Thanks to Barbaro, sports writers and others paying more attention to horse slaughter
Barbaro, book opening our eyes
By Furman Bisher | Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
It probably never occurred to you that if Barbaro had been running in a $25,000 claiming race when he went down on Preakness Day, he would have been euthanized on the track...
This has weighed on my mind since a copy of “After the Finish Line” reached my desk awhile ago, months ago to be shamefully honest. Bill Heller, a writer for Thoroughbred Times...
Exceller won on dirt and grass, he won on two continents. In the same race, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, he beat both Seattle Slew and Affirmed in 1978. Retired to stud, he bred several stakes winners, but was eventually sold to a man in Sweden. It is cruelly ironic that in the same year he was voted into the Hall of Fame at Saratoga, 1997, he was killed in a slaughterhouse in Sweden.
Once it became public knowledge, Exceller’s fate set off a wave of revulsion in this country, but it wasn’t enough to save the life of Ferdinand five years later. You remember Ferdinand. Won the Kentucky Derby in 1986, but when he didn’t produce in the barn, he was exported to Japan, and when he didn’t produce there, was slaughtered. A Kentucky Derby winner becomes dog meat!
It was nearly a year before the news broke in the United States, and a storm of outrage followed. But what kind of a dent did it make in this country? Not enough to halt the rate of slaughter, said to be about 50,000 a year. That includes all varieties, thoroughbreds, quarter horses, standardbreds, ponies, dray horses, just horses. But horse lovers of all sorts have been moved to action by the slaughter of classic champions.
...Michael Blowen’s organization is known as Old Friends, located on a farm near Midway, and has found help coming from all directions. One of his first “clients” was a filly by Exceller, sardonically named Narrow Escape. She had failed to get a bid at a major auction, and the auctioneer donated her to Old Friends.
...These are just some of the cases Heller tells us about, most all referring to racing thoroughbreds. Not all the horses spared the slaughterhouse have the exciting background of one named Rich in Dallas. Rich in Dallas had portrayed Seabiscuit in the movie, but had soon slipped from view. Blowen found him running in $2,500 claiming races at Los Alamitos, the last step before the slaughterhouse, bought him and moved him to Midway, where he is enjoying pasture retirement.
While there are cases of famous horses whose slaughter creates indignation, there are companies in Texas and Pennsylvania, cited in Heller’s book, that run horses through like cars at a car wash. “After the Finish Line” deals mainly with the racing thoroughbred and Heller’s repulsion at the slaughter. I can only scratch the surface here, but let me repeat what Bill Nack wrote after hearing of Ferdinand’s death: “Kentucky Derby winners are not meant to be part of a food chain.”
I can add to that, that no horse is. [READ ENTIRE POST]
Miller elected Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation president
"Terence was a dedicated and innovative president," TRF Executive Director Diana Pikulski said. "In recent years, the TRF has made tremendous progress in its efforts to care for retirees and educate the public and the racing industry about the horrors of horse slaughter, and that would not have been possible without Terence."