09/26/2008 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Slaughter stance an unwelcome sign from racing leader

I own, raise, and race Thoroughbreds. I am licensed in three states. I am appalled at the recent 180-degree change in the public position that the National Thoroughbred Racing Association has taken towards horse slaughter, as we were reminded by Jay Hovdey's Sept. 21 column, "Slaughter bill needs backing."

I have always been proud that the Thoroughbred industry as a whole has stood strong against slaughter - there was never any doubt. Recent actions by several large tracks to further discourage the abhorrent practice have helped improve Thoroughbred racing's image, and I hoped this was the start of a real movement to fix this horrible problem. The pragmatic side of me had hoped that this would provide a great opportunity for publicity and give our industry a much-needed boost.

Now the NTRA would change that. Its leadership simply is not presenting the views of the majority of its members in regard to the welfare of the horses.

We must stop allowing the lowest common denominator of the racing industry to destroy our sport.

The NTRA must use its lobbying power to stop horse slaughter and stop pandering to pro-slaughter agriculture interests. It must be the leader it is meant to be, or else let someone else stand up for the horses and our industry.

April J. McCurry - Sealy, Texas

Industry must rally for humane cause

Jay Hovdey's Sept. 21 column led me to believe that the folks at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association are quite comfortable with "business as usual." That means treating used-up racehorses as a casino does worn-out playing cards - throw them out.

First, the NTRA needs to embrace the obvious. It is the horse that makes Thoroughbred racing go. Would a crowd come out to bet on a field of overweight old men running around a track?

Second, the NTRA should remember that a Thoroughbred horse, unlike a mustang in the wild, is not born by accident. Each mating and subsequent birth is carefully orchestrated with a profit motive in mind. For that reason alone, every racing industry participant - from the breeder to the last owner - owes his Thoroughbred a better ultimate fate than many of those horses now meet.

Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the NTRA, and others are concerned about financial considerations - it is logical that they would be. Sending unwanted Thoroughbreds to slaughter has traditionally been the racing industry's profit-making answer to its inconvenient problem. Meanwhile, underfunded nonprofits (the California Equine Retirement Foundation, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Canter, etc.) have struggled - with minimal organized industry support - to save as many Thoroughbreds as possible.

Thankfully, the management at a handful of racing entities - including Philadelphia Park and Suffolk Downs - have heard the message of the 21st century. The Sept. 27 article "Owner ruled off; violated slaughter ban," about action taken by Suffolk, is evidence that these enlightened people realize that the moment for change is now.

The time has arrived for the NTRA to discontinue its perpetual naysaying and lead the racing industry to a comprehensive humane solution to the Thoroughbred horse problem in the United States. Let's hope the awakening will come before hundreds of placard-carrying pickets find it necessary to show up for a future Kentucky Derby.

Raymond G. Roy Jr. - Pleasant Valley, Conn.

Wishing the happiest of trails to Perfect Drift

Although the news "Perfect Drift's racing days over" (Sept. 24) made for a sad day for his fans, it could be a golden opportunity for him.

I fervently hope his owners will allow Perfect Drift to retire to the Old Friends retirement home in Kentucky along with another crowd favorite, Lava Man. Or perhaps to the Kentucky Horse Park, where lots of his fans could actually see him.

These two old warriors deserve all the love and adoration they would receive.

Thanks for the memories, Perfect Drift.

Carolyn Beverly Kenney - Benson, N.C.