Scapegoat Joseph Cleared; Still Whipping After All These Years

Some news and notes…

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the deaths of two of his horses at Churchill Downs. Joseph, you surely remember, was made a scapegoat by Churchill (and the industry at large) after Parents Pride and Chasing Artie collapsed and died at the outset of that track’s kill cluster this spring. Joseph was indefinitely suspended and an investigation by the Racing Commission was launched. This, as intended, sent the message that a trainer, and not horseracing itself, was (is) the problem. Now that the media maelstrom (on the Churchill deaths) has subsided, the powers that be thought it was safe to reinstate Joseph, which they did yesterday. Surprise, surprise.

Speaking of Chasing Artie (killed May 2), here are the details just released by the Commission: “While returning to the unsaddling area, the horse began to stagger and he collapsed. Upon the quick arrival of the KHRC veterinarians, the horse was agonal and unresponsive. After attempts to stimulate the horse failed, the horse was humanely euthanized.” Notice how they added “quick,” lest we think the vets were asleep on the job. While the necropsy did not identify a specific cause of death, it did note “evidence of previous pulmonary hemorrhage,” and, of course, the ubiquitous “stomach ulceration.”

And finally, word comes that a harness driver was injured – multiple broken ribs and brain bleeding – at a county fair in Illinois Thursday. But this was not just any driver, for you see the injured party is 86-year-old Robert “Cannonball” Decker (below). Yes, you read that right – 86 years old. Now, while I of course wish him no ill will (apparently, he’s in stable condition), I have to ask: Doesn’t this man have anything better to do in his twilight years than whip and otherwise abuse horses? Unbelievable. By the way, nothing on the horse, who, I have to believe, was also injured, if not killed.

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  1. Young, old or in between, everyone could take responsibility for being kind to animals, but that is not the primary focus of horseracing or county fairs.

    • Apologists for the whip say horses are covered with hair called “hide” and are impervious to the whip. In reality, the pain-sensitive epidermal layer of horse skin is as richly innervated and of equivalent thickness as human skin, demonstrating that humans and horses have the equivalent basic anatomic structures to detect cutaneous pain. Doesn’t the man shown in the picture have something better to do in his twilight years than whip and abuse horses? Apparently not.

  2. A slap on the wrist for Joseph is the proverbial slap on the face. Patrick, If we don’t hear from you, may I say no news is good news? I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. Thanks for keeping up and for everything you do for the horses.

  3. That is exactly how this business handles any expose and all bad publicity, they bide their time until it blows over.
    And as we know these internal so called investigations are a joke.
    Should be surprised that “trainer” Saffie Joseph has been cleared of any wrong doing?! After all, he is one of them!

    • Since ONE TRAINER managed to have TWO HORSES drop dead suddenly and with no obvious explanation at the time other than to pretend that it was a big MYSTERY, it was only logical that this one trainer be thrown out as a scapegoat of sorts. (Saffie Joseph, Jr. is a “genius” horse trainer and if he doesn’t know why his two charges dropped dead suddenly, then it “really” is a mystery. Well, that is what the CBS reporter basically said, more or less.)
      It seems that killing racehorses is “acceptable” to the “racing Commissioners” as long as they can explain it, sort of, to the public, sort of, and make it sound like it wasn’t anybody’s fault, except to suggest that the horses injure themselves. These acts of cruelty and cowardice by these racing people is the “norm” for this abusive and barbaric industry.

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