06/18/2010 11:00PM

NYRA investigation clears Campo


ELMONT, N.Y. - Following an investigation, the New York Racing Association has concluded that its anti-horse slaughter policy was not violated by the connections of a horse who almost wound up at a slaughterhouse about six weeks after leaving the track.

The decision means that owner Fred Robinson and trainer John Campo Jr. will continue to be permitted to race at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga.

NYRA officials would not provide any details of the investigation, other than to say that neither Campo nor Robinson was "directly or indirectly" involved with the horse Ultimate Journey last month winding up at an auction in New Jersey that often leads to horses ending up at slaughterhouses.

"I didn't do anything wrong, I told you that from Day One," said Campo, who is the brother of NYRA's vice-president/director of racing P.J. Campo.

Earlier this year, the NYRA announced an anti-slaughter policy that states "any owner or trainer stabled at a NYRA track found to have directly or indirectly sold a horse for slaughter will have his or her stalls permanently revoked from all NYRA tracks." NYRA officials said they are considering changing the wording of the rule from "indirectly" to "knowingly."

Robinson and Campo were the connections of the horse Ultimate Journey, who on May 19 was purchased by a horse rescue group for $300 at an auction in Cranbury, N.J., thus saving the horse from a possible trip to a slaughterhouse. When racing for Campo and Robinson at Aqueduct on Dec. 30, Ultimate Journey emerged from an eighth-place finish in a $7,500 claimer with an ankle injury.

After staying in Campo's Aqueduct barn for more than three months, the horse on April 9th was shipped to Jeffrey Greenberg, a Standardbred trainer in Monticello, according to Campo, where it was hoped Ultimate Journey could be rehabilitated and eventually put back in training.

When it became apparent the horse would not be able to race again, Campo authorized Greenberg to find a home for Ultimate Journey. Campo thought that the horse was placed with someone in Amish country in Pennsylvania. It is unclear how the horse wound up at Camelot, a horse auction in New Jersey.

Campo was not aware of the horse's plight until he was contacted by Deborah Jones, a California-based Thoroughbred identification and protection advocate. The horse had been purchased by New Jersey Horse Angels Rescue.

"I am disappointed with the outcome of this investigation, although I am not surprised," Jones said. "Even more disturbing is NYRA's decision to revise the wording in the their zero-tolerance policy by removing the word 'indirectly' effectively removing what little protection our race horses have."

Ultimate Journey, who in May suffered from a bacterial disease known as strangles, is currently recuperating at a facility in Howell, N.J. and when well enough will be turned over to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.