In light of recent allegations lodged by PETA against leading trainer Steve Asmussen alleging mistreated of both horses in his care as well of members of his staff, a number of Thoroughbred industry organizations issued statements in response to the controversy on Thursday. Below is the full text of the respective statements:
Breeders’ Cup Limited released the following statement from President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Fravel: “While the individuals involved are entitled to due process after a fair and impartial investigation, much of the alleged behavior depicted in today’s news accounts is unacceptable, deeply troubling and, we believe, not a reflection of the way we strive as an industry to properly care for our horses. The vast majority of participants in Thoroughbred racing work hard to care for the animals entrusted to them in an ethical and responsible manner and to comply with veterinary best practices and regulatory standards.
“We believe that it is imperative that Thoroughbred racing in the United States aggressively pursue adoption of the uniform medication rules that contain important reforms relating to the administration of therapeutic medications and that the multiple violation penalties associated with these model rules should be implemented as quickly as possible. Moreover, the administration of medication to horses should be done in the context of an established veterinarian/patient relationship subject to guidelines requiring individual diagnosis and treatment plans. Finally, we strongly believe that workers in our industry should be treated fairly and with respect and that employers in our industry should comply with applicable laws governing the workplace.
At its annual World Championships, Breeders’ Cup has worked to set best-in-class standards for safety, security, race-readiness and testing. Breeders’ Cup will continue to support medication and other reform efforts to ensure that a culture of respect and care for the animals is the norm and that those who do not comport with regulatory and ethical standards do not find comfort or shelter in our business. They put at risk the good work and reputations of many other industry participants.”
Statement from The Jockey Club: “The Jockey Club is aware of a recent media report involving disturbing allegations of animal cruelty and related matters.
The Jockey Club fully supports and assists law enforcement agencies, the courts and racing regulatory authorities in the investigation of matters involving animal cruelty. Furthermore, pursuant to the Principal Rules and Requirements of The American Stud Book, The Jockey Club may deny any or all of the privileges of The American Stud Book to any person or entity when, among other things, there is a final determination by an official body that such person has committed an act of cruelty to a horse or violated applicable statutes or regulations regarding the care and treatment of a horse.
The Jockey Club has long held that for the health and safety of the athletes and the integrity of the sport, Thoroughbreds should only race when free from the influence of medications in their system. The Jockey Club remains committed to the comprehensive national reform of medication rules, laboratory standards and penalties currently underway in 19 racing jurisdictions that enhance transparency and severely prosecute those who operate outside the rules. The Jockey Club will continue to aggressively pursue these reforms until they are uniformly adopted for all North American racing.”
Statement from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium: “The allegations and incidents described in today’s report by The New York Times are very disturbing. While we have not been given the opportunity to review most of the documents referred to in the story, we will not defend or condone any proven cases of abuse or neglect. The attitudes and actions alleged in the story are not representative of the overwhelming majority of participants in our sport who care deeply for the horses they own or train and conduct their business affairs in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
“We urge the industry to aggressively pursue the nationwide adoption of uniform therapeutic medication rules, penalties and testing reforms. These reforms are already being adopted by the majority of major racing jurisdictions and we urge all other states to move quickly to adopt them as well. Once implemented nationwide, these reforms will help to ensure a higher degree of health and safety for horses and riders and integrity for the sport.”