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Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (PTHA)

  /  NEWS   /  There Are Always Two Sides to Every Story

There Are Always Two Sides to Every Story

Written by Bob Hutt

Dear Sam:

To the best of my knowledge we’ve never met.  In life I like to make friends not enemies.    I respect your profession of journalism greatly.  I know about the power of the pen and the might it wields.  I’m good friends with many reporters and have never accused any of them of misquoting me.  If anything, your peers have always been very kind to me on my 75 years living on this Earth. I’m a proud veteran as was my father before me. I love this country very much.  

Having read your story on “horse racing” and being a Pennsylvania breeder and owner of racehorses for 36 years I had to do a double take at what I was reading.  I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt so before I know whom I’m dealing with.  I will extend you that same courtesy, hoping against hope, that you truly don’t know all the facts. So here goes. 

Sam, have you even been behind the scenes to PARX or any racetrack to see the 99.9% of hard working men & women devoted to their profession?  You singled out a few bad rotten individuals (0.0005%) and rightly so from the 33,000+ other honest and decent horsemen that grieve together each and every every single time a horse is injured or dies on the racetrack.  

Myself and our investors contribute to Turning For Home a rescue organization that finds second careers for the brave Warriors entrusted into our care.  Before that I served for 5 years, without pay, on the Board of The Thoroughbred Retirement Fund (TRF) another rescue organization.  

Just a week ago one of our investors alerted us to the fact that two standardbred horses, not thoroughbreds, were in a kill pen about to be put to death by BAD PEOPLE.    With little fanfare we sent out an email blast as did other racing partnerships that saved those two horses.  That’s who we horse people are –  not the monsters you wrote about this morning.  

Do you actually know the percentage of fatalities that happen at the racetrack as you did not include that in your story.  Its actually very small.   You of course forgot to mention that in your story.  Horses in the free are born to run!  Do you know the percentage of horses that die every year running free in the field. Do you know the percentage of just born weanlings running free in the pasture that break their legs and die?  My point is G-d created these magnificent creatures who were born to run and entrusted them into our care.   99.9% of horse people love and respect our horses greatly as we spare no expense.   Is there a reason you failed to mention that?  

If you truly want to do a fair hard hitting expose I encourage you to come out to PARX to observe training and see for yourself.  Have you ever done that?  Please be my guest.  

At a racetrack, unlike professional sports where you need to pay for an autograph, on the backstretch everyone is equal. From a hot walker to a trainer, to a jockey or owner we all share one bond in our mutual love of horses.  We’re all equal, respectful and enjoy one another’s company.  If a horse breaks down we all grieve together.  I just wish you could see the love and respect that goes into racing. It’s much more than a way to earn an income, it’s truly a love and passion for horses.  I could tell you TRUE stories that would make you break down and cry.  

In your column you forgot to mention the routine drug testing that is done on every racehorse.  The State Vet examines each and every horse on race day morning and either clears the horse to race or doesn’t.  There’s no appeal process. 

Without knowing it you indicted State Vets all around the world.  How do you think they feel this morning?  I am not friends with any State Vet as they have a job to do and they enforce it. You either pass their inspection or you don’t.  You omitted that fact in your column.  

If a horse is declared lame by a State Vet as it happens with human athletes too.  It’s not from the trainer doing anything sinister as a horse can take a bad step just walking and sprain an ankle or even trip over it’s own feet.    Did you know that?  

Once a horse is declared lame by a State vet which happens infrequently, but does happen, the State Vet orders the horse to  workout after 2 to 4 weeks observed by the State vet before  being  allowed to race.   Did you know that? 

The State vet ruling is reported to the Stewards and enforced in every racing jurisdiction around the world.  That’s how protective we are of our animals.  But somehow you either didn’t know or failed to mention it in your story.

