New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

AP Photo

Cuomo Cites Inaction, Vetoes Racehorse Bill

The governor cited inaction in striking down a retired racehorse law in New York.

A six-year-old law supporters said was designed to encourage the protection of retired racehorses has been struck down by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

In vetoing another two-year extension of the 2005 law, the governor July 21 criticized the failure by the state Task Force on Retired Race Horses to ever issue a required report with recommendations for the state to follow.

“Upon taking office, I pledged to New Yorkers that it was a new day in Albany,” Cuomo said in his veto message. “I promised that the days of the needless proliferation of government bureaucracy were over. Approving this bill—for which there exists no compelling reason—would be contrary to my pledge to the people of this state.”

The legislation passed unanimously in June in both the Senate and Assembly.

A legislative memo accompanying the bill said racehorses provide a source of entertainment for millions of people. “However, once retired from competition, these horses do not have bright prospects for future use or employment, and therefore, survival,” the bill memo states.

This year’s version of the task force extension bill had required the task force to make a report on findings and recommendations before Dec. 31.

“Basically, the state has removed its hands from being part of the solution for that problem,” said Jeffrey Cannizzo, executive director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders.

But Cannizzo said groups on the national level have been stepping up to recognize the problems facing retired racehorses. “Just because there isn’t a task force set by statute, there are groups and organizations working hand-in-hand to look at ways to deal with the problem,” he said.

Cannizzo called Cuomo’s veto “disappointing” but said the problem has been more widely recognized in the industry since the law was first created in 2005.

The task force included state officials, such as Racing and Wagering Board chairman John Sabini, as well as veterinarians, an executive with the Humane Society, and several Thoroughbred owners, including Jackson Knowlton from Saratoga Springs.

Officials said the looming expiration of the task force later this year will result in the publishing of the long-stalled report on matters involving retired racehorses before the panel’s demise.

Cannizzo, who is not a member of the task force, said he understands Cuomo’s veto. “I’m in sympathy with the governor’s agenda to streamline government, because it is sorely needed. Since no report, results, or initiatives were generated by that committee, it appears his assessment was correct," he said.

“That being said, it doesn’t mean there are not groups working hand-in-hand to look at ways to deal with the problem," Cannizzo added later in a written statement.