“What About the Jobs?”

In a recent Paulick Report article on the annual meeting of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), it was revealed that “The Stronach Group, TOC and [the] California Thoroughbred Trainers separately hired crisis management consultants,” and that “the Breeders’ Cup and Keeneland have retained the same crisis management firm that helped the NFL deal with the concussion crisis in football.” First, this speaks to the palpable desperation – “crisis management” – of an industry exposed. But of more import, later Paulick gives us a window into their strategy:

“One thing [TOC CEO] Avioli said he’s learned is that ‘the argument that horses love to run doesn’t work’ in swaying public opinion. Promoting therapeutic aftercare programs…is a stronger message, he said, as is putting forth the economic importance of the horse industry in supplying jobs for a largely Hispanic workforce.”

Yes, “love to run” is falling a bit flat these days. Perhaps because the public is becoming clued in to the unremitting confinement to a tiny 12×12 stall? Or perhaps it’s those ubiquitous whips that prompt any running that is allowed to occur?

More shameful, and surprising (stupid) in that Paulick and the racing people would allow it to become public, is the plan to (further) exploit the industry’s low-page workers and, more shameful yet, their ethnicity. Ah yes, we mean-spirited activists are out to take jobs away from hard-working “hispanics.” We must, then, be racist. Shameful doesn’t quite cover it – obscene is more apt.

Look, as I’ve written, I respect hard work, especially among the recently-arrived to this country; this is not personal. But in the end, this is a moral matter – animal cruelty – and jobs should not be a part of that conversation. That said, this industry is already in decline, with a net loss of 35 racetracks just since 2000. Where did those workers go? Perhaps on to other jobs? Imagine that – worker mobility in a capitalist society. In addition, all those erstwhile track-properties became something else – with attendant new job opportunities. Let’s look at one.

When 75-year-old Hollywood Park outside of Los Angeles closed in 2013, there was great angst. What about the lost jobs, racing people asked? Well. According to a CurbedLA article from last September, “When fully finished, the new Hollywood Park will be made up of 2,500 units of housing, 620,000 square feet of retail space, a ‘social hub’ with a ‘culinary marketplace’ and ‘giant outdoor movie screen,’ a 300-room luxury hotel, and a revamped Hollywood Park Casino.” And get this, an NFL stadium, to boot. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Now obviously not all tracks sit on as valuable, or as large, a plot of real estate, but you get the idea. Redevelopment means new opportunities.

The redevelopment of properties is, of course, just one manifestation of our free-market system at work. That system has seen myriad, yes myriad, businesses and industries come and go through our nation’s history. As demands and appetites change, as new technologies are born, our economy adapts. One of the more famous examples also involved horses: the horse-and-buggy being supplanted by the automobile – which, as we soon found out, came with a plethora of new (good) jobs.

In addition, to help prepare the backstretch communities for a post-racing life, we fully endorse job retraining – at the industry’s expense. Follows is a list of the top-earning trainers in 2018. The numbers speak for themselves:

Yes, retraining of their mostly minimum-wage workforce is the least these millionaires, in this multi-billion-dollar industry, can do. But in the end, I return to where I started: The preservation of jobs, no matter the number, no matter the quality, should not come at a (continued) cost of cruelty and killing. While it is dubious that Gandhi ever actually said the following, the words, whoever first uttered or wrote them, remain no less true: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

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  1. I’m Latino and there are so many better paying jobs than working in the horse cruelty industry. More importantly, the Hispanic quoted in the article should look at his personal morals versus a cry of a racism. The employee has many opportunities to better himself in an ethical manner while each horse has zero opportunity to be free from abuse.

  2. Other facts re:development of track properties no matter where they are located is this:
    It’s CONTINUOUS year-round REVENUE for local governments NOT handouts at the expense of taxpayers and casino profits.
    Shutting down racino’s such as PA or NY would result in BILLIONS to local government coffers in turn resulting in jobs in the education and infrastructure field to name but a few.
    This ridiculous argument, no matter how morally nauseating it is, claims that no other business can generate jobs like horse racing or at least it sounds that way.
    It’s time to dismiss their unfounded arguments based on stupidity and counting on the ignorant public to actually believe it while probably filling up politicians pockets to rip off their constituents.
    Horse racing will be dramatically reduced and will eventually shut down.
    It will take time, but it’s well on its way.

  3. Beautifully written and crystal clear! Thanks for giving us advocates such succinct and sensible talking points!

  4. Well said, and well believable!! Yes, I have lost a few jobs in my lifetime, but have always adjusted. Just disgusting to the money this trainers make at the loss of life and blood shed from these beautiful horses. Yes, horseracing will end one day, we just have to keep fighting for these majestic animals and keep praying. Amen to those last words, whoever stated them!!

  5. The only job security horseracing is interested in seems to be that of the crisis management consultants, who apparently are kept busy day and night trying to justify an indefensible industry. It’s always unpleasantly laughable to me when “job security” is trotted out as a reason to keep any method of employment going. I’m sure Nazi Germany employed a hell of a lot of people to run those concentration camps, and I’m equally sure that slavery kept a lot of plantation managers holding a whip over their field workers, but I’d hardly support that as job security. Some jobs SHOULD be ended.

    Meanwhile, as an interesting aside, I was just in a local drugstore chain that is installing self-service kiosks for check out and the young fellow at the cash register told me his hours are being cut and he doesn’t expect his job to last because of those machines. No one seems to be worrying about job security as automation and AI takes over – yet I don’t see any crisis management people commenting on how the 8 billion humans on this planet are supposed to support themselves when many of them will be replaced by machines and robotics. (Nor, for that matter, do I see people self-limiting their populations as we run out of not only jobs but water, land, etc.)

