BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore is center stage in the world of racing this week in preparation of the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Racing is called the ‘sport of kings’ but, it has a dark side.
What happens to the thousands of thoroughbred horses that don’t win? The answer isn’t pretty.
Denise Koch reports, one farm is offering hope.
Last year’s winner Exaggerator won the Preakness, but he’s now retired and is out to stud, but for the horses that don’t win, or stop winning, the future is not so bright.
“About 130,000 go to slaughter every year and about 10 percent or about 13,000 are thoroughbreds,” Bev Strauss said.
Horses sold for slaughter are shipped to Canada or Mexico and are killed in disturbing ways. Their meat is then shipped to Europe.
That was where two beauties were headed when Bev Strauss found them.
“Maryland has such a rich history of horses and farms and horsemen and I just don’t think people realized where these horses were going when they were done racing,” Strauss said.
So Bev created Mid-Atlantic Rescue Farm in Cecil County. She now goes to auction, out-bids so-called kill buyers and instead of being slaughtered they’re rehabbed, retrained and adopted. That’s where she found ‘Arrive.’
Originally sold for $200,000 as a 2 year old, he made money but, after his final race he disappeared until Bev spotted him at auction, emaciated and headed for slaughter. His lip was tattooed to confirmed his identity.
“He’s still pretty thin. You can feel his ribs, he’s getting there though. He’s put on probably 300-400 pounds since we had him. We’ll let him put a little more weight on before we start training him, retraining him for riding,” she said.
Another horse, Arcaney won $70,000 in his racing career. A couple of months at Mid-Atlantic and a couple of surgeries, he’s now ready to be somebody’s pet.
Mid-Atlantic has about 35 horses at any one time. Every field holds a piece of racing history.
With thousands facing death, this is just a start but Bev is hopeful.
“Everybody in the industry is now working together to solve the problem and we’re making huge strides,” she said.
Half of all the proceeds from Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day will go to TAA.