Now let’s get to Governor Wolf.  I can assure you that although I am not a politician, nor ever want to be one, he would never want to debate me on stage in a public forum.  I make no pretenses in that he is not one of my favorite people for many reasons that go far beyond the racetrack.  And before you label me a right wing extremist Republican conservative, you should know I’m acquaintances with a former Democratic Governor as we enjoyed a day at the races together a few times.  I vote for people, issues, not party.  If it was up to me I’d take both parties and remove them from Washington DC as they have lost their way in that they were elected to represent we the people, not to serve them or enrich their agendas.  So let’s get that out in the open. 

Are you aware that while Governor Wolf closed Pennsylvania racing down for 4 months during the pandemic other racing venues around the country enjoyed record revenues from simulcasting (NO PATRONS). Pennsylvania was among the very last to reopen. 

Governor Wolf was soundly defeated by a bipartisan group of Democrats and Republicans with his ill advised plan to raid/steal (I don’t mince words at my age) from the PROTECTED HORSEMEN FUND that he signed into law which was approved by the overwhelming majority of legislators. It’s not a subsidy as you inaccurately described in your story. If you are going to be a responsible journalist I would hope that you will present the other side and admit when you’ve been had/used. 

While Pennsylvania racing was shut down until almost July, Governor Wolf forced us Horsemen to pay his government lab workers millions of dollars for nonexistent drug testing.   There was no racing.  Is there a reason you omitted that fact in your story?

Are you aware that as “agriculture” horsemen were forced to pay millions in training expenses to care for their horses each day without a penny discount to the people working for us.   There was virtually little or no Covid on the backstretch at PARX; however, even if there had been the horses still had to be cared for and receive daily exercise because the animals require it.  Our industry and breeders awards are received from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.  Did you know that?

Just about every other venue in the country earned “record TV revenues” via simulcasting except for Pennsylvania which was shut down!  This is despite the fact that 5% of the horses and SAME personnel that were on the racetrack in the morning could have raced in the afternoon without any risk to the general public whatsoever.  

Did you know that Governor Wolf declared horse racing “agriculture” in the morning ; however somehow in the afternoon he reclassified us as “entertainment.  He actually was quoted comparing racing to “entertainment such as movie houses”.  Movies require patrons in seats, horse racing doesn’t require spectators.  People quarantined at home around the country flocked to TV SIMULCASTING of horse racing.  Just two days ago Fox Sports announced a record TV deal with NYRA. We should be doing the same in Pennsylvania.  

Sam do you know of any other business in the world that was ordered “locked down” unilaterally and was FORCED to expend millions of dollars as “agriculture”, or face charges of animal cruelty for abandoning these magnificent creatures entrusted into our care?  Yet Governor Wolf denied us much needed revenues despite no risk to the general public.  Do you care to explain it?   Better yet, can you explain it!   You can’t. Add to that the horsemen were forced to pay Governor’s Wolf drug testing State personnel despite no actual racing.  Somehow you omitted these facts in your story. Why is that?

You mention an individual who owned Animal Kingdom the winner of the Kentucky Derby and quoted him rather boldly as if he actually knows what’s going on.  Really?  If he knew horses were getting drugged routinely and didn’t report it to the Stewards that would be fine and he should be prosecuted.  Where’s his/your proof?  Yet somehow you omitted that fact in your story.  Would it shock you to learn that the owner of Animal Kingdom was Team Valor LLC.  He may have been an investor, a limited partner, in the horse but what did he have to do with the day to day care and  training?  Absolutely Nothing!  You don’t even know if he was ever at the barn. The horse never even raced in Pennsylvania. But why let facts get in the way of a good story.  Just sad. 

