09/24/2012 2:11PM

West Virginia Racing Commission rejects owner-trainer's appeal in slaughter case

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The West Virginia Racing Commission has rejected the appeal of Mark Wedig, the owner and trainer that Mountaineer Park ejected under its anti-slaughter policy.

The commission denied Wedig’s appeal Sept. 17, following a Sept. 14 recommendation by hearing examiner Jeffrey Blaydes.

Blaydes had presided over a June 29 hearing in Newell, W.Va., where Wedig’s attorney, Lawrence L. Manypenny, had contended Wedig didn’t violate the policy when he retrieved racehorses Canuki and Cactus Cafe from Viande Richelieu, a Quebec slaughterhouse, because the horses were not slaughtered.

“It is clear from a review of this policy that Wedig’s contention is correct as it relates to the first sentence of the policy,” Blaydes wrote. “Obviously, the two horses were sent to slaughter, but Wedig brought them back alive to the United States. However, the second and third sentences provide further limitations upon an owner or trainer. The second sentence indicates that an owner [or] trainer must perform ‘reasonable diligence’ to determine if a prospective buyer plans to ‘put’ a horse to slaughter. Moreover, the third sentence of the policy states that all owners and trainers must ‘avoid the appearance of acting inconsistent with this policy or in any manner that harms the image of the horse-racing industry.’ . . . It is clear in this instance that Wedig has violated these more broadly worded goals of the policy.”

Blaydes also concluded that Wedig “intended to violate the anti-slaughter policy and did, in fact, attempt to violate the policy,” which Blaydes said put Wedig in violation of state racing rules.

Wedig, who did not testify at the hearing, paid Barbara Price $300 for the two horses on April 23. In early May, the horses shipped to Richelieu in a slaughter consignment purchased by Fred Bauer. Questioned on or about May 12 by Mountaineer officials after horse-welfare advocates expressed concern about the horses’ whereabouts, Wedig said he did not know where the horses were. He retrieved them alive from Canada by May 19 and presented them at the June 29 hearing.