Revised regulations adopted by the West Virginia Racing Commission would allow the agency to take action against permit holders found to have knowingly sold a horse for slaughter.
It is believed to be a first in the United States for the licensing of Thoroughbred permit holders. The regulations also allow for action in cases of horse abuse.
The regulations are part of a package approved April 13 by the WVRC. There will be a 30-day public comment period before the regulations are sent to the state legislature for consideration; if approved they will take effect in 2013.
The racing commission would be allowed to deny, suspend, or revoke a permit if an individual “has knowingly, or without conducting due diligence, sold a horse to slaughter, either directly or indirectly,” the regulations state.
The same would apply to a permit holder that “has abandoned, mistreated, abused, neglected, or engaged in an act of cruelty to a horse.”
Kelli Talbot, deputy attorney general for the WVRC, said there must be “factual determination” before the commission can take action against permit-holders.
The state’s two Thoroughbred tracks, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, have house rules on horse slaughter that deal with revocation of stalls. The WVRC could take its own action if the regulations are legislatively approved.
The regulations stem from stakeholder discussions on updating the West Virginia Thoroughbred racing rules. There were concerns by some horsemen about the anti-slaughter language, but Talbot reiterated the need for proof before action is taken against license holders.
“We’re proud to be part of the committee that took the unprecedented step of codifying an anti-slaughter policy in West Virginia’s racing rules," said Erich Zimny, director of racing operations at Charles Town. "In addition to Penn National Gaming’s anti-slaughter policy, having it built into state law opens up doors to fines and permit suspensions that could impact perpetrators' ability to procure a license elsewhere.
"The added level of enforcement is indicative of how serious this issue is, and that the West Virginia Racing Commission and we are committed to policing and enforcing it.”
Other clauses were added to the licensing and permit section of the regulations, including one that allows the WVRC to take action if an individual makes “material misrepresentation” in the process of registering, entering, or racing a West Virginia-owned, bred, or sired horse.