 60 percent tested positive.

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In light of the above, I could do with fewer equine encomia and more oversight and regulation of the industry or — better still — less of the industry.

–David Cassuto

h/t Joe Edgar