Racetrack operator praised for anti-slaughter policy

October 15, 2008

Major United States racetrack operator Magna Entertainment Corp (MEC) has been praised by an animal welfare group for a policy aimed at ensuring horses stabled and raced at any of its racetracks don't end up in slaughterhouses.

MEC, which owns and operates racetracks across the US, has announced that any trainer or owner stabling at an MEC facility who directly or indirectly participates in the transport of a horse from an MEC facility to either a slaughterhouse or an auction house that sells horses for slaughter will be banned from having stalls on its grounds.

The policy also applies to any actions related to the transport of a horse from an MEC facility where the ultimate intended result is the horse's slaughter.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) welcomed the move.

"Magna and their chairman and CEO, Frank Stronach, are to be congratulated for this monumental humane stand," said Chris Heyde, AWI's deputy director of government and legal affairs.

"For years Magna has supported our efforts to ban horse slaughter and now they join the growing ranks of organisations such as Suffolk Downs who will no longer tolerate irresponsible individuals operating on their tracks."

Magna's announcement comes on the heels of several actions within the racing industry in relation to horse slaughter.

In June, Suffolk Downs of Massachusetts, a long-time supporter of the AWI's campaign to end horse slaughter, instituted the first policy banning those involved in horse slaughter from their track.

Soon after this policy went into effect, a trainer was caught sending a horse to slaughter and was immediately banned by Suffolk Downs.

Later in the month, while Congress was considering legislation to ban horse slaughter, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) surprised many by issuing a letter flipping on their long-time support of legislation to end horse slaughter.

The letter prompted a counter letter signed by 40 of the racing industry's leading owners, trainers and jockeys expressing their support for all legislation aimed at banning horse slaughter.

The AWI has called on other organisations and horse industry leaders to join the stand of with Magna Entertainment Corp and Suffolk Downs.

"Nobody, including the racing industry, should turn a blind eye to the abuse and cruelty of horse slaughter. The racing industry can help by supporting federal legislation banning horse slaughter and by prohibiting those who supply the horse slaughter industry from racing anywhere in the United States, like Magna is doing," said Heyde.