Track Enforces Antislaughter Policy

A Massachusetts track implements a rule prohibiting the practice of sending former racehorses to slaughter.
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A Massachusetts track implements a rule prohibiting the practice of sending former racehorses to slaughter.

Suffolk Downs has begun enforcing its zero-tolerance policy toward trainers and owners who sell unwanted racehorses to slaughter, announcing in September 2008 that it had barred an individual from the racetrack.

Officials would not release the name of the individual involved, but according to Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle, the person was asked not to return to the East Boston, Mass., facility after attempting to sell two horses at a Pennsylvania auction frequented by killer buyers.

In early September, officials "were tipped off by a woman who keeps an eye on auction facilities and identified the horses and realized they were last at [Suffolk Downs]," says Tuttle. "We sent this person who transported the horses, and owns at least one of them, a letter of disinvite. It's essentially a legal correspondence that says that they are no longer welcome here."

Suffolk Downs officials purchased the two horses at the auction and have donated them to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in New York. Tuttle says Suffolk Downs has been against selling horses at "slaughter auctions" for years but formally raised awareness of its policy last June.

Most owners and trainers support the track's approach, he says: "The vast majority of our horsemen are responsible and caring. There are always a couple of bad apples who try to game the system."

This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of EQUUS magazine. For a brief update, see "Tracks Adopt Antislaughter Policies" in EQUUS, January 2009.