In Delaware, an animal-cruelty suspension for trainer Amber Cobb has been reduced by the Racing Commission from two years to two months (she still has to complete “anger management” though). While I do not know the specific abuse(s) – the stewards simply said that Cobb “demonstrated cruelty to a horse in her care” (I’ve heard it was physical) – the mere fact that she was originally suspended for two years, which for racing is akin to capital punishment, means it must have been pretty bad.
While some are (might be) outraged over the commutation, I believe this is missing the forest for the trees. The issue is not the term; rather, that there is a term. That anyone “convicted” of cruelty to horses would ever be allowed back in – whether in two months, two years, or a decade hence – is as powerful an indictment of this vile industry as I’ve seen.
On another note, I’m often asked why miscreants like Cobb can’t be charged under state cruelty statutes. Well first, as is the case with most every other industry that uses animals, the law typically defers to what’s called “common industry practice.” This is why a person whipping his dog in the park would (hopefully) be arrested, while a jockey whipping his horse is cheered. Also, with racing, the policing is left to the industry itself, masquerading as state racing commissions. In other words, don’t look to laws and courts for remedy; the only way to truly curb the Amber Cobbs of the world is to shut this thing down completely.