Avoiding the Nuclear Option
In a column that ran in The Blood-Horse’s March 29, 2014, issue, we addressed the breaking scandal involving a video released and published by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). At the time we stated: Embracing the story as the full truth about horse racing is wrong, but dismissing the story solely as the fabrication of radicals also would be wrong.
The content of the PETA video did prove to be false and misleading, according to an investigation conducted by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC). The commission appropriately concluded that no abuse had been documented by the “undercover” investigation of trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn by Kerin Rosen, working on behalf of PETA. Nearly every issue raised in the shock product PETA gleaned from Rosen’s work was a mischaracterization of reality. Horses were not being given illegal medications, Zayat Stables’ Nehro did not have “nubs” for hooves, and the repeated claims that horses were forced to run crippled and sore were simply unsubstantiated exaggerations by an organization whose primary goal is to shut down the sport entirely.
Given what we now know, our previous position in this column that the video should not be dismissed “solely as the fabrication of radicals” also deserves reconsideration. As an industry, we need to be aggressive in response to outside attacks.
The nation learned of the PETA video through a New York Times article that minimally addressed the motive for the video or its veracity. The racing industry’s reaction leaned more toward condemning Asmussen than a two-prong approach of explaining that 1) PETA has an agenda and a history of distorting facts to meet that agenda, and 2) the Thoroughbred industry comprises tens of thousands of hard-working people nationwide who care deeply for the horses in their
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