NEW ORLEANS – An animal advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., claims that four horses have been euthanized after racing at the New Orleans Fairgrounds Race Course within the last ten days– a claim that is not disputed by Fairgrounds racing officials.
The advocacy group cited an online blog called “Horseracing Wrongs,” written by Patrick Battuello. In an excerpt from the blog, Battuello names the four horses that had to be euthanized: “J Rob” who won, had celebratory pics taken, and was euthanized on January 9th, “Big Shanty” euthanized on January 11th, “Jim’s Silverbullet” in a spill on the 16th, and “Take Charge Cece” on the 17th.”
Contacted by WGNO, Trent Dang, Director of Marketing for the Fair Grounds,called the deaths “unfortunate and most unusual” but did not elaborate on the circumstances.
“We take each and every case very seriously,” said Dang, “and are committed to investigating every possible contributing factor.”
However, Marty Irby, Executive Director of Animal Wellness Action, said the deaths point to widespread “doping” in the horse racing industry.
“American horse racing is addicted to drugs,” Irby said in a statement, “and it’s time for an intervention.”
Irby’s statement referred to Louisiana as a “stumbling block for reform,” citing “obstructionists” who don’t support a proposed federal law, “The Horseracing Integrity Act.”
The Act would set national limits on medication in horse racing, and establish an independent “governing body” to ensure oversight and enforcement. Irby claims that none of the Louisiana Congressional delegation supports the bill.
Dang calls the legislation “controversial” but says it’s “laudable in seeking fairness of competition through medication reform, a concept we absolutely support.”
“At Fair Grounds Race Course,” says Dang, “we care deeply about the safety and well-being of racehorses and do not take fatalities or injuries of any nature at our facility lightly. ”
However, Animal Wellness Action believes “public sentiment” is in favor of eliminating not only doping in horse racing, but horse racing itself.
“Our modern-day society will no longer tolerate the deaths of these iconic American equines for entertainment,” says Irby.
“This isn’t ancient Rome, it’s 2020.”