In addition to another powerful showing (pictures below) from our side yesterday as Santa Anita re-opened for business, there’s this from yesterday’s Portland Monthly:
A permit application involving “initial phase redevelopment” of the 63.65-acre parcel that’s home to racetrack Portland Meadows was filed Wednesday, March 20, according to city records. A call to the track confirms the 2018–19 racing season, which wrapped in February, will be its last.
This monumental win – Portland Meadows has been around for 73 years – will leave Oregon with but a handful of “County Fair” dates over the summer. But don’t be surprised if those also vanish, as this 2012 article speculated: “The horsemen and women agree that if [Portland Meadows] folds, horse racing in Oregon will almost certainly die. ‘It’s hard to imagine many people wanting to keep thoroughbreds just to race at county fairs,’ [said an Oregon racehorse owner].” Let the dying begin.
Portland Meadows, as the aforementioned article details, was desperately trying to attract younger “fans.” It failed. Multiple millions in subsidies (from internet gambling fees) were funneled its way. That, too, failed. So its owner, The Stronach Group (yes, the very same), has decided to pack it in, and we have another moment to savor.
Some of our people protesting at Portland Meadows…
And at Santa Anita…
As Santa Anita readies to re-open this Friday, and the battle there resumes, I give you these truly remarkable and decidedly auspicious (for us) comments from a high-ranking racing official. In a recent interview with FoxLA, Rick Baedeker, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, said that the 26 dead racehorses at Santa Anita since Christmas and the ensuing media storm has been “a nightmare for everyone connected with Racing…and we can’t seem to wake up.” Then, in reference to Princess Lili B and her two broken legs (which the Fox affiliate caught) on March 14: “I don’t know what to tell you Hal…you just wonder if this dark cloud will ever lift.”
But it was toward the end of the interview that Baedeker broke, shockingly, with SRP (Standard Racing Propaganda) – you know, Racing will figure this out and come back stronger than ever – in answering the questions, “Is this possibly a Blackfish moment? Could that happen here?”: “It could. It could.” Then, when queried about the future of horseracing in California, Baedeker, in a stunning moment of raw, unfiltered candor, said: “Well, I think it’s at risk. I think it’s at risk.” Prompted to expound: “The voters authorized [it] back in 1933; they have the ultimate call.” Wow.
If ever there was a moment for unrelenting pressure on this vile industry, this is it. If you are in the LA area (or even thinking about taking a trip), please consider joining the Santa Anita protest this Friday. The horses need us – to stand for them, to speak for them, to save them. If unable, voice your protest in any number of other ways – signing petitions (Cal, NY), writing letters-to-editors, being active on social media, calling or emailing politicians, and simply talking to anyone and everyone you know. Horseracing is staggered and, as the above clearly shows, feeling ever so vulnerable. Let’s not waste this golden moment. Let’s press the thing.
(full Fox video)
Not to keep hammering away at this, but the goings-on at Santa Anita are simply too important to let die. As I’ve previously written, what’s happened there is no anomaly; in fact, it’s business as usual. Let’s just look at the past three fiscal years at Santa Anita, and I’ll even leave out the so-called non-racing casualties (even though to my mind they’re no less deserving of recognition – think Civil War soldier deaths – than the ones who snap legs out on the track). So, track-related kills only, Santa Anita Park:
July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016 – 57
July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 – 54
July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018 – 37
That’s 148 horses killed racing or training on the Santa Anita track over the past three years (not including, of course, the recent deaths). At all California tracks during this same period, 435 dead. Again, just on-track. Is this what is to pass for “progress” as cited by the Board chair in the most recent annual report?
But more to the point, where was (is) the outrage over those numbers, those dead horses? Where was (is) the national media (who at the moment is allowing itself to be distracted by Lasix)? The story here is that horseracing kills horses because said killing is built-in to what they do. And here’s why.
To “distract,” says the American Heritage Dictionary, is “to attract (the attention) away from its original focus; divert.” The original focus regarding Santa Anita was (is) 22 on-track kills since Christmas, 26 dead racehorses overall. The distraction is Lasix, and the ban thereof (The Stronach Group, Santa Anita’s owner, has announced that it and California trainers and owners have reached agreement on a phased-in ban, the particulars of which are wholly irrelevant). Don’t believe me? Fine. Here is how the California Horse Racing Board’s chief vet, Rick Arthur, explained it to the LA Times:
…there “is virtually no relationship whatsoever” between Lasix and catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries, the almost universal cause of breakdowns on the track.
And Stronach COO Tim Ritvo: “Everyone has advised [Belinda Stronach] that that’s not the case. Lasix has not contributed to breakdowns. Lasix does not mask pain. I think we all know that.”
This is so grossly transparent that even a 10-year-old should be able to see through it. They distract, deflect, deceive, and dissemble because when your product is intrinsically cruel and deadly, what other choice do you have?
In the wake of the 26th dead racehorse (since Christmas) at Santa Anita yesterday (two broken legs), and faced with an unprecedented media-fueled national outrage, the track’s owner, The Stronach Group, announced, among other things, an immediate ban on raceday drugs. Complicating things, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, immediately praised the action – thereby helping this vile industry recover from its current PR disaster. A strange, sordid state of affairs, indeed.
On the move itself, the primary target, Lasix, has long been controversial within racing ranks. Some consider it a simple performance-enhancer (the diuretic causes horses to shed water weight; lighter equals faster), while others say it’s necessary to control the pulmonary bleeding that as a matter of course is caused by forcing horses to run very fast. (Really, I’m not making this up.) In any event, file this in the “throw it at the wall and see if it sticks” category. The weather? The track surface? Congestion during training? Now, Lasix? C’mon, folks, wise up.
Horseracing – because (for speed) it breeds animals with big bodies but spindly legs and fragile ankles; because it trains and races them long before their bones are done growing, plates done fusing; because it compels them to run at a decidedly unnatural pace; and because it commodifies them – is inherently deadly. In other words, there’s no fixing this. It must end. Full stop.
If you haven’t already done so, please sign these petitions for California and New York.
Please call Governor Newsom’s office directly. No more PETA-style equivocating. Demand (respectfully, of course) an end – a final, irrevocable end – to this madness: 916-445-2841 or email