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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hammer Time

Last night’s article by Joe Drape in the NY Times on NY thoroughbred owner Ernie Paragallo, whose troubles have been well documented in the Paulick Report and throughout the blogosphere over the past week, mentioned something very interesting to me. The paragraphs that caught my eye follow:
“John D. Sabini, the chairman of the [New York] Racing and Wagering Board, also urged the state Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, which distributes incentive awards to thoroughbred breeders and owners, not to issue any checks to Center Brook Farm, Paraneck Stable or Paragallo. Sabini is also on the board that directs the development fund.

As New York’s racing regulator, the board ensures that its licensees are of fit character.”
The New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund mission according to its website is “to promote and encourage the breeding, raising and racing of quality thoroughbred horses in New York for the purpose of protecting and preserving New York's green belt sector and rich agricultural heritage.” The Fund, established as a public benefit corporation, receives its revenues from a percentage of on and off-track handle, as well as from some VLT monies. It disburses approximately $13 to $14 million (according to their 2007 audit report) as breeder awards and purses as follows: (a) to breeders of NY-breds finishing first, second, or third in races; (b) as awards to owners of NY-breds finishing first, second, or third in open races; (c) as awards to stallion owners, whose NY stallions have sired NY-breds finishing first second, or third in races; and (d) provide purse moneys for races exclusively for NY-breds. The remainder of the revenue is disbursed aside from the administration to advance and promote breeding and raising of thoroughbreds in New York and for the promotion of equine research.

What’s interesting about this whole thing is that the regulator (Sabini and the NYRWB) may not empowered to do anything and instead has taken a route through the NYSTDF to “punish” Paragallo for his “mistreatment” of NY-breds (of which Sabini is a Board member). Not a bad thing in my opinion and hopefully they’ll put any awards going to Paragallo in escrow until the NYRWB’s investigation is concluded. The reason they may not be empowered however is that he [Paragallo] may only be “deemed” a breeder or agent and thus not subject to licensure rules, since his daughter technically owns the stable. Of course, that doesn’t mean that another branch of the State (Vets?), the State Police or the SPCA can’t get involved. This brings to light that maybe the breeders should fall under some kind of scrutiny/licensure (not just trainers and owners) to give some recourse to the regulator to punish bad behavior. Heck, when explaining the situation to my pal Puma, he asked me “NYS requires a license to fish, but no license to breed a thoroughbred?” The fact that the tracks are now owned by the State evokes even more complexity into the regulating of situations such as this.

Thoroughbred Brief discusses the matter on her blog today also and points us to some precedence where regulators took swift, precise action in reprimanding owners for cruelty to animals.

Right on queue, the NTRA issued this statement, basically telling the authorities to take action, since they can’t. Too bad all they can do is make a statement. Might put the accreditation process for the Big A somewhat at risk, dontcha think?

More importantly than the NTRA statement, was a press release today by The Jockey Club, wherein Ogden Phipps, Chairman is quoted as saying the following:

“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 Section V, Rule 19A (4) of the Principal Rules and Requirements of The American Stud Book, The Jockey Club reserves the right to deny any or all of the privileges of The American Stud Book to any person or entity when there is a final determination by a court, an official tribunal or an official racing body that such person has killed, abandoned, mistreated, neglected or abused, or otherwise committed an act of cruelty to a horse.

The Jockey Club has invoked this rule in the past and will not hesitate to do so again when appropriate. The Jockey Club maintains a long-held conviction that owners are responsible and should be held accountable for the care, well-being and humane treatment of their Thoroughbred horses.”

1 Comment:

Kerry said...

Thanks for the nod. You're completely right that the JC statement carries a lot of weight, because they wield an incredible amount of power. It's very rare to see the JC actually draw attention to it, though. Wonder if we would have seen that if it hadn't been in New York.


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