House bill 961 – The “Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2019” – would prohibit “the knowing sale or transport of equines or equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption.” In other words, it would officially ban horse slaughter in the U.S. (currently, inspections for equine slaughterhouses have simply been de-funded, something that could change any year now) and – and here’s the crucial part – the transport of horses to slaughter. Though I don’t like the bill’s title or the ostensible motivation – “to prevent human health threats posed by the consumption of equines raised in the United States” – it would truly be a monumental win, the end of the shackle-hoist-slash-bleedout of America’s horses.

But – the industry, as represented by the various alphabet trade-groups, refuses to endorse. Imagine that, especially in light of the desperate times in which they currently find themselves. From a recent Daily Racing Form article:

“The [National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s] Waldrop was asked if his coalition of racing interests would lead the charge to support passage of the SAFE Act and end horse slaughter as an issue hanging over the head of the sport. His response: ‘While we strongly oppose the slaughter of Thoroughbreds for human consumption, NTRA members and affiliates represent a wide spectrum of views regarding a legislated ban on slaughter, so we have for the last several years chosen to remain neutral on the [Act].’ Asked the same question, James Gagliano of The Jockey Club echoed, ‘The Jockey Club board hasn’t taken a formal position on this particular act. However, we have a policy that says The Jockey Club is unequivocally opposed to the slaughter or processing of Thoroughbreds for consumption by humans or animals.'”

The article goes on to quote Washington lobbyist Chris Heyde: “As much as racing is getting beat up right now, you would think they would jump at the chance to get behind passage of the act. There is absolutely zero potential of loss on this issue. And the support is there. Senator [Mitch] McConnell supports the ban, and he’s the majority leader. I think a lot of it has just kind of been apathy. The legislation is there. It languishes. And the slaughter trade continues…”

The perhaps two most influential racing organizations in the country refuse to take a meaningful (supporting legislation) stand against slaughter. “I think a lot of it has just kind of been apathy.” Apathy – as multiple thousands are brutally and violently massacred every year. The lie of “equine welfare” laid bare for all to see, yet again.

At the April California Horse Racing Board meeting, the vice-chair, Madeline Auerbach, was rude and condescending, suggesting activists take up children’s causes instead. Oh, and she also said this: “Our horses do not go to slaughter.”

As I wrote at the time, she is either unforgivably ignorant or a cynical liar. Well, Ms. Auerbach has doubled down. Yesterday, at the May meeting (audio here, May 23, Segment B, beginning around 35:00 mark), Auerbach said the following in response to an activist’s presentation of slaughter facts:

“Had you paid attention to anything I said, but you weren’t paying attention, maybe you will now. I spoke about California, I spoke about our Thoroughbreds, and I spoke about what we do if we ever find out that anybody has shipped a horse, one of our Thoroughbreds to slaughter, and that is banning them from the sport.

I know you think I’m powerful, but if you think I can control what goes on in the rest of this country and be responsible for it, I can’t. The only thing that I am able to do is to make sure that in California we take not only care of our Thoroughbreds, keep them away from any harm, but ban people who would cause harm to them, that’s why we are the only state that has a program that when these horses retire we have a way to take care of them, make sure they go to good homes. We do not, we will not, allow slaughter for our Thoroughbreds in California…”

Board chair the Honorable Chuck Winner (really, that’s his title) chimed in:

“You can stand up here and talk about all the numbers and do everything that you want with respect to slaughter, but I don’t think you know the facts about California and what we do for aftercare. …We absolutely prohibit it, we don’t want it, we will not allow it to happen, period.”

That’s right, “all [those] numbers” apply everywhere except California. Look, juxtapose the Auerbach statement “we take care of our Thoroughbreds, keep them away from harm, [and] ban people that cause harm to them” with this fact direct from the CHRB itself: over 5,000 dead racehorses at California tracks since 1998. And now, re-read their risible statements on slaughter. They deceive because they have to: Their product kills horses inherently and extensively.

When you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. When you have the truth on your side, pound the truth. When you have moral progress on your side, pound moral progress. When you have none of those, pound the table and distract like hell. Mr. Winner, Ms. Auerbach – your old road is rapidly agin’…the times they are a-changin’.

The good folks at Animals’ Angels produced the following video on the (likely) sad and horrific end for the former racehorse Platinum Ticket. One note before watching, however: Platinum’s final racing owner, Richard Englander, would have us believe that he did all he could to guarantee Platinum a safe landing. He did not. After exploiting him, the only morally responsible action Englander could have taken would have been to take Platinum home with him. As it stands, both he and (of course) his industry are complicit in Platinum’s (likely) exsanguination.

The following 2011 Forbes article is a good companion piece to Joy’s expose of the racing industry’s “anti-slaughter” policies. Please note: In the article, the author refers to “the 750 [horses] who die on the track each year.” This, as anyone who reads this site knows, is clearly misinformed. Regardless, it’s worth reading (and sharing).

“Racing Industry Silent About Slaughtered Thoroughbreds”