* Remember yesterday’s “Weirdest story of the day” post about how Illinois Racing Board Commissioner Kathy Byrne resigned after Arlington chairman Dick Duchossois killed off her proposal to prevent racehorse slaughters?
Well, Ms. Byrne sent this late yesterday afternoon…
It’s not really such a weird story. Since August I have been trying to get an amendment to the [Illinois Racing Board] rules to provide some protection and monitoring of racehorses so they are not shipped to Mexico or Canada for inhumane slaughter. According to the USDA, 80,000 horses are shipped off this way–alive– each year. They don’t monitor by breed, but it’s estimated that about 10% of these are racehorses.It’s a horrible death for the horses, but it’s also a black eye for the racing industry.
I worked very hard with all the tracks, the horsemen’s associations and the breeders to come up with language that was agreeable and served the purpose. Arlington Park has strong anti-slaughter policies, and was very helpful in proposing language for the amendment and I used that language.
For whatever reason, and I honestly don’t know why, the chairman and the general counsel of the IRB seemed determined not to let this amendment come up for a vote. The obstructions are too complicated to get into here, but after four months of pushing and groveling I finally got it on the agenda yesterday.
So, I was surprised and shocked when Arlington Park very publicly pulled its support, objecting to language that it had asked to have incorporated into the amendment. The specific sentence is one that requires owners and trainers to fill out an exit/destination slip when they take a horse from the track, and for the track to notify the IRB if they refuse. Arlington’s objection was seized upon by the chairman and counsel, who began arguing that there was no need for the rule at all. Rather than have the Board vote against protecting racehorses from slaughter, I withdrew it.
It has been a deteriorating and increasingly hostile situation for me since March when the new chairman was appointed. As of yesterday, I had six months left in my term and it was obvious to me that if the controlling forces on the Board were fighting me on something as benign as this amendment, anything else I might offer in the next six months would also be DOA. So rather than spending six months doing nothing, I resigned.
I hope this helps explain what happened yesterday. I’m sad to go, but it’s better this way.