Immediately after the 3rd race at Prairie Meadows July 16, jockey Daniel Ruiz Amaya was seen “hitting his horse [2-year-old] ‘Marty James’ in the face with the riding crop.” Two days later, a hearing was held, with the stewards relaying the following:

“Path rider Tina Sackett testified that as Amaya was crossing the finish, his horse was trying to buck. As Amaya was pulling his horse up, he then jumped off. The horse stopped and allowed Amaya to walk up to him. Amaya then struck the horse with his crop on the nose and again higher on his head.

“In addition, the BOS have received a written statement from maintenance worker Clark Matzen stating that he saw Amaya get off his horse and hit his horse in the middle of the face with his crop, and heard Tina holler, ‘You can’t do that!'”

So what do you think? After administering two (punitive) whacks on the head, should Amaya, like Amber Cobb before him, ever be allowed around a racehorse – with a whip in his hand, no less – again? Prairie thinks so. In fact, the enablers there didn’t even sideline this animal-abuser for a single day – his “punishment” a mere fine.

We’re incessantly being told that the racers “love” their horses, viewing them as just more children. Question, then, for the PM stewards: If someone snapped a whip across your (human) child’s face, what do you suppose your reaction would be? How many years in prison do you reckon that person would spend? Case closed. Again.

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.

In the 4th at Belterra Wednesday, Jokingly “[was] through early, dropped far back, bled from nostrils, [and] crossed wire in a struggle.” This was the 6-year-old’s 13th time under the whip, all for owner/trainer Anna Chambless. Over those 13 races, she has never finished higher than 5th and her combined lengths-back is 277 – over 20 per race. But Belterra, being a racino (flush with slots cash), is able to pay first through last. So, Ms. Chambless, animal abuser, still took home $164 in a race in which her charge “bled from nostrils” and “struggled” to cross the wire.

And more Ruidoso madness. Yesterday, in addition to the five horses who were “fractious,” the one who was “recalcitrant at the gate,” the one who “stumbled badly [at] start,” the one who was “bounced around,” the one who “reared [at] start,” the one who was “obstreperous” (resisting control or restraint, defiant – yes, I had to look it up), the one who “bucked [in] paddock [and] hit gate,” and the numerous ones who were “bumped” in various ways, there were these three:

In the 4th, Back Seat Hero was “vanned off.” Unlike the vast majority of horses being raced there yesterday (babies and pubescents, that is), Back Seat is eight, and this was his 70th time under the whip.

In the next race, Jy El Chapo “bled [and was] vanned off.” But here’s the thing, the chartwriter also noted that Jy “bothered foes [at the] break” and was subsequently disqualified for “interference.” I don’t know, but perhaps he was being such a nuisance because the bleeding – in his lungs – had already begun?

And in the 10th, Jess Cartel Eyes also “bled [and was] vanned off.”

Good, clean fun at the old racetrack.

Recent rulings from various state commissions/track stewards.

In Minnesota: “Richard Magee was the driver of Steady Breeze in the 3rd race [at Running Aces] on 7/8/21; welts were discovered by Dr. Taylor when Steady Breeze arrived in the test barn.”

Welts. Magee received a mere 1-day suspension and $1,000 fine.

In Oklahoma: “AFTER FINISHING 1ST IN THE 2ND RACE AT WILL ROGERS DOWNS ON MARCH 22, 2021, THE RACE DAY SERUM SAMPLE FOR THE THOROUGHBRED HORSE ‘STAUNCH ELABORATOR’ TESTED POSITIVE FOR CAFFEINE.”

Caffeine. Owner/trainer Wayne George was fined just $1,500 and has been allowed to continue along merrily, having raced Staunch six times since.

In Wyoming: “The horse Sb Holly Wood finished second in the 4th race at Wyoming Downs on June 13, 2021. Luis Gonzalez was the trainer [and co-owner]. Following standard procedure…the Stewards ordered Sb Holly Wood to be taken to the test barn for collection of blood and hair samples to be tested for prohibited substances. Sildenafil [Viagra] was confirmed in the blood sample.”

Viagra. Gonzalez received a mere 30-day suspension and $1,000 fine.

This is horseracing.