    • How can you possibly compare horse racing to Nazi Germany and Slavery .That is an insult to all of those people. Absolutely no comparison.. Shameful

      • The comparison was being made to jobs in a cruel industry, not necessarily comparing humans to horses. Read the context before starting in on your shaming.

      • What’s shameful, Yvonne, is people like you who have no clue of what they are reading but can’t wait to throw shade. Stay off the keyboard until you learn some reading comprehension.

        Thank you, Rebecca, for having the wisdom to understand exactly what I was saying.

  6. Years ago the Jobs issue was touted as a reason to keep the logging industry in the business of clearcutting the Pacific North West, old growth and all…
    Finally the industry was hugely scaled back because of the endangered spotted owl. All the logging towns managed to survive and loggers found other employment. It’s called adaption, something humans have done throughout history. Survival depends on the ability to adapt.
    Racing needs to stop using the jobs issue as a red herring !!

  7. All true — true – true — I could NOT have said this better myself — really — I couldn’t have — again, let’s SHUT DOWN this brutally abusive industry of HORSE-RACING, once and for all.

  8. It isn’t the job losses that have these owners and trainers’ panties in a twist, it’s the loss of their blood money. And I really think that some of these sick bastards are actually addicted to abusing horses and the feeling of power it gives them. From what I’ve been able to read, many illegals are employed on the tracks, especially at the low levels, so I don’t see why they’re fighting to save jobs for people who shouldn’t even be here.
    All this desperation to hold onto their blood sport and the racing industry refuses to do the one thing that might actually save it: treat their horses like living sentient beings instead of chattel. But the very nature of this industry ensures their self destruction. And for that I am very thankful.

  9. “Crystal clear” ??? His attributing of purse money is completely inaccurate as is his agenda driven perspective on stalling, much less competing, equines in any discipline. By this loss averse argument the logical conclusion would be to end anything “horse”…. Well, let’s just move ahead with that cram down process, shall we, while you all bask in your feel good bromides of unearned moral superiority

      • Rebecca – YES! -we strike such terror in the minds of apologists that racing mouthpieces Paulick and Jagow can’t even utter Patrick’s name when acknowledging the industry hides their dead!

        #WeAreHorseracingWrongs #RacingIsRunningScared
        #DoNotSayHisName or you might #TurnToStone

  10. Would the jockeys quit riding if they were guaranteed some sort of meaningful retirement fund instead of race riding?
    I have heard them say ‘where will all the horses go’ if racing stopped?
    I also wonder too?
    If I had alot of property, I would gladly take horses in. I have been rehabilitating horses mentally & physically for twenty years. With proven techniques to restore feet and limbs, (even broken coffin bones) nutritional science for healing and pain (no drugs) additional support to detoxify their bodies. The recovery is quite fast especially if the horses are young, under 10.
    Then they can be happy running free as THEY please.
    Breeding would have to stop at least for a time.
    I know there is way more involved than these small statements, we have to come together and make a plan as a group.
    It would create jobs as well.
    Just thinking out loud.

    • Considering how brutal the jockeys are I think the fact that they are walking around free and not in jail on animal abuse charges is retirement benefit enough. It’s not up to those of us against animal cruelty to provide a comfortable living for those bastards involved in it when it gets shut down.

      • Excellent point. Just watching the severity of the whipping–hitting those innocent animals as hard and often as they can, is sickening. They’re already running as fast as they can, but what happens on the home stretch, to get maybe a nano second gain, is purely criminal. Maybe someone needs to be arrested for the abuse.

    • Not to worry about WHERE the Horses will go — there are plenty of wonderful places for Horses — at present, our job is to SHUT DOWN this industry — the Horses would be held somewhere — hopefully, their existence would be announced to the world — only caring, Horse-loving people would take them in — until then, let’s work to SHUT DOWN this depraved business of Horse-Racing.

  11. “…unremitting confinement to a tiny 12×12 stall…” That is EXACTLY how horses are warehoused at racetracks. Those of us who are knowledgeable about horses realize that horses are not only herd animals but also need turnout time. I will assume that even racing apologists are capable of grasping that FACT yet, as we all should know, they are adept at defending the indefensible. However, occasionally there is an apologist that makes a statement that is so outrageous that the falsehood is actually laughable.

    A couple days ago, I received a FB screenshot from one of my contacts. The screenshot came from a racing supporter’s page and a commenter said this about a horse confined to a stall 23+ hours per day….”Plus he (the horse) feels safe. He doesn’t have to worry about predators or that dominant horse. He doesn’t have to worry whether he will find enough food or water. He is not out in the elements. Stall life isn’t so bad after all.” What? Is she really THAT ignorant? Oh, I forgot….this woman is desperate to defend an industry that is vile to the core. Now, I would like to present a challenge to the apologist. She should lock herself in her bathroom and remain in that bathroom for 23+ hours per day for weeks on end and, if she enjoys that “unremitting confinement,” then she can run her mouth. Seems fair to me.

    • We see those comments frequently (regarding how “great” “stall life” is) from apologists. From the article titled “The Courage and Compassion of Maggi Moss”, the following from Moss: “My horses hang their heads out of the stalls, nicker at people, eat peppermints. I sleep very well at night.”

      Is. She. Serious?!? They HANG their heads out of their stalls and get peppermints! – truly, TRULY, this is another example of an individual who is simply that CLUELESS about equine needs OR just that delusional. Racing owners don’t need to know anything about a horse – and from what I read, most don’t.

      So for all of the racehorse rescue organizations who support the racing industry and what they do to their horses, follow their example – do what THEY do – nix the paddocks and pastures (where you put the fresh-off-the-track racehorse so he can “just be a horse”) and build lots of stalls! – think of how many more of racing’s unwanted you could save from the slaughterhouse! Lots and lots of stalls – and peppermints.

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