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Four PA Senators Want to Amend Rules
Governing Horse Racing
by Suzanne Bush - December 2013
On Memorial Day in 1981 a bay colt named Summing won the Pennsylvania Derby at the venue known as the Keystone Race Track. That was the same year that Pennsylvania’s legislature reformed the laws governing horse racing in the state. Summing could hardly have been called a favorite, but the Kentucky-bred colt impressed his owners enough with that race that they decided to enter him in the Belmont. And there Summing made history. He defeated Pleasant Colony, depriving the favorite of the Triple Crown.
Much has changed in horse racing since Summing stormed the gates at Belmont. In few places, though, has racing changed more dramatically than here in Pennsylvania. The quaint Keystone Race Track became Philadelphia Park on its way to becoming Parx, one of the state’s premier racetrack/casinos. In 2004 Pennsylvania’s legislature opened the door to a vastly different horse racing industry when they legalized slot machines. Subsequently, the racing industry has created a system of bonuses and rewards for Pennsylvania-bred horses. Purses have swelled with the influx of dollars to the casinos—where 12 percent of the slot machine revenue goes to the state’s horse racing industry. The casino operators retain 45 cents of every dollar from the slots. Thirty-four percent of every dollar goes to property tax relief for Pennsylvania residents.
Enforcement of EU Rules Banning Tainted Horsemeat Stall
by Suzanne Bush - December 2013
There is a profitable, but declining, market for horsemeat in Europe, and much of the horsemeat consumed there comes from Canada and the United States. US and Canadian horses enter the food chain by way of the Canadian abattoirs. It used to be a simple transaction. Horses sold at auctions in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the US were transported to Canada and sold to the meat processors. But all that changed when the European Union initiated a program to ensure the integrity of the food system.
In trying to bring order to the sprawling food safety program adopted by the EU, legislators created thousands of regulations. The regulations are intended to ensure the overarching goal of food safety “from farm to fork.” Thus the most mundane aspects of food—listing of ingredients—to the profoundly complicated—complete veterinary histories for all animals in the food chain—are bound together in what has proved to be an enforcement nightmare. It’s not that anyone opposes food safety. But recent events have revealed that even the most well-intentioned laws can be drowned by conflicting priorities, greed, bureaucratic stumbling, and outright subversion.
A Test of Fortitude: Local Champion Triumphs
at Inaugural Dressage Finals
by Crystal Piaskowski - December 2013
With feathers floating as he picks up a canter, Sir Lancelot is collection incarnate as he glides into the last movement of the test and halts neatly at X. His rider, Emily O’Neill from Conestoga, PA, salutes and gives the big Friesian his head, liberally patting his supple neck. The pair just executed the winning test to capture the Third Level Freestyle during the Inaugural US Dressage Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park on November 10.
“I couldn’t believe it; the whole experience was so thrilling,” says O’Neill, 26, of her 71.778% test representing Region 1 on the national stage. “We come from a region that is known to be competitive and it was such an honor to compete against the best riders in the country.”
There and Back Again
Growing up on her mother’s farm in Chester Springs, PA, O’Neill says she was “very fortunate” to be born into the business. Her mother teaches her students a bit of everything and as a teenager, O’Neill focused on eventing. Beginning at age 14, O’Neill became a reputable instructor in her own right. She trained her first horse, Goldenglanz, through third-level dressage and training-level eventing, earning numerous awards and year-end honors along the way. However, after graduating from high school and not quite ready to join the ranks of collegiates, she headed down to Blue Hill Farm in Unionville, PA to spend time as a working student for Jessica and Missy Ransehausen.
Richardson Part of Team Working to Save St. Nicholas Abbeys
by Stephanie Lawson - December 2013
At dawn on a Tuesday morning in July, world-renowned surgeon Dean Richardson, DVM, opened an e-mail from two equine surgeons in Ireland. Included were two radiographs of a horse’s shattered leg. The questions: “Can this horse be saved? What are the chances of survival?”
St. Nicholas Abbey, the greatest money-winning, European-trained racehorse of all time, had shattered his right fore pastern while exercising at Ballydoyle, the racing arm of legendary international Thoroughbred breeders Coolmore Stud. It was to be his final exercise before a major race at Royal Ascot.
The Chief of Large Animal Surgery at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, PA, Dr. Richardson immediately examined the radiographs. “I said I thought there was at least a 50-percent chance that we could save the horse,” he recalled in a recent interview. “They said that was enough for them to give it a go.”
Dr. Ger Kelly and Dr. Tom O’Brien had known Dr. Richardson – one of the world’s preeminent experts on the repair of complex equine fractures – for years. In fact, the two surgeons had learned from Dr. Richardson during lectures and laboratories at several international conferences.
Dr. Richardson packed up several large cases filled with highly specialized surgical equipment and implants from New Bolton Center, as well as some loaned by the Synthes company in nearby Paoli, PA, and headed to the airport, boarding a private jet just before midnight on July 23. Landing at Shannon Airport in western Ireland, he hopped on a waiting helicopter and flew directly to the Fethard Equine Hospital in County Tipperary.
PA Hunt Cup
by Marcella Peyre-Ferry - December 2013
From a large starting field that was thinned by falls, Kieran Norris piloted Merrifield Farm's Foyle to a win in the 79th running of the $35,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, held Sunday, November 3 in Unionville, PA.
This was the first PA Hunt Cup win for Norris, who took Foyle to the front early and stayed there while the timber fences took their toll on eight entries of the 12 horse field that either fell, lost a rider or were pulled. "I could hear it. I wasn't looking back. I can see who's sinking tomorrow in the papers," Norris said. "It was always in the back of my mind (to go out front). I thought they might go a bit faster, but there was no pace in the race. I decided my jump was so good I would go for it."
Norris finished the four mile course in a time of 8:55 followed by Darren Nagle on Delta Park, Sean Flanagan on Hot Rize, and Mark Beecher on More Fascination. The first time Norris rode Foyle, he took him to a win in the Virginia Gold Cup. "He's a fantastic horse," he said. "He's a brilliant jumper. He could go four and a half and I think he could go shorter too. He's very versatile."
Wise Dan Rolls in BC Mile, Awaits Another HOTY
by Terry Conway - December 2013
There was a lot of chirping this summer and fall surrounding Wise Dan and his connections’ unwillingness to tackle tougher foes and longer distances such as in the mile-and-quarter Breeders’ Cup Classic. If he’s such a dominant horse, the pundits carped, let’s see him challenge the heavy hitters.
His connections-- owner Morton Fink and trainer Charlie LoPresti-- didn’t waver. Their convictions paid off when Wise Dan stormed down the middle of the turf course defending his crown in the $2 Million BC Mile at Santa Anita Park on November 2. The victory should propel the six-year old gelding to a second consecutive Horse of the Year title at the Eclipse Awards in January. Wise Dan is a son of Wiseman’s Ferry who is based at Dana Point Farm in tiny Lenhartsville, Pa.
In the BC Mile, Wise Dan tumbled out of the gate, almost falling to his knees. Jose Lezcano, who picked up the reins from injured Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, had to go three wide around the final turn and four wide into the stretch. Still, Wise Dan stormed down the turf course running down Za Approval in the late stretch to capture the race by three-quarters of a length.