For sensationalism you quoted young Anthony Nunez.  Would it shock you to learn that Anthony who’s a good kid rides for us,?  He almost died earlier last year when a driver ran a stop sign and almost killed him while he was walking.  Anthony barely speaks English yet alone understands it.  Most times he requires an interpreter.  Again why let facts get in the way of the assassination of horse racing.   
According to Governor Wolf we are all wealthy “fat cat billionaires” living on the $3 billion subsidy Governor Wolf generously gives us?  Did you really write that?    Are you aware that the average American racehorse earns $26,000 annually?  Be careful not to report that fact because Governor Wolf likes us to be wealthy “fat cat billionaire” owners.  If we were Nancy & Chuck we would have been included in the 91% of their friends that just received a $1.9 trillion “COVID RELIEF” package.  What a joke!  I’ll let you know when my $1,400 check arrives but I won’t hold my breath.  

Are you aware that the Pennsylvania agricultural equine and breeding industry contributes $8.7 billion dollars annually to the Pennsylvania economy?  Somehow I didn’t see you mentioning that fact in your story. I’m guessing you overlooked it?  Did you mention that if Governor Wolf got his way and destroyed breeding and racing that 25,000 average hard working Pennsylvanian men and women would lose their only source of income they’ve ever known?  Their small farms?  Ah Sam, why bother the reader that agriculture contributes 17% to the Pennsylvania economy.  If  you’re successful in rallying your subscribers  against the equine industry basically the State might go under and become a welfare State.  Heaven forbid you present both sides to a story. It reads much better painting an entire industry in a “bad light” because of a few rotten apples that aren’t all even stabled in Pennsylvania.   Only Zuletta (1 person) did – the others, race and train elsewhere.  Did they have stalls here?  No they did not but you made it seem as if ALL were from PARX.  

So let me set you straight on real facts. Governor Wolf doesn’t give us horsemen squat. We give him from our purses that contribute to the Pennsylvania tax coffers that pay for education for Pennsylvanian’s. The subsidy you inaccurately referred to is HORSEMEN PROTECTED FUNDS  that Governor Wolf signed into law and now wants to STEAL!  Is there a reason you omitted that fact from your story?  You also neglected to mention that it was the Horsemen that gave our permission to permit legalized casino gambling in the State of Pennsylvania.  In exchange for that permission to the casino industry, which we knew would  raid our horse racing customers, Horsemen partnered up with the casinos for a small percentage of live casino slot revenues.  Quite honestly the Horsemen that negotiated that deal never envisioned the future of online internet gaming  So with the casinos and racetracks both  locked down, casinos made money hand over fist during the pandemic with their online internet gaming.  The Horsemen received nada, zilch, nothing because we only receive our share from live casino slots machines.  Where you got “subsidies” from is beyond me? 

During the nearly 4 month Governor Wolf unilateral self imposed lockdown, Pennsylvania Breeders and owners were forced to pay full freight without discount caring for the animals we truly love.  However don’t forget Governor Wolf magically changed our category to “entertainment” in the afternoon so that we were not able to earn much needed revenue to offset expenses at an empty racetrack which for all purposes could have been called a TV studio.  Sam, do you see a pattern developing here?

I always prefer to give everyone in life a fair shot.  Either you’re a journalist interested in writing the truth or not.  I love horse racing and breeding and will fight with every fiber of my being down to my last breath.  I agree that “bad actors” need to be weeded out.  But if you ever saw the love and care that 99.9% of the men & women give to their racehorses, then and only then, would you understand the disservice you did a wonderful group of caring, loving people which we have devoted our lifetimes to in an industry we love.  I’m sorry Sam in that I just don’t understand the “cancel culture” mentality that exists today.  If you wish to speak with me please feel free to do so. I would hope that you’re a good man and on the side of good decent people everywhere.  Governor Wolf is a very unpopular political hack. He’s a lame duck Governor whose time mercifully comes to an end in 18 months.  Please don’t turn out to be a shill.  

Sam, I always try to find the good in everyone.  I guess you can say I’m old school.  I’ve given you food for thought.  It’s just plain wrong to throw an entire generation of good people with an entire industry under the bus for the sins of a few rotten apples.  Every industry is ripe with a few corrupt individuals.  We learn this every day as they are exposed one by one.  Thank You for listening. 

Bob Hutt