Miami property at centre of slaughter probe

December 31, 2009

by Neil Clarkson

A farm in Miami-Dade County is under police investigation over allegations it is running an illegal slaughter operation.

The inquiry has been launched after two thoroughbreds, including a great-grandson of Secretariat, were removed from the property by a former trainer on Christmas Day.

Richard "Kudo" Couto, who is campaigning to have the illegal slaughter trade in south Florida shut down, told Horsetalk today that the farm in question was the same one from which he rescued his own horse, Freedom's Flight, also a descendant of Secretariat.

Laurie Goedecke rescued Dance Hall Graeme and a filly from the property on Christmas Day, having recognised the pair in a local newspaper article about illegal slaughter farms.

She had helped train the two horses earlier in the year at Calder Racecourse and went with a friend on Christmas Day in a successful bid to uplift the pair.

Sadly, Dance Hall Graeme's condition was such that he was euthanized. The filly is reported to be making a slow recovery.

Couto says it is media pressure that is forcing agencies to act. He says the farm is just one of dozens in the area involved in the slaughter trade, making money from a blackmarket trade in which horse meat is the most profitable.

He said he would be talking to race officials at Calder in coming days to educate them about what was happening, so they realised how horses such as Dance Hall Graeme can leave track careers and end up as a victim of the slaughter trade.

He suspects someone at the track is selling retired racehorses to the slaughter farms, and doubts that race officials knew what was going on.

Calder has a zero-tolerance policy toward the sale of horses for slaughter.