Updated on 06/08/2012 3:20PM

Trainer Wedig banned by Mountaineer


LEXINGTON, Ky. – In an apparent reversal of an earlier decision, Mountaineer Park in West Virginia has ejected trainer Mark Wedig, who retrieved two slaughterbound racehorses last month in an effort to prove he had not violated the track’s anti-slaughter policy.

The West Virginia Racing Commission denied Wedig’s request for a stay on Wednesday. Wedig has appealed the May 29 ejection, and commission executive director Jon Amores said that the commission would schedule a hearing within 30 days.

Wedig did not immediately return a call seeking comment. In papers filed with the commission, Wedig wrote that he is appealing to preserve his only source of income. “In regards to the 2 horses Canuki, Cactus Cafe, they are alive and doing well,” he wrote. 

Mountaineer racing secretary Rosemary Williams and counsel Aaron Susmarski declined to comment, citing the ongoing case and appeal.

Wedig’s ejection came after the Canadian slaughter company Viande Richelieu confirmed in a May 24 e-mail to a Canadian farm owner assisting Ohio stewards that it had sent two Ohio racehorses, Canuki and Cactus Cafe, “back to the owner.” In an e-mail to the Daily Racing Form , the Canadian Food Inspection Agency noted that the horses were “returned to the previous owners at their request. This is not a routine occurrence.”

Neither Viande Richelieu nor the CFIA identified the owner or owners who requested the horses’ return.

In its ejection notice, Mountaineer said Wedig “is ejected by management due to corporate policy.”

On May 1, Wedig, who also operates a horse shipping business, picked up the two Thoroughbreds from Beulah Park in Grove City, Oh. When equine welfare advocates and Beulah officials could not locate the horses, Ohio stewards took action against both Wedig and the horses’ last owner, Barbara Price, for providing false information and impeding the investigation. Price was ruled off for a year and fined $1,000; she did not appeal. Wedig, who was not licensed in Ohio this year, was put on a “stop list,” which requires him to appear in front of the Ohio Racing Commission and answer questions about the case in order to become eligible for a racing license in the state.

About three weeks later, but before the Viande Richelieu e-mail became public, Wedig produced both horses at a training center near the Chester, W.Va., racetrack, where state veterinarian John Day identified them as Canuki and Cactus Cafe. Mountaineer racing secretary Rosemary Williams said at the time, “From our legal standpoint, he has complied with everything our legal department has asked.”