In the wake of the ABC’s devastating expose of the slaughter of Australian racehorses, a kill-buyer was profiled in The Sydney Morning Herald. Here are some excerpts:

Peter Loffel is the face of horse racing’s unpalatable truth. He is known as a kill buyer, although he prefers the term horse trader. He buys horses no one wants and trucks them to a place no horse wants to end up – the Meramist abattoir…

The horses he buys are nearly all retired racehorses or trotters. He says he buys most of his gallopers direct from trainers, licensed participants in an industry which has spent the past four days claiming it has no idea so many thoroughbreds are sent to abattoirs. “Most of them are some sort of racehorse.” If what Loffel says is true, the industry’s claim that horses are being slaughtered beyond their sight is bunk; any trainer who sells a horse to Loffel knows exactly where it is going.

Loffel, 62, has quietly gone about his grim business for more than 30 years. He doesn’t just deal in horses…but he has dealt with horses nearly all his working life and scoffs at those now decrying the practice. “Since Friday people have been ringing me all hours of the night and their language – well, I’m being polite. And why? Because I slaughter horses, for Christ’s sake. If I went tomorrow, someone would step in my place,” he says.

The kill buying business is not complicated. Loffel buys some horses from auctions, but most of them he picks up cheaply from trainers and breeders. Once he has enough to fill his B-double trailer – up to three dozen horses – he starts the two-day drive north to the Queensland town of Caboolture.

Some of the horses he buys gallop too slow, some have tendon issues, some have breathing difficulties but they all share the same problem, as Loffel explains. “Every horse can’t be a winner, unfortunately. It’s like people; we don’t get slaughtered but you know what I mean. What do they do with these horses?” Despite…the abuse and death threats he is receiving from animal activists, Loffel is unapologetic. He has no plans to stop anytime soon.

He dismisses the idea that every horse can be rehomed. “One in a thousand is a good horse,” he says. “They are not all going to be suitable. No one breeds for us but…when the season is tough, they can’t give them away. People don’t want them.”

“People don’t want them” – hence, slaughter. Look, here’s the uncomfortable truth: If you are supporting this industry in any way – betting, attending, patronizing racinos, or just promoting it in the public discourse – you are supporting equine hell. There is simply no getting around that.

(full Herald article)

Last week in U.S. Thoroughbred and Quarterhorse races

Mombacho “vanned off” at Mountaineer
Salty Caramel “vanned off” at Parx
Absolute Royalty “vanned off” at Turf
Best It “vanned off” at Turf
Lunfardo “vanned off” at Zia
Price “vanned off” at Zia
Imperial Might “vanned off” at Belmont
Karmas a Beach “vanned off” at Indiana
Integral “vanned off” at Keeneland – subsequently confirmed dead
Boo Thats Who “vanned off” at Mountaineer
Indian Bucks “vanned off” at Presque Isle
Telling Warrior “vanned off” at Laurel
Lavina “pulled up appearing lame” at Remington
Young Lochinvar “vanned off” at Remington
Boogie N Bacardi “vanned off” at Delta
Sheza Happy Streaker “vanned off” at Evangeline
Duchess Annie “vanned off” at Indiana
Jordan Eagle “vanned off” at Lone Star
Newly Minted “fell past the wire, got vanned off” at Belmont
Wicklow Brave “fell…and was euthanized” at Far Hills
Snake Eyed Girl “got vanned off” at Gulfstream W
Fleetway “fell, DNF” at Hawthorne
Malibu Minx “vanned off” at Los Alamitos
Tactical Plan “bled out his right nostril” at Parx
Satchel Paige “suffered a catastrophic injury [dead]” at Santa Anita
Fandango First Boy “fell, vanned” at Zia
Sheldor “vanned off” Gulfstream W
Call to Victory “went wrong” at Keeneland – subsequently confirmed dead
Umightbeanempress “vanned off” at Laurel
Forgot the Rose “vanned off” at Los Alamitos – subsequently confirmed dead
Max My Bullets “vanned off” at Los Alamitos
Race Me Home “in distress, vanned off” at Parx

“Vanned Off”: unable to walk off course under own power; many of these horses will resurface on my FOIA kill-reports

“Bled,” “Returned Bleeding From Nostrils”: usually indicates pulmonary hemorrhage

(source: Equibase)

In the 3rd at Los Alamitos Sunday, 2-year-old Forgot the Rose, says the chartwriter, was “injured, vanned off.” Knowing that at this particular track that combination – “injured, vanned off” – is typically fatal, I reached out to the CHRB and, indeed, Forgot the Rose was euthanized. She is the 17th dead horse at Los Alamitos this year.

At the International Conference of Horseracing Authorities in Paris October 7, these statements from Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board (my comments in bold):

“Social ethics toward animal use have changed dramatically during the lives of everyone in this room. Horseracing must adapt to meet society’s changing ethical standards or it will not survive.”

Yes, “dramatic” it has been – Ringling, SeaWorld, dogracing, fur, veganism ascending, etc. As to the second, there’s no re-framing the exploitation, abuse, and killing of horses for $2 bets; it is what it is, and America is on to you.

“There is a real risk that in California, the fifth-largest economy in the world, and in many ways, an international trend-setter, racing could end.”

“Could” – no, will.

“The status quo is not good enough…horse safety…must be our number one priority, even before winning.”

So, horse safety wasn’t your number one priority prior to your current crisis?

“Worldwide, that [fatalities] is a very large number of horses. Many of you in this room, and this isn’t a criticism, are a step away from the flesh and blood of these fatalities. I’ve been there. Many of these fatalities are ugly, very ugly.”

“That is a very large number of horses” – at last, someone from within not hiding behind a sterile, misleading ratio; “ugly, very ugly” – indeed.

“The result [of claiming races] is a culture where horses tend to be treated as commodities…the U.S. racing business model amplifies that.”

Commodities, chattel, things, assets to be expended and trashed. Exactly.

“[During Santa Anita] the racing press understood that there is a normal fatality rate in horseracing; the non-racing press and public did not.”

Can there be a more powerful (self) indictment of this horrid industry? Yes, we know a certain number of horses will die – and we do it anyway.

“For anti-racing animal-rights advocates, the Santa Anita racing tragedy is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for. They are not letting up. Animal-rights activists are making sure that the internet, print and electronic media, and elected officials are aware of each and every racing fatality.”

ABSOLUTELY. We’ve only just begun.

But Dr. Arthur saved his best for last:

“There are those who argue that whipping doesn’t hurt horses, but that’s nonsense, and we all know that. Whips are noxious stimuli; they hurt, that’s why they’re used. Run fast or I’ll hit you again.”

After a century of lies – that whips are but harmless guides; that a horse’s thick hide precludes any unpleasantness; that they’re really just responding to the sound; that whips are not even whips, they’re “crops” – the chief vet of California Racing, and perhaps the most high-profile in the nation, comes clean: “Whips are noxious stimuli; they hurt, that’s why they’re used. Run fast or I’ll hit you again.”

The prosecution rests.

Call to Victory, three, is dead after “[going] wrong” in the 6th at Keeneland this afternoon. She is the 5th kill in 13 days at this famed track – the lie of “commitment to safety and integrity” laid bare, again. (Note: The five kills are racing only; with training to racing kills almost 1:1, it’s highly likely that Keeneland’s actual toll is higher still.)

Stella d’Oro, killed October 4
Fast Dreamer, killed October 4
Triggerman, killed October 9
Integral, killed October 16
Call to Victory, killed October 20